Tsaatan Reindeer Herders
Mongolia – a special adventure on horses
17 days/16 nights ● from/to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia ● 14 nights in tent ● min 6 pax/max 12 pax ● Level of difficulty: 2**
The Tsaatan are the last reindeer herders, who continue to live in extreme natural isolation in primeval community associations. Their home are the pathless high mountain forests of the Siberian taiga northwest of Lake Khövsgöl. Shamanism, the original religion of the Mongols, is still intact and alive here and determines the lives of the people. Shaman priests can be recognized by their conspicuous, colourful clothing, their magic wand and their spiritual “absence”. They have extreme worldly power and their influence on all everyday life is great.
The existence of the “reindeer people” (Tsa = reindeer, Ten = man) is actually unimaginable without reindeer. They breed and hunt the reindeer. They dress with their skins; the mighty antlers provide medicine and grave decoration. Their Indian-like pointed tents are covered with reindeer skins, even the simple night camp consists of several layers of reindeer skin. They drink the hot-smelling reindeer milk, fresh or fermented, eat the meat and burn the dried dung of the animals.
Only in autumn, an extremely short time of change between summer and arctic winter, you can reach the wild and beautiful home of these Siberian Taiganomads relatively “without any problems”. The long, icy winter is too cold and too snowy, in summer one sinks into the thawed, soft forest soil and countless moorland landscapes. The short autumn is dry and sunny with an ever-blue sky. Daytime temperatures up to 25 degrees Celsius, at night up to zero degrees cooling. It is the optimal time for this unique tour.
After the pioneer tour in 2000, this expedition was successfully completed in 2001, 2002, 2008 and 2012. In the meantime, we have developed a close friendship with some Tsaatan families, and it is planned that we will move from summer to winter camp together with a Tsaatan clan. More than a hundred reindeer will accompany this big move, with all the belongings of the Tsaatan being transported by reindeer. Each Tsaate, from the oldest to the youngest clan member, rides his favourite reindeer – a picturesque, unforgettable experience in an indescribably beautiful natural environment awaits us.
Regarding riding: Of course, riding knowledge and experience is an advantage for this tour, but not a prerequisite. The experience of the last tours has shown that the majority of the participants did not have any riding experience and nevertheless took part in the tour without any problems. The Mongolian horses are small and frugal, their character is well known to the accompanying owner. So the calm and well-behaved horses are reserved especially for those tour members who are riding a horse for the first time. Provided a certain physical mobility and fitness, which one should already have for this wilderness tour, riding is then no longer a problem. During the expedition, there will be no fast riding, which is not allowed by the surroundings! Also because of the heavily loaded packhorses the whole group moves rather leisurely, but steadily through the beautiful Taiga wilderness.
Price per person
Planned tour schedule
After arrival in Ulaanbaatar, inner-Mongolian flight to Mörön in the northwest. From here start of the unique tour with Russian cross-country buses (see map). Drive to Ulaan-Uul, west of Lake Khövsgöl, the administrative centre of the Tsaaaen minority. The Tsaatan speak Tuvinian, a language from the Baikal region, which has nothing in common with Mongolian. About 60 km north of Ulaan-Uul Equipment of our horse expedition: a Tsaate who is familiar with the area will accompany us for the next 10 days to show us the way through the endless larch and birch forests with their wonderful valley meadows to the summer pastures of the Tsaaten primeval communities. Several Mongolians (cook, guide etc.) will also be there. All luggage and the kitchen will be transported by packhorses. Our expedition group will consist of at least 20 horses and will cover an average of about 25 km per day. If we meet a Tsaaten community, usually 3 – 5 families, we will stay with them for two days to observe their daily work with the reindeer.
Traditionally, the Tsaaten ride the larger reindeer like on a horse: with bridle, saddle and stirrup. Riding on the back of such a huge animal – with its huge antlers – through the beautiful mossy forests of the Taiga is an absolute highlight for everyone. After the time at the Tsaaten our return journey to Mörön begins. On a lonely wilderness track across the mountains we first reach the beautiful Khövsgöl Lake, which is often called “Little Baikal”. On the eastern shore we make our last camp directly at the lake. From here we go to Mörön and fly to Ulaanbaatar. After a last night in a hotel we start our flight back to Germany.
Day 1: Arrival Ulaanbaatar, transfer to city hotel, city tour.
Day 2: Flight to Mörön, last tour preparations, tent camp near Mörön.
Day 3: Drive to Ulaan-Uul, tent camp in beautiful landscape.
Day 4: Drive to the starting point of the tour; we meet our accompanying team with all their horses, tent camp.
Day 5: Start of the horse expedition into the Taiga wilderness, tent camp.
Day 6: We may reach the Tsaatan summer camp today, tent camp.
Day 7: Resting day at the Tsaatan – or further west, tent camp.
Day 8: With the Tsaatan, tent camp.
Day 9: With the Tsaatan, tent camp. We accompany the Tsaatan during a relocation or for hunting.
Day 10: Beginning of our return journey, tent camp.
Day 11: We reach the starting point of our tour, tent camp. A traditional “milk can meal” is planned with our accompanying team, for which a sheep is slaughtered.
Day 12: Drive to Tsagan-Nur, where we will stay overnight with a traditional shaman, other visits in the region, tent camp.
Day 13: Return journey in the direction of Khövsgöl Lake, tent camp.
Day 14: Drive back towards lake Khövsgöl, tent camp on the way.
Day 15: We reach the Khövsgöl Lake, tent camp on the eastern shore.
Day 16: In the morning drive to Möron. In the afternoon flight to Ulaanbaatar, transfer to our city hotel. Perhaps time for last shopping.
Day 17: In the morning, transfer to airport. End of tour.
PRICE & CONDITIONS
Tsaatan Reindeer Herders ● 17 days/16 nights ● Group Tour
Price per person from/to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT +EUR 700
- We personally guide this tour
- All domestic flights
- 2x nights in good city hotel, Ulaanbaatar
- 14x nights in tent
- Tour as per itinerary
- Cook and porters during the trek
- Horses with equipment
- Further equipment (tents, cooking, dishes etc)
- All transfers
- All entrance fees
- Meals full board
DOES NOT INCLUDE
- International flights to/from Ulaanbaatar
- Costs for Mongolian visa
- Sleeping bag and mattress
- Additional drinks and personal expenses
Travelling to remote areas of Mongolia is difficult, the conditions are harsh, there is no comfort at all. If you can handle such conditions, you will enjoy this trip. If you have any doubts, ask us before you book it. We are happy to help!
We ask for a deposit of 15% of the tour price at the time of booking. The balance is due no later than 4 weeks before the start of the tour.