On arrival to Ulaanbaatar you’ll be transferred to your hotel to relax and refresh before the evenings entertainment of traditional folk dancers, throat singers and contortionists.
We begin your first full day in Mongolia by heading North to Murun Town. Here we will stop and see ancient deer stone monuments and visit a local bazaar.
Today we begin our journey through the mountains driving off road through mountain valleys and rivers. We will also stop at the 13 Ovoo (shamanic cairns) to make a blessing and a small glacier before setting up camp in the pine trees in the mountain valley.
After a breakfast, we will drive to Tsagaan Nuur village, the smallest village in Mongolia, just 30km from the Russian border.
Today we collect our horses and ride out onto the East Taiga in search of our nomadic reindeer hosts, the Tsataan. The journey is likely to be a gentle 5-7 hours with plenty of rest. As we get closer to the reindeer herders you will smell the smoke from their tipi fires, hear the children playing and dogs barking, before seeing the small collection of tipis and large groups of reindeer.
After spending our first night in our tipi, and experiencing our reindeer milk tea, we will walk with our Tsataan reindeer herder hosts up the mountain with the reindeer to find the best grazing spots. Here we hope you can begin to really relax in this tranquil place amongst the beautiful and calm reindeer. Today we will learn how to milk the reindeer and how to make the products that are staple to the Tsataan diet; bread, milk curd, milk tea, cheese, donuts, and fresh mountain blueberry jam. We will also learn about their traditional crafts.
We will spend another night on the Taiga where you may hear the calls of the wild wolves. Today the Tsataan will introduce us to some of their medicinal plants that surround them on the Taiga, along with sharing their knowledge on the wildlife around them. We will also have the opportunity to share time with their shamans, who still guide the Tsataan.
Today we will ride back through pine and larch forests and through rivers to get ready for the Tsataans first festival. We will stay overnight in a traditional ger.
Reindeer Festival – this is the first time this festival has ever taken place and we are truly privileged to be able to be there for it. The festival aims to celebrate the culture and traditions of the Tsataan reindeer herders. The Tsataan do not use the reindeer for meat but they use them for milk and for riding and for enabling them to move their tipis and live the nomadic life so closely related to nature. Overnight stay in ger.
Second day of Reindeer Festival. By now, hopefully you will have gotten to know our hosts really well so you can cheer them on as they participate with the other herders who have travelled far through the mountains to meet up with the few remaining Tsataan left in the world.
Today we begin the drive back towards Murin town, crossing rivers and passing herds of yak and horses.
Today we drive towards the great meadow and Murin town where we will replenish our food stocks and begin the epic journey West across Mongolia towards the great Altai Mountains. We will stop and camp overnight on the shore of the river Delger.
After breakfast we drive through Khangai Mountain range. We will see a lot of families
with their animal husbandry. Mongolia is a vast wilderness where many families are living many miles from their nearest neighbour. Here they must learn to be self sufficient and prepare for long periods without seeing anyone. They rely heavily on their animal husbandry skills to survive so as we drive through, you will see large herds of sheep, horses and yaks across the landscape.
Today we drive through the Great Depression of Lakes and arrive at one of the big lakes called
Khyargas Nuur. Here you will have the opportunity to swim if you wish and there will be bird life. Watch out too for the other wildlife found in this region, such as bears, wolves and foxes, marmots and ground squirrels.
After breakfast we drive into the Altai Mountain Range and the Kazakh Golden Eagle hunter’s region. Here we will visit with a hunter and their family, and learn some of the secrets of working with the eagles. We will stay overnight with the family.
Golden Eagle Festival. We will spend a whole day at the festival where we will see how the hunters release and call back their eagles whilst riding their horse at speed. You will see them in their traditional attire, and see how some of the youth are actively encouraged to participate and preserve these traditions. In 2014, a 14 year old girl (the only female entrant) won the competition.
Day two of the Golden Eagle Festival. Alongside the eagle demonstrations, there are also other traditional events such as camel racing, archery, and events demonstrating the skill of the horse and rider.
Today we will have the chance to spend a full day with our eagle hunter family, hopefully celebrating their victory!
After breakfast we take a short flight back to Ulaanbaatar city and drive to Hustai National
Park to find the only truly wild horses – Przewalski Horse or Takhi horse. These were once extinct in the wild, with the last horse being seen back in 1966. However, due to a successful breeding programme, they have been reintroduced to the wild where it is estimated that 300 exist.
Today we head back to Ulan Bator where you will have the chance to visit some of the cities highlights and relax in a four star hotel before your flight home.
Transfer to the airport for you flight home