From the horse’s mouth
Riding the Gobi Desert
- Explore the varied Gobi landscape - immense arid steppes, sand dunes constantly in motion, serene lakes, and unexpected and vast granite mountains
- Ride with a caravan of Bactrian camels charged with pulling the equipment in traditional wooden carts
- Enjoy delicious Mongolian cuisine prepared by an accompanying chef, and experience desert trade as you have breakfasts of yoghurt brought from the nomadic herdsmen you meet along your way
- Naadam extension possible for July departure
Day 1 1 : UK - ULAANBAATARFly out from the UK to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia; most flights go via Istanbul or Moscow. This is an overnight flight departing today and arriving tomorrow.
Please note flights are not included but we can help with this upon request.
Day 2 2 : ULAANBAATAROn your arrival at Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, you will check in to your hotel where you can unwind a little from your flight. In the evening, you will have your first taste of Mongolian cuisine, meet your Anglophone expedition guide and have a briefing as to how your trip will unfold.
For the trip leaving on the 09/07/18, the initial 2 days spent in Ulaanbaatar will allow you to enjoy the exciting bustle and intrigue as the city prepares itself for the Naadam Festival.
Please note that the tour may occasionally be done in reverse for operational reasons.
Day 3 3 : ULAANBAATAR - TÖV SUD - 1 hour ridingCAMPIn the morning, you will head out, by 4x4 (approx. 2 hours), towards the south. Travelling up and across a semi-desert steppe before reaching Holboo, a place far from civilisation, you will begin your immersion into the true Mongolian wild. Here, you will meet the family who raises the horses you will be riding; you will also meet the horses and set up camp.
Before the end of your first day, you will saddle up and go out for a short ride to start getting used to the Mongolian horses and riding style.
You will have a hearty Mongolian dinner in the mess yurt and then spend your first night sleeping out in the vast scrubland wilderness.
Day 4 4 : TÖV SUD - SARAN TOLGOY - 20km rideCAMPFor your first day's ride, you will head out across the vast steppe plateau accompanied by a caravan of Bactrian camels that, managed by Mongolian herdsmen, are charged with pulling the camping equipment, baggage and provisions in traditional wooden carts. You will spend the day riding in this transition zone of grasslands and desert steppes, surrounded by the hardy, yet beautiful, fauna specific to this environment, and if you are lucky, you will maybe catch a glimpse of the flocks of Argali sheep or herds of gazelles that roam the grasslands.
You will spend the night in your tents out on the plains, and, as every night, the team will also set up a yurt for the herdsmen and your guide.
Day 5 5 : SARAN TOLGOY - ELSEN HUDAG - 20-25km rideCAMPAfter having had a few days to get comfortable in the saddle, the day's ride is the perfect opportunity to enjoy your first gallops across the vast steppe - watching the plateau wilderness rush past. You will ride to Bayan Hills, where you may encounter high-altitude fauna such as the Siberian Ibex and the Argali sheep.
The immensity and solitude of the landscape, as well as the warmth and uncomplicated nature of your interaction with the Mongolian team will provide you with a true sense of what it's like to live and understand this country and culture. You will make your way to your camping ground at Elsen Hudag where several nomadic families have also often set up their yurts for the night, due the the proximity of a water source.
Day 6 6 : ZORGOL HAIRKHAN - 20-25km rideCAMPToday you will turn the horses towards the east and ride to the mountains of Zorgol Hairkhan: a stark contrast with the flat steppe. It is a place steeped in history, and the Khan himself is said to have wintered here while in conflict with a competing leader. You should meet more nomads and livestock, as well as a breeding population of Cinereous vulture at Zorgol.
At the end of the afternoon, you will make your way back down to the yurts in Baruunbayan Valley where you will enjoy more traditional Mongolian cuisine and retire to your tent.
Day 7 7 : UUSHIG - BAGA ZORGOL HAIRHAN UUL - 25km rideCAMPYou continue riding east. You will pass the a small lake called Hariin Nuur, with the opportunity to spot more of the local birds, including waterfowl. You will cover approximately 25 km until your reach the Baga Zorgal Hairkhan Moutains. This regions provides excellent pasture grounds, and many nomadic families will have decided to stop with their livestock there.
You will pitch camp in this beautiful environment and scan the ridges for Siberian Ibex and Lammergeiers (Bearded vulture).
Day 8 8 : IKH ZORGOL HAIRHAN UUL - 25-30km rideCAMPThe region you will ride through today is quite variable in terms of terrain as it is considered the transition zone of the Gobi desert, meaning you will discover a true grassland steppe, a semi-arid steppe, sand dunes and also giant rock formations several hundred metres high.
With the giant Zorgol Hairhan rock formations always in sight, you will spend the afternoon riding across one of the inhabited steppes in this region of the desert.
The Mongolian people are known for their singing and, around your camp in the evening, your guides will sing traditional Mongolian songs for you - songs evoking the steppe, the horses, family and the clear Mongolian sky. It is truly an unforgettable experience to hear these songs sung with such passion and understanding from people native to this intriguing region.
Day 9 9 : IKH ZORGOL HAIRHAN UUL - 20km rideCAMPA full day spent riding in this dramatic landscape surrounded by majestic mountains will offer you the chance to further explore this environment and the wildlife that calls it home.
You will spend the night in the same area as the night before and as you are setting up your camp at dusk, you may be able to hear the cries of the wolves that inhabit the plain and come out in the evening.
Day 10 10 : IKH ZORGOL HAIRHAN UUL - ARBURD SANDS - 25-30km rideCAMP YOURTE ARBURD SANDSYou will spend a full day in the saddle riding towards Arburd Sands, that extend for about 20 kms. Tonight you will sleep at Arburd Sands Ger Camp; ger is the Mongolian word for yurt. This camp is dedicated to the creation of jobs and also the principles of eco-tourism.
During the day's ride, you will most likely pass several nomadic herder families. The people who call this open and vast landscape home are fascinating, almost all of the families in the area are nomadic herdsmen, and with your guides and interpreter you will maybe have the chance to meet them and learn about their way of life.
Day 11 11: ARBURD SANDS - 15-20km rideCAMP YOURTE ARBURD SANDSYour last day spent on horse back will be short, yet intense. Your route will take you through the Arburd Sands, an imposing 20km long sand dune, which is a hideout for the area's wolf population. This Sahara-like landscape will differ greatly from the environment of the days before and offer a unique riding experience.
In the evening, you will head back to your yurt at the Arburd Sands Ger Camp.
Day 12 12 : ARBURD SANDS - ULAANBAATARYou will say goodbye to the horses and the team and be transferred to Ulaanbaatar (approx. 5 hour drive). There, you will get settled into you hotel and have a chance to explore the city a little and choose your own restaurant for the evening - sampling a different style of local cuisine.
Day 13 13 : ULAANBAATAR - UKIn the morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the UK, usually via Moscow or Istanbul.
Dates & prices
- Groups are made up of between 2-10 international riders and an English-speaking guide
- A single room, tent and yurt supplement of £365 will be applicable if you do not wish to share during your trip. If you are happy to share your room or yurt this supplement will come down - ask us for more information
NAADAM FESTIVAL EXTENSION
For the trip leaving on the 8th of July 2020, there is the obligatory extension for a further 2 days in order to experience the festival of Nadaam at Oulan Bator. A festival which includes horses racing, archery competitions and Mongolian fighting. Includes 2 additional nights and entry to the festival.
TRAVEL IN A PRIVATE GROUP
If you wish to travel as a couple or with a group of friends and wish to do so without other riders, you can pay a supplement of approx. £330, per person, to privatise your experience. For groups of over 5 riders no supplement will be charged.
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.
2 Mongolian herdsman in charge of the horses, camels and carts
Camels and carts for the tranfer of tents and baggage
Return transfers to and from the airport at Ulaanbaatar (unless dates differ from those of the rest of the group) and all other transfers mentioned in the itinerary
2 nights in 2-3 person yurts equipped with camp beds
7 nights spent in 3-man tents (for 2 people sharing)
Bottled water had throughout the ride
First aid kit
Price doesn't include
Beverages and personal extras
International flights that we can book for you upon request
Supplementary charge for individual room, tent and yurt
May - June 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 05/06/2020 17/06/2020 £1,830 Open Book now
July - August 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 08/07/2020 22/07/2020 £2,380 Guaranteed departure Book now 24/07/2020 05/08/2020 £1,830 Open Book now 19/08/2020 31/08/2020 £1,830 Open Book now
For this ride, there is a maximum rider weight of 90kg/ 14st 2lbs/198 lbs. If you weigh more than this and wish to ride, please contact us and we will advise on a case-by-case basis.
Minimum riding ability
Minimum riding ability
As the baggage is transported by camel, this adds a flexibility of pace to the ride. Riders wishing to ride at a less brisk and sustained pace can ride alongside the caravan.
The horses will not provide any particular challenges, although certain are more energetic than others. You must pay close attention to how you use your saddlebags and change into your waterproofs - never getting dressed in the saddle, as the horses are not used to it and may be spooked.
Tacking ability and participation
Trip conditions and Requested experience
This trip does not rely on any back up vehicle. Instead, your belongings are carried by camels pulling wooden carts, for a minimum impact on the environment and a real, authentic nomadic experience.
You must also be aware that you will be riding in an extremely isolated area of the country. The transfers at the beginning and end of the trip are completely 'off-road' and are often affected by underdeveloped Mongolian infrastructure.
Previous experience of a horse riding trip over several days is a plus; however, it is not obligatory. Riders who do not mount regularly should get riding fit before the trip's departure.
You must be ready and open to a different style of riding and to understand that Mongolians have a very different relationship with their horses than we do in the UK. Travelling to a country where you will encounter a completely different culture and mentality means agreeing to accept these difference and also to respect them.
Arriving for the ride in good physical condition is the first step in ensuring a respectful exchange with the local population: your well-being speaks volumes, and much like a smile, can break down barriers right from the word go!
We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit.
For the final 2 days of your ride, you will sleep in a 2-3 person yurt. Full bedding provided.
In Ulaanbaatar, you will stay in a 3* standard hotel in a double room with a private bathroom.
Vegetarian diets can be accommodated with advance notice.
Do not to drink water from unknown sources. The cook will boil water each day for you to fill up your water bottles but you should also bring water-purification tablets such as Micropur.
On the other hand, the country also plays host to a continental climate of extremes due to the country's geographical profile: vast semi-desert plateaus at an average altitude of over 1500 metres.
Winters are harsh and long (from October to April), with temperatures dropping to - 30° or -40°C in January and February. In the Gobi desert, it is not unusual to see snowfall up until April, and certain lakes remain frozen up until June; you will start to see the first signs of winter at around the end of September.
Summers in Mongolia are marked by a short rainy season, from mid-July to September, characterised by rain spells that are light and brief and generally take place at the end of the day. Temperatures are mild in the north of the country and extremely hot in the Gobi desert in the south. Due to the high altitude, the evenings are cool, even in the summer months.
Winds are often strong, especially during the short spring, where they also bring with them sand storms. On top of this, the changes in weather can be vast and sudden. The temperature differences between day and night are often significant; it is not unheard of, in spring and autumn, to pass from - 5°C at the beginning of the day to + 30°C at noon.
The country also experiences dzud or zud, a Mongolian term for a severe winter; a white dzud signals heavy snowfall which impedes access to the grazing pastures for the livestock and a black dzud means that a lack of snowfall and freezing temperatures create a drought and the livestock suffer from dehydration.
Depending on the region of Mongolia you are choosing to visit, the best time to travel there is between May and the end of September.
In the Gobi desert, in the south of the country, summers are scorching. Certain areas, in the extreme south, may receive no rainfall for several years at a time.
Guide and local team
- A riding helmet is compulsory and we recommend that you take your own to ensure a correct fit. Helmet makers (GPA, HKM, LAS Helmets, Lamicell, Troxel, Equithème) now offer horse-riding helmets that are ventilated, strong, light and comfortable.
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana for protecting your neck and face from the sun, wind or rain
- Warm hat for cold evenings/days
- Waterproof hood or cagoul
- Thermals in case of cold weather
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun or extra warmth
- Down jacket or gilet for cold evenings
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm polar fleece or equivalent (plus a spare in case one gets wet)
- Waterproof jacket - rain can be difficult to predict and it's better to be prepared. In the mountains the weather can change quickly
- 2 pairs of lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Waterproof over trousers
- Casual clothes for the evenings (jeans or walking trousers)
- Thermal trousers for cold days or for sleeping in
- A swimming costume may be useful for impromptu dips in the lake and washing in the river
- Non-irritant cotton or synthetic underwear
Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- One pair of waterproof shoes or boots (in case of rain and also for around the camp in the morning when the ground can often be damp)
- Lightweight shoes or trainers for the evenings
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, wind or rain whilst riding
Horse riding extras
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (camera, sunscreen, lip balm etc)
- A soothing cream may be useful to treat areas irritated by long hours in the saddle
- Backpacks are not permitted whilst riding
- For riders measuring over 1m 90 (6ft 2in) we recommend that you bring your own pair of adjustable stirrups as the local stirrups, while adjustable, are often limited in terms of length
- Sleeping bag with a comfort level of -5° min, even better one with a rating of -8° or -10°. We also recommend you bring with you a sleeping bag liner for extra warmth. Cots, mattresses and woollen blankets are provided.
Other useful items
- Water-purification tablets
- Water bottle (1.5 litres or 2 equivalent)
- Head torch or small torch for moving around at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Protein or cereal bars for the longer stretches of riding
- Toilet paper and a lighter to burn it after use
- Swiss army knife or equivalent (in checking-in luggage!!)
- Small plastic bags for you rubbish
- Ear plugs (may be useful)
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- A pair of binoculars
Make sure any allergies (to medication or otherwise) and clearly stated in your medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhea medication
- Vitamin C tablets
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent
- Eye drops
- Hydrating/ soothing cream
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc..
- 10cm wide bandage
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Hand wash gel
- Throughout the ride, we ask you not to exceed 15kg of luggage per person so as not to over charge the yaks and logistics team responsible for carrying your luggage throughout the trip
- Travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes is highly recommended - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals
- If, in wishing to 'travel light', you plan to wash your clothes throughout the trip, please ensure you bring biodegradable laundry products with which to do your washing
- Ensure you bring something for your chemical waste (batteries, aerosol cans, cream tubes, plastic wrapping), in order to take it back to the UK where recycling and waste disposal is done well and effectively. We advise to, wherever possible, avoid altogether bringing wrapped products to Mongolia. If you do, ensure you take them back to the UK with you
- Medical kit
- 1 pair of medium saddlebags
- Yurt for 2 or 3 people with individual beds
- Cot, Mattress, wollen blankets
- Yurt mess tent
- Bathroom tent with a WC and a shower with hot water
- Bottled water
- We suggest taking with you some postcards of your hometown or photos of your family to show to your guides and team. You may also like to take out a present/ token for your hosts, Mongolians enjoy playing UNO, with foam balls, skipping ropes, pencil crayons, colouring books for the children and sample tubes of different creams.
Visa & Health
To visit Mongolia, you will need to organise a visa. A Mongolian visit visa is usually valid for a stay of up to 30 days within six months from the date of issue. You can find more information by following the link below.
Nationals of the USA do not require a visa if entering Mongolia as a tourist for stays of up to 90 days.
When travelling to Russia or China from Mongolia, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises you to get visas before travelling - seek advice from the Chinese and Russian Embassies in London BEFORE travelling. There have been issues with getting Russian visas in Ulaanbaatar.
Types and cost:
Single-entry transit visa: £35; double-entry transit visa: £55; single-entry tourist/business visa: £40;
double-entry visa: £55;
multiple-entry visa: £70.
Single-entry visa: 30 days within three months of issue;
double-entry visa: 30 days within three months of issue;
multiple-entry visa: six or 12 months.
As of 1 May 2019, companies and individuals who are inviting foreign citizens to Mongolia can request entry permissions online for visa on arrival. This is for single or multiple entry visas for tourism (J) and business visit (B) categories only.
You should remember that at the entry point, the immigration authority might interview you and they can refuse your entry to Mongolia. It is important for the inviting individual or company to provide full and true information about the person.
More information: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mongolia/entry-requirements
Addresses of consulates
- Agence de l'immigration, de la naturalisation et des etrangers
Khan Uul District
Tél. : +1900-18-82 / +976-7
- Ambassade de France en Mongolie
3, avenue de la Paix
quartier 1 - district de Chingeltei PO Box 687
Tél. : +976 (11) 32 45 19
- Ambassade de Mongolie en France
5, avenue Robert-Schuman
Tél. : 01.46.05.28.12
Fax : 01 46 05 30 16
- Ambassade de Mongolie en Belgique
Avenue Besme 18
Tél. : +32 (0) 2 344 69 74
Fax : +32 (0) 2 344 32 15
If you are staying longer than 3 months or have a particular risk (travelling by bike, handling of animals and visits to caves) you might consider a rabies vaccination. Vaccination against Tuberculosis as well as hepatitis B is also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months. It is also recommended to have a vaccination against tick borne encephalitis when you go hiking and/or camping for several days or more in the north of the country in the period of March to November. A vaccination against meningitis is recommended when travelling for more than 6 months, in combination with close contact with the local people.
Cancellation and travel insurances are not included. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend to take out an insurance policy as soon as your travel is booked in case of cancellation.
Budget and money
Accepted by main commercial banks, large hotels and a few shops and restaurants in Ulaanbaatar. ATMs are available in Ulaanbaatar and most Mongolian province (aimag) capitals. Both Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted.
ATMs are available in Ulaanbaatar and most Mongolian province (aimag) capitals.
Telephone and jetlag
Central and Eastern Standard Time +0800 GMT
Western Standard Time + 0700 GMT
Did you know?
Did you know?
The Gobi Desert
Riding the Gobi desert is truly a unique experience.
The Gobi Desert stretches over 3 000 kilometres from East to West, and is located in Southern Mongolia. It covers about one third of the total area of Mongolia, or to put things into perspective approximately six times the total area of the UK !
In fact, the Gobi desert is not an actual desert, as it comprises saline steppes and semi-arid areas. Unlike the high deserts of South America, Mongolia's steppes are inhabited and the nomadic life is still very active.
This landscape full of legends also conceal unsuspected treasures: ice-filled canyons, abandoned monasteries, salt flats, dunes, rust-coloured lunar landscapes, dinosaur fossils...
In a world where electronic devices and telecommunication networks are omnipresent, few places allow for such remoteness from the real world. And that is precisely what the riders seek when galloping across this remote and solitary area.