Horse riding vacations in Mongolia

You don’t need lots of experience to go horse riding in Mongolia. What is essential though is a willingness to adapt and an intrepid nature, because this is a land of horses and horsemen, far beyond the regular tourist trail. Conditions are often quite basic, your wrangler guides rough and ready, but you will be immersed in ancient ways of life changed little by the outside world.
Here the horse is traditionally viewed as a symbol of spirit, independence and strength. The vast Mongol empire was in large part conquered and sustained thanks to the speed and durability of its horses, and those attributes are still carefully cultivated to this day. Faced with winter temperatures that can fall to -40°C and the threat of hungry wolves, these are hardy animals that nevertheless display a beautiful temperament when you get to know them.
The Zavkhan province in western Mongolia is reckoned by many to offer some of the finest riding in the world, with seemingly endless terrain that is rarely hindered by roads or fences. You could ride for hours and not see another person – sheer bliss for those that enjoy the tranquility of real wilderness. You can thunder across the plains like Genghis Khan at his most bloodthirsty, or amble gently along woodland paths and sand dunes, drinking in the majestic steppes scenery.

What does riding in Mongolia entail?

Horse riding vacations in Mongolia are usually around three weeks in length, and offer a very authentic form of travel. You’ll be in areas where there is little to nothing in the way of tourism infrastructure, so you will be wild camping, sometimes in remote ethnic communities. You will wash in rivers or public bathhouses in towns, and huddle around the campfire in the evenings to swap stories with your fellow riders and guides.
Speaking of guides, you will be led by malchin – Mongol herders – along well-established migratory grazing routes, over open steppes, mountains and through wooded valleys and coniferous valleys. You may circle the lake known as Mother Sea in Khovsgol Nuur National Park, and through forests in which wary elk watch you closely.
As a rule, you will be traveling as part of a very small group, to minimise the impact on the local community and environment. Trips are often accompanied by 4WD support vehicles with a tour leader, wranglers and cooks. Your guides may be a little rough around the edges but they’re the real thing, people who live this life day in day out; and there is no-one better placed to show you Mongolia by horseback. Experienced riders can set their own pace, while those that prefer to take things slower can ride as part of a core group. Typically you’ll be in the saddle for six hours a day, with the option to explore in the afternoons while the wranglers strike camp.

Our top Horse riding Vacation

Mongolia horse riding vacation, Zavkhan Classic

Mongolia horse riding vacation, Zavkhan Classic

Horse trekking adventure in Mongolia's Zavkhan Province

From NZ $4290 17 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2020: 26 May, 6 Jun, 25 Jun, 17 Jul, 5 Aug, 24 Aug, 15 Sep
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Horse riding or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Mongolian culture

Vacations in Mongolia are as much about sampling the local culture as they are about the landscapes, and horse riding is the best way to explore communities that are way off the beaten track. Don’t expect to encounter many, or any, other foreigners outside the cities. Just a fragmented conversation with your guide can be a very enlightening experience, but you will also visit with nomadic families, often those of your guides, slipping inside their gers for tea.
Depending on your dates of travel, you could also end your trip with a thrilling Mongolian festival. In late July, Naadam is a hugely popular event in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, that showcases the ‘three games of men’: horse racing (a national obsession), archery and Mongolian wrestling. September sees the incredible Eagle Festivals take place in Ulgii and Sagsai, where hunters demonstrate their falconry skills with golden eagles. In 2013 the grand prize was taken by a 13-year old girl.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Honza Soukup] [Intro: Jocelyn Saurini] [What does it entail?: Jocelyn Saurini] [Culture: Bernd Thaller]
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