I stared out the window of the plane at vast wilderness of Mongolia. It was our fourth year bringing guests to this incredible destination and although I was excited at the prospect of seeing great friends I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. With so much to do the prospect of a month without wifi seemed to engulf me.
The first night in Mongolia we spent in Ulaanbaatar getting to know each other, eating good food and drinking wine. For me this is one of the best ways to connect with people. You start to see personalities developing as the conversation flows through the night. The anticipation of getting out to the wilderness and riding for days on end across unspoilt countryside is such a dream and one many have had for years.
The next morning we get up to the sunrise, have some breakfast and began our six hour journey to camp one, much of the route is off road but the scenery never fails to impress. As I sat there I remembered back to my first trip to Mongolia. I had never before seen such vast open spaces, with no fences or walls to keep the animals or people in place. There were the occasional herds of sheep, or cattle and horses with one or two Gers for the herders families. This was true Nomadic living, relying on nothing but the land and moving constantly with your herd. It’s a tough life but one than many of the young are going back to after trying city living. Every mile we drove my body relaxed a little more, there is nothing you can do now but live in that moment as for the next 8 days there will be no connection to the outside world.
When we arrive at camp we spend time setting up our tents while chatting to each other. I am not a big camper but there is no other way to reach these places and there is something unbeatable about sitting around a fire looking at the night sky. Out here it is just spectacular, with no light pollution the sky lights up with a million stars many shooting across the sky sending you hope with every wish.
The trepidation of no wifi turns into pure delight. With no distractions to the modern world conversations become more interesting as we debate and chatter away. With no goole to say if we are write or wrong we find solutions, agree to disagree and laugh about our differences.
The next morning and we have our first ride. Trying out different horses to match riders needs. These are great little ponies and ones that you can have so much fun on. They are small but mighty and they fly across the landscape with the smoothest of gallops. With so much space and changing landscapes we travel through stunning valleys, woodlands and vsat planes. Slowly you can feel your mind starting to still and the ride takes over. We chatter all the way, getting to know each other, getting to know the herders and our wonderful steeds. At lunch we break and have a delicious picnic, stretch our legs and let the horses rest in the shade of the trees. We have backup vehicles that carry our bags, medical supplies and bring our lunch. We are all excited to get back on and see what else there is to explore that day.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of galloping across the Mongolian Steppe. On a good horse you feel like you are flying, the smiles on everyone’s faces couldn’t get any bigger. Your body is filled to the brim with joy. You are right there in that moment with these people and most importantly with your horse.
We spent the next days exploring the countryside, enjoying long gallops, discovering hidden monasteries and riding through beautiful woodland. Every day that pases you relax back into yourself, enjoy the moment more and forgetting to worry about anything else that is happening in the world.
After five days riding these wonderful horses you build a real bond. You can feel them trusting you more and more every day. With this trust also comes more fun riding, more exciting gallops and more relaxing walks. It’s almost as if the horse feels you start to breathe more deeply and wants to help you to enjoy the experience even more.
After the ride we spend a night in a Ger Camp in Karakorum. This is great as we get treated with a night of traditional music and contortion. There is a clan where most of the contortionists in Mongolia descend from and their skills are phenomenal. The next day we look around the Genghis Khan museum and the oldest Buddhist monastery in Mongolia before heading back to Ulaanbaatar for some cashmere shopping.
When you get back you feel refreshed, grounded and happy. The thought of turning back on wifi and joining the modern world isn’t one I relish and will often avoid for a few more days. Doing this ride every year and detoxing from the modern world keeps my brain fresh and gives me the grounding I need. This really is a ride to freedom, freedom from the modern world, if only for a few weeks.
If you would like to join me on this summer’s ride please see more details here: https://bit.ly/2SAes60