Zavkhan Trekking was an incredibly authentic way to explore and travel in Mongolia, and any adventurer or horse person looking for new experience in a beautiful country would be lucky to experience this trip.
I couldn't have asked for a better team. Haldi was a fantastic trip leader, he is incredibly knowledgeable about the area, customs, and history, and made the trip easy and enjoyable. Tsoj, Dondov, and Adiya were wonderful, and riding with them and getting to use their horses was so much fun! They were very helpful with the horses and were so kind and fun to be around. Erka is an amazing cook and kept me fat and happy, and Byambaa navigated the most difficult terrain with ease. I feel so lucky to have been in the care of such great people.
We are currently uploading lots of lovely feedback from our 2018 (and earlier!) trips. Also see our reviews on TripAdvisor.
The Zavkhan Trekking Combo trip was great! What a way to experience Mongolia and see a variety of landscapes. The team looked after us well, small groups meant we could be a little flexible with times and places to go. Would definitely recommend to others who want to have a true Mongolian experience!
We had an incredible trip with Zavkhan Trekking. The horses were so strong and tough! We had them gallop over sand-dunes and climb rocky cliffs. I cannot imagine that anyone would let you do the things on horseback that we did! We stayed in untouched nature, saw the most amazing stars at night, and had great food!
Stunning views, great campsites, and the most amazing staff. A once in a lifetime cultural experience. Thank you, we loved the trip!
Zavkhan Trekking provided me the ideal Mongolian experience - the opportunity to step far away from city life and be absorbed in the Mongolian landscape and culture. I felt safe on the horses with plenty of opportunities to canter and gallop whilst experiencing diverse terrain. It was a real joy to get to know the Mongolian team and get an insight into rural Mongolian lifestyles through visiting several gers and meeting different families.
Zavkhan’s team could not have worked harder to make this trip challenging while comfortable. I feel blessed to have experienced Mongolia on horseback in this way.
If you want to be challenged mentally and physically, taken out of your comfort zone, be transported to stunning, breathtaking landscapes, make lasting and true friendships, and push yourself to conquer your fears all while laughing, then go on the Altai trip with Zavkhan Trekking!
Between Anar’s funny jokes and light but comforting attitude, Hamza’s stories and translations, Bota and Kamcha’s amazing food, and all of the wranglers’ smiles and help, I had an absolutely amazing time... I couldn’t imagine a better local staff. I am so happy how this trip turned out.
I could only strongly recommend Zavkhan Trekking: great team that goes out of their way to make sure you feel welcome (they were our family for two weeks) and have a good time, amazing sceneries, wonderful riding with reliable, fun and well looked after horses. This was an unforgettable experience, I could have stayed much longer and hope to be back for other adventures!
I would honestly join you anywhere - after two amazing trips I know how well they are run, and know I would be guaranteed a great time.
If you are looking for a trip that showcases the beauty of the Altai, the kindness of the people in the region, and stunning wildlife, then this is the perfect experience. Zavkhan Trekking provides a realistic adventure within the safety of a tour and group.
From galloping across the earthy open steppe to watching elk running in meadows from the cover of lush green trees, this tour is filled with highlights and moments that will stay with you forever.
I don't think that anywhere else in the world can one go on a tour and not meet any other tourists, while still being continually blown away by the breathtaking scenery and fantastic people and horses.
The staff were absolutely extraordinary and made the trip all the more special.
I'm still almost lost for words to describe how this expedition met all my expectations, and more!
From my first arrival in UB and transfer from Chinggis Khaan airport to the UB Inn, right through to my final transfer for my flight home to UK, all of the superbly planned elements of the trip meshed together without a hiccup.
Anar, assisted by young Hamza, and all the local team managed by Adilkhan worked tirelessly to ensure we all enjoyed the experience of travelling through that very special scenic section of the National Park.
My thoughts are already looking ahead to another expedition with Zavkhan - Kazakhstan Altai or perhaps Russia (Lake Baikal)?
So finally just a huge thanks to you and your team at Zavkhan Trekking/Black Shaman.
I literally had the time of my life on the trip. The horses were phenomenal - small but so strong and speedy, traversing the sometimes tricky ground like troopers. The wranglers are amazing to ride with and learn from. The whole team makes the trip so comfortable with hot dinners to go back to after the ride and always plenty of fun and chat around the campfire. I absolutely loved my time with Zavkhan Trekking, and would recommend it to anyone looking for fun, adventure... and lots of horse riding!
Zavkhan Trekking was everything I expected and so much more. From pick up at the airport to our last dinner, John and his crew were professional, fun and available for all our needs. If you want a true authentic experience without the flowery bows, this is for you. It will take you a little out of your comfort zone, for an experience you will remember and cherish forever.
Mongolia met and surpassed all my expectations – nothing I can write will ever truly reflect my 17 days in the Zavkhan aimag. I’m planning plenty more adventure travels but Zavkhan Trekking have definitely set the bar high for any future treks – relaxed, efficient, safe and professional with a huge dose of humour. What more can you ask for?
If I could, I would do another trek right away!! It was perfect teamwork!! The food was great. The wranglers were very careful with adjusting the equipment throughout the ride. Having Ulzii with us was not only great for communication reasons but also helped to gain further insights into the Mongolian culture. And if I ever need to improve my driving skills, I'll ring one of the drivers!
Thanks to you, John, for this experience. Very special. Have you decided on anything into Kazakhstan or, God forbid, Afghanistan?
My first ever group trip! So excellent. Special place, warm friendly honest people. Thank you very much.
Kudos especially to John for being a great trip leader and for all the stories and for piecing this trip together and making everything happen so well! I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this trip! If possible I would really love to be back on another trip!
As a total experience this was perfectly balanced: the trip leader is clearly passionate about the country, the people and the wildlife and was happy to share this. The riding was everything I hoped it would be, taking us right in to a wild landscape of great beauty and a sense of history. The group dynamic added an extra dimension. Challenging and lots of fun!
A top trip, couldn't be beaten.The staff were outstanding. Always ready to help and very friendly. They seemed to be enjoying the trip, always laughing and joking and often singing.
Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. I hope they had as much fun as we did.
I wouldn't change a thing it was perfect. The staff were awesome!
Everything was very well-organised & thought through meaning we could relax and enjoy an amazing trip! Thank you very much. The horses were excellent too.
[The staff were] very good, everyone was friendly and helpful. Also adapted to losing the cook mid-trip!
Thanks so much for such a great trip!! Will hopefully be sending friends your way soon.
John is a great team leader (for a Kiwi!!). I loved the whole team, really appreciated the attention to safety everyone showed.
Loved both my horses Blue and Saatei. Why can't I take them home??
It was an amazing trip, which far exceeded my expectations. I have a few friends who would love this trip. Enkhee was a great cook; Wranglers were great, especially Tsoj; Oma was a kick in the pants, she was really fun and I enjoyed talking to her.
John was a Kiwi w**ker – but awesome and very personable and capable [thanks Matt, you pommy git!]. I want to do another trip with John and Zavkhan Trekking.
F**king love the furgons!
The best riding experience we will likely ever have! The staff and horses took such good care of us and showed us a beautiful untouched culture and landscape that is rare to see in our world.
The wranglers were experts at their job. We enjoyed seeing how they worked with their animals.
I would strongly recommend a horse trek with Zavkhan Trekking! Incredible scenery and great horses. The safety stds and concern they show for your well-being made me relax and enjoy the ride!
Everyone was amazing. The guide, wranglers, translator, Ian. I had a fantastic time with everyone. I'll definitely return!
You can see Marc's photos on Flickr.
I thought the riding was all very very good...it exceeded my expectations. All staff were very friendly and extremely helpful. They were cheerful and tolerant of our ignorance.
I know the info sent and the website said prepare for the cold, but it was much colder than I thought it would be [Sandi is from Queensland...].
Enkhee [our cook] did a great job cooking for everyone. Oma [translator] tried to keep wranglers and vistors involved in the conversations. The drivers were always friendly and funny. The wranglers took good care of us; they checked our girths and took our horses to tie up as soon as we got off.
John was very entertaining and enthusiastic, he set a good mood for the trip and it was noticeable that he looked out for everybody (sorry for causing stress by going off partying with the loud Mongolians at the lake).
This was high adventure at its finest: scenery, culture, weather, horses, excitement at every turn. Every day was different from the last. I couldn't be more pleased.
Your staff was helpful and friendly at every turn and genuinely warm and accepting of Western foibles. They were just great, and a significant part of the enjoyment of the trip.
Zavkhan Trekking – offers exactly what it states on its website. No florid marketing, no hyperbole. This ‘holiday’ ticked all the boxes and better still made me feel reconnected to the earth and, at night under that fantastic starry sky, positioned centrally in the wider universe.
Yes, mentally, physically and spiritually uplifting!
Just wanted to say I really enjoyed everyones company ımmensely on the Afghan adventure.....how do you descrıbe some of the stuff we dıd ??? .ı.e. hangıng off the clıffsıde on a horse ??.......and then there were the learnıng experıences....how to change a tyre wıthout a jack ?..........all up brıllıant tıme....maybe we'll meet on a horse someplace else one day.
I would recommend Zavkhan Trekking to anyone who wants to have an amazing horse riding trip and see a beautiful part of Mongolia and experience the local culture.
The first few days were short and on easy terrain, then longer and more varied. It was a very good set-up.
This was our second trip with Zavkhan Trekking and once again we had a wonderful time. The hospitality and friendship of the Mongolian people is amazing and the scenery takes your breath away. We're seriously considering a third trip as we find it so hard to say goodbye!
If you enjoy riding awesomely sure-footed horses through the spectacular scenery of the Altai Mountains whilst mingling with the local people and seeing how they live - then this is the trip for you. The horses were awesome, quiet when they needed to be but really easy to bring to life when you wanted some fun.
I loved it all and can't wait to come back on another trip with Zavkhan Trekking. The variety of terrain was awesome - just the change from area to area was a joy. I loved the local people. All of them. I will miss them a lot.
The Altai trip was amazing because of the local people who ran it. What a wonderful way to experience the culture of a country by being invited in to their homes, playing games with them and singing and dancing. I was a non-rider before the trip, but manged fine on the well-trained horses. There was always the option to walk or sit out if I wanted to.
We had a really lovely trip. The people and horses were great, lots of fun and always willing. I have always wanted to go to Mongolia and the people and the country met and rose above my expectations! Thank you for such a fantastic experience.
A much as I hate to say it...it should be a facebook 'like'. Is Zavkhan Trekking on facebook? Russia, Kazakhstan, Silk Trail, Bhutan...these would make good trips. Hint. I will be interested in the Afghanistan trip when that is up and running. Thanks for a great trip.
...an "Experience of a Lifetime and Real Adventure". Do some in New Zealand and keep us informed about Afghanistan!
Most of us came for the riding or the wilderness experience and while these were great it was the local people and our interactions with them that really made the trip special. It is a real privilege to see how other people live and to be welcomed into their homes and their world.
I don’t think any more adjectives can describe the country, the people, the scenery and the culture better than some of the past clients of Zavkhan Trekking. The total vacation was great from start to finish. Yes, not all things went as planned, however not are all controlled by Zavkhan Trekking...
I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Zavkhan Trekking in the future. I'm hopeful I'll be able to return to complete an Altai trip and I'd love to have Jen as my guide again.
Mongolia and the riding has given me one of the most mind-blowingly wonderful trips of my life. Thank you!
[This trip was run by Zavkhan Trekking on behalf of the New Zealand Federated Mountain Clubs travel group]
What a great trip! We really enjoyed it and felt privileged to go into areas not frequented by tourists. It's a wonderful environment and the two area choices [Zavkhan and Altai] gave us great contrasts from the lush meadows to the sparse open mountainous areas.
John did a great job with the diverse range of us, tying in horse riding as well as the trekking. He has such challenges in a country like Mongolia and I was very impressed with the wonderful calm way he dealt with the local support staff and locals in general.
To cater for horse riding and trekking was a challenge he managed very well. We had lots of contact with the nomadic people and it was wonderful.
Zavkan Trekking opened the door to what felt like one of the last wild frontiers left in the world. We never saw any other tourists on our trip and we ourselves seemed to tread lightly as we experienced the beauty of the Mongolian people and their landscape. I remember feeling like I was in a movie or a dream when I was on the trip. In a rainstorm we ran for the cover of a local family's ger. They welcomed us inside to a wonderful fire, hot milk, and their warm hearts.
We rode across open steppe that had carpets upon carpets of wildflowers, through larch forests that glowed with beauty, atop mountains that held eye-watering views, and along rivers that twisted their way through the landscape like a snake. We had fresh local food at our fingertips and a warm hot spring to soak in after a few days of riding. I must say that through Zavkan Trekking I have been given the opportunity to experience Mongolia like no one else. I will carry these fond memories with me for the rest of my life!
I have been exploring Central Asia since 1992, trekking in Tibet and Nepal, riding in Afghanistan and never taking a 'group tour' before. Due to the difficulty organising a high quality horse trek solo, I chose to go with Zavkhan Trekking. It was a much better experience than I could have done on my own.
The extended horse trek through the Altai Mountains ranks up there with other peak adventures such as the Central Route through Afghanistan or doing the 'Kora' around Mount Kailash in Tibet. The trip was hard and adventurous, and one of the best experiences I have ever had.
Great plains, endless green pastures, rocky deserts, mountains, wild forests, high mountain passes, wading through snow, crossing streams, riding in the moonlight, a great team, exceptionally sturdy horses - I got everything! I'd definitely like to return to Mongolia for more. Let my pics do the talking:
(These photos are seriously good! - ZT)
Phenomenal. I had the best time. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone and everyone. Thank you so, so much for creating a Zavkhan Trekking – I wouldn’t have had such a great experience without it!
My Mongolia trip is the best thing I have ever done. The landscape blew my mind - it is the most beautiful country I have ever seen (and considering I am a New Zealander, that's high praise!). Having only had a handful of horse riding lessons, I was a bit anxious beforehand but the support was wonderful and I was able to happily trot along when others went off for a gallop. I met some great people - both in the group and the Mongolian families that we visited along the way
This experience will stay with me for a lifetime and has probably ruined me for all future holidays - how do I top this?
I have been very fortunate in my life, I've had some extraordinary holidays around the world, but this was the best holiday that I have ever had. I loved visiting the gers, I loved being in nature, the vastness of Mongolia, washing in freezing cold rivers. The whole Mongolian experience was fantastic... words can not explain.
I thought the organisation from Zavkhan Trekking couldn't have been better. I truly appreciate the experience and all that you have done to make it possible and what it was. Thank you.
The Altai Expedition trip was, literally, a milestone mark in life for me. In all my travels I've never before seen such beautiful landscapes, ever!
I've never been in a country where you feel like travelling back in time as much as here. Witnessing lord-of-the-rings-like sceneries together with the very warm, open, friendly and well-educated people. Gers wit solar panels, who would have thought?! Women making bread on a hot stove while kids are watching television after they've just finished catching and milking the goats.
I've deeply enjoyed this trip. It helped me clear my thoughts and mind. It is really, a very beautiful country...Thanks to Zavkhan Trekking I had the chance to experience Mongolia from the inside out.
It was an amazing experience and I'll be back again in a couple of years. I have also recommended to everyone that I talk to that they should go on the trip - even if they've no riding experience.The day of Death Pass was the best, but the local people and culture were overall the winners.
The local staff were brilliant. I particularly liked that all the kids came along, made it a much more family atmosphere.
See Rhiannon's photos on Facebook.
Best wishes to you and to your crew! I am still in lala-land dreaming of Mongolia and missing "my" horse & camel - Can't thank you enough for the fabulous trip
Hope everyone has made it back home safely and reconnecting with a wonderfully soft bed. However, even a soft bed is not an adequate trade for our wonderful adventure in Mongolia.
Thanks again John - you and your crew helped all of us fulfill our dream of the nomad life and create an incredibly unique experience.
The only thing that is incorrect about saying that this was the trip of a lifetime is the implication that I will only do it once! After 17 wonderful days with the horses being constantly amazed by the ever changing landscape and people, I've definitely decided I'm going back to Mongolia for more trips of a lifetime.
John and Jen were professional yet casual so there was never anything to worry about or too many rules and regulations that made you feel like you were being herded somewhere. We just sat back on the fabulous horses (or sat forward and galloped) and enjoyed the best riding country I have ever experienced.
Read Farah's great 'photo-blog' about the trip - very funny! www.nahgo.monkeygallery.com/mongolia
See Farah's photos here on Facebook.
Jen was really the perfect trip leader – My only worry before going on the trip was that it was an “organized” group tour. I had visions of being corralled like cattle and constantly directed. Not so with Jen. She was present and attentive at all times but never overbearing – kind and open minded. She can’t sing for sh*t but neither could we… Simply perfect.
See Agnes' photos here: www.flickr.com/photos/yawi2009/
A fantastic and totally authentic Mongolian adventure! Zavkhan is an unspoiled horse rider’s paradise. The generosity of the locals was lovely, welcoming us into their gers for tea and other delicious (and not so delicious) Mongolian snacks! And the resilient little no name ponies that made it all possible, thank you! I would absolutely recommend a riding trip with Zavkhan, but probably only to fairly experienced/adventurous riders.
Zavkhan Trekking provide all the right ingredients for the experience of a lifetime for the adventurous rider. Fantastic horses combined with the incredible landscape make for great riding across varied terrain. There are real opportunities to get to know the locals and their nomadic culture, and experience true Mongolian hospitality. Just be prepared to want to go back...
The only parts of the trip I didn’t enjoy were leaving the horses & wranglers, and leaving Zavkhan. There were too many ‘best bits’ to list - I’ll never forget the feeling I had every morning when I was mounted and ready to depart, I was grinning like the cat who got the cream, waiting to move off. I’ve already recommended you to a few people, and really hope to see you again next year with 2 people in tow…
If you combine the spectacular scenery of the open steppes, dramatic mountains and spectacular forests, with the adventure of riding and hiking miles from anyone and combine it with the amazing hospitality and genuine friendliness of the Kazakh/Mongol people then you have this trip. Add in some hearty, filling food, great company and some interesting experiences as well as a dash of your favourite creature comforts like coffee and chocolate (maybe more then a dash of chocolate).
In my six months in Asia this was the best thing I did. If you’re after a trip where you get to drive through the steppes, ride through the mountains, have lunch with border guards (maybe play with their kalishnikovs), hold golden eagles, and compete in traditional horse games with the locals then this is it. Be prepared though, eventually you will have to go home and that is nowhere near as much fun as this trip is.
Would recommend it in a heartbeat, and indeed have been doing so to anyone who will listen – not just for horsey people!!! In fact, that was the most amazing thing: where else can riders and non-riders be accommodated? Absence of fences and closed spaces meant everyone could do what they liked. Incredible. Most websites advertise claiming that you ‘will have plenty of chance to canter’. Yawn. Scheduled short canters where the horse is dying to get back to a trot... Here, you really really could gallop or canter until you or the horse had had enough, whenever you wanted. And generally the horse is keen long after you’ve been satisfied!!).
My 3 weeks in Mongolia were hugely memorable. Due to the beautiful scenery, lovely locals and wonderful staff from Zavkhan Trekking. I can’t recommend them enough! I loved the company, Khar Nuur, the food (not joking) and Fatty Lumpkin my horse. Thinking about the beauty of the scenery still makes me smile. I liked the silence of the country and the freshness. I’d definitely recommend Zavkhan Trekking any day of the week!
See Tom's photos here: www.flickr.com/photos/tomdanvers/sets/72157622160307263/
This trip was the best trip I ever had. I have never before felt so sad about going home! The boundless space, the horses, the people, everything was great! It was very nice to have a small group. I liked travelling with Zavkhan Trekking because it’s small and personal and not a slick tourist organisation.
Many thanks to yourself and Jen for a fantastic and memorable trip!
See Hanna's photos here: www.heijenk.com/mongolia/Mongolia/All_Albums/Pages/Hanna.html
I have described my time to friends back here as ‘fantastic’. It was everything I hoped it could be. The riding was just great and the places we went to, just as beautiful as I hoped. So, the best part has to be the riding – galloping and not having to stop for fences and gates was brilliant!
The trip on the whole was unlike anything I have done before. I have never done an organised trip and was wondering what it would be like. However, I think this had the perfect balance of freedom and organisation. I think it would be very hard to create an independent trip like this and I am really happy that I picked Zavkhan trekking to visit Mongolia with. The mix of people and ages on the trip was great and it was good to be with other single travellers. Without a doubt I would recommend a riding trip to Mongolia with Zavkhan trekking to anyone. I fancy riding in South America now – why don’t you set something up there as well!!
Great riding, gorgeous landscape, and adventure a-plenty!
See Jenny's videos filmed for Lonely Planet: http://www.lonelyplanet.tv/cowryblues
Overall that has to be the best thing I have done in my life so far!! That is a big statement as I have done a lot of pretty amazing things! If I could I would be back next year!
John, yet again another fantastic trip! I never though this trip could top last year’s as that had been so incredible but the people, scenery and my fabulous horse all made this trip so much more special. Don’t be surprised if I am back again in a couple of years to get my dose of the amazing Mongolian/Kazakh hospitability, scenery and horse riding of course. Thank you John for running such great trips and you know I always would recommend you. (Karen also rode with us in Zavkhan in 2008). See Karen's photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/karenlwild/sets/72157622907213465/
The trip I made with Zavkhan Trekking this past September was more than the trip of a lifetime. I left a piece of my soul in Mongolia, and I’m already counting the years until I can return...The 15 days we spent in western Mongolia felt more like a glorious year in many ways. The trip was truly a dream, and I never wanted to leave. I couldn’t recommend the trip and the company more.
I have been recommending this trip to everyone (sadly most of them think I’m out of my mind). But I had a SERIOUSLY EXCELLENT time which will be with me for the rest of my life. I’ve been dreaming about Mongolia and waking up determined I shall be back some day. See Lucy's photo's here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42824174@N03/
Trip of a lifetime. If you have any desire to go and be intrepid, the Zavkhan Trekking team will make that happen.
Thanks John for the wonderful trip in this fabulous country, every thing went smoothly and still adventurous, a great experience for me; I am currently showing the photos to my boyfriend, he is as enthousiastic as I am.
I would certainly recommend your trip and you can give my email to people who are interested and want to talk to someone beforehand.
The Mongolians: Jenya and Ogi are a lovely couple and could tell us quite a bit about the customs of the Mongolians. There English was good. It was a pleasure to have them around and it was sad to say goodbye to everybody.
The trip with Zavkhan Trekking made my long cherished dream come true. A unique way to explore the vast landscapes and to experience many of the treasures the country offers.
The Mongolians: Extremely cooperative, friendly, Ogi and Jenya were charming, and had a great knowledge about their country and history; it was nice to hear from them about it.
Thank you for an absolutely superb time in Mongolia. We've just got our photos back, and are reminiscing fondly about what a great time we had. I didn't think the photos would do it justice, but I'm pleasantly surprised.
I really, really want to come back to Mongolia. I thought that the feeling would wear off but it hasn’t - I just had such a good time and it’s the best antidote for the serious job that I spend the rest of the year doing.
If you've been on a Zavkhan Trekking trip and would like to tell everyone how great it was then please contact us. We'd love to hear from you!