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 Into the Taiga:

     A visit with the Tsaatan, reindeer herders of

Northern Mongolia

August 30 - September 12, 2016

We Mongols respect horse as our companion of night and day. The horse is the source of joy and pride of a Mongolian herder. And we are nothing without our horses.
— American Museum of Natural History

Each year, T.A. and Victor lead horse trips to visit traditional horse cultures around the world. In 2013, we led a group in central Mongolia and had an amazing adventure. In 2015 we went to Lake Khovsgol National Park in the Horidol Saridag Mountains of northern Mongolia to visit the nomadic reindeer herders who have lived there for thousands of years. The trip was spectacular in every way, truly an adventure of a lifetime. So, we are going back!

Lake Khovsgol National Park differs from other national parks in the world in that it is inhabited by many nomadic herding families. Here, man and nature exist side by side in a balance that has remained essentially unchanged for thousands of years. We will have the opportunity to experience this way of life and to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Khovsgol Lake and the Horidol Saridag Mountain Range. The habitats surrounding the lake are varied and therefore home to a diverse array of wildlife. The wet meadows and lagoons are teeming with waterfowl, wild boar, and five species of deer. Moose move between the flanks of the Siberian larch forest and flower-rich mountain meadows. Predators also roam Khovsgol - wolf and snow leopard, foxes and bears.

 

General Itinerary: 

Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and meet for dinner and lodging at the Oasis guest house. Accommodation is a traditional Ger or shared room.

Day 2: After breakfast, we will head off to the Narantuul--a massive street market. Here we can gear up for the trip with yak sweaters and dels--the super warm robes worn by the locals, a must have for cozy riding in the chilly north. In the afternoon we'll take in a few local attractions, and then dinner. 

Day 3: We will take an hour and a half flight to Murun, capital of the Khovsgol province. From there, we’ll drive along one of the typical Mongolian rough “roads”, crossing rivers and mountains to camp near the village Ulaan Uul.

Day 4: Drive to Tsagaan Nuur Lake, camping that night along the lake area near Tsagaan Nuur village. In the late afternoon, we’ll meet up with our horses for an evening ride.

Days 5-12: Leave the vehicles behind and ride out on an 8 day loop through the mountains. We’ll climb out of taiga forests into alpine meadows, camping alongside rivers and lakes. Along the way, we will stop at a Tsaatan community - the reindeer herders who live today as they have for thousands of years.  After crossing the Darkhad vally (an ancient lake bed) then up and over several high passes in the Horidal Saridag Mountains, coming out along the shores of Lake Kovsgul. On our last night we’ll reach a Ger camp where we’ll sleep that night in traditional felt yurts.

Day 13: Drive back to Murun for lunch, and fly back to Ulanbataar. Dinner and lodging at the Oasis.

Most Mongolian horses that you will come across are ponies by European standards (less than 1.5 shoulder height) but these animals are really tough. They have tremendous reserves of energy for work and can carry heavy loads for long periods. That is the reason why Genghis Khan’s cavalry was the most powerful in the world at one time. During the winter, Mongolian horses are not given any supplementary food by their owners and must therefore rely solely on their summer reserves and forage for what they can find under the snow. Nomadic horses are semi-wild; they are allowed to go freely and find their food and protect themselves from predators. 
 
Nowhere are horses more central to daily life than in Mongolia. Mongolia is known as the land of the horse, and Mongols have a reputation for being the best horsemen on Earth. Even in the twenty-first century, Mongolia remains a horse-based culture and retains its pastoral traditions. Its 2.4 million people are semi-nomadic and support themselves primarily by breeding five domestic species. These are invariably spoken of in a set order: horses, cattle (including yaks), camels, sheep, and goats. The horse, which is used for travel, herding, hunting, and sport, is the most prized. In the words of a herder who lives outside Ulaanbataar, Mongolia’s capital, “We Mongols respect horse as our companion of night and day. The horse is the source of joy and pride of a Mongolian herder. And we are nothing without our horses.” – American Museum of Natural History

   Trip Cost: $3800

What is included:

  • All meals and lodging from evening of Aug 30 to morning of Sept 12th.
  • All local transport including round trip domestic flight  between Ulanbataar and Murun plus all van transfers.
  • Horses, tack, equipment and local guides for the pack trip.
  • Park entrance fees.

 

For more information and a detailed itinerary, please write to: info@ranquilco.com