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Big Skies Trail

Introduction

This journey on horseback is a trail ride without having to bend yourselves into a sleeping bag or a tent. Group size is half of that of our regular horseback journeys, and all riders may overnight in gers (yurts) which are being moved to a new location – by yak cart caravan – every two days. Meaning you will be able to stay in the basic comforts of a bed (sturdy cot) with full linens, and a ger heated by a stove. This horse ride will cover the southern fringes of the Khan Khentii, the scenic interior of Gorkhi Terelj National Park, which is mountain forest taiga zones.
We will start this horse ride by a short drive to the taiga life zone of Khan Khentii and we will be dropped off at the Upper Tuul River to meet our local crew of horsemen. They have deployed our personal gers at the site already. After a day trial ride in the vicinity (two overnights) we continue our ride as a true nomads, e.g. without vehicle support in wild terrain. We are supported by a caravan of yak carts and local nomads. Our luggage and a fully collapsible ger lodge will be loaded on to yak carts; We will ride in daily big loops while the caravan makes its way to our next night scenic night stops. We will spend two nights in each location. We will ride over mountains, steppes, forests and wooded meadows. Camping stream side along rivers mostly.

Trip Details

Itinerary
Tour Dates
Prices
Practicalities
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DAY 1: ULAANBAATAR

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar. Transfer to your hotel. Tour briefing followed by dinner and entertainment.

DAY 2-3: TO BOSOG MEADOWS

A.m. Visit the Gandan lamasery, possibly in time for the prayers, center for the Buddhist revival in Mongolia. The Mongols follow the Tibetan version of Lamaism, Dalai Lama being the supreme theocratical leader. We then drive out of the ugly exit of the city, and gradually the Mongolian landscapes unfolds before our eyes. By the time we come to the Hadan Hoshuu steppes valley, there are no traces of the so-called civilization any more. Another world of pastoralist nomads with their horses, gers and livestock are making use of this summer pasture. Picnic lunch en route. We will cross across the forested Zamtiin Pass into the Upper Tuul River Valley. We will meet the yak carts and the horses at Bosog Meadows, stream side of the Tuul River. We will spend two overnights here. Each ger will have a stove and strong cots with full bedding. After a night under the stars in our luxurious ger (yurt) tented camp, we will make a full day trial ride on the southern side of the Tuul River, up the valleys, forests and on to the ridges with stunning panoramic views of the habitat of southernmost Siberian forests as it makes the transition to Mongolian steppes. We will now ride along with the yak carts downstream along the tiny Baruunbayan until we come to the large meadows by the Tuul River. Again, cross the Tuul River with the horses while our caravan heads straight for our Bosog Meadows, which will be our last night stop. Full day ride loop out of Bosog Meadows will bring us up the valleys and ridges on the southern side of Tuul River.

DAY 4-5: TO BARUUNBAYAN VALLEY

The day before our entire camp of gers (yurts) have already been loaded on the yak carts, and now our luggage is being loaded before breakfast. Our support structure is free from vehicles. All our provisions, camping equipment, luggage’s will be loaded on to yak carts. We will ride and make way north towards the Khentii Mountains, across the forested ridge into the next valley, the Baruunbayan, where we will again spend another two overnights. Riders will separate at some point and ride a most scenic loop. The next day we will make a full day ride excursion from our new base camp at Baruunbayan River, to Gunjin Sum, a temple ruin hidden in the forest.

DAY 6-7: TO ZUUNBAYAN VALLEY

Pack up and load the caravan for the last time. We set out separating ourselves from the yak carts caravan riding up the partly forested ridges. Most trees as larch, however some of the ridges there are larger patches of Pine, there is a real possibility to come across the rare Black-billed Capercaillie. But also Black Grouse which is more common. Our ger camp will be built next to the Zuunbayan River, a tributary of the Tuul River. We spend two nights at this place. One full day we will ride up towards the tree line of the Khentii Mountains, with spectacular scenery and views in all directions.

DAY 8: TO JALMAN MEADOWS

Today we say good bye to the herders and their yak carts caravan, and head on horseback to the Sharbulag Valley, crossing the uppermost parts of the Tuul River. We reach the small ger camp at Jalman Meadows mid afternoon. Stay overnight in the ger camp.

DAY 9: JALMAN MEADOWS

A full day to enjoy the setting of Jalman Meadows Ger Camp. You may use the day for an additional half or full day ride.

Or lean back in the library ger with good reads on Genghis Khan, contemporary Mongolia or horses for that matter. If you like to replace the ride with a float on Russian catarafts downstream using inflatable rafts which will be loaded to a yak cart and taken to the river side. There is also a possibility of a river side sauna at stream side.

DAY 10: TO ULAANBAATAR

A.m. Return to Ulaanbaatar and check into the hotel. See the capital city on your own. Distances are short. The local guide is standing by to assist where your points of interest are located.

DAY 11: DEPARTURE

Transfer out to your next destination.

DATES EX ULAANBAATAR:

BST01: 02-12 June (Sunday/Wednesday)

BST02: 09-21 July (Tuesday/Sunday) Naadam ext

BST03: 01-11 August (Thursday/Sunday)

PRICE ex Ulaanbaatar:

2 – 6 members: USD 3600 per person

Single room/ger camp supplement (4n): USD 160

Single ger outing supplement (6n): USD 1500

Private trip supplement:

2/3 members USD 500 per trip

4/up members no charge

TRANSPORT:
On this tour, apart from the short drive to the the starting point of our horse riding adventure and back to the city we will not rely on any motor vehicle support. Instead we utilize traditional wooden carts, that Mongolian families still use moving from one pasture to another. Here we will travel by yak cards and riding horses.

ACCOMMODATION:
For this exclusive trip we carry with us a fully collapsible ger camp, including showers and compost toilets. The gers are each equipped with cot beds (including full linen), chairs and a table, and a wood burning stove. For two nights we stay at our own low-impact ger camp at Jalman Meadows. In UB you will stay at the Bayangol Hotel in Deluxe Rooms. All accommodation in double occupancy.

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 four riders or more, we will also have a Mongolian doctor come along as part of the crew.

MEALS:
Our cook will prepare the meals. We pride ourselves in having excellent cooks adept at both western and Mongolian cooking on our trips. There is no problem accommodating vegetarians on our trips. We can usually buy fresh milk and yogurt from local herdsmen.

MINIMUM RIDING ABILITY:
You should be a competent rider, fit and capable of riding horse at all paces confidently. We will cover varying terrain, and will be in the saddle for several hours on most days.

NAADAM GAMES:
There is a Naadam Festival extension possible for BST02. There will be horseraces with almost 1000 race horses on the plains outside the city. As well as wrestling and archery.

The cost is additional USD 720 per person.

REVERSAL OF TRIP:
Riding tours may be done in the reverse for operational reasons.

There are other language guides such as Russian, French, German, Italian, Korean etc. available at additional cost, booked and confirmed ahead of time.

INCLUDES:
Leadership, breakfast every day in UB, welcome and farewell dinner. All meals outside Ulaanbaatar. All overnights in hotels (2n) in shared double gers (8n), camping equipment and all local transport.

EXCLUDES:
Laundry. Drinks, lunch in Ulaanbaatar. Air or train tickets in and out of Mongolia. Visa fee. Local medevac coverage.