Mongolia – one of Asia’s last frontiers and one of the world’s last unspoilt destinations. Travel by horse to the nomadic Tsaachin tribe who have a spiritual connection the reindeer herds that they live with.
Once a thriving community, the Tsaachin tribe has dwindled in recent years leaving only 200-400 members left in northern Mongolia. This is the perfect way to explore and mingle with this shrinking tribe in the spectacular landscapes of Mongolia. Return from your journey with spectacular images, memories and new found knowledge. Mingle with friendly nomads as you learn their way of life. Ride through lush meadows, wooded hills and ruins from the ancient Mongolian Empire before reaching the magnificent turquoise Lake Khuvsgul, known in Mongolia as ‘Blue Pearl’.
The Tsaachin or Tsaatan’s entire existence is based on their reindeer herds which provide them with milk for producing cheese, antlers for carving and medicinal purposes, transportation and on the odd occasion, meat. Part of the Tuvan ethnic group, this small tribe is truly nomadic, regularly moving in search for a rare type of lichen and grass for their reindeer. The Tsaachin people do not stay in the traditional Mongolian gers we commonly recognise as a symbol on the country, but live in urts, similar to the Native American teepees which were traditionally made from birch bark.
A culture rich in Shamanism, these spiritual healers play an important role to the community providing traditional remedies for injury and illness. Previously a self sufficient tribe with only their reindeers, the Tsaachin now have to forage for berries, wild potato and pine nuts in the Autumn as well as occasionally fish or hunt to simply survive. The reindeer are said to have been domesticated several thousands of years ago and play a key role in the spiritual, socio economic and linguistic traditional of the local community.
Your visit to the reindeer herding people plays an important role to help them and their culture survive. Although very few travellers venture into this realm, our tourism initiative provides them with a supplemental income and cultural exchange education for both our travellers and local Tsaachin people. To spend time with these tribes people is truly remarkable and brimming with cultural practices that provide a deep insight into this fascinating way of life.
Travelling on horseback is the best way to reach the remote settlement with a full support crew of guides, cooks and horse tenders there to assist. Sleep in teepees like the locals and after visiting this isolated land, continue on through the spectacular scenery of rolling mountains, lush forests before venturing the turquoise waters of Lake Khuvsgul.
Welcome to Mongolia! Upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar the capital city of Mongolia, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon following lunch, you will set out to explore the city. Visit the Gandan Monastery which is home to a huge gold plated Buddha, a symbol of Mongolian national pride and cultural revival. You will also visit the National Museum of Mongolia where you can learn about the history of this fascinating country through their collection of artefacts from Mongolia and Central Asia dating from the Stone Age to the present day. This evening, enjoy a traditional art performance and welcome dinner where you can get to know your fellow travellers. (L,D)
Overnight Bayangol Hotel or similar
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to Khuvsgul province (1.5hrs). On arrival at local airport of Murun, the centre of the Khuvsgul, you will meet your driver and for an hour before stopping for a picnic lunch. Continue for another 5-6 hours before you reach Ulaan Uul town. You will cross rivers and passes and take in the scenic view over the mountain ranges. Breathe the fresh mountain air as you explore this spectacular scenery. Here you will be surrounded by stunning towering rocky mountains. The view from our camp ground is spectacular. This evening we will be camping in tents. A shower tent, toilet and kitchen tent are also provided. (B,L,D)
This morning, you will drive to Tsagaan nuur town (approx. 2-3hrs) before continuing beyond the town another 40 mins to meet with your local horse specialist guides and trail finders and of course, your horses. After having a brief instruction on riding Mongolian horses, you will get acquainted with your own horse before it is time to set off. Start riding towards Taiga, the region where part of the Tsaachin communities live. You will be introduced to the amazing but sadly dwindling world of the reindeer-herding people (Tsaachin). Due to the marshy road conditions, we will not use vehicles to reach the area, entire our luggage and food supply will be transported by horses. Horse riding today is approx. 8-9 hours. We may break this up over two days depending on the groups ability and weather. (B,L,D)
2 nights in a local Tsaachin teepee
Spend the next day staying amongst the Tsaachin people and experience their everyday life. Learn of their unique traditions such as milking reindeer and processing milk products like cheese. Spend time talking with the local people and understanding their local culture and how they have managed to maintain such a traditional way of life for so long. You will have the opportunity to ride into the Taiga forest where the area is so energetic and mysterious. Explore Bor Khuyag river valley, which is rich in crystals and other minerals. Take in the beauty of the larch forest and wildflower patches. Be inspired and gain power while meditating in untouched wilderness.
You will witness a traditional shaman ritual and meet a shaman custodian of a hidden realm. Shamanism is a traditional spiritual belief system based on worshipping nature. Shamanism plays an important part in Tsaachin; the shaman also acts as a healer, providing traditional remedies for ailments to the local people. They also perform many mystical holy rituals and use many different magic charms in their daily life, for hunting, calling, and preventing the rain. (B,L,D)
This morning is a free morning at the reindeer herder’s camp before you ride back to your vehicle. Today, say farewell to your new nomadic friends as you horse ride back to Tsagaannuur soum.
Your mind will be swirling with the incredibly rare experience you have just had over the past few days. When you arrive in Hogorog, you will meet with another shaman and go with him to his holy tree area and witness another shamanic ceremony. (The Shaman in the reindeer camp only perform their ceremony in the dark, so it is challenging to shoot any photos or movies). Stay in the tented camp near his home and his farm animals. (B,L,D)
Overnight in a tented camp near the Shaman’s home
After breakfast, drive further into the mountains. It will take us whole day driving. Upon arrival, set up camp and enjoy the natural world and clear night skies. (B,L,D)
Overnight in a tented camp
This morning, you drive to Jigleg Pass and make your way to your camp on the shore of blue pearl Lake Khuvsgul. The Lake is sacred and is known as the ‘Mother Lake’ to Mongolians and holds 2% of the worlds fresh water. Khuvsgul Lake is surrounded by beautiful high mountains of the Khoridol Saridag and Bayan Mountain Ranges, along the west shore. Even though it is summer, some parts of the lake will be icy. Enjoy walking around the lake – this area is often referred to as Mongolia’s most scenic region and you will certainly see why. (B,L,D)
Overnight in a tented camp
This morning you will be met by boat. Enjoy a boat ride of just under 2 hours which will take you to your ger camp. The scenery as you cruise across the lake is spectacular and the air so fresh. Your vehicle will meet you on the other side with your luggage. Enjoy walking along the lake shore or hike through the surrounding mountains to take in the panoramic view over the lake. There is an optional boat trip on the lake this afternoon for those who are interested in getting a different perspective from the water of the spectacular surrounds. There is also the option to go for a short horse ride (payable locally). This evening, build up your appetite for an authentic Mongolian barbeque! This will be prepared in the traditional way with the meat grilled with hot stones which gives it a unique taste. (B,L,D)
Overnight in a Ger camp
This morning, drive back to Murun town. Transfer to the domestic airport for your flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar, transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
Overnight Bayangol Hotel or similar
This morning is at leisure until it is time to transfer to airport for your onwards departure. (B)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.