This is an adventurous 17-day trek in the remote Altai Mountains of Mongolia, that includes a local eagle festival. The daily plan can be tailored during planning, and remains flexible during the trip. This is an expedition and logistics/weather conditions will have to be considered each day.
This trek takes us to a remote part of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. This area sees no tourism (apart from us!). Officially the area is closed to foreigners, but the outfitter has developed a good relationship with local officials, which allows us access. There will be the opportunity to meet the local nomadic people, whilst riding through a mix of open valleys, thick forest and high mountains.
contact us for departure dates and rates for 2021
A typical day on the trip: Expect six to eight hours of riding per day, but be prepared for longer days when necessary. There will also be shorter days, and rest days as required. For those who would like more riding, it is often possible to ride out in the evening, or to take a longer ‘scenic’ route.The terrain is generally not good for fast riding, but for those who are keen for a gallop, there are some opportunities.
Suitable clients for this trek: This trek is suited to more adventurous riders, who do not mind ‘roughing it’ to a certain extent. The area of the Altai Mountains where we ride is remote and involves some days with packhorses. Riders are expected to minimize their personal gear when using packhorses.The terrain can be tough, and does involve some leading over rough, steep ground (typically less than an hour at a time). A good level of general fitness is essential to enjoy this trek. We can discuss what that means!By September the weather is generally sunny during the day, but can be below zero at night, and can snow at any time. Riders need to be aware of the possibility, and be prepared for, cold weather. We will discuss the gear they need to bring.
Cultural Interaction : Mongolia has seen relatively little tourism, so offers a uniquely authentic chance to experience one of the last truly nomadic cultures. There are no children begging for sweets, or people trying to sell souvenirs. In order to avoid these problems occurring in future we will explain the dos and don’ts.The guides have good contacts amongst the local people, so will be invited in to their gers for a glimpse of local life and offered various ‘delicacies’ to try. They will explain how to navigate the cultural minefield, such as always giving and receiving with the right hand whilst your left hand supports your right elbow…you will remember how it goes. Luckily the culture is quite ‘relaxed’ and transgressions are more a source of amusement than offence!There are wonderful opportunities for immersion in the local people’s’ lives. The women will be more than happy to give hands-on lessons in yak-milking and how to process the milk into a range of obscure dairy products. Herding the livestock is the men’s realm, but there is no problem for ‘honorary men’ from foreign lands to get involved. Mongolians are very proud of their culture and like to share it with outsiders.The majority of people in the area where we ride, and our team, are ethnically Kazakh. and they live the same nomadic lifestyle as elsewhere in the country. They have the same amazing hospitality.
The Eagle Festival: The trip will finish with the annual Sagsai Eagle Festival. The first day, including the opening ceremony and we will fly back to UB on the second day. During the ride we will stage our own small Eagle Festival, meeting local hunters and trying our hand at horse games. There will be the opportunity to discover what it feels like to sit on your horse with a giant eagle on your arm.
Day 01: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar. We meet you at the airport/train station and take you to our hotel. You are free to explore this fascinating city before we gather for an evening meal and meet your fellow riders.
Fly to Ulgii, the main town of Bayan-Ulgii aimag (province). From here we drive south to Altai sum(village), on the edge of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park (4-5hrs), and meet the horses. We start with a safety briefing and pointers about the local riding style, and then begin matching you to your ideal horse. A ride around the local area in the evening will allow you to decide if this is the horse for you.
We start off by riding across open plains, up and over a high mountain pass, and into a hidden world of alpine meadows, forests and fast flowing streams in the National Park. By Day 5 we pass through the Mongolian border post and in to uninhabited ‘no-man’s land’ along the Chinese border; we set up our own ger as a base camp and from here we make our preparations for exploring deeper in to the mountain wilderness.
enjoy beautiful riding days exploring the surrounding mountains. A good area to spot ibex.
We load up the pack-horses and ride down-river toward the Chinese border, establishing a remote camp for two nights. This part of the trip is definitely non-itinerised – where we go will be dictated by the terrain, the weather, and your own sense of adventure. The scenery in this border area is absolutely incredible, and very rarely seen by outsiders. We make our way back toward Altai sum, over the spectacular 3000m ‘Pass of Death’, and down to our camp beside Twin Lakes.
Our wranglers and their friends and family will demonstrate traditional tests of horsemanship, such as tug-of-war on horseback. The bravest amongst you will be able to participate. Feel what it’s like to ride with a giant hunting eagle on your arm.
In the afternoon we head to the site of the Sagsai Eagle Festival and set up camp.
Visit the Eagle Festival. Attend the opening ceremony, and then watch hunters compete to test the skills of their eagles, and in traditional horse games.
Fly back to Ulaanbaatar. We meet in the evening for our final farewell dinner together.
Transfer to the airport/train station and say goodbye.