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The Mongolia Yak Festival

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The Mongolia Yak Festival

Brand new ride for 2017: a ride, supported by pack-yaks, to the annual Yak Festival.
2 weeks.

The ride begins in Ulaanbaatar and travels out west to remote nomad country. The focus of the holiday is to ride to the annual yak festival; but on the way we’ll visit the felt festival to discover how the nomads make felt from which they make their homes (gers) and clothes. This is a remote part of the country where nomad life is the norm and the yak is a valued asset.

Following the felt and yak festivals we’ll ride further out into the countryside to explore the beautiful and seldom-visited National Park.

JW Jalman view from Hevtee gatsaa

The view towards the ger camp Jalman Meadows

Yurt Camp, Mongolia

Ger Camp, Mongolia

Day 1: Thursday 20th July 2017. Arrival

The flight touches down in Ulaanbaator, Mongolia’s capital city, at 11:05 local time. We’re met upon arrival and driven to the hotel in the UB. Free afternoon to explore the city.

Overnight in hotel. No meals.

Day 2: 21st July: travel to the Orkhon Valley

Set off after breakfast in 4×4’s to drive to The Orkhon Valley 420 Km away to the west; picnic lunch en route. The Orkhon Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of the intact local culture and pristine surrounding landscape. This is true nomad country and the pastoral pace of life is little changed from centuries ago. Turkic people care for their yaks, horses, goat, sheep and cows which are the mainstay of their lives; this area has been inhabited since 585 AD and husbandry practices have hardly changed in all that time. Layer upon layer of history, some of which is being explored by archaeologists, is evident. The Turkic is a group of ethnic races who share similar languages (over 35 variants) and culture, but each clan is proudly independent.

You will see many standing stones or stelae in this area: these stones are elegantly carved and often depict flying reindeer, hence their name “Deer Stones or Reindeer Stones”. Interestingly enough they are orientated with the ornate side facing east. There are lots of competing theories, but they clearly have great significance locally and are part of the reason why Orkhon Valley is called “The Cradle of Mongol Civilization”. The valley is within the Hangai Mountains National Park.

Overnight at Ursa Major Ger Camp/B, picnic, D.

Day 3: 22nd July. Visit the Felt Festival

After breakfast we walk across to the corral and meet the horses. These horse are quite small, around the 14hh mark, but they are horses, not ponies! They are the most gutsy, tough little chaps you’ll ever meet! No nonsense, get-on-and-do-the-job attitude; they are a pleasure to ride. This morning’s ride is more of an introduction than a full-on ride. It’s only about 20 mins away to reach the festival site, so it’s all about getting a first feel of your horse.

At the festival you’ll see how felt is made in the traditional way. Traditional techniques including combing and laying-out will be demonstrated; followed by “dragging” which involves a horse-drawn roller compressing the felt. This is how the material for gers is created. And don’t worry, there will be smaller handcraft items made of felt available for purchase. Ride back to the camp for

Overnight: Ursa Major Ger Camp/ BLD


“Riding” a yak!

Day 4: 23rd July: To Öndör Hyasaa

Today we’ll drive to Öndör Hyasaa for the Yak Festival (1½ hrs). On arrival we meet our local hosts who will be with us for the rest of our journey. It’s only fitting that we arrive at the yak festival in the proper way – mounted! So we’ll ride the short distance to the festival site (30 mins). The festival starts with the yak races which are probably one of the world’s slowest mounted races!  Next up is the lassoing competition: driven yaks are lassoed from the ground, and the lassoer is then generally taken for a drag! A pastime much appreciated by the local crowd!

Overnight: Tepee/BLD

Day 5: Monday 24th July: To Uliastai

Today we set off in earnest on the trail ride. All the camp gear, food and personal baggage is loaded onto pack-yaks which then follow the most direct route to camp. We ride a more circuitous and beautiful route to reach the same spot. This is the upper Orkhon Valley and the trail leads through a canyon to access Uliastain Am (Am = valley) where we rendez vous with the yak caravan.

Overnight camp at Uliastain Am. Tepee / BLD

Day 6: 25th July: To Ogotnii Bulan

Following the same formula of riding a loop trail, while the pack-yaks make a beeline for camp, we set off along the canyon heading for Ogotnii Bulan which lies between the canyon walls that have needle-like cliffs on both sides. This country is forested with poplar trees (known as cottonwoods in North America and Aspens in Europe). At this time of year these leafy forests are at their most attractive.

Overnight camp. Tepee / BLD


Taking it easy on the wide, open steppe.


Day 7: 26th July: To Tsagaan Azarga Lake

We ride south from Ogotnii Bulan to reach Tsagaan Azarga Lake. Along the way we’ll visit a local nomad family who live just beyond the Hurdetiin Pass. Continue riding up across the Amgalan Pass and reach Tsagaan Azarga Lake at the foot of the mountain range.

Overnight camp. Tepee / BLD

Day 8: 27th July: To Khadiin Nuur

Retrace our steps to re-cross the Amgalan Pass and ride east to the Khadiin Nuur (Nuur = Lake)
surrounded by basalt rocks.

Overnight camp. Tepee / BLD

Day 9: 28th July: To Böörög Valley

In the morning we’ll continue our riding journey into the Böörög Valley that lies to the southeast. We’ll pass many small, forested hills and frequent bizarre basalt rock formations. We’ll remain in this camp for 2 nights.

Overnight camp. Tepee / BLD

Mongolian guide

Our Mongolian guide

Day 10: 29th July: Exploring Böörög Valley

Explore the area around the valley and ride around the beautiful Lake Bayan, fed by a small river and famous for its trout.  The surrounding cliffs are unusual and consist of huge slabs stacked on top of each other, and the whole area forested and green. Return to camp for overnight.

Overnight camp. Tepee / BLD

Day 11: 30th July: To Ulaan Tsutgalan

The last day of riding: and today’s trail leads to a waterfall which must be one of the most scenic trails of the whole ride. Ride back to camp and the vehicle will be waiting, ready for the drive back to the capital tomorrow.
Overnight camp. Tepee / BLD

Day 12: 31st July: Return to Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast we’ll depart for Ulaanbaatar city which will take a full day (500 km) stopping for a picnic lunch en route. We’ll reach the city by late afternoon, in time to check-in and relax. Free evening.

Overnight: hotel in Ulaanbaatar/BL

Day 13: Departure

After breakfast transfer to airport for flight to London. End Service.


A shoulder brand

Min group size 6 riders; max group size 10 riders.

Included in the price:

English and Mongol speaking guide throughout the journey
All accommodation as detailed (twin share)
All camping equipment.
All local transport by mini bus.
Riding horses and yak carts.
Meals as detailed
Cook and all cooking equipment.
Entrance fees to national monuments and national parks.

Not included in the price

Lunch and dinner on day 1 in Ulaanbaatar. Dinner on day 12 in Ulaanbaatar.


We recommend flying out with Turkish airlines via Istanbul and returning with Aeroflot via Moscow. These flights are not daily, hence the need to combine 2 different airlines. Please call us for guidance. Venture Co holds ATOL license 5306 and will be delighted to arrange all flights. Guide fare £943.


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