Land of the Horse & Endless Blue Sky
You are family and, so, perhaps I don’t have to explain slow, spontaneous travel to you the way I would have to for another less habituated to our wandering ways. You come from a line of travelers who have walked the earth – cities and lone landscapes alike – taking the days as they come with patience, humor and grit. Mongolia lends itself naturally to such an experience.
There are places, just as there are hosts, who receive you just as you are, asking nothing but an inquiring mind and a gentle spirit. As long as you bring your curiosity, humor and patience, landscapes and their inhabitants will welcome you and offer their bounty of stories and secrets. And beauty. The land of the horse and eternal blue sky is no exception, and when you stay at the Genghis Khan Riding and Adventure Camp in the Orkhon Valley National Park, you will find all three in spades. Your days will flow along, guided by your interests, your stamina, the weather, your discoveries. This is, and I tell you from experience, a special way of traveling.
Some quick information about the Camp you will stay in. A collection of stunning yurts make up the Giercke camp, located 360 km west of the capital Ulan Bator, in to which you will fly. Over the last two thousand years several world empires have formed out of this vast steppe including the Mongol, Uighur and Turkish empires. Since they were all nomadic empires, not much has been left behind, but there are still some ruins and artifacts that can be found within the radius of 100 kms from camp. Day trips to these historical sites are:
– Karakorum the first capital of the Mongol empire
– Khar Balgas: the ancient capital of the Uighur empire and the memorial site of the Turkish Khanate, can be made on comfortable 4X4s
-Tovkhon monastery: the summer palace and monastery of Zanabazar, the first spiritual and political head of Mongolia, which can be visited easily from the camp. Situated atop lush green hill, once at the top, it offers the most glorious 360 view of the area. Visiting the Tovkhon monastery can be made either on 4X4s or horseback
Apart from its rich history, the Orkhon Valley National Park is also home to some of the most beautiful natural wonders of Mongolia. On a daily basis, you can explore this diversely rich landscape on horseback or on hikes. Passing through rolling green hills and valleys, lush gardens filled with exotic wild flowers, dense forests and swirling rivers all under the bliss of the eternal blue sky, these landscapes are yours for your stay and, beyond, in your memory. And when it comes to riding, nothing quite compares to striking out across this breathtaking landscape, exploring and appreciating the scenery, culture, and the true nature of Mongolia, as the Khans did. Considered to be the last best riding country in the world, fenceless, you will ride with no limits or boundaries.
There are horses suitable for all levels of guests’ experience and the riding team prioritizes safety and comfort, making sure that all guests are well matched with the horse. Riding lessons from the experienced instructors can be also be arranged. Longer horse riding trips to the Orkhon Waterfall, Eight Armed Lakes and the White Lake can also be organized.
As if this is not enough, Oliver and Lily, here are other activities for you:
– Mountain biking along the ridges and valleys of the Orkhon National Park can be a challenging adventure with unique terrain that can be as technical as you like. Routes are selected based on the requests of the bikers and guided by one of the experienced recreational team members.
– Kayaking down the Orkhon River offers you the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the valley in an incredibly peaceful way as you float past unique bird species that migrate through the area, herds of livestock wading in the river to drink, and nomadic families’ ger camps.
– Rock climbing here is a spectacular, best experienced to the north of the camp. The climbing expert belays the climber from the ground as he guides those new to rock climbing as well as those well-practiced in the sport.
– Aryuvedic massage with experienced massage therapist, or traditional Mongolian healing massage with the resident Shaman are also available. And, each morning, a yoga class is offered – a vinyasa-style practice – incorporating elements of yin yoga, tailoring the class to those who join in on that day.
There is also the opportunity to be part of the Nomadic lifestyle and learn about cashmere production and see some of it in action. Workshops can be organized to learn felting and carpet making.
If you are not in Mongolia when the famous Naadam Festival takes place, the hosts will organize a Naadam festival at the camp, inviting their neighbors to take part in the horse races as well as wrestlers from Karakorum.
Every other evening, the local polo players have an exhibition match and guests are always welcome to watch and enjoy and, for those interested, polo lessons by the camp’s trainers can also be organized. This, after all, is the passion of Genghis Kahn Riding and Adventure Camp, and you will learn that, underlying all the fun and bounty offered to guests, is the commitment the camp owners have to training Mongolia’s extraordinarily horseback riding-adept children in the sport of Polo.
Enjoy, Oliver and Lily. I wish you happy travels.