On this soft cultural adventure, you will journey to a land where a historically important film centered around Queen Manduhai was produced as well as visit the surrounding sites that include Khadaat Khosuu (a special place of local worship), Khugnu Tarni Monastery, Swan Lake and the nested near the Elsen Tasarhai sand dunes. Throughout your desert cultural adventure, you will travel by camels, ox carts and horses with local nomads through a variety of desert-steppe zones in between nomadic families where you will overnight in traditional nomadic ger during your visits.
There is a wise saying, “it is much better to see something once than hear it a thousand times.” Our quest will give you a golden chance to explore the nomadic way of life and to introduce you to one of a place where a part of Mongolia’s great history was made. The journey will also provide an opportunity to participate in Mongolian culture.
Difficulty of trip: Easy going
Method of travel: Horseback and camel riding, trekking opportunities, and staying in nomadic families's extra gers.
Community Fee: $285 USD for 6 days/ 5 nights
Community Fee: $199 USD for 4 days/ 3 nights
Community Fee: $163 USD for 3 days/ 2 nights
Additional In-Country Travel Expenses
Public bus to Rashaant Village (one way): $22 USD
Mini bus to first ger and pickup (4-6 persons.): $41 USD
Small car to first ger and pickup (2-3 persons.): $41 USD
Note: Jeep cost can be divided by number of persons
Booking & travel orientation w/ handbook: $25 USD
Day One - Camel Trekking (sometimes via horseback) to the Locally Adorned Khadagt Khoshuu: Today you will depart early in the morning from the Dragon Bus station via rural coach bus (like the USA Greyhound Bus Line) at 8am from Ulaanbaatar. Along the way, you will begin to experience a variety of steppe landscapes and even see some small village as you make your way to Rashaant village (280 kilometers). Upon arrival at the rural drop off point, a local vehicle will take you to Mr. Byambatogtoh’s family where they will welcome you a warm nomadic lunch and traditional milk tea. Afterwards, Mr. Byambatogtoh or one of his sons will guide you for 10.5 kilometers to the locally venerated site of Khadagt Hoshuu. When you arrive, you will dismount from your camels and observed and or even participate in their local customs that honors the site. In the early evening, you will return to the family where you will be welcomed with a hot dinner before retiring to the family’s extra ger for the night.
Day Two - Camel Trekking to Human statue of Ar Bulgan: After breakfast, you will begin your 6 kilometer camel trek to Mongol’s family to which you will be welcomed with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea. Afterwards, you will have 5 kilometer roundtrip to visit the stone human statue located at Ar Bulgan. In the evening you will return to the family where you will have your evening dinner with the family before retiring to your own nomadic ger for the night.
Day 3 - Horseback Riding to Bugdiin Ovoo: After breakfast, you will continue your horseback journey along the nomadic route for 8 kilometers to the next nomad family. Upon arrival at Mr. Otgonbayar’s family, they will prepare and serve you a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea before continuing your 12 kilometer day trip to the highly respected Bugdiin Ovoo (translation “Everyone’s Ovoo”). The ‘ovoo worship’ ceremony originates from shamanism practices that considers the entire universe to be alive and interconnected. An Ovoo is a small pyramid collected stones, bones, woods and silk scarves that are often established on hilltops, mountains or other sites of sacred significance to the locals. It is the customary practice to show reverence by walking around the ovoo three times in a devotional state while you are making your silent wishes. Afterwards, you will begin your journey back to the family where you will have your evening dinner before retiring for the night in your own nomadic ger.
Day Four - Horseback Riding to Swan Lake (desert oasis) nestled next to the Mongol Desert Sand Dunes: After breakfast, you will have a 12 kilometer journey by horseback to next family where you will be greeted by Mr. Idertsogt and welcomed with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea. In the afternoon, you will have a 6 kilometer roundtrip by horseback to the truly picturesque Swan Lake (desert oasis) that is situated exactly next to the Mongol Desert Sand Dunes. Swan Lake is both a pristine example of the beauty of co-existence of extremes (desert and water) as well as vibrantly intoxicating home to a Swan Couples that is testament to strength, tolerance and passion to exist as a pair in such extreme yet beautiful environment. In the evening, you continue the journey to the family where you will be warmly invited to enjoy your evening dinner before returning to the family’s extra Ger for rest and sleep.
Day Five - Horseback Riding to Khugnu Tarni Monastery: Today after breakfast you will start your 11 kilometer roundtrip horseback ride with Mr. Idertsogt to visit the historically important Khugnu Tarni Monastery that was established in the 17th century by Zanabazar who had built both “Old” and ”Young” temples for his teacher. In 1688, the revolutionary troops under the Galdan Boshigt destroyed the monastery and killed most of the monks by tying a rope around their necks which is known as Khugnuh in Mongolian Language. During this time, around 200 monks had escaped to northern regions of Mongolia; it’s from this historical event that the mountain received the name Khugnu Khan where till today peacefully rests the Khugnu Tarni Monastery. Afterwards, you will continue your horseback journey to the local medicinal spring known for healing quality for eyes before returning to the nomad family for your afternoon lunch. After your meal, you have plenty of opportunity to walk, hike and even trek the surrounding area or participate in their daily routines and help out with milking of cows in the evening, boiling the milk or even preparing dinner together before retiring for the night.
Day Six - Horseback Ride to Queen Manduhai monument and departure: Today is your last day, enjoy the morning with the family doing nomadic routines before your breakfast. Afterwards, you and Mr. Idertsogt will travel by horseback for 5 kilometers to the famous filming location of Queen Manduhai - where a monument has been placed in remembrance. Later you will return to the family where they will prepare and serve you a farewell nomadic lunch and traditional tea. Soon after the local driver will arrive and bring you to the bus station where you will board the bus around 4-5pm and return to Ulaanbaatar City.
Visiting nomadic families
All nomadic breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
Home stay at all families’ extra Ger
Herder guide service on route
Horse riding according to itinerary
Camel riding according to itinerary
Pack animals on route
Cultural activities (milking animals, play ankle bone game etc)
Boiled water on route
Reservation services for two ways bus tickets between UB and Rashaant village
Local jeep arrangement service by facilitator
Mongolian Cultural Travel Tips & Information
Horseback Riding in Mongolia
Mongolia's Gobi Desert Camels
Mongolians and horses have historically co-exist since the early times and It’s impossible to imagine Mongolians without horses. There are many horse related folk legends, stories about horses, epic literature and songs written about horses. Mongolians prohibit the cursing of horses, beating horses and whipping of horses on their heads and chests. Mongolia’s horse culture according to their traditions teaches to show to respect to the horse during its life and honorifically place the horse’s head on an Ovoo or other sacred place to show their respect to the nobility of their horse’s life. The head of a horse is often decorated with white stones or horse dung. Heads of especially fast racing horses are usually wrapped in a blue scarf. The Mongolian traditional horse head fiddle further glorifies the station of the horse by its artistic design and traditional sounds. The culture of the Mongolian horse even spreads to embroidery, handicraft, wooden carving, metal and silver crafts – Mongolia’s respect of the horse can be found everywhere throughout the country.
The world’s rare two-humped Mongolian Bactrian Camel is considered to be the tolerant and noble animal among five animals (horse, cow, sheep, goat and camel) and is sand colored herbivores mainly found in the Gobi Desert region of Mongolia. Mongolia leads the number of Bactrian camels in the world and Mongolian camels were domesticated in olden days and are traditionally used as nomadic transport. When Mongolian camels are used for nomadic transportation their noses are pegged and they are outfitted with a leading rein, halter, saddle, saddle cloth and stairs. Mongolian camels weight is between 400-800kg and camel meat is low in fat and lean. Mongolian camel milk is a staple food for Gobi Desert nomads and is more rich in fat and protein than cow’s milk. A female camel produces about 3 to 4 liters of milk a day; camel milk can readily be made into airag (fermented beverage), hoormog (yogurt diluted with milk) and dried curds. Mongolian camel wool is produced as a natural insulation against the cold and easily sheds in the heat. Mongolian camel wool has unique characteristics of silky softness and strength.
Riding Mongolian Camels
Mongolian nomads say that it’s much closer to the sun from the top of the tallest animal of desert - so while you are riding a Mongolian camel you will always have a panoramic view of the Gobi Desert. Generally, Mongolia’s camel guides are Mongolian nomads that are born and live in the Gobi Desert. Mongolians often start to ride camels at a very early age and have plenty of experience to share with you about how to saddle, groom and command to lay down a camel to mount and dismount. During your camel trek, you can help the Mongolian nomad by looking after your camel; learn how to groom it, saddle and unsaddle it as well as bring water and feed it. Kind attention between the camel and the rider always contributes towards establishing a close. Almost any traveler can ride a camel (in reasonable physical condition) and learn how to control it quickly – though its highly recommended to review the camel riding tips that can be found in the Ger to Ger Travelers’ Handbook. Its good to apply your knowledge and practice on a camel with a Mongolian nomad around their Ger (traditional dwelling) before starting a long trek. A camel trek could cover between 5 to 25kms a day between nomadic families or even for a short roundtrip for sightseeing.