Our Mongolia Horse Trekking Tours
On our Mongolia horse trekking tours there are no prescribed routes. Just the freedom of riding out on the Mongolian steppe.
The horse is a symbol of the strength of spirit, freedom, and independence in Mongolia. And, in a country of great horsemen and women what could be a better way of exploring wild Mongolia than on horseback?
We research, design, and lead all trips ourselves in partnership with local herding families that we work in long-term local community partnerships with.
Our Mongolia horse trekking tours are different in that we leave the route entirely flexible and in the hands of your host herder guide/horse wrangler as this leads to a less regimented experience and a more organic and Mongolian type of exploration. So many horse trekking experiences offered in Mongolia have rigid routes and itineraries with a daily breakdown and that just seems wrong in a country of such freedom. Instead, with us, the focus becomes getting to meet and know the Mongolian host herder guide/horse wrangler in the areas where they consider home.
For more details of riding with us, see the Further Details section at the end of this page or email Jess with your questions.
Tailor Made Horse Trekking Tours
If you are travelling with children and are interested in an extended horse trek, we do not take children on our small-group trips but can arrange a private trip for you.
Khangai Nomad Trails |14 Days | 5 days riding
In partnership with Tomorbat herding family
Mongolian’s divide their country into three distinct eco regions – Gobi, Khangai and Tal Kherem Bus – desert, mountain and steppe. Khangai describes the mountain steppe and mountain forest steppe regions of their country and that’s the region that this trip with a five-day wilderness horse trek focuses on. The whole area is dominated by wilderness – rugged mountains, alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, river valleys and the southern-forested fringes of the Siberian Taiga. Landscapes play an important part in the way of life of rural Mongolians and as you discover and explore the different regions of the Khangai, so you’ll experience the diversity of the way of life of the people that make their home in these landscapes.
Khovsgol Migration Trails | 16 Days | 9 days riding
In partnership with the Baasanchuluu herding family
Khovsgol Nuur National Park in northern Mongolia is justifiably considered a highlight of Mongolia. But, there is so much more to it than the famous lake. There is a wide range of habitats – wet meadows, shallow ponds, coniferous forest, steppe woodland, open steppe, alpine meadow, high mountains and the lake and lakeshore. On this trip you’ll get to experience all those different aspects as we show you a more local and human side to this remarkable area on an extended horse trek through the landscapes of Khovsgol Nuur National Park, the Khoridol Saridag Mountains Strictly Protected Area and the wild immensity of the Darkhad Valley.
Wild Terelj Trails | 6 Days | 5 days riding
In partnership with the Naraa herding family
Yes, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is one of Mongolia’s most visited destinations and it is included in many general tour itineraries but this is not about the ’must see’ sights. The hinterland of Terelj is a stunning area to explore in its own right – especially as you’ll be going a little more off the beaten trail as you horse trek and wild camp through an ecoregion with habitats as diverse as long river valleys, barren mountain tops, and high open Mongolian steppe, coniferous forests of Siberian Pine and Siberian Larch and sub-alpine meadows.
Living With The Tsaatan |11 Days | 8 days horse trek | Can be extended to include Khovsgol Nuur National Park
In partnership with the Narankhuu herding family
Located in the far north of Mongolia, the Darhad Depression is a broad expanse of open steppe and low forested hills and home to several thousand square kilometres of natural habitat classified as taiga (also known as the boreal forest). This vast region is Tsagaan Nuur, and as well as forming the northernmost tip of Mongolia, it provides the home range for the world’s southern-most indigenous reindeer population. This experience allows you to live alongside the Tsaatan and experience their way of life. However, this is not an ‘organised tour’ and during your time with the Tsaatan, nothing is contrived or planned. Apart from the road trip to access the taiga, it is a journey on which you must be prepared to step outside your comfort zone.
Altai Wilderness Trails |18 Days | 10 days riding | 3-Day Foot Trek
In partnership with the Bashakhan herding family
Basakhan is a Kazakh eagle hunter that we work in long-term local community partnership with and the main trek that forms the centrepiece of the itinerary was designed and put together between EL and Bashakhan. It is Bashakhan’s local knowledge that makes this itinerary so special as you experience a different more hidden side of the Altai as you trek with Bashakhan from his summer pasture at Tsengel Khairkhan to the Altai Tavan Bogd Lakes of Khoton and Khurgan Nuur. Although this brief description does not do this remarkable region justice – it is unexpectedly beautiful. An alternative to the popular Tsagaan Gol trek. Because of the way we work you’ll get an original insider experience – a more intimate and local introduction to the Altai region – a side that few other travellers get to see and experience.
Riding With Eagle Hunters | 8 days | 4 days riding| Late October to February only
In partnership with Mongol Kazakh eagle hunters Bashakhan & Asker
Amid the arid yet strikingly beautiful landscapes of western Mongolia, the Kazakh eagle hunters have a way of life that has been shaped by history, geography and political change. Out here, all schedules go out of the window. You’re on nomad time, and the daily activities depend on your host family, the eagle hunter, and the weather conditions. Days are spent trekking in the mountains on foot, or heading out on horseback. You’ll witness the eagle hunt, and the close relationship and communication needed between hunter and eagle. But leave your preconceptions behind.
Definitely the stars of the show!
The horses range in size from 12 to 14 hands high. Yes, they’re smaller than the horses you may ride at home but they’re strong, sturdy and very tough and able to cope with riders (or equipment if a pack-horse) up to our set weight limit of 95kg*. They have huge reserves of energy. Much more energy than you will have anyway!
*If you are over 95kg, just let Jess know as we treat each case indivdually.
The horses are working horses, used by the local herders we work in long-term local community partnership with. When not being used as a riding horse, they live free – grazing on the steppe. They are responsive, but are not considered solely riding horses or ‘broken’ as to the same extent as horses in the West.
We have known the herders for over 15 years and although their relationship to their horses is practical (towards their livestock, herders are neither cruel nor particularly affectionate. Although they are an integral part of nomadic life, there can be no room for sentimentality) the horses are well cared for.
For your own information, only the horses in western Mongolia used by the Kazakh eagle hunters and those used by the Darkhad on Khovsgol Lake in the winter months are shod. Horses throughout the rest of the country are typically unshod.
Pace And Experience
It is difficult to describe a typical day, as they vary so much depending on the route, the terrain and the weather conditions. Expect five – six hours per ridng day with a break for lunch with longer days where necessary. The terrain is highly variable, including open grass steppe-land, forested mountains and valleys.
- You should be fit (enough to spend extended amounts of time in the saddle including standing in the stirrups*) and active, comfortable in the outdoors and willing to take on a challenge.
*Mongolians stand in the stirrups at all paces and so the horses are not used to riders sitting in the saddle.
- We suggest ‘strong’ novice and upwards (capable of controlling the horse, also comfortable and in control of the horse at the walk, able to mount and dismount unaided and confident enough on horseback in a walk and trot. However, we check your experience on enquiry and a majority of our rides can be adapted to all abilities by the changing of the route where necessary.
- All of our horse trekking tours include wild camping in tents so this is something you must be comfortable with. You will be expected to help the team in camp duties including putting up your own tents.
- If you do choose a small group trip, our group sizes are small –
a maximum of six. This means we can offer plenty of flexibility. If there’s a mixture of abilities, we’ll divide the group into two for the riding. We also try to match your horse to your riding ability – for those that want to gallop like the wind or those that are less experienced and prefer a more gentle pace.
We do provide safety guidelines for our riding trips but before booking a horse trekking trip, understand that all rides take place in remote regions. Hospitals outside Ulaanbaatar have limited resources so any repatriation – even that organized by your insurance company – would be back to Ulaanbaatar. The road infrastructure considerably extends any time of transport to a hospital. Your trip assistant is trained in basic first aid through the Mongolian Red Cross and we provide a medical kit on each trip. But, to a large degree you are responsible for your own safety while riding. Although the horses are used to carrying Western riders, they do react in a surprising way to a (surprising) number of outside factors including anything from flies to plastic bags.
We suggest you bring a helmet with you –
You will use Russian style saddles. These are provided by the herders themselves so will change in style from herder to herder. We don’t import western style saddles as a) it’s a faff, b) the horses aren’t used to them and c) Western saddles are too long for the shorter backs of the Mongolian horses. The Russian style saddles are adapted to the characteristics of the Mongolian horse and have a deep seat and a comfortable cushion strapped to the top. They are simple but functional but might require a little adaptation for those used to riding on Western saddles.
- The stirrups have ‘character’ –
they’ll be more basic than you’re used to but have a wide step. In trot and canter riders stand in their stirrups as much as possible.
- The bridles are basically similar to what you might have used in the past.
- Reins are held in one hand and the horses are steered by neck-reining.
If we use pack-
The herders look after the horses and help with saddling up, but you are welcome to help.
For what to bring, we provide a detailed ‘what to pack’ list on booking.
Our trips are fully supported with an EL Mongolian team of (female) trip assistant and (male) driver as well as the herder (s) that provides the horses. Our Russian Furgon 4×4 vans provide backup. Depending on the route, the equipment, provisions and luggage will either be transported by the EL van or a pack horse. If by pack horse, they are looked after by the herder trek guide –