Horsing Around in Northern Mongolia

Posted by on November 9, 2011

One of my main goals in traveling through Mongolia was to spend some time on horseback riding through the countryside.  Genghis Khan used these very horses to conquer the world, after all.  I figured I owed it to myself to see what they were all about.

Horse guide in Mongolia.

Our trip was a ton of fun, and a lot of it was thanks to this guy. Presenting Bata, horse-guide extraordinaire.

Pack horse in Monglia

Within 36 hours of showing up to Lake Khovsgol, we were geared up and sitting on horses. Here, Dan and Bata retie the pack horse just after we'd started out first day's ride.

Mongolian livestock

Almost immediately upon leaving Khatgal village, we were presented with expansive views of the countryside that are hard to convey in words or pictures. Ronit here is, I think, still pretty comfortable with the whole horse idea.

Mongolian ger camp

After just a couple of hours' ride, we ended the first day with Bata's family at their ger camp not too far from Khatgal. Still semi-nomadic, Bata's family would only stay here a few more weeks before they packed up the ger and moved to a winter location.

Skittish Horse and Shy Monglian child

The next morning (well, nearly afternoon) we said goodbye to Bata's family and took off once more.

Houses on Khovsgol Lake

As we rode through a wide valley towards the shores of Khovsgol Lake itself, we passed a number of more permanent settlements.

Horse Trek Khovsgol Lake

Only a short time later, though, we were in a deserted grassland where a traditional shaman had left camp only a short time before. Unfortunately, we never did manage to find him the entire time we were around Khovsgol. (Also, in looking at this picture, this may well be the fastest Gal got his horse to go during the entire trip!)

Khovsgol Lake Sunset

The day ended with a colorful sunset over the far shore of the Lake from where our waterfront ger-for-the-night sat.

Mongolia nomadic family

But once again, we said goodbye to our hosts the next morning.

Rosy cheeked mongolian child

It wasn't long, though, before we were sitting in a new ger with a new family. All across Mongolia, anytime we stopped in at a ger we were offered tea and snacks like incredible fresh-baked bread or an assortment of yak/goat/camel dairy products.

Monglian child playtime

Dan was quick to make himself one of the family at this stop, though. This family passed us the next morning as they were moving camp, and the little girl started giggling again as soon as she saw him.

Horse Trekking in Mongolia at Khovsgol Lake

After hangout time, we continued over barely-ridden horse trails through the backwoods.

Khovsgol Lake mountain view

The landscape (and view) was often so wide-open that it was hard to take in with the naked eye. Much less take suitably expansive pictures of the whole area from a moving horse!

Monglian sunset in Khatgal

But, like all good adventures, the horse trek ended on Day 4 back in Khatgal where it had started.

Khatgal horse guide Bata

After a goodbye to Bata, the four of us headed to the fanciest restaurant/guesthouse in the village and started planning out next adventure.


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4 Responses to Horsing Around in Northern Mongolia

  1. Kris Sonsin

    I love your photos in this entry. The people really bring the landscape to life!

    • Stephen

      Well thank ya. The photo of the young-ish couple who hosted us for the night is probably my favorite photo from all of Mongolia. To check out another picture of the cute young girl towards the end, go to my Photobucket.

  2. Andrea

    Hi Stephen! Lovely pictures! I’m thinking about going to Mongolia next summer and was looking for a 4-5 days horse trekk in the Khovsgol Lake area. How did you arrange yours? Directly in Khatgal, any specific agency…? We were thinking on the western side of the lake, but not really sure. What route did you chose? Any advice would be very helpful! Thanks in advance! Andrea

    • Stephen

      Hi Andrea, thanks for the compliments. We just showed up to Khatgal and arranged it on the spot at the tourist office in town, which was pretty painless to do and would definitely be my recommendation. We went up the east side of the lake, which was quite a nice scenery, but I don’t expect you’ll find much to complain about whichever side you take. The best choice, of course, is just to make the loop!

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