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Steppe Riders Tour of Mongolia

Posted: 29th November 2016 09:30

Follow in the footsteps of Genghis Khan as you gallop across Mongolia’s serene and beautiful natural landscapes.  There is no other nation in the world that depends so much on its horses; its famous nomadic pastures and unparalleled horsemanship combined with the wide open spaces, lack of fences and few roads let-alone cars, truly make this the ideal place to explore on horseback.

Horses in Mongolia

The horse plays many vital roles for the nomads of Mongolia and as you stride through the great steppe you will find that many of the traditions remain intact.  Begin by learning to ride a horse the Mongolian way.  Stepperiders have a variety of horses suitable for total beginners or advanced riders, providing Russian-style saddles for additional comfort.  Mongolian horses are smaller than most European horses but they are strong and sturdy, making them ideal for travelling long distances. 

Once you have mastered riding, spend a few nights living and exploring in a ger camp among the local nomadic population.  Most young Mongolians - boys in particular - learn to ride from a very young age and can often be seen helping their fathers with the herding of goats, sheep and horses.  In the evening, settle down at your campsite and sample one of the other important offerings that a horse provides.  Airag, Mongolia’s national drink, is made up of fermented mare’s milk and has a mildly alcoholic content.  After a long day riding, there is nothing nicer than a refreshing alcoholic beverage… if you are brave enough!

Naadam Festival

Steeped in colour and tradition, the Naadam Festival is the quintessential Mongolian experience.  Celebrated during the National Holiday on July 11 to 13, Naadam is the biggest national event of the year.  Known locally as “eriin gurvan naadam” – the three games of men – crowds gather in their masses to watch participants compete in the traditional Mongolian sports of wrestling, archery and horse racing.

While the wrestling and archery take place in the Ulaanbaatar Stadium in the city, the horse racing is a fascinating cross-country event competed out in the countryside.  Over 400 horses contest in each of the six races across the festival - that’s a whopping 10 times more than the amount competing in the Grand National!

With Steppe Riders, you will take a journey on horseback to follow the proceedings.  See the horseracing up close and visit the camps of Mongolian horse trainers and young jockeys along the nearby river banks.  After the event, join in the celebrations from horseback as Mongolians have done for centuries.  Everything from the traditional costumes to the electric atmosphere will be sure to send shivers down your spine.

Bogd Khan Uul National Park

Because the Gobi is the most famous geological feature in Mongolia, many visitors often believe the entire country is a dune covered desert.  However, a quick trip to the Bogd Khan Uul National Park will quickly quell any disillusions.  Established by the Mongolian government in 1778, in order to preserve its sacred nature, the Bogd Khaan Uul is one of the oldest national parks in the world. 

The UNESCO World Heritage site is easily accessible from Ulaanbaatar and largely consists of a forested mountainous landscape surrounded by vast grasslands.  As you ride through this protected park, you will pass herds of animals tended to by children on horseback, witness fascinating wildlife such as the endangered Red Deer grazing in the grasslands, and even hear the swoop of many varieties of birds as eagles and vultures glide overhead.

For those with a little bit more time - and energy – you should ride to the summit of Tsteseegun Uul, the park’s highest peak at 2256m.  From this sacred mountain you will be afforded unparalleled panoramic views across the mass countryside of Mongolia.  Stretching for miles in every direction and yet incredibly there are no signs of the modern world to be seen anywhere.

Manzushir Monastery

Established in 1733, Manzushir Monastery once boasted 20 temples and over 300 monks.  With grounds covering more than 100 acres, the monastery was a centre of learning in Mongolia, including schools of medicine, astrology and philosophy.  However, in the 1930s, this flourishing community was reduced to rubble and many of the monks were killed or exiled as Mongolian Buddhism was nearly stamped out because of its resistance and threat to Stalinism.

The only remaining temple has been restored and made into a museum, hosting religious paintings (“tanka”), Buddhist relics, and musical instruments.  Also on the grounds are a bronze cauldron dating back to 1726, ruins of the original monastery, and some Buddhist paintings above the temple.  It’s worth tackling the ascent to the Monastery for the view down from the gorgeous valley alone.

Karakorum

Genghis Khan established his headquarters in Karakorum in 1220, using it as a base for his invasion of China.  As well as being the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire it was also an instrumental aspect of the famous Silk Road trading route.  Despite its small size and remote location, Karakorum quickly became one of the most important cities in Eurasia during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 

The success of this ancient city was short-lived, and in the Battle of Puir Nor in 1388, the marauding Chinese Ming dynasty warriors - en route to overthrowing Kublai Khan - razed Karakorum to the ground.  Although very little survived, it has since been partially rebuilt.  The Buddhist monastery of Erdenezuu still stands as a museum, while Russian Orientalists discovered the site of Ogodei’s palace along with the remains of a Buddhist shrine.

Situated on a grassy plain, a short distance from the Orkhon River and emerging from the gorges of the Khantai Mountains, Karakorum is awash with splendid scenic beauty providing a picture-perfect backdrop all along your trek. 

Round Up

Stepperiders offer numerous other excursions including trips to the Terelj National Park and an exploration of the Arkhangai Province.  Once you have seen Mongolia from the back of a horse, you will really start to understand what makes this place so special.  Mongolian culture and hundreds of years of Mongolian history are tightly linked with the horse and today Mongolia is one of the last real horse cultures left in the world.

Stepperiders – Experts in Mongolian Travel

Mendbagana Tovuujav was born on 27 June 1989, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  While he was studying in public school in Mongolia, he received full scholarship from the St.  Benedict’s prep high school in Newark, NJ, USA.  Due to his wrestling accomplishments, when he graduated from high school he was awarded full scholarship from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, USA. 

Mendbagana graduated from the university with a degree in Global Affairs and Business.  Stepperiders was founded in 2006 as a horse trekking company and since its inception, the company has been growing rapidly.  Stepperiders receives tourists from all over the world and their mission is to offer tourists the opportunity to experience the land of untouched wilderness, pristine air and nomadic people whose lives are in many ways unchanged from the days of Great Chingges Khaan and the mighty Mongol Empire.

Affordable Horse Treks and Accommodation for Independent Travellers

Stepperiders is a family-owned and operated horse trekking company in Mongolia offering overnight horse riding adventures in the Mongolian countryside.  Have you ever wondered what it might be like to ride horses in Mongolia?  Have you ever dreamed of galloping across the steppe in a land without fences?  Horse riding in Mongolia is the perfect way to learn about this beautiful country.  On horseback you can travel slowly and observe closely.  You will see nomadic herders at work, eat Mongolian food, and see some of the most beautiful unspoiled countryside in the world.

Located close enough to the capital city to be convenient (45 minutes) but far enough so that you are in the countryside, in the middle of nomadic herding families.  Stepperiders have experienced, English-speaking guides who can describe the history of the places you're visiting and teach you about Mongolian culture and customs.  Their excursions cater to both beginners and advanced riders.

For more information, visit their website: http://www.stepperiders.mn