Nomadic Lifestyle Experience – Live Like a Local with Nomadic Families in Mongolia

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6 Days - Group sizes: 2-6/prices per person; ask for solo prices
Terelj National Park
Max People : 6

Community fee: $301 for 6 days / 5 nights;
Community fee: $234 for 5 days / 4 nights;
Community fee: $211 for 4 days / 3 nights;
Community fee: $164 for 3 days / 2 nights;
Community fee: $109 for 2 days / 1 night;

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 ]

Nomadic Lifestyle Experience

Live Like a Local with Nomadic Families – YOUR own Ger ‘Yurt’, YOUR own horses, YOUR own ox carts and so much more! Up to 80% of this trip’s revenues are returned to all participating families.

If you are looking to live like a local with a great combination of horseback riding with some trekking and living like a local home-stay experience in YOUR OWN nomadic ger (“yurt”) – then this is for you! On this wonderful community based cultural horseback riding trip at Khan Hentii’s Terelj National Park you have a brilliant opportunity to experience Mongolia’s nomadic lifestyle by horseback, ox carts as well as trekking from one nomadic family to another. Imagine traveling across vast geographic terrains by horseback riding and trekking that include steppe pastures, river valleys, mountain passes, lush forests and prairies filled with wild flowers! 

Your cultural journey is just beginning as you arrive at a bright white nomadic felt tent known as a Ger in the middle of emerald green pastures surrounded by towering mountains. Our local nomadic family greets you with traditional foods and drinks after an amazing day of outdoor horseback riding and trekking. To which the evening is spent learning different aspects of nomadic lifestyle from herding livestock, sewing traditional garments, playing nomadic games, learning the ancient art of Mongolian archery to how nomads produce dairy products, and etc! From family to family, along their “off the beaten path” rural travel route, you will gain skills and knowledge from real nomadic families that have passed down from generation to generation way before the times of Chinggis Khan and the ancient Mongol Empire.

(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 Your Own 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 Your Own 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. Aryabal meditation temple was built in 1810s by Mongolian and Tibetan artists in Terelj National Park 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 Your Own 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 – Witness the Mongol Mastery of Horses and Learn How to Use a Traditional Bow and Arrow (B, L, D – Overnight in Your Own Nomadic Ger): After breakfast, you will continue traveling by horseback for 9 kilometers to the next family with a local nomadic guide. Upon arrival at Mr. Bold’s family, they will prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea. Later that afternoon, you will witness how the nomads train semi-wild horses so that they can be ridden. Since individual horses are ridden relatively infrequently, they become nearly wild and must be caught and broken anew each time they are used. A herdsman must first catch the horse he wants; to do this; he mounts a special catch-horse, which has been trained for the purpose. Carrying an urga, a lasso attached to a long pole, he chases after the horse he wants and loops the urga around its neck. The catch-horse helps the herdsmen pull back on the looped horse until it grows tired and stops running. At this point another rider will come up and put a saddle on it and mount. The horse will run and buck until it recalls its earlier training and allows itself to be ridden. The catching part may take up to several hours, depending on the terrain, the catcher’s skill and the equipment used. Moreover, one of the essential skills of horsemen is snatching the lasso from the ground while riding a horse. Olden days, tactics of shooting arrows and collecting arrows from horseback is common practice for hunting and military; today if you desire, you can practice archery with assistance of nomad (not on horseback). In the evening time, you will be welcomed to have dinner with the family before retiring for the evening to your ger.

Day Five – 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 Your Own 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 Six – Master an Ox and Take it for a Drive! (B, L): After breakfast, Mr. Zorig, will teach you how to steer an ox cart and you can refine your skills with him around the area. Before you begin your 10 kilometer ox cart or horseback journey back to Terelj National Park (Bus back to UB), the family will prepare and serve you with a farewell lunch – you last taste of nomadic lifestyle, so please do enjoy!

Included services:

·      Visiting nomadic families
·      All nomadic breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
·      Herder guide service on route
·      Sightseeing
·      Stay overnight in Ger /only 2-3 beds in Ger/
·      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

Not included:

·      Camping equipments /sleeping bag, mattress /
·      Orientation lesson fee
·      Public bus ticket
·      Personal use