This is an epic adventure trail over 20 days in central Mongolia, passing through some of the wildest and most remote scenery, progressing through areas that are unreachable by road. Each night the group will set up camp somewhere new, allowing riders to experience Mongolia in the traditional nomadic way and reach places that are rarely seen by other travellers.
The trek passes through the Arkhangai region to Terkhiin Tsagaan Nur (the ‘White Lake’) and on to Lake Khovsgol in the north of Mongolia. Ride over mountains and through narrow valleys covered in forests and criss-crossed with rivers, and canter across the open plains. Some of the areas travelled are completely wild and uninhabited, while others will be playing host to nomads and their herds. Most of the paths are inaccessible by vehicle so this is truly the best way to explore the heart of Mongolia.
This holiday also includes a visit to the Bayan Gobi desert with camel riding, a day touring the sites of Ulan Bator and a day spent with a nomad family. This is a fantastic chance to be a part of the traditional Mongolian culture, and you can spend the day getting involved with the day to day activities of a nomadic herdsman. Accommodation is in yurts and tented camps, with equipment carried in the back-up vehicles or by yak. The horses used on this trip are owned by the local herdsmen and are sure-footed and willing. The opportunity for galloping in the wide-open Steppe make this a great trail for adventurous, experienced riders.
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Single rooms are only available for 3 nights on this ride, at the hotel in Ulan Bator on nights 1, 18 and 19. The single supplement charge is payable if you are unwilling to share a room on these nights with anyone else.
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.
The Mongolian horse is small, with particularly developed forequarters and a short and massive neck. Compared to its size, the Mongolian horse is very strong and very tough. The horses are almost never shod, except in winter in the Lake Khovsgol region, 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 signs such as zebra stripes. Mongolian nomads do not have a name for 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 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, 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.
Riders must be confident in walk, trot and canter. This is an adventurous ride and riders will be required to participate in horse care and tacking up. Riders must be fit enough for long hours in the saddle. The minimum age for this ride 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.
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
On this holiday you will spend 3 nights in a hotel, 1 night in a guest yurt, 4 nights in yurt camps and 11 nights camping in tents.
Guest-yurts by nomadic families: This accommodation is a unique 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 the family's yurt, surrounded by the free-roaming horses, yacks, sheep and goats. A guest-yurt will contain 4 or 5 single beds heated with a traditional stove and meals are served either in the family's yurt or outside, weather permitting. Your host will prepare traditional Mongolian dishes and it can be 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, however please be aware that a shower yurt is not always available. Dry toilets are also at your disposal. You will be offered some tea mixed with milk and salt. You will soon get used to it, but you will also find "Lipton" tea in the yurt (ger) camps.
Yurt camps (Ger camps): These are the most comfortable accommodation in Mongolian countryside. You will sleep in traditional yurts (called gers in Mongolia), furnished with single beds (from 2 to 5 beds / yurt), small tables and a stove. It is very difficult - or 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. You can find showers, washbasins and toilets in a separate building and a restaurant provides breakfast and meals. 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 rely 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).
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 which is used for hosting - there are table and chairs for meals and socialising. The logistics vehicle also brings the table and the chairs for the picnic lunches (except in very remote regions, where pack yaks are used). A "shower tent" is also provided. The shower water can be heated on demand on the campfire.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Ulan Bator (Ulaanbaatar) has a continental climate with dry winters and short cool summers.
For most nationalities, vaccinations are not mandatory. We recommend, however, to be up to date for usual vaccinations (tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis ...).
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.
Most yurt camps have electricity and you can charge phones and cameras in the evening. There will be no electricity in the camping section so bring spare batteries and a solar charger to keep you powered up.
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):
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,
Shirts or t-shirts (long sleeves protect better from sun and mosquitoes),
Pullover, fleece sweaters or fleece jacket,
Warm coat and windbreaker,
Warm underwear for the night,
Comfortable shoes for non-riding activities,
Hat or cap,
Scarf (against the dust and wind…),
Personal toilet bag,
High protection sun screen and lipstick,
Soothing drops for the eyes,
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,
Camera + batteries + powerbank,
Electric adaptor if needed,
Passport + visa (if needed),
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.
This is a 20 day/19 night programme with set departures departing every Saturday between May and September.
2017: Every Saturday from 13 May to 16 September. Private tours can be arranged on request.
2018: Every Saturday from 5 May to 8 September. Private tours can be arranged on request.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2017||20d/19n||12||supplement per person for a group of 3 riders||339|
|2017||20d/19n||12||single supplement (Ulan Bator only)||82|
|2017||20d/19n||12||extra night Ulan Bator double pp||37|
|2017||20d/19n||12||extra night Ulan Bator single||64|
|2018||20d/19n||11||supplement per person for a group of 3 riders||339|
|2018||20d/19n||11||single supplement (Ulan Bator only)||82|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2017||20d/19n||12||supplement per person for a group of 3 riders||375|
|2017||20d/19n||12||single supplement (Ulan Bator only)||90|
|2017||20d/19n||12||extra night Ulan Bator double pp||40|
|2017||20d/19n||12||extra night Ulan Bator single||70|
|2018||20d/19n||11||supplement per person for a group of 3 riders||375|
|2018||20d/19n||11||single supplement (Ulan Bator only)||90|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2017||20d/19n||12||supplement per person for a group of 3 riders||445|
|2017||20d/19n||12||single supplement (Ulan Bator only)||109|
|2017||20d/19n||12||extra night Ulan Bator double pp||48|
|2017||20d/19n||12||extra night Ulan Bator single||83|
|2018||20d/19n||11||supplement per person for a group of 3 riders||445|
|2018||20d/19n||11||single supplement (Ulan Bator only)||109|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2017||20d/19n||12||supplement per person for a group of 3 riders||3,719|
|2017||20d/19n||12||single supplement (Ulan Bator only)||895|
|2017||20d/19n||12||extra night Ulan Bator double pp||399|
|2017||20d/19n||12||extra night Ulan Bator single||695|
|2018||20d/19n||11||supplement per person for a group of 3 riders||3,719|
|2018||20d/19n||11||single supplement (Ulan Bator only)||895|
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 and parents.
- Learn simple magic tricks before leaving, your success is guaranteed, 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...
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.