Immerse yourself in the Mongolian nomad’s timeless way of life. Set out on a four-day trek on horseback, riding through fields of wildflowers across the vast steppe to sacred Mandal Mountain. Settle into a ger camp and get to know our National Geographic and nomadic hosts. Spend time exploring the lush, beautiful valley on foot, visiting nomad families and enjoying the gentle rhythms of nomadic life. Go fishing in nearby rivers; try your hand at Mongolian archery; and get an intimate, authentic look at a regional Naadam festival at a small-village celebration.
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, where our staff will meet you for the transfer to our hotel, located within walking distance of Sukhbaatar Square, museums, and shops. Following a full orientation with your fellow travelers and your guides, enjoy a Mongolian feast at a traditional restaurant.
Following breakfast this morning, explore Gandan monastery and the National Museum of Mongolia to learn about the rich cultures and traditions of Mongolia. After lunch, there is free time to shop or explore on your own. This evening, we will enjoy a magnificent National Dance Ensemble performance including the haunting sounds of khoomii, traditional throat singing, before dinner together in town.
Today we journey west through vast grasslands, stopping for lunch in the Khagan Khan mountains, traveling through Elsen Tasarkhai, or “Little Gobi,” before arriving late afternoon in the town of Kaharkhorin. Nearby are the ruins of Karakoram, a legendary capital of the Mongolian empire, established by Genghis Khan and his son in the 13th century.
Venture into Erdene Zhu monastery, built in the 16th century. One of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, Erdene Zhu has been a place of Buddhist activity for more than 400 years. His schedule permitting, enjoy a rare chance to meet Erdensuu, the head lama, who will talk to us about the Spirit of the Horse and Mongolia’s Buddhist renaissance. Later, settle into Lapis Sky camp in time for sunset and dinner.
Brush up on your horseback-riding skills and go for a warm-up ride in the valley of Teel. Visit with a nomad family and experience their way of life firsthand. (9 miles optional horse riding, 3 hours)
After breakfast, go fishing for grayling and lenok trout, or practice your aim with a bow and arrow. In the afternoon, hop on a horse and pay a visit to nomads camped nearby. Spend time in their gers, learning about their everyday customs. Tonight, gather for a Mongolian barbecue.
Saddle up this morning and set out on horseback across the sweeping steppe. We’ll ride about three hours to Tolgin Butts and camp in a lovely meadow setting. (9 miles horse riding, 3 hours)
The second day of our horse trek is an invigorating five-hour ride over spectacular mountain passes and past Buddhist ovoos, ceremonial cairns often set in high places. In the afternoon, we’ll camp at the base of Mandal Mountain, a sacred place for the Mongols. (12 miles horse riding, 5 hours)
Explore Mandal Mountain on foot, and attend a Buddhist ceremony at a sacred ovoo on top of the mountain. Enjoy the rest of the day at Mandal Mountain camp going for walks, fishing, or taking an optional horseback ride to visit with nomads. (3 miles optional horse riding, 1 hour)
Ride back across the steppe to Bulgam Sum today, or, if you wish, return by jeep. Settle into your gers at Lapis Sky camp and enjoy time to relax and refresh this afternoon before gathering for a hearty dinner in our dining ger. (21 miles optional horse riding, 4 hours)
Today, we take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a local Naadam festival near our camp. Naadam takes place every summer throughout Mongolia, pitting men and boys against each other in age-old contests of manliness and physical prowess. Young men train all year to compete in the three events: bareback horse racing, wrestling, and archery. Witness the excitement close-up, taking photographs in the middle of the action and even trying out some of the sports after the competition. Later, listen to a traditional morinkhuur, or horse-head fiddle concert, as you sit around the bonfire at camp.
Take advantage of a free day at Lapis Sky to soak up our peaceful surroundings. Set out on a final horseback ride, go for a hike or a fishing expedition, practice yoga or archery, pay a last visit with the nomads, or just relax at the camp.
After breakfast, we begin our journey back to Ulaanbaatar, arriving in the early evening. We will stop along the way for lunch. After checking back in to our hotel, we will gather for a farewell dinner at a restaurant in town.
Depart Ulaanbaatar after breakfast.