November 15, 2017
You might be cold right now, but smart travelers know it’s time to start planning for your summer camp – and polo on the Mongolian plains is a unique experience indeed.
The luxury Genghis Khan Riding and Adventure Camp is found on the fenceless steppe near the Orkhon River in Mongolia, a six-hour ride from the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
“There is always polo and polo training in the morning and evening,” Ang Tshering Lama, manager of the Genghis Khan Riding and Adventure Camp, tells Travelogues. “We have three international instructors for riding and polo, supported by several local trainers. All of our horses are very well trained and great for children as they are a bit smaller than the Western horses.”
Indeed, polo makes up a large part of what the camp is about. Famous for its flat terrain and horse culture, Mongolia is an ideal place to get into the spirit and the swing of the sport. Polo was supposedly a way to train Mongolian warriors in the Middle Ages, according to the Genghis Khan Polo and Riding Club.
“For young children, we have an excellent team of horse riding instructors and guides. We have three international instructors for riding and polo, supported by several local trainers,” Ang says. “Riding and polo lessons can also be given at request by our trainers throughout your stay.”
The tented camp is found in the rich natural surroundings of the Orkhon National Park, close to the ancient city of Karakorum founded by Ghenghis Khan – hence the name of the polo riding club. But, of course, there is more to do with the horses than play polo.
But there’s more than polo to be had at Genghis Khan Riding and Adventure Camp.
“We have 90 horses for riding and polo with many interesting horse trekking destinations for daily riding excursions,” Ang tells Remote Lands. “Overnight riding expeditions on horses or 4WD jeeps are also organized.” Activities also include kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, archery, yoga, and a spa with Ayurvedic and traditional Mongol hot-stone massage.
Though the scenery is rustic, the accommodations are anything but. The camp is made up of gers, traditional and colorful Mongolian houses. Lit by candlelight, each ger comes with its own wood-burning stove. The beds are made with mattresses, duvets, pillows, cotton sheets, and topped with cashmere blankets. The bathroom facilities, thankfully, are also inside the gers, although there are external facilities elsewhere – enclosed on three sides and with decent views, as it happens. The camp includes three bath gers, each with two wooden Japanese-style bathtubs
Next to the wildlife, it’s the culture of this remote outpost that is the most interesting. “There is […] the opportunity to be part of the Nomadic lifestyle and learn about the history of ancient world empires that have formed out of this vast steppe,” Ang says.
Nature lovers will be pleased to know that there is fishing in the Orkhon River, wildlife to be watched, and birdlife to be found all about. As for the many horse- and car-based journeys, the camp takes visitors on day trips to the 16th century Erdenze Zuu monastery, the informative Karakoram museum with artifacts that stretch back 4,000 years, the ruins of Khar Balgas which was founded in the 8th century, and the recently built Bilge Khan monument and museum.
For those who want to trek a little further into the Mongolian wilderness, Genghis Khan Riding and Adventure Camp provides two overnight trips. The Edelweiss ridge trip is a three-hour ride from camp to a ridge covered in wildflowers, including the rare and beautiful Edelweiss. Here, visitors camp in the extremely remote location and wake up to sunrise over the steppes. The other journey leads to the 17th century Tövkhön Monastery, which features breath-taking views in an area steeped in history and spirituality. This trip is best done by car.
Such is the remoteness and uniqueness of Genghis Khan Riding and Adventure Camp that short trips aren’t recommended, and guests should plan to have a whole week to soak in the relaxation, culture, and wildlife. The camp is available for complete takeover for a week or so by a family or group of families, best able to handle 20 to 25 guests at a time.
The camp runs for three months in the summer, and the best time to visit is late June to the middle of September. However, there are special private winter camps for a couple of friends or families during any of the winter months. Of particular interest is the end of February, when locals they celebrate the Mongol New Year festival called Tsaagan Tsar and the Naadam festival.