Riding in Mongolia
Horse tied in a huddle
Boy herding sheep
Yurt exterior at lake
Yurt interior
Yurt roof interior
Yurt at sunset
Local saddle
local sturrup
Boy and foal
Horses waiting
Riding in Mongolia
Riding in Mongolia
horses in Mongolia

Leave the rat-race for a few days and discover the heart of Mongolia with a ride created especially for those people who want the Mongolian horseback experience, but can’t take long holidays. This is an 8 day tour with 5.5 days on horseback, galloping in the beautiful, wild landscapes encompassing steppes, forests and valleys, far from the tourist sites, and staying a night in a yurt and encountering the nomads.

The horses used are locally bred, with some taking part in the Naadam races, which means they are fast and bred for endurance. The ride is fast paced, with the support vehicle carrying all of the luggage and food. Nothing is carried on the horses which allows long and fast gallops in the open terrain, a special feature of this Mongolian horse riding experience.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from HR of on 30/09/2019

Ride Summary
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Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

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Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

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7
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Day 1
Welcome to Mongolia!
Guests are met at Ulan Bator airport by the English speaking translator. transfers are based on the arrival of the Turkish Airline flight (early in the morning) for a group transfer. Immediate departure for the Mongolian Steppes. A short 1h30 drive brings the group to endless plains dotted with the yurts of the nomadic herders. Lunch at the yurt (gur) camp. Spend the evening with a family of nomads, discovering the traditional way of life. Overnight in a yurt camp in the wilderness (up to 4 riders per yurt - showers in a separate building).

Day 2 - 6
5-days on horseback in typical Central Mongolia landscapes. The ride is guided by a nomadic herder through steppes, hills and valleys and mountains covered with Larch forests.  There are many nomadic families in the region and their colourful yurts and herds of horses, cattle, goats and sheep dot the landscape.  There will be at least one night of camping close to a family to discover their traditional way of life.  

The riding pace is fast, with the support vehicle carries all the luggage and joins the group for lunch and at the end of the day. This allows for long, fast and unencumbered gallops in the very open terrain.  The horses are from a local breeder whose horses take part in many Naadam races, so they are fast and bred for endurance. Dinner and overnight in tents.

The camping sites are chosen carefully, one in the middle of nowhere in the huge steppes, one night close to a river, another in the forest where wolves are often heard and one night close to a nomadic family. 

Day 7 
The last half-day on horseback, and departure to Ulan Bator with lunch en-route. Spend the afternoon shopping for souvenirs in stores, or at the Narantuul market where one can find traditional clothing and objects of daily life. There is a late afternoon show with traditional Mongolian dances, music and songs, especially the amazing Khoomei (overtone singing where the singer produces two distinctively audible pitches at the same time)  No dinner included which allows guests to choose among the varied dining opportunities offered by Ulan Bator. Night at Nine hotel or similar (3* - twin room).
 
Day 8 
Breakfast and transfer to the airport (included for flights departing after 07:00).

Transfers:
Group transfer from Ulan Bator Airport on arrival of Turkish Airlines flight (usually around 09:00am depending on the season).
If you are already in Ulan Bator, the meeting point is at the international airport at the arrival of Turkish Airlines flight. No pick up in Ulan Bator for this ride.
On the last day group transfer to Ulan Bator airport on time for Turkish Airlines flights.

Single Supplements
Single rooms are only available for 1 night on this ride, at the hotel in Ulan Bator on night 7. Single tents can be provided on the camping portion at no extra cost if requested before departure.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

The Mongolian horse is small, with particularly developed forequarters and a short, massive neck. The Mongolian horse is very strong for its size and very tough, they are well able to cope with riders up to the weight limit. The horses are almost never shod, except in winter in the Lake Khovsgol region in winter; this is in order to fix spikes to horses that pull the sleigh on the frozen lake. Almost all colours are possible, including those with very old markings such as zebra stripes. Mongolian nomads do not name their horses, they call them by their colour and they have dozens of different terms to describe the subtleties of possible colours of their horses.



The Mongolian horse has a docile temper, despite spending months of freedom in the steppe it shows a very quiet behaviour as soon as its owner catches it for the ride. The traditional Mongolian saddle has a short base and high pommel and cantle. They are ridden very differently to the Western style, you do not kick to increase speed, but simply use voice commands. Reins are held in one hand and the ponies are steered by neck-reining. In trot and canter riders should stand in their stirrups as much as possible.


Rider requirements

Must be confident in walk, trot and canter. This is an adventurous ride and riders will be required to participate in horse care, grooming and tacking up etc. Must be fit enough for long hours in the saddle.

Mongolians stand in the stirrups at all paces and so the horses are not used to riders sitting in the saddle. You should be fit enough to stand in the stirrups at trot and canter for periods of up to twenty minutes. Minimum riding age is 12 years.

We strongly recommend that you wear a riding helmet in compliance with the standards in force in Europe or in your country of origin, as the practice of riding in Mongolia presents specific risks in addition to those related to the usual practice of riding as you know it.
We would like to draw your attention to the following points:
- This ride takes place in remote areas, where the rescue teams - even organized by your repatriation assistance company - can need several hours to reach you.
- There are very few hospitals outside Ulan Bator, and they lack efficient equipment.
- The low level of road infrastructure considerably extends any time of transport to a hospital.
- Mongolian horses live free and even if they are trained, they may have surprising reactions compared to the horses to which you are accustomed because of their strong instincts.
- The saddles used are adapted to the characteristics of the Mongolian horse and are therefore different from the ones you are accustomed to, requiring a period of adaptation during which the risk of fall is higher.
A limited selection of hats are available but MUST be requested before departure as these are not kept at the ride start point.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The majority of this trip makes use of tented camp accommodation. Riders should be prepared to help with camp preparation and packing to ensure maximum riding time each day.



Camping: Recent camping equipment, complying with Western standards of safety and quality, are used for your comfort. All of the camping and riding gear is carefully maintained and checked after each trip, and renewed as necessary. French Decathlon tents are used for 1 or 2 people and single tents can be booked at no extra charge to anyone who registers alone (on request before departure and subject to availability).

The tents include a self-inflating mattress or good foam mattress which are especially thick for your comfort. There is a large communal tent with table and chairs for meals and socialising. The logistics vehicle also brings the table and the chairs for the picnic lunches. A "shower tent" is also provided. The shower water can be heated on demand on the campfire.



One night on the trail will be spent in guest yurt accommodation, with a nomadic family in a guest yurt. This accommodation is a fantastic opportunity to share and discover the traditional way of life of the nomadic herders in Mongolia. 2 or 3 guest-yurts are set close to the family's yurt, surrounded by the free-roaming horses, yaks, sheep and goats, and contain 4 or 5 single beds. The yurts are heated with a traditional stove, and meals are served either in the family's yurt or outside, weather permitting. The host will prepare traditional Mongolian dishes and it is interesting to see how women cook only with the central stove of the yurt.

For your comfort, a shower tent is provided close to the yurts where water can be heated on the stove. Dry toilets are also at your disposal.



Guests will be offered some tea mixed with milk and salt (an acquited taste), but you will also find "Lipton" tea in the yurt (ger) camps.



Tourist Yurt camps (Ger camps): These are the most comfortable accommodation in Mongolian countryside. Sleep in traditional yurts furnished with single beds (from 2 to 5 beds / yurt), small tables and a stove. It is  impossible to have single yurts in most of the camps, so be ready to share your yurt with other travellers from the group. Some camps offer yurts with double beds, but it can not be guaranteed. Showers, washbasins and toilets are in a separate building and a restaurant provides breakfast and meals.



Good to know: Yurt camps are the most comfortable accommodation available in Mongolia, but don't expect luxury: hot water in the showers is often unpredictable, electrical standards are "unique" and food at the restaurants relies on good supply conditions due to their remote situation.



Yurt camps offer simple international food, adapted to their different clients: Mongolian people and tourists from European, American and other Asian countries (China, Korea, Japan).


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures

Your passport should be valid for six months from the date you arrive.

In 2023, the Mongolian Government announced a visa exemption* for stays up to 30 days for 34 more countries for 2023, 2024 and 2025:Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom. (Longer stays still need a visa).

*However, we still advise contacting the nearest Mongolian Embassy for the most up-to-date advice on entry requirements and visas. Arriving passengers should follow instructions given by the authorities on arrival. Arrival requirements into Mongolia are subject to regular change.

Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mongolia

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Mongolia.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/mongolia

Climate Summary

Ulan Bator (Ulaanbaatar) has a continental climate with dry winters and short cool summers.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

The standard of healthcare is variable in Mongolia. Ensure you have sufficient travel insurance to cover any emergencies. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial +976 103 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company as soon as possible to inform them of what has happened.
You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you, and spare, just in case.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Mongolia and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Please ensure take along sun cream and anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites.


Health (ride specific)

Mongolia is a relatively healthy country, with no vaccines needed other than the usual ones for travelling in the developing world (typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A, polio). We suggest taking a small personal medical kit as above. A comprehensive group medical kit will be carried at all times.

Drink only bottled water and avoid raw fruits and vegetables.

It is important to be physically fit to undertake a trip to Mongolia, because some areas are very remote.

Always take your usual medications in sufficient quantities and place them in your hand luggage to be sure to have them in case of lost luggage.

Electricity

In Mongolia the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

Most yurt camps have electricity and you can charge phones and cameras in the evening. The support vehicle has a cigarette lighter which fits a standard adaptor, allowing cameras to be recharged. The ride will meet the suport vehicles every evening so there are many opportunities to re-charge batteries. Ulaanbaatar is quite a ‘wired’ city, with numerous internet cafes, and even a free wireless network covering the city centre. If checking bank accounts etc, it is best to use the internet service in your hotel. There is cell phone coverage in UB, and some smaller towns which we will pass along the way. Once we start riding, there will be no coverage.

Packing List

Summer in Central Asia is hot during the day but cold at night, so you must be ready to face any situation!
Dress comfortably and relaxed, but be careful not to offend the sensibilities of your local hosts.
We recommend you bring the following equipment (in a big soft travel bag, please avoid hard suitcases):

Riding breeches,
Paddock boots or hiking boots with half-chaps or full-chaps. Avoid plastic riding boots as you have to be comfortable if you need to walk,
Riding hat or helmet STRONGLY ADVISED,
Riding gloves,
Sweatshirt,
Shirts or t-shirts (long sleeves protect better from sun and mosquitoes),
Pullover, fleece sweaters or fleece jacket,
Warm coat and windbreaker,
Raincoat,
Rain trousers,
Comfortable trousers,
Shorts,
Warm underwear for the night,
Quick-drying socks,
Comfortable shoes for non-riding activities,
Hat or cap,
Warm hat,
Swimming-suit,
Scarf (against the dust and wind…),
Personal toilet bag,
Towel,
High protection sun screen and lipstick,
Soothing drops for the eyes,
Mosquito repellent,
Tissue/toilet paper and wipes,
Personal medication (muscular ache, diarrhoea, sunburn…),
Soap and shampoo (biodegradable if possible),
Antibacterial product for hands,
Sleeping bag (comfort temperature -5°C),
Sleeping bag liner,
Pocket knife and lighter,
Headlamp,
Good sunglasses,
Camera + batteries + powerbank,
Binoculars,
Ear plugs,
Electric adaptor if needed,
Passport + visa (if needed),
Insurance documents,
Photocopies of important documents,
Small backpack for day visits,
Glasses/contact lenses as necessary (spares are advisable),
Large rubbish bag for dirty clothes.

As weather in Mongolia can change very quickly during the day, and is always a bit chilly at night because of the altitude, we suggest that you take clothes according to the “layering system”.
1.Base layer - Worn next to the skin, creating a thin layer of warm air against the body, helps to wick moisture/sweat vapor from the skin to regulate body temperature. Can be worn alone in warm conditions.
2.Midlayer - Worn over the base layer to help trap in body heat (usually polar fleece jumper).
3.Outer layer - Protects you against wind and rain.
Layering your clothing will help you to keep warm, dry and comfortable through varying conditions, allowing you to add or remove
layers depending on how you feel and the conditions you’re in.
Keep in mind that your clothes have to be large: the air between the layers will keep you warm, so don’t take too small sizes.

Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available every Saturday between May and September.

Departure Dates

2024: 12, 19, 26 May; 2, 9, 16, 23 Jun; 14, 20, 28 Jul; 3, 11, 18 Full), 25 Aug; 1, 8, 15 Sept.

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.

Only available in Ulan Bator

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20248d/7n6double pp1,205
20248d/7n6supplement for 2 - 4 pax159
20248d/7n6single supplement in Ulan Bator66
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20248d/7n6double pp1,379
20248d/7n6supplement for 2 - 4 pax179
20248d/7n6single supplement in Ulan Bator75
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20248d/7n6double pp1,585
20248d/7n6supplement for 2 - 4 pax209
20248d/7n6single supplement in Ulan Bator87
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20248d/7n6double pp16,179
20248d/7n6supplement for 2 - 4 pax2,109
20248d/7n6single supplement in Ulan Bator879
Wildlife

You will mostly see the herds: horses, camels, yacks, sheep and goats as well as lots of birds of prey and vultures.

Other Information

How to establish contact with a nomadic family:

Simple tips will help you, especially with the children;
- Be creative, do not stay in a role of simple spectator, get involved: for example, if you take some paper and coloured pencils, do not distribute them to the children as a Santa Claus, sit with them and draw too. You'll be guaranteed some giggles when you will compare your drawings! You can also try origami which will amaze the children and their parents.

- Learn simple magic tricks before leaving, your success is guaranteed! Great for in the evening around the stove!

- Ask your guide to teach you how to play jacks and other traditional games for the evenings in the yurt with your nomadic friends.

- Dare to sing, the Mongols adore it and the evening can end in a crazy karaoke!!!

- Ask the women if you can help them to milk animals, to prepare the meal...

- Ask the men if you can help them with the herds...

Above all, be curious and open minded, try as much as possible to be an actor instead of a spectator, so that this journey turns into a real human adventure for you, reinventing the simplicity and the happiness to be together...

The Orkhon Valley:
Classified in 2004 as World Heritage Site by UNESCO as the cradle of nomadic Mongolia, the "cultural landscape of the Orkhon Valley", about 121,967 hectares, covers an extensive area of pastureland that stretches approximately 80km from long and 15 km wide on both banks of the Orkhon river. The site also includes Karakorum.
Grasslands are still used today by Mongolian nomadic herders, and many families keep perpetuating the traditional way of life. In the valleys and around the rivers are nestled yurts that house the nomadic families. In the wild, herds of horses, yaks, sheep and goats are moving in these protected areas.

The Orkhon Falls are actually the Ulaan Tsutgalan River Falls. The river falls into a spectacular canyon formed after an earthquake and a volcanic eruption more than 20 000 years ago, forming a cascade of 20m high and 10m wide.

The site is enchanted by the contrast between the whiteness of the foam and the black rock that forms the canyon walls. Going down along the walls to the foot of the fall, you will discover trees and flowers (wild peonies in June) that take advantage of the abundance of water to grow.

Other Country Information

Mongolia is a huge landlocked country, more than six times the size of the UK, sandwiched between Russia and China. It is also one of the highest countries in the world, with an average elevation of 1580m. Mongolia can be divided into six distinct zones including desert, steppe, mountain and taiga. The southern third of Mongolia is dominated by the Gobi Desert.

The name 'Mongolia' has always stirred up visions of the untamed - Genghis Khan, camels wandering the Gobi Desert and wild horses galloping across the steppes. Even today, outside of Ulaan Baatar you may get the feeling you've stepped into another century rather than another country.

Mongolia is seven or eight hours ahead of GMT depending on which part of the country you are in. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

The major religion is Tibetan Buddhism.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Ulan Bator Airport (UBN)
Transfer:
2023: Group transfer from Ulan Bator Airport (UBN) is based on arrival of the Turkish Airlines flight (usually around 09:00 am depending on the season). Guests can book any flight landing before the Turkish Airlines flight.
If you are already in Ulan Bator, the meeting point is in the lobby of the hotel at 14:00. On the last day group transfer to Ulan Bator airport in time for Turkish Airlines flights.
Flight Guide:
London - Ulan Bator (UBN) from £1200pp return
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