Horse Riding Season in Mongolia

The season of horse riding tours in Mongolia is in full swing during July, which is also the time of the national festival of Naadam, the great tradition known for its competitions in horse racing, wrestling and archery.

July is also the time with the highest rainfall in the country, though it can hardly be compared to the rainy season of a tropical country. Summer rains in Mongolia in recent years have helped replenish aquifers and revived creeks and springs that had disappeared in drier years.

Eco-tours and Nature Travel in Mongolia

All travel in Mongolia’s country side, parks and wilderness areas is much influenced by nature – be it summer heat, rainstorms, winds or sudden cool spells. One of the great attractions for visitors to  Mongolia is that the traveler has to be aware of and prepare for the elements and weather changes; where one can witness and experience nature – its beauty as well as its force, be it in northern forest wilderness, in the open steppe, on bare mountain tops or in the great Gobi desert.

Traveling in Mongolia and experiencing Nature’s Forces

Horseback swimming may be part of a horse trek in Mongolia. Crossing high water in the flood plain of the Tuul River on a Stone Horse Expedition, July 2014

Traveling on horseback is a great way to see Mongolia’s nature. Of course the adventure traveler on horseback needs to be prepared physically and mentally– easy to do with the right clothing and gear, a fair degree of fitness and a sense of adventure, curiosity and willingness to challenge oneself a bit. But the rewards are great – seeing Mother Nature in action, witnessing and learning to respect the force of a river, experiencing how the Mongolian trail horses handle the challenges!

 Horseback Travel through a Landscape of Grasslands and Water

The horses seem to enjoy travel through the flooded grasslands, splashing as they cross another stream in Gorkhi Terelj National Park

During this past July horse riding tour in the Gorkhi Terelj National Park, a night of rainstorms soaked the landscape. The next morning, as we rode down a wide open valley, water was sparkling everywhere, countless streams were rushing down the surrounding mountains; in the plains of the valley floor our horses seemed to enjoy trudging and splash through water that covered the green grasslands.

The great Tuul River in Mongolia’s Gorkhi Terelj National Park 

Later that same day, the rising waters of the Tuul River made us move camp to higher ground; in the night the river kept rising – eventually slowing as it peaked. We broke camp in the morning surrounded by flooded streams that would soak the grasslands and meadows before they would recede in a day or two.

The Tuul River in flood. Gorkhi Terelj National Park, Mongolia

What a magnificent view a highpoint above the Tuul Valley offered – looking way up the valley onto the floodplains of the great river, the innumerous groves of large poplar trees, all except a few on elevated ground, now flooded. With normal water load, the Tuul here is a braided river, with several arms that create islands of grassland, brush and poplar trees that make tranquil campsites for summer travelers. Now, it was all river, one wide band of water rushing downstream, carrying logs and bushes along with is torrent of water.

Mongolian Horses – great on the trail and even in flood waters

For a side excursion we needed to make, we used the only bridge that leads across the Tuul River in its upper course in the National Park. The horses briefly testing the feel of the wooden bridge to sense what it is and that’s its solid enough to travel across.

To reach our destinations in the following days, our Mongolian trail horses showed great aptitude in traveling through a flooded landscape. Some of them taking the lead on their own initiative to scout a route through the flood plain’s forest and brush land back to stretches of dry land and to the tracks traveled in dry weather.

Some horses, like our young grulla horse, take the lead in scouting a route across flooded areas. Tuul River Valley, Gorkhi Terelj National Park, Mongolia

The horses’ surefooted navigation in the deep waters on the flooded grass plains was an amazing feat; and it is an exhilarating feeling of a very special kind when you feel the transition in your horse from walking to that gentle movement when his body begins to float, and now he swims – steadily, unwavering and un-faced through deeper waters. Getting wet feet, and perhaps some wet gear in your saddle bags is really worth that feeling I think.

Know and respect the River and its Force

Although somewhat deep and wide, these were just flood plain swims, not crossings of rushing, swollen rivers that can sweep horse and rider away. One has to know rivers and test the waters on horseback before committing to a crossing.  We have spent a day and night, or more if necessary, for a flooded river to go down before undertaking a safe crossing in the very early morning when the river has receded somewhat.

Rewards of Adventure Travel – Challenge Yourself and Experience Nature

Yes it may be a bit tiring, you feel your muscles and body, and probably your heart beat pick up a bit over that short stretch of deep water on your swimming horse. But I bet you forgot about work and other worries in these moments and focus on the here and now, when you smell water and grass and earth, and maybe the sweat of your good sturdy horse.

The canine team member of this Stone Horse Expedition in Gorkhi Terelj National Park had great fun running, swimming and splashing along…

And you have learned something about nature, how to observe it and respect its force, its beauty and power, and you felt part of it.

Come join us on a trip. Let the power and beauty of nature rejuvenate you.

 Some spaces open  for the August Horse Riding Expeditions in Gorkhi Terelj National Park and on the deep wilderness expedition into the Khan Khentii Mountains. Learn more…