Adventure vacations in Mongolia

Spirit of the Reindeer Herders


This remote and inaccessible region of northern Mongolia is inhabited by the Tsaatan people, nomadic reindeer herdsmen. The Tsaatan herd reindeer not only for their horns, which they sell to local traders, but also for riding, milking and meat. It is no wonder they are called ‘Reindeer People’.

There are only 30-40 herding families still living this traditional lifestyle as they have done for centuries, moving constantly in search of a particular type of moss on which their reindeer feed. They maintain a culture completely separate to that of the traditional Mongolian nomads. On horseback you journey deep into the taiga-forest area and make contact with this unique group of people during this horse riding tour in Mongolia.

After leaving the Tsaatan people, the itinerary continues by horseback to the shores of the tranquil Khuvsgul Lake. The surrounding area, part of the Lake Khuvsgul National Park, comprises of high mountains, meadows of wildflowers, dense taiga forest and clear rivers. After camping here for two days to soak up the serenity and wild scenery, you will fly back to Ulaanbaatar and explore the sights of Mongolia’s capital city.

The first and last two nights will be spent at a hotel in Ulaanbaatar.  The rooms are clean and comfortable, and have all the modern conveniences.  Extra luggage can be left at the hotel while you are riding.  Once away from Ulaanbaatar, all the nights will be spent in small western-style tents.

In general, the food will be simple and healthy to ensure a balanced diet. Most of the provisions will be locally produced and the menus will be based on the best possible harvest available. Mongolia is generally a meat-eating country but vegetarian requests can be catered for with plenty of advance notice.

  • Overview:
    The horses used are supplied by local nomad horseman, and although small are tough and responsive. They are adept at negotiating sand dunes, open steppes and rocky mountains. Their owners have no objection to impromptu races, and you will be surprised at the speed and agility of these tough little horses. Mongolian horses are usually unshod except in very rocky areas of the country. Mongolian tack generally comprises a head collar (halter) and lead rope, which is never removed from the horse, a bridle with a simple steel snaffle, hobbles and either a Russian steel- framed or an Australian Stock saddle.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Mongolian Ponies
  • Trip Pace:
    moderate to fast
  • Tack:
    English trekking, Australian stock
  • Weight limit:
    200 lbs


Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive and full day of guided sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar, including the Bogd Khan Palace, a series of beautiful traditional buildings in which the last religious King of Mongolia resided, and the Fine Arts Museum. Lunch will be at the Ulaanbaatar Hotel and dinner at the Ger Restaurant with local music, food and entertainment. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 2

In the morning visit the Gandan Monastery. After a light lunch in the hotel you will be transferred to the airport for your local flight to Moron, the capital of the Khovsgol Aimag. The flight departs Ulaanbaatar at 14.00 and arrives at Moron at 15.30. You will be met at the local airport by our vehicles and drive out of the town to make camp for overnight.

Day 3

Continue driving towards the north to the small village of Soyot and arrive at the camp sometime in the late afternoon. Here we will set up base camp for our journey into the taiga forest to meet the Tsataan people. The camp will be near the Khog River and is surrounded by forests. There is an abundance of wild berries which the locals make into a delicious jam. We will meet the local horsemen who will accompany us on the rest of the journey. Overnight in tented camp.

Day 4

Days 4-7: Early the next morning we will begin preparations for our journey. It will take some time to load the pack horses and to allocate horses to everyone. All expedition tents and food including personal baggage will be carried by pack horses. Clients are asked to pack as lightly as possible to lessen the burden on the animals. It is also a good idea to have waterproof packs in case of rain. The ride itself is over some difficult areas but the scenery is spectacular. We will meet this unique minority group, the Tsaatan people, and their reindeers at one of their camps in the mountains. They are in constant search for food for their reindeers and live in small tents. The Tsaatan are part of the Turkic-speaking Tuvinian ethnic group known as Dukha. We will be moving camp each night on this circular route and be using a minimum of equipment. On the evening of the eighth day we will return to our base camp near Soyot.

Day 8

Today you will have a well earned rest at base camp. There will be time for drying out wet clothing by the open fire and relaxing by the river. You will also have an opportunity to meet the local people in their gers which are considerably different from the tents of the Tsaatan people. The evening meal will be a traditional Mongolian meal of ‘horhog’, large chunks of meat and some vegetables and water are placed in an urn with hot rocks from a fire. The hot rocks cook the meat and vegetables and make a delicious meaty broth. Overnight in tents.

Day 9

Days 9-12: Set off on horseback again, this time on a linear route to the lake. The ride will take you over varied terrain from wide, open river valleys, to rocky mountain slopes and finally down a forested mountain path until you reach the shores of the lake. The first glimpse of the lake is from the ‘ovoo’ on the peak of Gisheg Mountain. Then follow the path to the lake, past locals making hay for cattle in the winter months that lie ahead. The final day of the ride will be along the edge of the lake, between the forested hills and the crystal blue expanse of water. Pack horses will again be carrying all food, equipment and personal baggage and we will be moving camp every night. On the final evening we will rejoin the vehicle at our camp on the edge of the lake.

Day 13

Days 13-14: Spend two days of leisure around the lake at our base camp. It is a wonderful setting to relax after several days of strenuous riding. You can swim or fish in the lake or hike in the surrounding mountains.

Day 15

This morning we will pack up camp and head south to the town of Moron. The drive will take about 6 hours and we will stop on the way for a packed lunch. We will reach Moron in time for the late afternoon flight to Ulaanbaatar. The flight leaves Moron at 4:15pm and arrives in Ulaanbaatar at 5:45pm. On arrival at the capital you will be taken to the hotel. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.

Day 16

Today is a full day of sightseeing, including Gandan Monastery, the Natural History museum and Zaisan hill cashmere factory. Lunch and dinner are in local restaurants, and you will have time for shopping. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 17

After breakfast at the hotel transfer to the airport for departure.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and may be modified at the guides' discretion due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Flight schedules are subject to alteration with little or no advance notice. The guide will make every effort to provide the itinerary as presented, but your patience and understanding are appreciated if the itinerary should change.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Additional Pricing Information:
Deposit amount is $1,300 for this ride. Ride price is set, guaranteed and final at the time deposit is paid.

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Spirit of the Reindeer Herders
May 21, 2024
January 1, 1970
January 1, 1970

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The Spirit of the Reindeer Herders Ride was our 5th Equitours trip overseas and they have all been amazing! This year in Mongolia was so far our most exotic adventure and once again far exceeded our expectations. Equitours does a great job of contracting with excellent tour companies and makes it so... Read more  

Jeannie Bunt, 2012