Riding up high with the Kazakhs
September 14 - 26, 2019
Since 2013, the Ranquilco team has visited Mongolia on four separate occasions to lead horse pack trips in partnership with fantastic local guides. Through these trips, we've come to love the country with it's wonderful warm hearted people and spectacular wide open and wild spaces. For the first time, we'll be traveling to the far Western part of the country, home of the Altai mountains and the Kazakh eagle hunters. In recent years, partly due to the film The Eagle Huntress, the eagle hunters have become quite popular among tourists, who flock to the eagle hunting festival near Olgii. We'll be taking a different path, packing our gear on camels and riding deep into the mountains to visit local families in their homes. For the last few nights, we'll ride with the eagle hunters as they train their eagles.
Day 1 (Sept. 14): Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and meet for dinner and lodging at the Oasis Guest House. Accommodation is a traditional ger (yurt) or shared room.
Day 2: After breakfast, we'll head to the open-air street market, Narantuul. Here we can gear up for the trip with yak sweaters and dels - the warm robes worn by the locals - a must-have for staying cozy in the brisk mountainous regions we'll be riding in. In the evening, following dinner on the town, we'll see a traditional musical ensemble featuring incredible Tuvan throat singing.
Day 3: Board a three hour flight to Ulangom in the province of Uvs - the northwestern part of the country. After lunch, we'll head to a ger camp near the largest lake in Mongolia - Uvs Lake.
Day 4: Spend the day driving to the Turgen Mountains, with a lunch stop at Uureg Lake. Post-lunch, the road becomes increasingly rough as we wind our way up into the mountains. We'll camp that night near Olon Nuur Lake, where we'll be joined by local herdsmen bringing our riding horses and pack camels.
Days 5-8: For the next four days, we'll ride with the local herdsmen, crossing through the Tureg, Kharkhiraa, and Davaan Khar Mountains. We'll camp on the shores of lakes and rivers, and cross a 9000 foot pass, with immense views of the snow-capped Tsambagarav Mountains and Shaazgai Lake. We may see ibex, bighorn sheep, or wolves. On the last day of the pack trip, we'll descend and stay that night with a local family.
Day 9: Spend much of the day driving to the Bayan-Olgii Province, arriving in the mid-afternoon to our Kazakh eagle hunter host near the Tsambagarav Mountains. Here we get to share the night with the Kazakh family - joining for a traditional meal and getting a firsthand view of their unique and ancient culture.
Day 10: Spend this day riding with the eagle hunters, looking for foxes and rabbits to hunt as they train their eagles. We'll camp with the eagle hunters somewhere near the Tsambagarav Mountains.
Day 11: Say goodbye to the Kazakhs and drive to Olbi Lake for lunch, and on to Olgii City to spend the night at a ger camp.
Day 12: Fly back to Ulaanbaatar and spend the night at the Oasis Guest House.
Day 13 (Sept. 26): Breakfast followed by farewells!
Price: $3950 (includes domestic flights in Mongolia, plus all meals, lodging and transportation while you are with us)
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 21st century, Mongolia remains a horse-based culture and retains its pastoral traditions. Many of its 2.4 million people are semi-nomadic and primarily support themselves by breeding five domestic species: 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 the capital city Ulaanbaatar, “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”.
Most Mongolian horses are ponies by European standards (less than 1.5m shoulder height), but these animals are really tough. They have tremendous reserves of energy and can carry heavy loads for long periods. Accordingly, 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 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 roam freely.