Khuvsgul horse riding adventure
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 25/Jul/2010 14:41, 34 days ago
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After a wonderful night in the hotel which I didn't want to leave, I met up with the 3 French girls who would make up the horse riding group I was riding around Khuvsgul with for 9 days.Unfortunately our first day was pretty much driving to Khatgal and 40 km along the lake - 140km took 5 hours!I am looking forward to tarmacked roads!!We did get a quick test ride of the horses. Again I was driven crazy by the Mongolian belief that no foreigner can ride a horse. I was able to avoid being led and eventually convinced them to let me canter, but I had to be helped on and off the horse. This was one of the more frustrating parts of the trip - the other riders were not experienced either which didn't help. But it was over all a good trip.We set off on Day 2 after some fun and games getting the pack horses sorted out. Because it was still mid July there weren't too many other tourists around and we were the first trip out of the season for some of these horses. So as we tried to load the horses with 100kg of bags, food and camping gear they jumped around, reared etc. It took about 2 hours to load them up. It was very entertaining for the paying guests (i.e. me!) to watch the guides doing all this.We rode alongside the lake this morning and got a feel for our horses. There were a few good flat bits for me to get a bit of speed up. One of the other girls had ridden before a couple of times so by the end of the day she was happy to have a bit of a canter along with me. It was nice to have some company and someone to race with!The scenery around the lake was beautiful. There were so many white tree trunks that had been weathered into crazy shapes! THe lake was frozen until Mid June so we decided it was too cold to swim at lunch time but at least we had a decent day of weather.We camped on a flat spot of grass beside the lake and we eventually braved a swim in the lake before we had to set up our tents. It was pretty freezing in the water but really refreshing.On day 3 we continued our ride along the side of the lake. We had progressed beyond all the tourist camps at this stage and it was just pure unspoilt lake with beautiful mountains in the background. THere was a lot of riding up and down through forests and trails. We also had to stop to dig a van out of the mud! It was up to its axles in thick sticky Mud and we had to help along with 5 other Mongolians. They had to dig rocks and sticks under the wheels. This was of course one of the reasons we had selected to do the trip on horse back and why we had pack horses with us. We also saw some fabulous storms blow right past us out across the lake which was stunning.Our camp spot for that evening was at the side of a river running into the lake. The river was lovely (although again very cold!) and it had a fresh spring running into it and they had set up a sort of back massager box there - you sat on this seat and it funnelled the water down your back and shoulders! It was a bit too chilly for us to try that one out!!On Day 4 we spent half the day riding along the lake where we were plagued by flies and then we headed up the pass and into the Darkhad Depression in behind the mountains. It was a long tough ride up the hill through extremely deep sucky mud. It was tough riding. When we got up to the top of the hill we got a lovely view back over the lake.The Darkhad depression was beautiful high mountains, trees and lovely stony rivers. We had some beautiful gallops along the flat stretches with beautiful scenery. We camped right in the middle of this area. It was one of the most beautiful spots.We continued through the depression on Day 5. It was not fun riding as we had to tide along the stony river beds and it was very slow riding. It was beautiful scenic riding again. After lunch the thunder started up and the lightning and we saw this cloud coming up the valley. about 30 seconds later we were soaked to the skin by a horrific hail and sleet storm. We were soaked to the skin as were the horses and all our gear because no one had put the plastic sheets over our gear. Luckily the sun came out and we were able to lay everything out to dry but it meant we couldn't ride any futher that day. So we spent the afternoon relaxing and playing cards. We did go out for another 30 minute ride but everything was so wet we had to go back in.Day 6 was wet again but we were riding along the stones again so we were able to keep going. But it was slow riding again. We eventually got up away from the stones and got some really great gallops across the flat ground and trails as we went through the valley. There was some really great riding and now all the group had caught up and we were able to canter together.Unfortunately as we headed up the hill we got hit by another massive rain storm. Today I had insisted on them covering all the packs with plastic so we were able to shelter under the plastic and we didn't get quite so wet this time round. But again we had to set up camp as it was getting late and we weren't sure how much further we could go.Day 7 was our last full day riding. We headed up and out of the Darkhad depression which was tough riding again due to the masses of mud but it was beautiful scenery again as we went up through the valley. As we reached the top of the valley we were looking down over the lake. It was a beautiful sight. The lake was covered completely with clouds. We sat up there taking pictures and having lunch and it was a beautiful view over the lake.Our afternoon was spent getting back down the mountain and back to the lake. It was an amazing difference in just one week. There were so many Mongolians and foreigners camped along the edge of the lake and tehre were so many groups riding out. I was very glad we had gone out the week that we did.That night we stayed with one of our guides families and got to spend some time in the Ger and eating their snacks. We were able to get a great bit of fish for dinner whcih was such a treat for me!We had one more morning of riding out and we rode up to the top of the hill behind us. It was a lovely ride up through the forest to a beautiful view point where we got another look out over the lake. We did a lot of fast galloping which was great fun and what I had been looking forward to.The other girls headed off that afternoon to catch their plane. I kept the horse for the afternoon and rode around a little bit longer but we were both very tired at this stage. It was lovely to just relax and read and spend time at the lake.