16 Day Mongolia Inc Horse Festival

Women Only

Max group 12

Lifetime Deposit

The most complete Mongolia experience. On this women-only trip, you will experience the magic that is the Mongolian way of life.

Stay with nomads and slow down to the pace of this ancient culture while you meet the local women and see how they maintain centuries-old tradition. You’ll enjoy rolling hills, see the Gobi deserts, and explore the heart of Mongolian Buddhism in monasteries. Stop for a day to enjoy the traditional Baga Gazriin Chuluu Horse Festival in a local village.

This isn’t our first venture into Mongolia! We also have our original 16-day Mongolia Explorer (incl NAADAM FESTIVAL). In place of the Baga Gazriin Chuluu Horse festival you’ll instead attend the Naadam festival and while you’ll see the same places, it routes in the opposite direction.

Highlights

Experience the traditional Baga Gazriin Chuluu Horse Festival - in a small town in the middle of nowhere

See the highlights of the Gobi; walk sand dunes, enjoy a camel trek, and meet camel herders

The BEST thing about Mongolia is the nomadic culture; we have organised three nomad homestays

Plant trees at the Gobi Oasis project and contribute to Mongolia sustainable for future generations

Get your heart pumping with multiple opportunities for short hikes, horse rides and float down a river through untouched countryside

Participate in Mongolian cooking and learn their centuries-nomadic cooking traditions

Dates Price AUD
(per person twin share)
  • 27 Aug 2024
  • Ends: 11 Sept 2024
  • $6,878
  • Private supplement: $1,761 ⓘPrivate Supplement available: add-on if you prefer your own private room.
  • FINAL SPOTS
Trip Details

Price

$6,878 AUD (per person twin share)

  • $1,650 AUD deposit.
  • 2-week cooling-off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips.
  • Twin Share: we’ll match you with a roomie if you’re travelling solo.
  • Private supplement available: $1,761 AUD, max 2 spots
  • Tip Kitty: $200 USD

Please refer to our payment terms in the FAQs,


Trip length

16 days, 15 nights


Meeting point

Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar


Ending point

Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar


Group size

Maximum 12


Participation requirements

Please see our “Participation” section to see the requirements.


Included

  • Airport transfers
  • All entrance fees
  • Transportation in a private vehicle with an English-speaking guide
  • All meals: breakfasts, lunches and dinners included
  • All listed activities
  • All accommodation

Not included

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Any visas required
  • Late check-out at hotels
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Drinks with included lunches and dinners
  • Tip kitty
  • Personal expenditure

Why Choose This Tour?

This is Mongolia, the way it SHOULD be done. We're going to some of the famous sights, sure, but it's so much more than that - you'll experience the magic that is the Mongolian way of life on this in-depth cultural experience.

Maybe you’ll come for the Flaming Cliffs or the Gobi, but your most treasured memories will be of your interactions with the Mongolian culture. That’s why we’ve organised homestays and have planned for real, unrushed time with one of the last truly nomadic cultures on the planet. You’ll stay in gers in the middle of nowhere in the Mongolian countryside

Don’t just sit in a vehicle - get out and experience nature with horse rides, hikes and kayaking

Click the tabs to find out more
Day 1: ULAANBAATAR

Arrival in Ulaanbaatar. A friendly face will be waiting to meet you at the airport. The group will meet at the reception at 2pm for a walk across the expansive Sukhbaatar Square to the National History Museum – a fantastic snapshot of the country’s past.

Next, we drop into a small theatre for a performance of traditional music and dance by the Tumen Ekh Ensemble. Perhaps a bit touristy, but well worth seeing. 

Dinner is at our favourite local restaurant.

Accommodation: Hotel 9 (or similar)
Drive time: 45 minutes

Day 2: TERELJ NATIONAL PARK – COUNTRYSIDE KAYAK

Terelj National Park is wonderful, but very popular. So, after visiting the iconic ‘Turtle Rock’, you’ll get away from the crowds and over to your ger camp – a peaceful little spot by the Tuul River. (Ger is the Mongolian word for Yurt, and is pronounced like the word ‘gear’.)

You’re going to get out the inflatable kayaks this afternoon and reconnect with nature on a wide, shallow, beautiful river. Breathe in the air and relax: it’s just you and the group, flowing water and the steppe. It’s a gentle paddle and beginner friendly.

Accommodation: Standard Ger, Shuteen
Drive time: 2.5hrs/74km

A group of kayakers heading out on the lake together
Day 3: TAKHI HORSES

A hearty breakfast this morning before your face-to-face meeting with Chinggis Khan, to find out what he’s been up to. Then, settle in for the drive to Khustai National park where you’ll be welcomed by Sanjaa and his family, your hosts for this night.

Sanjaa is a local park ranger tasked with protecting the local Takhi horses. Chill out with him as dusk falls, watching these wild horses gather nearby for a refreshing drink.

The world’s only truly wild horse breed, the Takhi horse became extinct in its native habitat of the steppe but was reintroduced to Mongolia from captive American stock in the 1990s, where to the amazement of scientists, it’s making a comeback. Although, it is still classed as ‘endangered’.

Dinner and fun follows with Sanjaa’s beautiful family for your second homestay experience.

Accommodation: Ger homestay with Sanjaa’s family
Drive time: 3hrs/180km

Day 4: KHOGNO KHAAN

Come with us to the beautiful nature reserve of Khogno Khaan, where we’ll visit the lower temple complex of Uvguun Khiid. Check out the reconstructed temples, prayer-wheels and look around the ruins.

We’ll also go for a short hike to take in some beautiful nature. It’s just a short drive to the Elsen Tasarkhai Dunes and your introduction to Mongolia’s Bactrian, or 2-humped camels.

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 4hrs/180 km

Ger Camps

Like many nights, tonight you will be staying in a Ger camp. Because Mongolia has very few towns and cities, it also has very few hotels.

Ger camps have been built to recognise this need, and they cater for travellers. A typical ger camp has 20-40 gers, each containing 2 single beds. There are showers, toilets, and a food hall where visitors eat dinner each night. This is where the group will gather to eat and have a Mongolian vodka or two. Beer and wine are also typically available.

Day 5: ERDENE ZUU

This morning, we’ll get to Erdene Zuu Monastery – the most important in Mongolia – in time to hear something very special  –and you will feel honoured to have been a part of it. That’s about all we can tell you; the rest is up to you to find out! 

We’ll also have a guided tour around the main temples. Meaning ‘Hundred Treasures’, it was the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia.

There will be time to visit the Monument of the 3 Kings, overlooking the Orkhon River, and the fertility stone on the edge of town. Warning: this may bring on a chuckle or two!

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 1.5hrs/90km

Day 6: TOVKHON KHIID

After breakfast and a brief drive, there’s a  3-hour hike of intermediate difficulty up to and from Tovkhon Monastery.

We’ll walk up to the unique hilltop temples through the scenic forested countryside and catch a beautiful view.

Those who want to sit out the hikes, of course, can do so. Lunch is a picnic today and tonight’s stay is a special one – as guests of Galaa and his family.

Accommodation: Ger Camp
Drive time: 1.5hrs/45km

Day 7: GALAA’S FAMILY

Today is a special experience as you experience the day to day life of a nomadic family. 

This is yak-herding country, so you can help milk the yaks and see how the milk is made into a variety of foods. Galaa’s family will welcome you into every aspect of their activities!

You will also have time to explore and relax in the beautiful surroundings – including heading off on a horse ride if you like. Try your hand at archery as well – another skill that the Mongols are accomplished at and is part of their heritage as an ancient sport. This is a day you won’t forget quickly.

Accommodation: Family Homestay Ger
Drive time: None

Day 8: ORKHON VALLEY

Say a reluctant goodbye to your nomadic hosts after breakfast before continuing to the wider plains of the Orkhon valley (a World Heritage site).

Stop enroute at Temeen Chuluu and wander amongst the ancient burial stones’. The Bronze Age rock engravings depict life thousands of years ago. It’s intriguingly pleasant to walk amongst the rocks and discover the drawings for yourself.
Take a moment to pause and let your mind wander back to those ancient times.

Accommodation: Ger Camp
Drive time: 2.5hrs/70km

Mongolians and their Horses

Did you know that Mongolia has more horses than people? That’s because Mongolian nomads take care of their horses by frequently switching between them, to avoid overwork.

They’ve been pivotal in Mongolian culture for centuries and still today, it’s said that nomadic children know how to ride before they can walk. Horses are not only a means for travelling, herding stock, and providing milk, they’re also a companion and a source of pride. Horse Festivals and Naadam are a Mongolian’s way of expressing that pride – and on this trip, you’ll be one of the few outsiders to witness this unique bond between horse and human.

Day 9: ONGIIN KHIID

Today is a road trip day as we start the scenic journey south towards the Gobi Desert. Driving is part of the fun when it comes to this vast country. Most areas are still unpaved, so the driving can get a bit bumpy as the vehicle winds its way following tracks made by other vehicles.

After we enjoy the usual photographic and picnic stops en route, you’ll settle into your Ger camp next to the temple complex of Ongiin Khiid. 

Feel free to go inside the tiny, reconstructed temple where you’ll be able to see the monks who run the Monastery.

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 5hrs/250km

Day 10: KHONGORYN ELS

This morning, we’re on the road again and into the heart of The Gobi Desert. You will reach your ger camp mid-afternoon. Rising as high as 200m, the dunes stretch across the landscape for 100 kms.

Around sunset we’ll hike up to the top to hear the dune song, a phenomenon written about since the times of Marco Polo – Or you may prefer to relax today, and try for a dawn or dusk climb tomorrow!.

Accommodation: Ger Camp
Driving time: 7hrs/200km

Day 11: NOMADS, CAMELS & DUNES

No long drives today. Instead, you’ll enjoy the hospitality of a camel herding family that spends their summers near the water springs close to the dunes. Aftwards, help to saddle up the camels for a ride alongside the dunes. 

These are the two-humped native Mongolian (Bactrian) camels (the Arabian camels only have one hump). Be nice, as camels are known to spit! (though, only if feeling threatened).

This afternoon, we’ve arranged some down time back at the Ger Camp. But for anyone still wearing their explorer hat – our drivers will put a call out for a late afternoon jaunt to a nearby oasis in the midst of the arid Gobi plain.

Accommodation: Deluxe En Suite Ger, Gobi Mirage
Drive time: 1 hour (optional)

Day 12: THE FLAMING CLIFFS

Yolyn Canyon is a beautiful local gorge and perfect for a leg-stretching 90 minute hike. We’ll head over there in the morning. Later on, you’ll continue on to Bayanzag – one of the most famous paleontological sites worldwide, known for the first discovery of a dinosaur egg and also many bones.

Walk around the spectacular sandstone formations, known as the Flaming Cliffs due to their deep red hue.

Accommodation: Deluxe Ger Camp with ensuite
Drive time: 5.5 hrs/285 km

Day 13: GOBI OASIS PROJECT

Heading north today, you’ll stop off for a home-cooked lunch in Mandalgobi, before driving to meet Byamba Tseyn, who runs the Gobi Oasis tree planting nursery – An NGO that works to conserve the local environment and combat desertification (the Gobi is said to be the world’s fastest expanding desert). Today, we’ll plant some of the seedlings ourselves, and contribute back to Mother Nature. A small portion of your trip fee is contributed to this project.

When you arrive in Baga Gazriin Chuluu, you’ll feel the excitement in the community already building as preparations are underway for the Horse Festival that will happen over the following 2 days.

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 5hrs/320 km

Day 14: BAGA GAZRIIN CHULUU HORSE FESTIVAL

Horses have been a revered part of Mongolian life since the times of Chinggis Kahn (Genghis Kahn)…there are more horses in Mongolia than people! Mongolians pride themselves on their horse skills, and nomads commonly say they knew how to ride a horse before they could walk! They train for months to compete in different competitions, and today’s event will have over 100 riders participating.

Expect to see Mongolians in their finest traditional clothes taking part – This is way off any tourist trail, so soak up the festival atmosphere and enjoy!

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: None

Day 15: ULAAN BAATAR

Back to Ulaanbaatar today. Is the trip finished already? Almost, it seems.

It’s time to say goodbye to the slow pace of the Mongolian countryside as we head back to the city, tarmac roads all the way! You’ll also get the chance to do some last minute shopping – cashmere, anyone?

After freshening up at the hotel, join your new travel friends for a farewell meal at one of our favourite restaurants.

Accommodation: Hotel 9 (or similar)
Drive time: 3.5hrs/290km

Outside of an airport, with people wheeling their backs along inside
Day 16: FAREWELL, FRIENDS…

And that’s it! There’ll be hugs and tears aplenty as we say goodbye to our trip leader and driver. After two weeks, you’ll have fallen in love with them.

You’ll arrive at the airport with head and heart filled with new memories.

We can tell you from experience – Mongolia will stay with you for a long time.

Trip Map
The Essential Info
WHAT ABOUT ACCOMMODATION?

Mostly you’ll be in ‘ger camps’ during the trip. These are specifically set up for travellers. There are two people to a ger, and if you want to go to the toilet or shower, you need to step out. You get used to it quickly. The toilets and showers are clean and well-maintained, almost without exception.

Do the gers get cold? Not a huge amount. The gers are good at keeping the warmth in and they also have stoves for heating which the staff maintain. You’ll need warm clothes for cool evenings and we also recommend bringing pyjamas.

Homestays are a bit different – they’re more rustic but quite comfortable. Each ger sleeps 3-4 people. It definitely doesn’t feel like a hotel – expect random things like Mickey Mouse pillowcases and each bed to be different.

WHAT ABOUT FOOD?

Mongolian food is simple and hearty. While there is a lot of meat, milk and cheese in Mongolian cuisine, we can cater for most dietary needs including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

We guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised by the food available in Mongolia. This is partly because your expectations will below (!), but also because, contrary to popular belief, dietary options are not just limited to mutton and fat. In Ulaanbaatar, there is a range of great local and international restaurants, and although in the countryside the choice and ingredients are more limited, there are some traditional culinary specialities to enjoy and savour.

We like to vary meals during a trip – lunch may be with a nomadic family, or at a roadside cafe, or a picnic. Sadly, we cannot cater to those with severe nut allergies. In all of our homestays, you’re welcome to participate and learn, as much or as little as you like. It’s a great way to spend extended time with local Mongolian women, who traditionally occupy this role.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:USD exchange rate. Our trip pricing is determined by what the exchange rates are at the time of publishing the trip.

The pricing on this trip is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:0.67 USD.

A deposit of $1,650 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling-off period of 2 weeks. (Applicable to all bookings made 110 days in advance.)

We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

This is the most frequently asked question we get!

Nearly everyone is in their 50s and 60s, with some people above and below (but of course, everyone is welcome!)

Most Patchies come alone and are matched with a room-mate. Remember, you don’t need to pay for a single supplement if you come solo. We will place you with a similarly-aged roommate.

The typical Patchie has travelled a LOT, is a well-seasoned adventurer, and is not easily thrown by small things. However, many Patchies tell us that this is their first ever group tour. Many of our guests have avoided tours to this point as they’re not attracted to being herded around in large groups.

Oh, and one last thing:

Patchies are warm, generous, and kind. We knew it would be like this, but we weren’t expecting it to be *quite* like this. We’re so blessed as a business to have the customers we do; we consider ourselves to be some of the luckiest people in the world.

We can easily accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets, or any variation of the above. Let us know in advance so we can prepare as much of the food that needs to be brought with us from Ulaanbaatar. Note: the food will be simple and may get repetitive. We cannot cater for those with severe nut allergies. If you have any other medical requirements, please advise.

Mongolia has dropped its visa requirements for all Australian and NZ citizens.

Alcohol is widely available in Mongolia. It will be available for sale at all ger camps at affordable prices and can be bought in Ulaanbaatar.

Airfares are not included. There are lots of good options through Japan, Korea.

Solo travellers will be matched with a room-mate. Of course, if you prefer to have your own space, you can reserve the private room supplement.

Note: In the home stays, the private supplement is not available.

Most of our trips have a tip kitty because many cultures have interesting and diverse rules when it comes to tips. We’ve found it to be the easiest way to combat over-tipping, under-tipping or having the tip fall into the wrong hands. Our goal is for guests to relax and know that the complexities of tipping are taken care of, on their behalf.

For your Mongolian adventure, we ask your contribution be: 190,000 Mongolian Tugrik (equivalent to $55 USD at exchange rate $1USD : 3,465 Mongolian Tugrik) and given to your guide on Day 1. The kitty will be managed by your guide and distributed along the way for included meals, hotel staff and other services.

What is not covered is a customary tip at the end of the trip for your guide and drivers. If they’ve ensured that your trip is memorable, we recommend the following guidelines:

Guide: 240,000 to 310,000 Mongolian Tugrik per person (equivalent to $70-$90USD)
Drivers: 70,000 Mongolian Tugrik per driver / per person (equivalent to $20USD)

(Exchange rate used – $1USD : 3,463 Mongolian Tugrik)

It is not recommended to bring the Mongolian Togrog currency to Ulaanbaatar, as you can obtain it easily at money changers and ATMs. In countryside towns, you can obtain money but it’s best not to rely on changers or ATMs available. Your expenses during the trip will be minimal and mostly confined to the alcohol you buy at ger camps. Bringing gifts for your host families is also highly encouraged. Aussie-themed gifts and clothing are highly welcomed as are toys for the kids. Fabric, scarves, warm socks, and gloves are also very welcome.

Private transport, with the same drivers, and the same vehicle, available 100% of the time. Modern, spacious, comfortable, air-conditioned. Our trusty transport is a UAZ Purgon, comfortable and built to withstand off-road Mongolian driving conditions. Our hand-picked local drivers are safe, experienced, and friendly. Reliable private transportation is the key to seeing Mongolia.

You will need a universal power adaptor on this trip as Mongolia uses multiple types of power outlets. There are no power plugs at our ger camps, but you can charge your devices in our vehicles.

You’re visiting Mongolia at the perfect time, with warm days and cool evenings. The potential for days over 30 degrees is real, so be ready with light layers. Rain showers are not uncommon, so please come prepared for this. On the long driving days, it’s recommended to wear blouses with long sleeves and pants for your comfort. For the cool mornings and evenings, we recommend you bring at least one warm jacket or sweater, and a light sweater. Comfortable walking shoes will serve just fine.

We take animal welfare seriously and do not work with providers who treat their animals poorly. Please note that animals often coexist with their owners in what can be very difficult conditions. This is part of the reality of life for them and we accept this.

Airport transfers are included. You can plan to arrive at any time, but we recommend arriving in the morning to give yourself time to settle in.

You’ll need a reasonable fitness level to participate in this trip, but nothing extreme. If you can walk for several hours e.g. 8-12km at a moderate pace on undulating terrain, you’ll be fine. There will be some uphill/downhill walking and the dune walk will be tiring, although very much worth the effort. All activities are optional, meaning that if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it.

Some days do involve long stretches of driving and you need to be the kind of person who enjoys road trips. Any such necessary long drives are offset by photo stops, picnic lunches, roadside pit stops, tea/coffee breaks, and of course seeing points of interest, leg stretching walks and dropping in on nomadic families. Our trusty transport is a UAZ Purgon, comfortable and built to withstand off-road Mongolian driving conditions. We’ll have 2-3 of these. You will adore our skilful drivers.

Whilst a few ger camps will have Wi-Fi we advise all guests not to rely on this being available, and if you absolutely must have access during a trip, you can purchase a local SIM card with data. Just ask your trip leader for assistance.

Our guide for this trip will likely be female, but this is not guaranteed. We have a pool of highly capable guides, but the nature of Mongolian culture means that our planned guide may be called away before the trip to assist their family.

We recommend flying to Mongolia, as the train times are not conveniently matched with our departure day and time. Continuing your trip via train, may be possible, but given the current conditions it is possible that onward travel to both Russia and China is not possible.  Also, August is a bad time of year to visit Beijing due to the weather (too hot!) with bad air quality and we do not recommend it.

Have more burning questions?

Check Out Our Other Trips!