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Exploring the Wilds: Horse Riding in Mongolia

Updated: Jun 8

Horse riding
Horse riding in Mongolia

When it comes to horseback riding in Mongolia, it's not just an activity—it's a journey into the heart of a timeless culture and breathtaking landscapes. Mongolia, often dubbed the "Land of the Blue Sky," offers an unparalleled experience for those seeking to explore its vast steppes, rugged mountains, and rich nomadic heritage.


The Spirit of Mongolian Horse Riding

Mongolian horse riding tour
Mongolian horse riding tour

Horse riding in Mongolia is deeply embedded in the nation's culture. Horses are more than just animals; they are a crucial part of daily life and have been for thousands of years. Mongolian horseback riding is a tradition passed down through generations, reflecting the nomadic way of life that still thrives today.


Why Choose Mongolia for Horseback Riding?

  1. Unmatched Scenery: Mongolia's diverse landscapes provide a stunning backdrop for horse riding. From the rolling hills of the central steppes to the dramatic Altai Mountains and the expansive Gobi Desert, each region offers unique and awe-inspiring vistas.

  2. Cultural Immersion: Engaging in horseback riding in Mongolia allows you to connect with local nomadic families. You'll have the chance to experience their hospitality, share meals in their gers (traditional yurts), and learn about their customs and way of life.

  3. Wildlife Encounters: As you traverse the Mongolian wilderness, you may encounter native wildlife such as ibex, argali sheep, and the elusive snow leopard. Birdwatchers will also delight in the variety of species found in the region.


Popular Routes for Horseback Riding in Mongolia

The Orkhon Valley

Orkhon water fall
Orkhon water fall

The Orkhon Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a favourite among horseback riders. Known for its historical significance and stunning natural beauty, this route takes you through lush meadows, ancient monasteries, and along the scenic Orkhon River. The valley is an excellent spot for experiencing the full spectrum of Mongolian horse riding, allowing you to immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage of the region.


The Altai Mountains

Altai Mountains
Mongolian Altai Mountains

For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia offer rugged terrain and breathtaking alpine scenery. This area is home to the Kazakh eagle hunters, and riding through these mountains gives you a chance to witness their incredible falconry skills.


The Gobi Desert

Mongolian Gobi Desert
Mongolian Gobi Desert

Mongolian horseback riding in the Gobi Desert is a unique experience. The desert's vast expanse, with its towering sand dunes and hidden oases, provides a stark yet beautiful landscape for exploration. Riding across the desert at sunrise or sunset is a memory you'll cherish forever.



Tips for an Unforgettable Horse Riding Experience

1.     Choose the Right Season: The best time for horse riding in Mongolia is from June to September when the weather is warm and the landscapes are lush and green. The Naadam Festival in July is also a great time to visit and witness traditional Mongolian sports, including horse racing.

2.     Pack Appropriately: Mongolia's weather can be unpredictable, so it's essential to pack layers. Include a good-quality riding helmet, sturdy boots, and a waterproof jacket. Don't forget sunscreen and a hat for protection against the sun.

3.     Respect Local Customs: When visiting nomadic families, show respect for their customs and traditions. A small gift, such as sweets or tea, is a thoughtful gesture of appreciation.

Horseback riding in Mongolia is more than just an adventure—it's an immersive experience that connects you with the land, its people, and their way of life. Whether you're an experienced rider or a beginner, Mongolia horse riding offers something for everyone. So saddle up and embark on a journey that promises not only breathtaking landscapes but also memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Extended FAQ on Horse Riding in Mongolia

1. What is the best time of year for horse riding in Mongolia?

The best time for horse riding in Mongolia is from June to September. During these months, the weather is warm, and the landscapes are lush and green, providing ideal conditions for riding. Additionally, July is a particularly festive time with the Naadam Festival, where you can witness traditional Mongolian sports including horse racing.


2. Do I need prior horse riding experience to join a tour in Mongolia?

No, prior horse riding experience is not necessary. Many tours cater to all skill levels, from beginners to advanced riders. Tour operators typically provide well-trained horses and experienced guides who will ensure your safety and comfort throughout the journey.


3. What should I pack for a horse riding trip in Mongolia?

Packing appropriately for a horse riding trip in Mongolia is crucial due to the country's unpredictable weather. Here are some essentials:

  • Layered clothing to accommodate varying temperatures

  • A good quality riding helmet and sturdy riding boots

  • A waterproof jacket

  • Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses for sun protection

  • Comfortable, breathable clothing

  • A first-aid kit and personal medications

  • A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated


4. How long do horse riding tours typically last?

Horse riding tours in Mongolia can vary greatly in length. They can range from short day trips to extensive expeditions lasting up to two weeks. Popular options include 8-day, 12-day, and 14-day tours, each offering different experiences and levels of immersion in the Mongolian wilderness and culture.


5. What type of accommodation can I expect on a horse riding tour?

Accommodation on horse riding tours in Mongolia often includes staying in traditional gers (yurts). These are portable, round tents used by nomadic families. Staying in gers provides a unique cultural experience, allowing you to connect with local customs and hospitality. Some tours may also offer camping options under the stars or stays in basic lodges in more developed areas.


6. Is it safe to drink water in Mongolia?

It is generally recommended to drink bottled or boiled water in Mongolia to avoid any potential health issues. Many tour operators provide bottled water, but it's a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle with a filter or purification tablets to ensure you have access to safe drinking water throughout your journey.


7. What wildlife might I encounter while horse riding in Mongolia?

Mongolia is home to a diverse range of wildlife. While horse riding, you might encounter animals such as:

  • Argali sheep and ibex in the mountains

  • Various bird species, including golden eagles and lammergeiers

  • Wild horses (Przewalski's horses) in certain protected areas

  • The elusive snow leopard in the Altai Mountains (although sightings are rare)


8. How can I be respectful towards the local nomadic culture?

To show respect towards the local nomadic culture, consider the following tips:

  • Always ask for permission before taking photos of people or their homes

  • Accept food or drink offered by hosts as a sign of gratitude

  • Avoid stepping on or pointing your feet towards the hearth inside a ger

  • Offer small gifts, such as sweets or tea, as tokens of appreciation

  • Learn a few basic phrases in Mongolian to show your interest in their language and culture


9. What kind of food will be available during the tour?

Mongolian cuisine typically includes meat (often mutton or beef), dairy products, and simple, hearty dishes. During the tour, you can expect meals such as:

  • Buuz (steamed dumplings)

  • Khuushuur (fried dumplings)

  • Tsuivan (stir-fried noodles with meat)

  • Various dairy products like airag (fermented mare's milk) and dried curds

Tour operators usually provide a mix of traditional Mongolian meals and more familiar foods to accommodate different dietary preferences.


10. Are there any health concerns or vaccinations needed before traveling to Mongolia?

Before traveling to Mongolia, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider for recommended vaccinations. Common vaccinations for travelers include:

  • Hepatitis A and B

  • Typhoid

  • Tetanus-diphtheria

  • Rabies (for those who plan to have extensive outdoor activities) It's also wise to carry a basic first-aid kit and any personal medications you might need.


11. Can I customize my horse riding tour?

Many tour operators offer customizable horse riding tours to suit your preferences and interests. You can discuss with the operator about the duration, routes, and specific experiences you want to include in your itinerary. Whether you're interested in cultural immersion, wildlife encounters, or scenic landscapes, there's likely a tour that can be tailored to your needs.


12. What should I expect from the terrain and riding conditions?

Mongolia's terrain is diverse, ranging from open steppes and rolling hills to rugged mountains and desert landscapes. Riding conditions can vary accordingly:

  • Steppes and plains offer relatively easy and flat riding conditions.

  • Mountainous areas may require more skill and stamina due to uneven and rocky paths.

  • Desert regions, such as the Gobi, can have sandy and challenging terrain. Expect a mix of different terrains on most tours, providing a comprehensive riding experience.

 

 

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