Mongolia - Big Skies
This is a tour for those that would like a few more comforts than you get on the other rides in Mongolia. You will not have to crawl into a small tent and sleeping bag in the evenings and you will move camp every other night followed by yaks carrying your luggage. You will sleep in yurts heated by a stove with comfortable beds and proper bed linen. This ride will go through the southern outskirts of Khan Khentii and the scenic Gorkhi Terelj National Park.
You start this ride with a short drive to the Khan Khentii Taiga zone. Once you have arrived at the Upper Tuul River, you will be met by your guides and the locals who have already set up your yurts. After one day’s riding in the surrounding area (stay two nights), you continue your ride as a real nomad, without vehicular support and in wild terrain. Accompanied by local nomads, a traditional caravan of yaks carries your baggage and the camp. Your luggage and the yurts are loaded onto yak carts and, while will follow winding trails, the caravan heads straight to your next scenic camp site. You will spend two nights in each location. You will ride over mountains, steppes, forests and through leafy woods. You will generally camp next to a river.
You stay 8 nights in comfortable yurts (a Mongolian tent with camp beds), and 2 nights in a double room with shower / WC.
Indicative day-to-day program
Day 1: Ulaanbaatar
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar. Transfer to your hotel. Tour briefing followed by dinner and entertainment.
Day 2-3: The Bosog Meadows
In the morning you will visit Gandan Lamasery (hopefully in time for prayers), one of the centers of the Buddhist revival in Mongolia. Mongolians follow the Tibetan version of Lamaism and the Dalai Lama is their highest spiritual leader. You then travel out of the city and the Mongolian landscape gradually unfolds in front of you. You arrive at a valley on the Hadan Hoshuu steppe where there is no longer any trace of the civilization that once flourished here. It is a different world of wandering nomads, their horses, yurts and animal herds all making use of this valley. Picnic lunch along your route. You cross the forested Zamtiin Pass to the Upper Tuul River Valley. You will meet your horses at the Bosog Meadows by the Tuul River. You spend two nights here. Each yurt has a stove and small sturdy beds with bed linen. After a night under the stars in your luxury yurt, there is a full day’s ride along the southern side of the Tuul River. You will ride through the southernmost forests of Siberia and the transition to the Mongolian steppes with valleys, woods and spectacular panoramic views from high on the ridges.
You will then ride downstream together with the yak carts along the small Baruunbayan Valley until you reach the great fields by the Tuul River. You cross the Tuul River again on horseback while your yak train heads straight to Bosog Meadows. A full day’s ride in a loop around the Bosog Meadows takes you through valleys and up on to the ridges on the southern side of the Tuul River.
Day 4-5: The Baruunbayan Valley
Your camp would have been loaded onto yak carts the night before and this morning your luggage is loaded before breakfast. There is no vehicular support. Everything – the camping equipment and luggage – is loaded onto yak carts. You ride north towards the Hentii Mountains, across a wooded ridge and into the next valley, the Baruunbayan Valley, where you will spend the next two nights. The next day, you have an all-day ride from your new base camp at the Baruunbayan River to the temple ruins of Gunjin Summa that are hidden in a forest.
Day 6-7: The Zuunbayan Valley
You break camp for the last time. You leave the yak caravan and ride up on to the partly forested peaks. Most trees are larches, but some of the ridges have large areas covered with pine trees. You may get the chance to see the rare black wood-grouse, and black grouse are common. Your camp is erected next to the Zuunbayan River, a tributary of the Tuul River. You will spend two nights here. You will have a full day's ride up to the tree line in the Hentii Mountains, and enjoy spectacular views in all directions.
Day 8: For Jalman Meadows
Today, you say goodbye to the nomads and yak caravan and ride back to the Sharbulag Valley passing the uppermost parts of the Tuul River. You reach your camp at Jalman Meadows in the afternoon.
Day 9: Jalman Meadows
A full day to enjoy the Jalman Meadows Ger Camp. You can also use the day for another half- or full-day ride, or you can sit in the library and read about Genghis Khan and his Mongolia or you can read about horses, of course. If you prefer, instead of a ride, an inflatable raft can be loaded on to a yak cart, taken to the river and you can enjoy a ride downstream on the river. There is also an opportunity to take a sauna by the river.
Day 10: Ulaanbaatar
In the morning, you return to Ulaanbaatar and check into your hotel. You can explore the capital city on your own. The distances are short and a local guide is available to help show you the local sights.
Day 11: Departure
Minimum number of riders 2, maximum number of 6.