WILD EARTH JOURNEYS
HORSE TREKKING IN MONGOLIA
Trip Duration: 14 days
Jun 14 - 27, 2023
Jul 01 - 14, 2023
Jul 20 - Aug 02, 2023
Aug 10 - 23, 2023
Group Size: 8-16 paxs
Trip Cost: $7,895/person
Mongolian nomad’s timeless way of life awaits you. Witness one of the last nomadic cultures on earth. Before setting out on a four-day trek on horseback, you will receive expert instruction. Ride through nomad settlements, through fields of wildflowers across the expansive steppe to Vulture Mountain. Settle into Lapis Sky gher camp and get to know our Mountain Travel Sobek and nomadic hosts. Spend time exploring the Bhukhan valley dotted by ancient Scythian tombs and visits to nomad families. Try some fly fishing on the Tamar river, take early morning bird watching walks, practice your archery skill, optional photo classes, daily yoga lessons and meditation is offered every morning, and get an intimate, authentic immersion at the Nadam festival across the valley from Lapis Sky camp.
Mongolian countryside from the perspective of a nomad, traveling primarily on horseback.
Visit Hustai Nuur National Park; viewing the remarkable Neolithic graves of Öngut, of the 6th or 7th century, free roaming herds of the Takhi wild horses, walks along the Tuul River and its willows for some birding. Red-footed falcons are relatively easy to see here.
Listen to a traditional morinkhuur, or horse-head fiddle concert and imbibe the magical sound of khoomii, or throat singing.
Experience the Nadam festival, horse races, wrestling and archery.
Explore Kharkhorin Erdene Zhu monastery, 16th century and meet its head lama (his schedule permitting).
Meet traditional Shamans.
Day 1— Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, where our staff will meet you for the transfer to our Premier Tuushin/Best Western Hotel, centrally located within walking distance of Sukhbaatar Square, museums and shops. We gather for orientation at 5:30 PM in the Best Western lobby, followed by a Mongolian feast at a traditional restaurant. (D)
Day 2— Ulaanbaatar to Hustai National Park
Depart for Hustai Nuur National Park, 3 hrs drive. After breakfast we explore Gandantegchinlen Khiid” (Ganden Monastery) the great place of complete joy”, the largest Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Built in 1838, the monastery felt the purges of 1937, however was not destroyed as was open as a “show monastery” until 1990 when full religious ceremonies returned. After a ceremonial butter lamp offering, we set off to Hustai. Depart by bus across the vast grasslands, steppes, like a ship on the sea of the steppes. Arrive Hustai in time for lunch. Settle into ghers. Drive to the remarkable Neolithic graves of Öngut, of the 6th or 7th century A.D. We then explore the Tuul River and its willows for some birding. Red-footed falcons are relatively easy to see here. In the evening, take a game drive with high probability of seeing some of the free roaming herds of the Takhi.
Overnight in gers. (B.L.D)
Day 3— Hustai to Kharkhorin
Today we’ll journey west through vast grasslands, stopping for lunch at Eden Camp nestled into the Khagan Khan Mountain, known locally as “Castration Mountain”. Pelgye Dorje, a great Tibetan Buddhist Saint, assassinated an evil Bon ruler Langdharma in the 10th century, concealing a knife while dancing tsam- sacred dance. Legend has it; he escaped to this mountain and opened a monastery. Tragically the Oirats, fighting to expel the Manchu Chinese, castrated the monks giving the mountain its unsavory name. Onwards to Kharakhorim, roughly 4 hours drive from Hustai. If we are lucky, we may ride a camel in Elsen Tasarkhai “Little Gobi” before arriving late in the afternoon in the town of Kharkhorin. Nearby are the ruins of Kharahorim , a legendary capital of the Mongolian Empire, established by Genghis Khan and his son in the 13th century.
Urguu Gher Camp. (B.L.D)
Day 4 Kharkhorin/Bulgan Sum
In 1220 Chinggis Khan moved the capital of his empire to Kharakhorin, where it served for 400 years as the political, cultural and economic capital. It’s hard to fathom what a vibrant place this once was. Missionary William of Rubruck (1215-95) dismissed it as a city no bigger than the suburb of St. Denis in Paris. Giovanni de Piano Carpine (1180-1252) an envoy sent by the Pope, described the city vaguely as at a “a distance of a year’s walk” from Rome. French sculptor Guillaume Bouchier of Paris, captured by the Mongols in Hungary built a famous silver tree fountain dispensing mare’s milk from lion heads. Rubruck disparingly describes various pleasure domes and epic feasts at this cosmopolitan town once filled with craftsmen. Vengeful Manchurian soldiers destroyed Kharakhorin in 1388 and whatever was left was used to build Erdene Zuu Khiid in the 16th century. Erdene Zhuu was hit badly by Stalinist purges. Erdene Zhuu means “One Hundred Treasures” and was the first Buddhist monastery built in Mongolia, started by Abtai Khan in 1586. At its peak 300 ghers and 1000 monks resided here. Many precious items were buried and hidden during the purges and are shown today in the monastery. Venture into Erdene Zhu monastery, built in the 16th century. One of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, Erdene Zhu has been a place of Buddhist activity for more than 400 years. His schedule permitting, meet with Khambo Lama, who will share with us the concept of Hiimur—“windhorse” a uniquely Mongolian Buddhist concept of the spirit. We then have a chance to wander around the Monastery grounds. Lunch at Morin Jim’s (‘Horse Trails’ restaurant) before continuing our bus journey on to Tsetserleg, “the Garden City”, ringed by stone mountains, forest lined streets with a temple overlooking the town. We may stop for tea at the famous Fairfield’s before continuing the final 42 km to Lapis Sky Camp, nestled in the Bunkhan Valley. Our guides and nomad hosts welcome us and make traditional offering to the peaceful and wrathful ancestors. Settle into ghers.
Lapis Camp (B,L, D)
Day 5— Lapis Sky Camp. Bhukhan Valley
Optional yoga led by Chas Miller and photography class by professional photographer, Thomas Kelly with a visit to nearby nomad camp. Witness nomad neighbors milk yaks and horse mares. Brush up on your horseback-riding skills and go for a warm-up ride in the Bhukhan valley. Evening Story telling by local nomads (3 miles optional horse riding, 2 hrs)
Lapis Sky Ger Camp (B,L,D)
Day 6— Bhukan Valley
Optional Yoga and Pranayama. Then join Professional Photographer, Thomas Kelly for a photo walk, heightening your photographic skills and capturing images of the beautiful countryside and nomadic way of life. Go fishing for grayling and lenok trout, or practice with your aim with a bow and arrow. In the afternoon, mount your horse and pay a visit to nomads camped nearby. Spend time in their gers, learning about their everyday customs. Tonight, gather for a Mongolian barbeque
Lapis Sky camp (B,L,D)
Day 7— Begin Horse Trek/Vulture Mountain
Morning bird watching or optional Yoga and Pranayama and fishing. We saddle up after lunch and set out on horseback across the sweeping steppes. Ride 3 hours to Vulture Mountain and camp in a lovely meadow setting. Optional walk up Vulture Mountain. 1.5 hour round trip. (9 miles horse riding, 3 hours)
Camping. (B, L, D)
Day 8— Mandala Mountain
The second day of our horse trek is an invigorating 5-hour ride over majestic mountain passes and circling Buddhist Ovoos, ceremonial cairns often set in high places. In the afternoon, we will camp at the base of Mandala Mountain, a sacred place for Mongol ancestors. (12 miles horse riding, 5 hours)
Camping, (B ,L, D)
Day 9— Horse Trek ends/Bhukhan Valley
Silent walk with your ancestor to Mandala Mountain and attend a Buddhist ceremony at a sacred ovoo on top of the mountain. Enjoy the rest of the day at Mandala Mountain camp going for walks, fishing, improving your riding skills or taking an optional horseback ride to a nearby nomad settlement. Evening mongolian barbeque, bonfire and nomad singing. (3 miles optional horse riding, 1 hour)
Camping, (B, L, D)
Day 10— End Horse Trek/Bhukhan Valley
Ride back across the steppe to Bhukhan valley today, or, if you wish, return by jeep. Settle into your gers at Lapis Sky camp and enjoy time to relax and refresh this afternoon before gathering for a Shaman performance followed by a hearty dinner in our dining ger.
(Lapis Camp, B, L, D)
Day 11— Naadam Festival/Farewell
Today, we’ll take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the local Nadam festival. Nadam takes place every summer in Mongolia, pitting men and boys against each other in age-old contests of manliness and physical prowess. Young men train all year to compete in the three events: bareback horse racing, wrestling, and archery. Witness the excitement close-up, taking photographs in the middle of the action and even meet the winners and offer medals
Lapis Sky Camp. (B, L, D)
Day 12— Lapis Sky Ger Camp
Take advantage of a free day at Lapis Sky to soak up our peaceful surroundings. Set out on a final horseback ride to visit nomad winter camp, go for a hike or a fishing expedition, practice yoga or archery, pay a last visit with the nomads, or just relax at the camp. Later, listen to a traditional morinkhuur, horse-head fiddle concert, as you sit around the bonfire at camp and say farewell to your nomad horsemen and hosts.
Lapis Sky Camp. (B,L,D)
Day 13– Ulaanbatar
After breakfast, journey back to Ulaanbaatar. Farewell dinner at Namaste Restaurant.
(B, L, D)
Day 14– Ulaanbatar/U.S
Departures to the airport for your homeward flights.
$600.00 Single Supplement
Expert leadership from experienced adventure guides
Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
Meals as noted in the daily itinerary
Potable water and snacks throughout
All tips and gratuities for support staff with the exception of your lead adventure guide(s)
All necessary horseback riding gear
All group entrance fees, activities, and ground transportation
Arrival and departure day airport transfers
Price Does Not Include
International airfare, any airport taxes, or excess baggage charges
Optional tips to your lead adventure guides
Personal expenses such as, laundry & alcohol
Airport transfers if arriving outside of Day 1 or departing outside of the Day 14
Optional travel protection