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Mongolian Zavkhan Classic Horse Trek
Gallop across open steppe, meander through forested valleys, and experience the local nomadic culture in this remote region of the world's greatest horse riding destination (17 days). Too long, too short, or no availability for your preferred travel time? Ask us about other trip options which may work for you. Check availability for departures below.
- 25 Jun - 11 Jul 2017 Our first trek of the season in Zavkhan province. Wild flowers will be blooming and the horses will be ready for action after the long winter. Now we just need you! This trek is timed to coincide with the annual Naadam Festival opening ceremony in Ulaanbaatar (11th July), after the trip. UPDATE May 2017: One place has come available due to cancellation. We look forward to riding with Fio, Virginia, Susan, Emily, Philipp, Hilde, Jesse, Martin and Charlotte, as we gallop across the steppe (or meander quietly).
- 17 Jul - 2 Aug 2017 Mongolia's short summer is peaking, life on the steppe is in full swing, and there's no better way to be a part of it than on horseback. UPDATE April 2017: This trip is fully booked. Our lucky riders are Whitney, Mikaila, Sabina, Allan, Jenny, Merlijn, and Marc and family.
- 5 Aug - 21 Aug 2017 Join us as we try out a new route through the wilds of Zavkhan. Our local team are keen for a little exploring, and have asked us to bring them a group of intrepid riders who are up for a challenge. Does that sound like you? UPDATE July 2017: Guaranteed departure. Join Jos, Jennie, Jessie, Kerry, Lieu Chi, Mary, Rae, Matteo and Gino, for a little wilderness exploration. One place available.
- 24 Aug - 9 Sep 2017 Some would say this is the ideal time to visit Zavkhan, as the heat of summer passes, and the weather becomes cool and dry. Less bugs too! UPDATE July 2017: Join Steve, Julianne, Michelle, Carol, Simone, Charles, Patrick, Henry and Charles. One place available.
- 12 Sep - 28 Sep 2017 Our final ride of the season. If you prefer crisp sunny days, to the heat of summer, this is the ideal time to visit Mongolia. If you have time, you might like to join us on a visit to the Eagle Festival in Ulgii after the trip. UPDATE April 2017: This trip is fully booked. Our lucky riders are Georgia, Catherine, Neil, Helen, Clara, Andrea, Lee, Venable, Janice and Lindsey.
Zavkhan aimag (province) is a difficult region of Mongolia to get to, with erratic flights and challenging roads, which is why we are very unlikely to encounter any foreigners (apart from the odd missionary, miner or Peace Corp worker). Tourism really hasn't made it to Zavkhan. For those who do make the effort, beautiful untouched landscapes, fascinating local culture, and perfect riding country awaits. If you have ever dreamed of galloping across the open steppe with the wind in your hair, this is the place to live that dream.
Despite having run a number of trips to the area in the past few years, there is a lot of new country still to explore. We start off by riding across open steppe, then continue through forested valleys, and up into the mountains of Tarvagatai Uul National Park (9-10 days riding). There are various routes we can take, some we know well but others we are keen to try out. We are really only limited by the need to meet the support vehicle at the end of each day. Whichever way we go, we aim to eventually reach an old abandoned natural spa in the mountains, perfect for a day of resting and soaking in the hot baths, before picking a route back out to the steppe.
After riding we drive west to where the forest-steppe meets the Gobi desert sweeping up from the south. No trip to Mongolia is complete without seeing the country's spectacular sand dunes, and here they plunge in to the clear waters of Khar Nuur, a lovely desert lake. Perfect for hiking, swimming or just relaxing after all that riding, before returning to Ulaanbaatar. In a country full of beautiful places, this is our all time number one!
Finally we fly back to Ulaanbaatar.
The Great Mongolian Road Trip
We begin the trip by travelling overland to Zavkhan, breaking the journey up over two and a half days. We use reliable Russian four-wheel drive vehicles (the mighty 'furgon'), ideal for the poor roads and driven by our highly experienced drivers. We believe that no trip to Mongolia is really complete without a road trip, but once is enough for most people, so we fly back at the end of the ride! We stay in comfortable ger camps during the drive (there's plenty of camping to come).
"The furgons were brill, in awe of the drivers. Couldn’t be bettered! Wouldn’t be the same if it was a luxurious Land Cruiser either!!!" Kat, UK
On the first day of driving we set out across rolling steppe and reach Kharkhorin (Karakorum), famous as the site of the13th century capital of the Mongolian Empire, and where we visit Erdene Zuu Khiid (monastery), founded in 1586. And for the less culturally-inclined, the infamous penis rock can be experienced nearby (although it's really quite small!).
The second day sees us reach Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur (The Great White Lake), a lovely spot surrounded by forested volcanic mountains. Along the way we stop at Tsetserleg to stock up on any last supplies at the local market. It's much like Ulaanbaatar's Black Market, but a more manageable size and without the pick-pockets. The following day we cross the high Solingontyn Pass and reach the wilds of Zavkhan. Keep an eye out for bronze-age burial tombs dotting the hillsides.
By early afternoon we arrive at our river-side camp where we meet our local wranglers, and familiarise ourselves with the horses. We will take plenty of time to match you to a horse you feel comfortable with, since you'll be seeing a lot of each other in the coming days!
Find out more
For further information about what we plan to get up to on this ride please contact us for a more detailed trip plan. As the riding on our trips is non-itinerised, we won't be able to give you a day-by-day account of exactly where we will ride, or how far and for how long. For a description of a typical day's riding with Zavkhan Trekking, please see our FAQ How long do we typically spend in the saddle each day?
See photos from our June 2014 Zavkhan Classic, with Colin, Linda, Franziska, Tabia, Zebedee, Jo, Peter, Anna, and Sabine, from Austria, the UK, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Lead by John and our great local team of Dondov, Tsoj, Adiya (wranglers), Ulzii (translator), Ganbaa, Khuyugaa (drivers), and Enkhee (cook)
|Day 1||Meet for dinner in Ulaanbaatar|
|Day 2||Drive to Karakorum|
|Day 3||Drive to Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur|
|Day 4||Reach Zavkhan in the afternoon, meet the horses|
|Day 5||Day ride|
|Days 6 to 13||Ride through steppe, forest and mountains of Tarvagatai Uul National Park|
|Days 14 to 15||Hike, swim or just relax at Khar Nuur, the desert lake|
|Day 16||Fly back to Ulaanbaatar|
|Day 17||Transfers to airport|
- Varied scenery – steppe, forest, mountains, lush meadows, desert sand dunes, lakes and rivers, you see it all in Zavkhan.
- Perfect riding country – everything from tricky forest trails to wide open steppe ideal for a faster pace, and not a fence or gate to be seen (9-10 days riding).
- Great horses - born and bred in the wild mountains, they will give you the ride of your life.
- Unspoilt local culture – nomadic herdsmen still live the traditional lifestyle and will be as interested in you, as you are in them!
- No tourism development - You are extremely unlikely to encounter another foreigner, and no one will try to sell you souvenirs.
- Deserted hot spa in the mountains – a relic from the socialist days, and still great for easing any aches and pains.
- Relax amongst sand dunes by the shores of Khar Nuur, a remote and spectacularly beautiful desert lake.
- Experience the Great Mongolian Road Trip as we drive from Ulaanbaatar to Zavkhan