Gobi Steppe Ride

Gobi Steppe Mongolia: (IT-MNRT10)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/mongolia_gobi_steppe_ride.aspx

Introduction
Gobi Steppe Mongolia
This horseback journey across the Mongolian steppe lands is hosted by the Steppe Nomads themselves, the largest remaining pastoralist people on Earth. An experience not available anywhere else on Earth. Steppe habitats once made up 25 percent of the global land area. Today the Pampas, the Puszta, the Prairies and the Ukrainian steppes have largely been developed for agricultural output. Only the Mongolian steppes have survived. The high elevation of Mongolia creates unusually clear air and starry nights the year round. It is an overwhelming visual experience of emptiness and vastness to ride into the great Mongolian void. The silent, treeless steppe, completely devoid of any fences. Stretching away into the distance: no trace of human activity except for the pastoralists themselves and their herds. This ride covers surprisingly contrasting habitat, patchy water sources along the way nurturing wildlife. Wolves may be heard vocalizing at any time in the summer, but usually, they are not seen. We will undertake this horse ride as a "Nomadic Journey", e.g. without vehicle support, in wild terrain.

All our luggage will be loaded onto camel carts; They are Bactrian two-humped camels, well adapted to the winter climate in Mongolia. Even a ger (Mongolian yurt) will be carried to serve as our mobile restaurant.

Truly a once and a life-time experience, complete with traditional camel caravan, hardy Mongolian bred mounts, and knowledgeable and experienced herdsmen sharing their remote and roaming culture with you!
 

Accomodation

Accommodations

This is a progressive ride, so you will be staying in different locations during the trip.

Description
You will be staying in a hotel for 2 nights, a low-impact ger camp for 2 nights, and tent tipis for 7 nights (changing location every 2 nights), making a total of 5 different locations. All accommodations are based on double occupancy.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1: Bayangol Hotel in Ulaanbaatar
Night 2-8: Tent Tipis
Night 9 and 10: Low-impact ger camp in Arburd Sands
Night 10: Bayangol Hotel in Ulaanbaatar

Bayangol Hotel in Ulaanbaatar
Ideally located in the city center, this hotel offers elegant and comfortable ensuite bedrooms. Each room is equipped with air conditioning, a TV, free Wi-Fi access and tea and coffee making facilities. Laundry is available for an additional cost.




Tent Tipis

Temporary camps in spacious tent tipis, with foldable bed-cots. We take along a Mongolian ger (yurt ) to serve as our mobile restaurant, as well as showers and compost toilets housed in traditional Mongolian marquee style tents.
Bring your own sleeping bag. During cold spells early and late in season, there is a slight chance of night temperatures below zero centigrade.  Frost is unlikely, but can happen between June 15th to September 1st.  A four season sleeping bag is definitely necessary early and late in the season.  If you feel cold easy, or your body is small, you should take some care in the selection of  a sleeping bag. The idea of a sleeping bag is that your own body heat will maintain and keep the warmth inside the bag.  It means that sleeping without clothes is better than having warm clothes on.  And small people should not sleep in a very large sleeping bag as they cannot heat the space with their own body temperatures. If you have never slept under the stars: Don’t worry! 
You will find it a real pleasure!
Toilets tents with a drop toilet with wooden seat and separate shower tents are on site. We ask our clients to bring bio-degradable toiletries only. 



Low-impact ger camp in Arburd Sands
This is a permanent camp with 16 gers (capacity of 34 people). The gers are each equipped with cot beds (including full linen), chairs and a table, and a wood burning stove. Restaurant ger. Toilets tents with a drop toilet with wooden seat and separate shower tents are on site. We ask our clients to bring bio-degradable toiletries only.

Room Occupancy
Triple occupancy is possible.
Single riders listed as 'willing to share' do not have to pay the single supplement cost if we are unable to find another rider to share.


Meals
All meals except lunch in Ulaanbaatar are included in the trip.

Our cook will prepare the meals. We pride ourselves in having excellent cooks adept at both western and Mongolian cooking on our trips. We can usually buy fresh milk and yogurt from local herdsmen. Traditional Mongols mostly eat meat and milk products. Mongolians who live in the city have adopted Russian and Western food habits. Although, they still like the traditional foods of the countryside, and frequently also eat these. The cuisine features lamb and mutton, the Kazakhs in western Mongolia prefer goat. We usually boil water all the time, and your water bottle may be filled in the evening. Alcohol is not allowed on this trip.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater for vegetarians. Please make sure to advice us in advance of any dietary requirements that you may have.
 

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Mongolia is probably the most equestrian nation in the world. Not only is the Mongol heritage and lifestyle intimately connected with the horse, Mongolia is an exceptionally inviting place for keen horse riders. The absence of fences and the vast expanses of the steppes and forests are ideal for uninterrupted and scenic riding at its best!
On our trip, we emphasize the quality of human contacts and encounters with local people and respect for the horse and local equestrian traditions, from which many lessons can be learnt.

Riding Experience
You should be a competent rider, fit and capable of riding at all paces confidently. Varying terrain, in the saddle for several hours on most days.

Tack
We will provide you Russian saddles, which are more convenient for "western bottoms" than the Mongolian equivalent. We provide a saddle bag if needed.

Staff
A Mongolian English speaking guide will accompany the group at all times. A cook will follow with the camel cart caravan. In addition, the services of local herdsmen will be employed along with their animals. The horsemen follow a traditional lifestyle in the areas where we will be riding. If the group consists of 4 riders or more, we will also have a Mongolian doctor come along as part of the crew.
All our luggage will be loaded onto camel carts.

Itinerary

Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

Day 1: Ulaanbaatar

Arrive the Mongolian capital and transfer to the hotel. Tour briefing after dinner.

Day 2: To Tseel
After breakfast we will visit the Gandan monastery, the centerpiece for the revival of Buddhist Lamaism in Mongolia. With luck we will catch the prayer times. Then drive south out of the city and enjoy a picnic lunch on the grasslands. Continue across the steppe to a place in the middle of nowhere called Tseel. Our nomad hosts will meet us at Tseel with their horses and Bactrian camels. The area of Tseel has no or few nomads. We select our riding horses. There will be a briefing and a short trail ride.

Day 3: Hoyd Onjuul
Today we will start our ride going west to the mountains of Hoyd Onjuul. In the surround area it is usually possible to spot herds of Mongolian gazelles (Procapra gutturosa) also known as white-tailed gazelle. With luck we may even see the black-tailed goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) which is better adapted to arid environments, indicating that we are riding in the transition zone of grasslands and desert steppes. In the mountain area we sometimes are able to see red deer (Cervus elaphus) which Americans call elk or wapiti. Certainly wolves (Canis lupus) are around, but seldom seen.

Day 4: To Suman
Following breakfast, we will break camp and load all gers, equipment, and provisions onto the camel carts caravan. We will ride for the full day south to the area Bayan Hills where high-altitude fauna such as Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica) and argali sheep (Ovis ammon) sometimes are seen. Argali is the largest wild sheep in the world. Pitch camp at Suman. Usually there are many nomadic families in the immediate area, as there is a water source (Hudag means 'well' in Mongolian).

Day 5: To Zorgol Hairhan Uul
Today we will turn east and ride to the rock wall-like mountains of Zorgol Hairkhan (Sacred Zorgol), which can be seen in the distance all day. It is a striking feature on the otherwise undulating and flat steppe. Zorgol Hairkhan is mentioned in The Secret History of the Mongols, the oldest surviving Mongolian language literacy work, which chronicles the life and genealogy of Genghis Khan. The Khan himself is said to have wintered here while in conflict with a competing leader. There are more nomads and livestock emerging now. We will be able to meet some during the ride. At Zorgol there are also breeding populations of cinereous vulture (Aegypus monachus), the largest of the Eurasian vultures, its size on par with the condor of the Americas. The nests are quite low, on rocks and small trees. Our camp will be at the larger massif, called Ikh Zorgol Haikhan Uul.

Day 6: To Baga Zorgol Hairkhan
We continue riding east, passing the small Gobi lake Hairiin Nuur, with chances of spotting some interesting bird species. The lake acts as an 'island' for the waterfowl flying across the 'sea of grass'. We cover about 25km to reach the smaller- but still impressive- Baga (small) Zorgol Hairkhan Mountains. Usually the pastures are excellent here, why we will encounter some nomadic families with their livestock around here. We pitch camp here and scan the ridges of these spectacular rock formations for Siberian ibex and lammergeiers. Goby-high altitude fauna such as argali sheep are present in the hills and rocks, if, if lucky, may be seen during the day.

Day 7: To Ovor Burd
The Gobi steppes in this area are quite variable since we ride through the transition zone of the Gobi, meaning there are true steppes, semi arid steppes, sand dunes, and giant rock formations. Today we will have an opportunity to pass archeological grave sites dating back to the Hunnu empire, ie. from the time before the Christian era. We will ride for 25-30km eat across the populated steppe and for the full day we can see the Zorgol Hairkhan giant rock formations behind us in the distance. They are several hundred meters high, and are the central feature in the middle of the steppe.

Day 8: To Shine Khudag
Todays' ride turns north, a shorter distance to Shine Hudag, meaning New Well. Water sources are important in the Goby grasslands. Our camp is loaded onto the camel caravan each day. Sometimes we will ride alongside the caravan, but often we will stray away from its straight course to explore interesting landscape features or for great views.

Day 9: To Arburd Sands
A full day ride, for 25-30km towards Arburd Sands, passing several nomadic herder families along the way. The human inhabitants of this open and vast landscape are perhaps the most interesting, since all families in the area are nomadic herders. The sand dunes of Arburd extend for about 20km. They are a hideout for wolves and often you can see wolf tracks here. It is a Sahara-like landscape in the middle of the Goby grasslands, Our camel caravan will need to take a route around the sand dunes, while we can cross them on horseback. We stay at Arburd Sands Ger Camp for the night, which is located next to the dunes.

Day 10: Arburd Sands
We will stay at the seasonal fully collapsible summer felted ger camp of Arburd Sands for another night, allowing for an opportunity to ride out and visit some nearby families over the day. Nomads here have herds of cattle, especially cashmere goats. You may also choose to stay back and just relax at camp and enjoy the scenery.

Day 11: To Ulaanbaatar
The return drive to Ulaanbaatar is about three hours. In the afternoon you may explore the small city center on your own. Distances are short and nearly all points of interest can be reached on foot. Your guide is standing by to assist you in your shopping or sightseeing choices. We will have a dinner together in a local restaurant followed by folk music entertainment. Certainly there will be throat singers. Hotel overnight.

Day 12: Departure
Transfer to the airport, railway station, or your next Mongolian destination. We can recommend a stay at Jalman Meadows Ger Camp in the Khan Khentii Protected Area, which provides for a sharp contrast to the Gobi Steppes experience.

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Naadam Games Extension (mandatory for July 9th, 2019 departure)

July 9th Ulaanbaatar
Arrive in the Mongolian capital by flight. If you arrive today we provide transfer to your hotel. You may explore the city on your own for the rest of the day. Distances are short and nearly all points of interest can be reached by foot. Minor archery competitions and trainings will already start today such as children’s archery, Buryat style archery, etc. Training sessions allow for good photography. In the evening the horse trainers arrive with their horses and pitch their mobile camps at Hui Doloon Hudag, a steppe area 40 km away from the city center. In the evening we meet for a festive welcome dinner.

July 10th Ulaanbaatar
Today, one day before the National Naadam officially begins, we will drive out of the city and attend smaller, more intimate "country-style" Naadam festivals, usually held in three communities some 50-60km away. This failing, the big horse races also start on the Hui Doloon Hudag plains today. In the countryside you have the chance to get up close to the horse races, and also to the wrestling matches. Local people usually wear their finest traditional dresses, adding to the colorful, festive atmosphere. We have a picnic lunch nearby and head back to Ulaanbaatar in the afternoon.

July 11th Ulaanbaatar
Today Naadam is officially opened by the President of Mongolia. Soldiers on horseback, dressed in warrior regalia, ceremonially bring Genghis Khan's nine white horsetail banners from the parliament, where they are normally displayed, to the stadium. We will attend the impressive opening ceremony, after which the first round of wrestling will immediately follow. In most years 512 wrestlers from all over Mongolia compete, but in some years there are 1024! There are no judges, no time limits and no weight limits. We may try and attend the archery competitions (if not done the previous day) and later make our way out to the steppe area on the fringes of the city, where the horse races take place. We visit the nomadic tented camps that have sprung up, and experience a concentrated version of nomadic Mongolia. Herdsmen have come with their horses and all provisions for the festivities, which of course include airag (koumiss; fermented mares milk) for the merry making. Stroll around the area and you are likely to be invited in somewhere. You may also try your luck at the finals of the horse races, but prior instructions are necessary, since the finishing line of a full horse race of several hundred, is a potentially hazardous environment.

July 12th Ulaanbaatar (same as Day 1 for the standard itinerary)
Our services end after breakfast for the Naadam Games. You will be staying at the same hotel. Free day to explore Ulaanbaatar. Tour briefing after dinner.

--Subject to change. Reversal of trip: Trips may be done in the reverse for operational reasons--


Rates and Dates for Gobi Steppe Ride

Rates include:

Accommodations: hotels (2n.) gers (2n.) and tent tipis (6n.) in shared double, breakfast in Ulaanbaatar, welcome and farewell dinner, all meals outside Ulaanbaatar, camping equipment and all local transport, English-speaking guide

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    A
    201912 day trip, AP except in Ulanbataar$2400
  • B
    201914 day trip, AP except in Ulanbataar - incl. Naadam Games extension$3120

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionUS$
2019 Transfers from/to Ulaanbaatar airport included $0
2019 Single room/ tent/ ger supplement $440
2019 No single supplement if willing to share $0
2019 Private trip supplement (2-4 people) per trip $500

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Gratuities, airport departure tax, lunch in Ulaanbataar, alcoholic drinks, laundry, visa fees, SOS Medical insurance.
Bring your own sleeping bag, riding helmet and short chaps.

Other Info
Meeting: Ulaanbaatar
Airport: Chinggis Khaan International Airport (ULN)
Transfer: Ulaanbaatar

Climate:
                                                Ulaanbaatar area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

4

14

30

48

62

72

76

72

61

45

23

7

Average Low Temperature (°F)

-20

-14

3

20

34

46

52

48

34

19

-1

-15

Average High Temperature (°C)

-16

-10

-1

9

17

22

24

22

16

7

-5

-14

Average Low Temperature (°C)

-29

-25

-16

-6

1

8

11

9

1

-7

-18

-26

Average Precipitation (days of rain)

0

0

0

0

1

3

4

3

1

0

0

0

Source: NOAA


Seasons

The mean elevation of Mongolia is about 1400 meters above sea level (5000 ft), which enhances the sharp continental climate. Mongolia has the highest atmospheric pressure in the world and the pronounced elevation as well as the distance from the moderating effects of the oceans, makes Ulaanbaatar the coldest capital city on Earth. This fact does not rule out extreme heat waves in the middle of the summer. In Mongolia the Central Asian desert zones meet with the Siberian taiga, hence, Mongolia is a transition zone with climatic extremes. Most of the year it is very cold, especially at night.

Winter
Precipitation is low and skies are usually clear during the wintertime.

Summer
Summers are very pleasant just as in the US and Europe. There is a short rainy season in July and August during which most of the annual rain will fall. Around 70 percent of all precipitation falls during this period. When raining it tend to be heavier and shorter, if extended it may cause floods locally. Occasional strong winds can come and go quickly. Even if this sounds like a lot of precipitation during the summertime it is just about the same as in Europe at the equivalent time. Mongolia is known as the land of the blue sky and throughout the year there are 278 sunny days and 9-23 cloudy days.

Spring and fall pass very quickly.

What To Bring:
Dress is very informal but Mongolian sensibilities dictate a degree of modesty in the cut of the clothing worn.  Hotel laundry services are available but you will need to bring two or three changes of clothing for the camping portion of the trip.  This basic list will be adequate for the demands of our trips.  While in Mongolia we will have weather in the 60's and 70's during the day, but nights will be cold.  If you are passing through Beijing on the way to or from Mongolia, be aware that Beijing is hot and humid.

Useful items:
Small binoculars, travel alarm clock, earplugs, journal and pen, pocket knife (put in checked luggage, not allowed as carry‑on), lightweight snacks like granola bars, fruit bark, jerky, trail mix, nuts, tea bags that you can't start the day without, vitamins, water purification tablets, Mongolian phrasebook.
Our support structure is free from vehicles. All our provisions, camping equipment, luggage will be loaded on to yak carts. Even a ger (yurt) will be brought, and we will learn how to use it.

This list is only a guideline for you

 

Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Passport
Visa (check with your consulate)

 

RIDING GEAR
Comfortable riding jeans or Jodhpurs
Riding boots (well broken in) or ankle-high riding shoes meant for endurance rides or ‘ride & ties’. These work especially well when worn with a pair of ‘half chaps’ (knee-high leather gaitors). They have a riding heel, but are comfortable enough to be used for your city and village footwear too. 
Rubber overboots, especially if your riding boots have leather soles.
Riding gloves
Hat (with chin strip) for sun protection
Good rain gear: parka and rain pants or “duster” (no ponchos)

 

PERSONAL CLOTHING
Pile jacket or down vest
Wool sweater or wool shirt
Warm gloves
wool cap or other warm hat
Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts
Jeans
Shorts
Underwear and socks
Long underwear for cold nights (polypropelene or capilene)
Women: Jogbra or other suitable sporty support
Pyjama
Bag for dirty clothes
Comfortable footwear for city and village walking (sturdy walking shoes or tennis shoes or lightweight hiking boots well broken in)
Swimsuit
Bandana or scarf
 
For Camping trips:
Sturdy large duffel bag (30x15x14)
Sleeping bag (four‑season)
Ground mattress (supplied)
 
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
Personal Toiletries
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream (for the emergency)
small towel
Camera and enough extra films and batteries
Belt pack
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm 
Biodegradable campsuds
Minimum 1 liter water bottle (leather bota bags work great for riding)
Flashlight with change of batteries
Toilet paper
Extra baggage tags ("collecting" tags is popular with baggage handlers in Asia)
5 large trash bags to line duffel and sleeping bag stuff sack
6 small & medium zip loc bags for trash disposal
Luggage padlocks
25 feet of nylon parachute cord (useful for tying raingear and saddle bags behind saddle)