In far west of Mongolia there lie a land of snow-capped mountains, clear lakes, vast deserts and green pasturelands. This is home of Lynx, Argali sheep, Ibex and the elusive Snow Leopard.
The provinces of Bayan-Ulgy and Khovd have always been an important frontier outpost of Mongolia. Its population is ethnically and linguistically mixed, comprising of Durvut, Torgut, Bayad, Uriankhai, Zakhchin, Myangad, and Uuld tribes. This people own a rich cultural heritage. Apart from them stand the Kazakhs, the only Muslims of Mongolia and the largest national minority. Their culture is exceptionally authentic.
This is a chance to explore all the above on horseback and understand the nomadic people whose lives revolve around domesticated animals: horses, yaks, sheep, goats and camels. This remote yet pristine land created tough people whose horsemanship is unparalleled.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL TO ULAANBAATAR
On arrival you will be transferred to a cozy hotel in the center of the city. The remaining morning at leisure. After lunch a guided city tour. We first visit the Natural history museum with its rich collection of dinosaur fossils. The National history with its display of traditional costumes is to follow. You as well will be introduced to the turbulent history of the Mongolian nation here. A unique show of throat or so-called overtone singing and contortion will be followed by a welcome dinner in one of best restaurants of the city. (L,D).
DAY 2: FLIGHT TO KHOVD, DRIVE TO NAMARJIN VALLEY.
Early this morning you’ll be transferred to local airport for a 2 hours flight to Khovd, a western Mongolian provincial center.
At the desert airstrip you will be met by our support team: guide, cook and drivers and served a picnic. Then we start driving heading towards the Namarjin valley. We will drive about 4 hours through desert steppe dotted with white yurts of nomads, grazing horses, flocks of goats and sheep. Towering over the valley is the impressive snow-capped massif of Tsambagarav Mountain.
We arrive at our tented camp in the late afternoon. Our horse riding guides will visit us at the camp in the evening to say “hello”. These local men will accompany you throughout the riding tour and share secrets of their survival. (B,L,D).
DAY 3: ACCLIMATIZATION RIDE IN NAMARJIN VALLEY
After a hearty breakfast a horse will be selected for you to suit your riding experience. Riding the sturdy Mongolian horses is a style quite different from that of a western horse riding. Broken in at the age of 2 or 3 they listen to a different set of commands and, respond to a different behavior on the side of the rider.
This is an acclimatization day for the Namarjin valley is flat and grassy. Along the way we visit a Kazakh falconer's tent locally known as “ger”. This hospitable people have ancient traditions of falconry. They employ Golden Eagles for hunting foxes, hares and other small animals. Although the hunting is done in winter you will see the proud bird tethered next to its master's house. Ride back to the camp for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D).
DAY 4: HORSE RIDING TO SUKHAIT MOUNTAIN
Today we ride to 3900m Sukhait Mt. Each day the support team will drive ahead and serve lunch at an agreed spot and then carry on to prepare your camp and dinner. The scenery is comprised of green pasturelands and clear lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains. (B,L,D).
DAY 5: HORSE RIDING TO DURUU LAKE
Ride further south to reach Duruu lake. After a short descend we will see the lake glowing with blue and green next to 3700m high Mara range. Down in the camp you will be served a delicacy of the Kazakh cuisine - "besbarmak". Literally meaning "five fingers" this is a delicious assortment of stewed meat, vegetables and flour eaten with hands. Water temperature allowing you may dip in the Duruu lake. (B,L,D).
DAYS 6,7,8: HORSE RIDING TO HOLLY EAGLE MOUNTAIN
For 3 days we ride horses along the 4000m Blue Goat mountain range. Wide river valleys dotted with yurts are to be traversed. Nomadic yurt is a simple but reliable dwelling, perfect in extreme weather conditions and suitable for frequent moves from on place to another. Its present design has changed little for the last 2500 years.
These western frontiers with China are populated by various ethnic tribes who had freely roamed across boundaries of China, Russia and Mongolia until 1920-ies when official border lines between the 3 countries were demarcated.
Every day we come across horsemen on business: some herding their flocks, some on long travel searching for their animals, some driven by curiosity will approach to exchange greetings with strange looking travelers.
In the evening of day 8 we camp at the base of the 3775m Eagle mountain. (B,L,D).
DAYS 9,10,11: HORSE RIDING TO BUYANT RIVER
Back in the saddle and we enter the Eagle river valley. Many nomads chose the banks of this swift mountain river as their summer camp for the abundance of grazing and water. 2 over 3000m passes are to be crossed and for some part of the route we ride on canyon floors with over 100 meter high cliff walls. Finally we leave mountains behind and reach vast arid plains. (B,L,D).
DAY 12: LAST RIDING DAY
Our last horse riding day and we gallop across the plains surrounding the Khovd town to reach a visitor camp located just outside of the town. After saying “good bye” to our riding guides we enjoy hot showers and take a well deserved rest. Tonight is your chance to sleep in a Mongolian ger. (B,L,D).
DAY 13: RETURN FLIGHT TO ULAANBAATAR
We will fly to Ulaanbaatar from the Khovd airport. On arrival transfer to your hotel. After hot showers and some rest we gather for a farewell dinner. (B,D).
DAY 14: LEISURE DAY IN ULAANBAATAR
A spare day for shopping and self-exploration around the town. You may refer to recommendations of our team in order to make most out of it. (B).
DAY 15: DEPARTURE
Transfer to airport for your return flight home. (B).
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