Riding through Tavan Bogd, Altai Mountains Diary

Riding through Tavan Bogd, Altai Mountains Diary

This is our mostly unedited diary of 28 days unguided riding in Tavan Bogd with our own animals which purchased in Sagsai. The highlights are in red and the accompanying blog post, video and photos are here.

If you’re keen to buy your own horses and ride in Mongolia then check out the guide that we wrote on how to prepare and buy horses here.

Day 0

  • Spent the day with Khannas family (Khannas is the horseman who we bought the animals off)
  • Shoed the horses
  • Helped herd the cows and caught the calfs.
  • Collected animals named the two horses, Gobi and Cosmo and the camel Floppy. Dog was already called Actus.

Day 1

  • Lost dog, horse boy took stake out at night and not put it back in properly, had to gallop 15 mins to go get it back from original family.
  • Khannas tries to get more $ out of us and asks us to rent another camel = NO
  • Riding smooth

Day 2

  • Khannas horse gone in the morning because used stake on dog
  • Pyn let dog loose and ran off while loading camel – dog came back just when we thought we’d lost it
  • Khannas came back on motorbike & boy
  • Pyn’s bday – girlfriend forgot birthday and had to be reminded
  • Horse boy walking with camel & dog
  • Drunk men got out of passing truck, truck revs spooked camel and started kicking and almost kicked dog multiple times. Pyn saved dog
  • Camp by river
  • Boy annoying and had to be watched in case he stole stuff, snickers etc.

Day 3

  • Got up at 6:30 am
  • Spoon stolen / swapped by horseman / boy
  • Put Vaseline on gobi open wound
  • Cosmo bleeding above foot
  • Khannas leaves
  • Herd of yak chased camel & dog – camel tried to kick dog again
  • Got milk & yoghurt from next ger , butter, cheese, cream
  • Ride 4 hours
  • Lots of birds along river, ducks, falcons, seagulls? Ravens/crows
  • Lots of nomads moving herds back to town away from mountains, seen trucks with gers on moving back to town for winter.

Day 4

  • getting ready and packing camel takes 4 hours,
  • Invited for lunch at next Ger, (100m)
  • Inspected gobi cut – said it was fine and loosened girth
  • Pyn tried to get on Cosmo, saddle not on properly because family loosened it, Cosmo spooked started kicking and kicked off the saddle and ran away. Gobi also broke away and ran after Cosmo up the hill. All the family watching. Pyn ran after horses. Silvia went after Floppy and Actus who also ran off in a different direction. Family, brother and friend went after on motorbike and helped get horses back. Fixed saddle. This all happened a minute after Pyn said “lets go before we embarrass ourselves”.
  • Silvia scared of dogs while approaching Ger – got off wrong side of horse, spooked the horse and got rope burns on hands. Pyn had to catch Gobi.
  • struggling to find good grass again. Found camp spot between two ger camps.
  • kids came had to be watched and tried to ‘steal’ woolly hat. Silvia didn’t cook beetroot properly (raw) and tried to serve it to kids. Dinner was at 9:30 under the stars.
  • Ripped a whole in outer tent fixed with duct tape

Day 5

  • getting ready takes 3.5 hours
  • Cosmo bleeding badly – take to next ger camp and they also said ok.
  • went over pass and arrived at lake at 2ish,
  • put camel on island as no food, both walked through the lake.
  • Not the best campsite so had to move horses a lot for feeding and watering
  • Actus starting to behave and understand ‘come’ and ‘sit’ and less likely to run away,
  • Weather still very good
  • First night feel ‘alone’
  • Still very little grass and no ger camps around lake.

Day 6

  • Rest day by Khar Nurr Lake
  • Lots of families moving stuff on truck back to winter home
  • Pyn lost Cosmo, it ran away up the valley. As soon as took the hobbles off it bolted. With peg and long leash. Dragging Pyn until couldn’t hold on anymore. Tried to follow it but delayed as had to saddle Gobi then borrowed a motorbike from ger and spent 30 mins looking for it. Everybody said saw it galloping down the valley. LOST HORSE.
  • No phone reception can’t call for help
  • Camel island, camel destroyed tree
  • Silvia hypothermic after going to camel island and washing hair
  • Pyn got camel back in wind and no sun no hypothermia.
  • Good weather still, warm at night
  • Trying to decide buy new horse or not
  • Actus behaving very well

Day 7

  • Pyn walking first, silvia on horse
  • Actus off leash, started chasing marmots and ran up a big hill. Refused to come down and waited at top for Pyn to get him, back on leash now. Watching us and just sitting there. Punished and tied back on to camel
  • Collected wood and left lake. Over pass and down onto another river. Lots of gers. Bought more milk and butter
  • Camped between two gers and were visited by many. One guy wanted to buy Cosmo and Actus
  • Local offered sheep in exchange for spare saddle.
  • Tried to cook fried potatoes & carrots but too many people came and had to give alot of the food away.
  • Silvia served raw potatoes like the beetroot to guests

Day 8

  • Rest day
  • Pyn wakes early, takes Actus off leash, moves camel, Actus sees dog across the river and chases it and almost drowns crossing the river.
  • Pyn saddles horse and goes after, finds him eating dead baby goat further down the river.
  • Pyn visits ger and Actus gets nipped by the dog he chased before. Silvia joins for breakfast in ger.
  • Try and fail to buy new horse.
  • Check out their eagle.
  • Pyn rides horse bareback back across the river
  • Do training with actus.
  • Actus very good at protecting and barking
  • Very hot.
  • Pyn help catch foals for ger.
  • Constantly disturbed by locals
  • Had to share food again, silvia cooked risotto.
  • Guy brought a tiny fish and we burnt it badly, he invited us to his ger for breakfast the next day

Day 9

  • Packing up and breakfast getting faster, 2hrs
  • Went to visit the guy,
  • Crossed river, realised with only one horse its difficult to cross rivers as one always gets wet and Silvia refuses to ride two on the horse.
  • Very pleasant, no dramas
  • Nice meandering river, lots of ‘S’ bends.
  • Actus on leash all day
  • Found a quiet secluded spot for camp and had a very nice evening undisturbed.
  • Beautiful sunset and can see the snow capped mountains in the distance.

Day 10

  • Actus well behaved all day.
  • Left beautiful spot, following the river. Not many gers, did 4hrs roughly, taking our time.
  • Still trying to buy a horse but everyone wants 1 million
  • Got phone reception but no 4g in tavan bogd
  • Went skinny dipping off the peninsular.
  • Camping in private area.
  • Bought more milk & yogurt
  • Disturbed just as about to eat as usual, shared food, they spotted the hot chocolate and asked for some
  • Boy looked through all gallery photos on iPhone and tablet
  • First bit of rain setting up tent
  • Lots of grass for camel & horse
  • Arrived at khurgen nurr/lake
  • Very beautiful scenery all around.
  • Went to sleep at 3am as watched whole 3 rd series of LINE OF DUTY, amazing

Day 11

  • Weather turned on us after 3 hours but made good progress on road. Rain, and snow higher up
  • we setup tent near 2 gers, constantly interrupted. No wood anywhere.
  • Generally colder as getting closer to the the mountains and the wind is blowing down from the mountains
  • Silvia had breakdown in morning, crying over her cuts.
  • Very quick packing up
  • Camel very tired today
  • Actus very well behaved all day. Trying to feed her lots.
  • Things getting expensive as no small change. Only 20,000 notes left
  • Started line of duty season 4, first two episodes.
  • Given ALOT of milk and cheese and butter from all the gers. Like 7 litres of milk
  • Decided not to buy another horse and to sell the saddle after we hear back from khannas.
  • Rain stopped in the evening, sunset and clouds were amazing.
  • Lucky as rain and thunder scared off most of the locals from visiting us. Only one boy stayed for dinner. He didn’t like it.

Day 12

  • Good mileage day. Followed path, stopped end of lake
  • Weather started very Cloudy dark changed to sunny but still brisk
  • Reached end of lake
  • Camp away from gers, next to nice river
  • Another camel island
  • Actus well behaved all day
  • Lots of wood at campsite

Day 13

  • Rest day
  • Actus disappeared but came back 5 mins later when called – very good
  • Met our first tourist
  • Just about to eat lunch and then locals arrive, lol
  • Camped by the river
  • Camel on island to eat
  • Didn’t do anything .

Day 14

  • Silvia fell into river while brushing teeth. Very funny but hurt her leg not badly
  • Started up khoton lake.
  • Missed the ranger permit station
  • Met two more tourists kiwis
  • Pyn lost buff
  • Camp in small woods
  • Almost full moon
  • Can’t tighten back girth strap on horse. It bent down to eat and saddle flew off the front.
  • Horse tries to bite when tighten

Day 15

  • Nice Drone shot morning
  • Met two groups of army guys. Checked permits, no problems
  • Gers seem more use to tourists asking for money and pain killers
  • Sold Kazak saddle for 55,000 to a boy and his mum
  • Camel already very tired
  • Silvia not scared of dogs anymore didn’t run away from a big group of dogs
  • Actus disciplined for running off to play with some dogs
  • Camped at end of khoton lake, just before military check point
  • Considering going to glacier if animals make it.
  • IPhone out of battery, can’t fly Drone, cable not working. Done not registers on tablet
  • Only covered 12k today. Need to do much more

Day 16

  • Went military check point, took along time but no problems
  • Camel has deep puncture wound on its neck, won’t stop bleeding. Must have been from tree while eating
  • Silvia walked through the river with only socks. V cold
  • Horse is still trying to bite when then girth and also lifting back legs sometimes
  • Changing landscape. Marshy land. Traversed around a hill and entered the valley to glacier. Valley,
  • very stony and lots of trees
  • Getting colder, rain came in, got tent up just in case
  • Found good camping spot,
  • Approached by 6 hongkys, invited for dinner, very nice.
    • BBQ sheep, +2 courses + alot of food for Actus and bones
    • Hongkys gave us iphone cable
    • Fire material +toilet paper +plastic bag + hot chocolate
  • Water from river is milky, possibly from clay
  • Pyn threw up at night, probably from raw sheep meat.
  • Hongkys guides Said 1 more day through bear valley and then the next day mountain, can’t cross if there is snow at the top. 4 days in total to the glacier.

Day 17

  • Silvia brought camel to the Hongkys guide to inspect the camel wound. Discussed it for a while and then got it to sit down, pushed it over and then Sat on it. Got a stick and dug around in the wound. Dug out a load of worms inside the wound. Camel vomited all over the guide. Sprayed the wound with deworming spray.
  • Advised not to go to the glacier with the camel in such a state, said come with us and they will look at the camel toe in the evening as could be a problem with that as well.
  • Left the valley back to the top of Khoton lake. On the opposite side to the way we came.
  • Started raining in the afternoon, high winds
  • Camped with the Hongkys again and the guide inspected the camel foot, was going to puncture it because thought it was an abscess but found it was a previously broken toe, an old wound.
  • Advised not to have rest days here because food is not good for animals.
  • Pyn had diarrhoea probably related to vomiting.
  • Horse still tired and therefore biting if saddle tight and lifting back legs if we want it to move faster.
  • According to honkies guide this is because horse tired

Day 18

  • GOT ready in 2 hours and on the road by 9:10 am. Hongkys last day and their vans came yesterday evening.
  • When sun rose weather turned nice, otherwise cold and wet before.
  • 5 th day moving and camel tired and so was horse so loaded rucksacks onto horse. Girth still slipping, so also dangerous to rideher.
  • Walked 6.5 hours, complete length of the lake to bridge. All animals v.Tired when arrived
  • Horse pain in the ass and have to pull along.
  • Seems lonely as perks up when sees other horses
  • Hongkys guide said meet us at the bridge and he would show us a good place to camp with good food for both camel and horse.
  • Met him at bridge, camping spot is not that nice, lots of dogs around and
  • Was planning resting two days now will probably only rest one day.
  • Concerned about whether enough time to get BACK TO tsengal to sell animals.
  • Went to bed at 8pm v. Tired.
  • Actus broke leash, barking at the other dogs. Let her run away and she came back in an hour and
  • slept untied by the tent.
  • Lost water filter

Day 19 & 20 – rest day

  • Silvia bought more milk & bread for 10000 turik. Tomorrow we try trading with goods again instead of money.
  • No phone signal here so can’t phone Bek about animals.
  • Moved camel to island as it wasn’t eating the grass.
  • Weather good but windy as exposed spot
  • Fucking dogs kept us awake barking all night
  • Very cold, frost on tent in morning
  • Dogs weed on tent and plastic

Day 21

  • Riding horse, load everything else on camel
  • Leaving khurgan nur and entering valley to tsengal
  • Pyn guided into wrong valley, lucky though as meet the hongkys horse man again at his house, gave us milk & bread
  • Long day, made good ground
  • 5 dogs followed us from the bridge when we camped and two were still following us at the end of the day, attracted to Actus. Think she had sexy time last night off the leash.
  • Had phone signal, txt bek, reconfirmed he would buy the animals. Will give actus to hannas, doesn’t really want him for himself. Very happy about the news but now committed to bringing the animals back to tsengal.
  • Camped near gers, shown ground water well.
  • Cooked very fast and efficiently as not much light left. Did cooking in front of family. Very nice then watching us.
  • Helped boy into his bareback horse as too short to get on

Day 22

  • Fast start, left at 912
  • Joined the river to tsengel
  • Pyn flew Drone, battery was too cold and crashed. Spent almost two hours looking for it. Lucky didn’t rain. GPS located it in the end. Two rotors broken have to see if it still works. Both very relieved when we found it. After one hour of searching.
  • Valley very brown and yellow, autumn. Beautiful
  • Afternoon started to get windy and bad weather chasing. Found a great camping spot, food for everyone. Put up tent in rain at 4 ish.
  • Pyn went to get milk & bread. Best bread we’ve had do far.
  • Reckon two more days to tsengal.
  • Both looking forward to getting rid of horse & camel
  • Saw a mine and now power lines.

Day 23 & 24

  • Rest day after gale force winds at night, had to move tent to more sheltered area
  • Cold day, rainy
  • Took picture with eagle
  • Wild Horses tried to mount Gobi
  • Prepared more fire starters
  • Found out there is no access to tsengal from this side of river. Frustrated about that, have to go back 4 hours to the bridge and cross to other side. Put the alarm for early morning at 6.30. Wind starts and a crazy windy night with not much sleep. Had to setup wind shelter with the containers.

Day 25

  • Pyn goes out first into the ice cold and then silvia. Leaving already 8.10 but it is painfully cold.
  • Against wind and animals resist hard to go upriver. 8km take us 3h30.
  • Then dog stays back and pyn goes get him. She must be in heat.
  • Then walk very long and meet german couple with truck. Paulchen.
  • Then plan to sleep at a ger late and meet guy from khoton lake again. Incredible. But he ‘touches’ pyn and his dad ‘touches’ silvia. Very annoying. Sleep there but give a lot, also give away Actus and have to pay 16k

Day 26

  • No more dog
  • Very warm
  • Into tsengel
  • Takes long to find only guesthouse and it has no shower or running water. But hairdresser is family who helped recover Horse the first time. Incredible. We give him the axe. Great coincidence.
  • Wash hair at hairdresser.
  • And we wait for eltai (brother beck) but he does not come
  • Go to bed but hotel locked up and toilet outside, wee out of first floor window and into glass

Day 27

  • Sell horse and camel for 1150,000, saddle for 90k and canisters for 20k.
  • Rest gave away as gifts.
  • Then car to sagsai

Leave a Comment