Recently featured in:
Conde Nast Traveler
Boojum / KLM
PO Box 902
Central Post Office
Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia
Frequently Asked Questions
Our goal is to help you decide whether this kind of trip is right for you. Let's start with the good news: Our trips are great fun. We guarantee that you will see incredible landscapes and meet wonderful people. We can also guarantee you the opportunity to get drenched by rain, baked by sun and covered by dust, sometimes all on the same day. That's the nature of this kind of travel. This isn't your Carnival Cruise. Our guides are experienced, diligent people but they can't predict what we will encounter on any given day. Expect the unexpected. Bring good gear, patience, and a sense of humor. Read what past travelers have to say at Client Comments.
What are the trips like?
Some trips have daily vehicle support, others are strictly self sufficient using pack horses. Like a trip in the Rocky Mountains 200 years ago, there are few roads, no fences and the people live in harmony with the land. For 7-9 days we spend 4-6 hours per day in the saddle walking and trotting with a canter thrown in whenever terrain allows. Refer to our gear list for a list of personal items and equipment you will need. There are plenty of opportunities to photograph, explore, fish or just relax.
Mongolia Overland Trips: In Ulaan Baatar you'll be staying in a comfortable western style hotel with normal amenities. Outside of "UB", depending on your itinerary you'll either be in a "ger camp" or car camping. For more detailed information, click here. You'll be traveling in a 4wd jeep or van with a local, English speaking guide and a local driver.
Uruguay: These trips offer a comfortable combination of horseback riding and non camping accommodations.. We stay primarily in inns, pensiones or other comfortable dwellings.
Is it dangerous?
Horses are never totally predictable in their behavior and bad weather and rough terrain can compound safety concerns. Some of the riding is over very rough, steep ground and conditions can change drastically with the weather. At times we are several days from roads and even farther from hospitals. All wilderness travel is dangerous to some degree and each individual must decide if the rewards of experiencing new lands and cultures are worth the risk. Your trip leaders and wranglers take a conservative approach to riding, rafting and cycling with safety foremost in their minds but cannot guarantee that accidents won't happen.
Where do we sleep?
Why travel on horseback?
How much riding experience
do I need?
about the horses and tack?
How's the weather?
How's the food?
What about single supplement?
Are there bandits or brigands?
Is there an age limit?
What is included in the trip
What about Visas?
Tips for field staff (drivers, cooks, wranglers) and guides are optional and should reflect your satisfaction with the effort, enthusiasm and effectiveness of our staff. We prefer that tips be collected in two envelopes, one for field staff and another for guides. Per our company policy, field staff share tips equally with the exception of the cook who gets two shares. Guides give 15% of their tip to the office staff and split the remainder equally. If you want to say a special thank you to a specific person, please make a non-monetary gift.
Scan Your Passport
If you are traveling to border regions of Mongolia (Khovsgol, Ulgii) we will need a color scan of your passport face page to obtain border permits. When you send the scan by email to our office, send it also to your web-based email (gmail, hotmail, yahoo) so that you will always have access in the event you should lose your passport. Presenting a scan of your passport to the nearest US Embassy will facilitate issuance of a temporary passport.
A tiny ethnic minority occupies the borderlands of northern Mongolia with a lifestyle based on domesticated reindeer. The Tsaatan (reindeer people) live in tipi like tents, ride the taiga on their reindeer, are shamanists and are the rough equivalent of Native Americans in North America. Their culture and exotic, traditional lifestyle makes them a draw for any tourist. The Tsaatan aren't very convenient for the casual visitor. To visit them in their summer herding grounds requires several days of tough jeep and horseback travel into the Darhat Valley. Boojum Expeditions has worked directly with the Reindeer People since 1994 and arranges small group visits to the taiga. Boojum Expeditions is a founding supporter of the Tsaatan Community Visitors Center (TCVC) and cooperates closely with this grass roots organization when conducting trips to the taiga.
Fake Reindeer Family on Lake Khovsgol
Unfortunately, a family of fake Tsaatan take up residence each summer on the shores of Lake Khovsgol, where they are much more convenient for tourists with the dollars or euros necessary to purchase the right to photograph them. It would make business sense and dollars for us to turn a blind eye to this situation and actively sell visits to these charlatans. Instead, we offer you these facts (including the difficulty of visiting the genuine Tsaatan) and will let you make your own decision.
The fake Tsaatan on Lake Khovsgol are a travesty; a multi-dimensional insult to everything we associate with "eco-tourism". The woman of the family now styles herself a "shamaness", although local people scoff at the claim. But she knows that's what intrigues tourists. The children are intentionally dressed in rags and encouraged to play on the sympathy of tourists for handouts and to purchase non-traditional "amulets" and other kitsch. The sideshow quality of this tourist experience is bad enough, but the real damage comes when roughly a third of the fake Tsaatan's "herd" of reindeer dies each year because reindeer simply do not tolerate the heat, flies and poor feed to be found on the lakeshore in summer. Worse yet, the reindeer carry brucellocis, a threat to endangered species like ibex and argali sheep which live in the strictly protected area of the Saridag Mountains and through which, each year, the diseased reindeer herd travels. It gets worse. Because the fake Tsaatan make so much money from tourists, they can afford to replenish the animals that die from the threatened stock of the genuine reindeer people. The family has a monopoly on this cash cow and protects it with threats of violence to any genuine reindeer people who think to also visit the lakeshore to be close to tourists.
And finally, the majority of the local tourism companies turn a blind eye to the entire debacle because the presence of the fake Tsaatan provides a profitable day long excursion to see the "Reindeer People".
As you may guess, we do not support or encourage visiting this fake family. If you insist on visiting, please, refuse to pay. The family has no authority to make you pay and you will just add to their arrogance and to the discomfort of the real Tsaatan.
Traveling on horseback isn't rocket science. We have had many clients who had minimal or zero riding experience enjoy horseback trekking. Regardless of previous experience, anyone with good common sense, reasonable fitness and coordination and (most importantly) a good attitude and sense of humor can enjoy one of our horseback treks.
• For those who have never ridden or ridden very little, we require that you take enough lessons to determine whether you actually enjoy the activity. We will talk to your instructor on the phone so that he/she understands the demands of the trip. We also want to hear from your instructor that you have good safety sense and are not intimidated or afraid of horses. We'll hold your deposit and your place on a trip while you do some riding and if you then decide it's not for you, we'll refund your deposit.
• For those who have ridden a good deal but not recently, we strongly recommend that you get in some saddle time. You'll be more comfortable on the ride with some tune up of your riding muscles. If you follow the steps below, you'll make the transition your familiar tack to the foreign tack more smoothly.
• Other cultures treat their horses differently than we do. In Mongolia and Tibet particularly, horses are working stock and are not treated like pets. While the wranglers all respect and value horses, they do not give them names or attribute human emotions and thought processes to them. Bring your love of riding, your sense of balance and leave the rest behind, planning to ride like the locals.
Keep these in mind when riding in preparation for a trip.
1) Ride the smallest horses available.
2) Ride English. English saddles are similar in size to Mongolian saddles and will prepare you for the balance needed to stay securely on your horse. If you prepare for your ride in a Western saddle, a much deeper and more secure seat, you will initially feel less secure on the Mongolian saddles.
3) Get comfortable at a trot. In Mongolia and Tibet, we often ride for long stretches at a steady trot. Asian horses are small and it's nearly impossible to post the trot, so learn to stand in their stirrups or simply sit the trot or both.
4) Enjoy the canter. We canter whenever we're comfortable that conditions are suitable.
Helmet or no Helmet:
While we do not require helmets, all levels of rider should consider riding with a helmet. It is important for each rider to weigh the advantages and disadvantages for themselves. Safety can become an endless quest, since any situation can be made "safer" by adding gear and rules. Being an alert but also relaxed rider is the most important element of riding safety.
We specialize in Mongolia travel but we also offer adventure travel to Patagonia, Uruguay, Tibet. Horseback riding was our original interest when we pioneered travel adventures to China and Inner Mongolia and Tibet. We now offer tours and travel packages of all kinds in Mongolia (formerly Outer Mongolia) including camel riding, trekking, photography, fishing, horseback riding, culture, visiting Naadam, the Gobi, Lake Hovsgol (Lake Khovsgol) and the nomadic herders of Mongolia. In Ulaan Baatar we have our own offices though we are not really a travel agent, but an outfitter of travel and adventure in Mongolia. If want a riding vacation; whether a horseback riding vacation, a camel riding vacation or a jeep riding vacation, we'll be glad to create a travel adventure across Mongolia for you.
In Patagonia and Uruguay remember you can combine two
adventures and do both horseback riding trips in just two weeks of travel.
A Patagonia horseback riding vacation or a Uruguay horseback riding
vacation is just the thing for beginners or experienced equestrian travelers.
An equestrain vacation, horseback riding in Patagonia, Agentina or Uruguay
or Mongolia or Tibet is a great way to have a guided adventure.
Those of you who have endured reading the awful prose just preceding are probably wondering what kind of idiot wrote it. We must confess to both a capacity for better prose and an ulterior motive in writing so badly. Search engines look for correlations between your keywords like Mongolia travel, horseback riding, mongolia tour, Patagonia, Uruguay, Tibet, Gobi.. (see there I go again) and the frequency with which they appear on your page. In this everchanging cyber world, we need to keep up, I guess. Have a good riding vacation or adventure and come for Mongolia travel.