Community fee: $391 for 8 days / 7 nights;
UB to Terelj Park Bus Fee (approx.): $2 USD;
Booking, briefing, handbook, healthy/safety coordination: $25 USD
[ ZONE 1 – First Time Outbackers and Family Friendly ]
Along this wonderful horseback trip imagine a pristine riding trip with nomadic families throughout the Terelj National Park’s river valleys and mountains landscapes. This Mongolian cultural adventure is designed to provide you with ample horseback riding time while enjoying opportunities to experience the traditional lifestyle of Mongolian nomads through amazing landscapes as you make your way towards the historically famous Gunj “Princess” Temple remotely located deep in the forested mountain valleys.
(Notes: 1. Distance may indeed vary, shorter on some days and longer on others 2. Travelers will pay directly on bus 3. Travelers will pay for local park fees when required)
Day One – Journey North of Terelj National Park’s River by Horseback (or Ox Cart) to Your First Living Like a Local with Mountain Nomads Homestay Experiences (L, D – Overnight in a Genuine Nomadic Ger): You will depart Ulaanbaatar and will have an approximate 2 hour bus ride to Terelj National Park. Upon arrival at the 2nd to last bus stop (first stop within the Terelj Village), our local guide will greet you with either an ox cart or horses. From here you will begin the 3 kilometers journey from the river crossing and continue northwards through the incredibly stunning mountain river valley to your first nomadic family. Upon arrival you will dismount and enter into Mr. Chuluunhuu’s Ger where you will be greeted with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional Mongolian tea. During your stay, Mr. Chuluunhuu ‘may’ show you the techniques of how to saddle a horse and prepare ox cart to which you will have time plenty of time to refine your skills and continue practice it yourself afterwards. You can learn a Mongolian traditional game called ‘Dembee’ (Mongolian version of “paper, rock, scissors – the upper finger is the winner in ‘Dembee’), which does involve the drinking of mare’s milk and most likely some singing! If you survive (a little joke), you will have a great dinner and stay overnight at families’ extra Ger. Nights in the Park are amazing, before retiring to your ger for evening, it’s a great opportunity to just enjoy a bit of star gazing and take in the fresh air – which is always great for a deep and relaxing sleep.
Day Two – Journey by Horseback to Aryabal Monastery; Established in 1810 by Mongolian and Tibetan Artists which is used for Meditation (B, L, D – Overnight in a Genuine Nomadic Ger): After breakfast you will start your horseback riding journey to a beautiful and one of the holiest Buddhist temples; it will be 24 kilometers round trip. Mongolian and Tibetan artists in Terelj National Park built Aryabal meditation temple in 1810s, which is 60 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar. In many cases Buddhist monks from Manzushir monastery came to this temple to make meditation. The temple style is more Tibetan styled like white square shaoed and white coloured main building and porcelain roofs decorated with Buddhist and religious signs. In 1937-1939 Mongolian communists came to this temple and destroyed it completely and killed some monks from this temple. Later in 2000, Buddhist monks of Lamiran Temple in Ulaanbaatar initiated the project to restore this temple and completed the restoration work from 2004 to 2007. Lamiran Temple monks sometimes come to this temple and cater religious service here and in many days of year, the temple is open for visitors and tourists who want to do meditation. The set of 108 (108 is a sacred number in Buddhism) stone stairs will lead you to the main temple and 108 small stupas and 108 prayer wheels were placed around the temple. Moreover, signs with 144 Buddhist teachings, written in English and Mongolian, lined the sides of the path. On the way back you’ll be served a picnic lunch. Afterwards you will return back to the family by horseback and can assist/learn the daily routines of nomadic families – in the evening time you will be served a dinner.
Day Three – Journey by Horseback to Learn the Art of Traditional Sewing and Immerse Yourself into Nomadic Lifestyle with an Amazing Mountain River Valley Backdrop (B, L, D – Overnight in a Genuine Nomadic Ger): After your breakfast, you will begin the 23 kilometer horseback riding journey through forested landscapes across the picturesque green plain to a mountainous river basin valley. Upon arrival at Ms. Amarjargal’s family, they will prepare and serve you with a much deserved hot nomadic lunch and tea. Ms. Amarjargal, a locally well known and talented local nomadic seamstress (she sews traditional garments for the local nomads), she will teach you how to tie a bridle as well as how to make Mongolian patterns for traditional garments which will be followed by a wonderfully hot nomadic dinner and traditional tea with the family. When you assist the family with the herding of the smaller animals (sheep and goats) it’s good to have some general background information to provide some context. Sheep and goats are often kept together because the goats will guide the sheep and make the herd easier to control. Both are milked once a day and cheese is made from their milk. Because their herds are so large, the women tie all the sheep or goats together, with a rope around each animal’s neck, prior to milking. As each individual milking is completed, that animal is set free. When all the animals are free, the woman knows she has successfully milked the entire herd. Depending on the breed, Mongolian sheep produce 200-1000 ml of milk per day, with an average of 300-600 ml; some breeds are not milked at all. In the past, more Mongolians drank sheep’s milk, but now that cow’s milk is plentiful, this practice is much less common. Sheep milk contains, on average, 5.6% protein, 6.7% fat, and 4.8% lactose.
Day Four – Horseback Ride to the Legendary Gunj “Princess” Temple (B, L, D – Camping): In the early morning you will start your next leg of travel by horseback for 15 kilometers to the Buddhist Temple ruins where you will overnight known as “Gunj Temple”. History states that when Tusheet Khan of the Khalkha was living nearby, his grandson Dondovdorj won the title of “Ephu” and as a result, Enkhamgalan Khan of Manchu honorifically bestowed his 6th princess to Dondovdorj to which she later became queen. Enkhamgalan khan also awarded the title of ‘Diligence and Kindness’ to his princess and presented her with a ‘Golden Leaf Award’ made of five kilograms of gold. When the princess passed away in 1740, Ephu Dondovdorj erected a marble monument and burial temple in her honor. Historically, the Manchu Khan intended his princess to become a spy for the Manchu Empire and when she changed her loyalties to the Mongol Empire, the Manchu Khan sent assassins to successfully end her life. Tonight you will camp nearby the sightseeing with a herder guide after having picnic dinner.
Day Five – Back to Herder family – Bridles and National Patterns (B, L, D – Overnight in a Genuine Nomadic Ger): After breakfast, you will begin your return trip by horseback to Ms. Amarjargal’s family. Ms. Amarjargal is a locally well known and talented local nomadic seamstress (she sews much the traditional garments for the local nomads), will teach you how to tie a bridle as well as how to make Mongolian patterns for traditional garments which will be followed by a wonderfully hot nomadic dinner and traditional tea with the family.
Day Six – Drinking and Dancing with Nomadic Families… YES! Today YOU will Learn The Ancient Nomadic Art of ‘Moonshine’ (home-made distilled vodka) followed with Learning a Buryat Ethnic Dance (B, L, D – Overnight in a Genuine Nomadic Ger): After breakfast, you will travel 5 kilometers by horseback or ox cart in parallel with Terelj River’s lushly forested river banks to Mr. Zorigt’s family; upon arrival, they will prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea. After your meal and some rest, Mr. Zorig’s wife will show you the process of how to make sour cream and nomadic moonshine. Today you will have a chance to learn Buryat dance and song called “Yohor” before your evening dinner with the family. “Yohor” is a dance and singing activity definitive to the Buryat Ethnic Group; people stand in a circle holding hands and singing in a low pitch. The dance movements are simple: 1) forward movement and 2) sideways steps or 3) backward jumps while the arms move up, down, or to the sides. It’s also common to include swaying body movements as well as head gestures. The dance movements modulate into stamping, hopping and leaping with changes in the rhythm. The dance may last from several minutes to several hours according to social myths – people used to do the Yohor for three days during the sacrificial ritual of mountain. Yohor dance isn’t limited to a single circle, and there is no prescribed number of people in the circles, so it isn’t uncommon for one circle to be larger than another. Yohor is not taught dance, people used to learn by watching the dancing during social events – Buryat elders say they mostly do the dance to feel their cultural identity. Dancing Yohor reminds them of their shared past and strengthens their ethnic identity in the present and the future. Buryats believe that when singing and moving from the heart for the soul – Yohor becomes real.
Day Seven- Learn the ancient art of Mongolian archery and collecting dung (B, L, D – Overnight in a Genuine Nomadic Ger): In the early morning you will have an opportunity to milk a cow with his wife. Then you will have a nomadic breakfast. While you are staying at his home you will practice Mongolian archery with him. After your lunch, you will continue your travel to next family around 10 kilometers crossing the river. Arrive at Mr. Sangi’s family. You will be welcomed a nomadic dinner and tea.
Day Eight – Learn the methods of making dairy product (B, L): After breakfast Mrs. Purevsuren will help you to learn and practice how to make dried curds. If you are interested in Mrs. Purevsuren can show you how she hand puns soft and luxurious baby camel wool and sheep wool. These 100% natural wool can be used as woolen ropes for Ger component or children winter pair socks etc. She uses no dyes or other chemical treatments. All natural however the wool needs to be washed and dehaired before yarn. Most of the time wool is not truly from babies, but rather from one and two year old camels or sheep. Then you will have a farewell lunch with her family. In the late afternoon local guide will take you by ox cart to Terelj area around 1 kilometer. You will depart from Terelj area.
- Visiting nomadic families
- All nomadic breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
- Herder guide service on route
- Stay overnight in Ger for 6 nights /only 2-3 beds in Ger/
- Stay overnight in tent for one night
- Horse riding according to itinerary
- Traveling by ox cart according to itinerary
- Pack animals on route
- Cultural activities (archery, collecting dung, play ankle bone game etc)
- Boiled water on route
- Camping equipments /sleeping bag, mattress /
- Orientation lesson fee
- Public bus ticket
- Personal use