Health and Safety
Questions relating to your well-being while riding with Zavkhan Trekking.
With international terrorism and crime in general constantly in the news, you may be wondering whether Mongolia is a safe country. Our personal experience is that it is very safe in the countryside where we go. The local people are extremely friendly and generous. There are no separatist movements or religious groups vying for power (except perhaps the Mormons, but they tend to be non-violent). Ulaanbaatar has its dodgy areas, but no more than any big city. There are lots of pick-pockets in the Black Market in Ulaanbaatar, but as long as you don’t have wads of cash in your pockets and keep your wits about you, it’s not a big problem.
We travel in remote areas, so we take your health and safety very seriously. We do everything in our power to avoid accidents, but they can happen, and it may be some time before you can get adequate hospital treatment in the event of an emergency. Our trip leaders are trained in Wilderness First Response, and will provide medical care to the best of their abilities until you are able to reach a hospital.
The support vehicle is available if necessary. It is vital that you have your own travel insurance which includes repatriation.
Most standard travel policies will cover you for general horse riding, but it does pay to check carefully. We suggest describing to a potential insurance company exactly what you will be doing on the ride (including whether you intend wearing a helmet or not). If you don't already have an insurer you have used previously, we can provide a list of companies that people have used for our trips.
We do not require you to wear a hat, and we do not provide them. However your insurance policy may have something to say about this. Check the small print to see whether you are still covered in the event of an accident if not wearing a hat. We suggest that if you feel more comfortable riding in a hat, bring one along and wear it at least initially until you are familiar with your horse.
Where we ride you can drink the water straight from the streams. Unlike in the West, local people have enough sense not to foul their own water supply, and there are no water-borne diseases. Having said that, we do provide boiled water each day for those who need it, and we also have a water filter (for trips to Zavkhan only). You may also like to bring water purifier tablets with you so you can treat your own drinking water.
Mongolia is a relatively safe and healthy country due to the low population density and cold winters. Ask a travel doctor about appropriate vaccinations, and what to take with you in the way of medicines. See some of our vaccination recommendations here.
Regarding rabies, we can't advise you to not get vaccinated. However from our experience in Mongolia, we believe the risk is low. We have never been menaced by a dog, rabid or otherwise. Since their main job is protecting livestock from wolves, it is good policy to not approach any dog, unless the owner has 'introduced you'. Then they tend to be perfectly friendly. If a dog does approach you - they sometimes come around camp - pretending to throw a stone at them sends them on their way.
The Black Death does occur now and then. We call it the 'marmots revenge' since it tends to be marmot poachers who catch it. These days it can be treated quite easily and is not a threat.
Do you have a question that we haven't answered above?
If so, please don't hesitate to contact us.