Trip of a lifetime isn’t a term we throw around casually here at Black Tomato. So trust us when we say that this Mongolian skiing adventure truly qualifies as a trip of a lifetime. Skiing through the seemingly infinite wilderness of Mongolia for an encounter with the warm and welcoming Tsaatan nomadic reindeer herders and culminating in a joyous ice festival on the frozen crystalline ice that covers Lake Khovsgol, this adventure may prove to be a physical challenge, but that will be the last thing on your mind as you take in the beauty of the unspoiled wilderness. And, to top it all off, you will return home with a timeless souvenir; a pair of Tsaatan skis meticulously crafted with your own two hands.
The journey begins
The city of UIaanbaatar will be your starting point and with over half of the country’s population crowded into the capital, a guided tour of the main square followed by a night of music and dance, will be the ideal way to get acquainted with Mongolian city life. Leaving the uniquely soviet styled city behind, you will take a morning flight to the endearingly rugged and lively town of Moron. After a quick shopping fix at the bustling market in the centre of town, the largest in the country, you will be met by your driver for a scenic ride over the frozen steppe to spend the night in a cozy cabin with your host family in Toom.Read more
Skiing into the taiga
The remainder of the journey will continue by ski beginning with a short distance to get acquainted with the equipment followed by several days travelling longer distances. With immaculate visibility and sweeping grandiose landscapes, you will leisurely journey across into the Taiga, all the while supported by an expert team equipped with horses and vehicles for those wanting to take a rest for those longer legs of the journey. Stays in handcrafted log cabins and traditional Mongolian Gers will split up the days allowing for much needed rest and relaxation.
Life in a nomadic tribe
Rolling mountains, dramatic valleys, forested plains and vast areas of barren tundra characterize the Mongolian Taiga. You will enter to a warm and celebratory greeting by the Tsaatan people, a community of nomadic reindeer herders who make the Taiga their home. Several days with the Tsaatan tribe will offer true insight into their legendary hospitality and centuries-old culture that is deeply rooted in the Shaman. Food, folk dance and traditional ceremonies will fill your days but it isn’t all fun and games; you will also craft your own Tsaatan skis and put them to use in the daily task of reindeer herding. Your nights will be spent in a characteristically rustic, yet surprisingly spacious Tsaatan tepee – the only way to cap off your authentic Tsaatan experience.
Festival on the lake
Travelling out of the Taiga brings you to the most scenic section of your journey with the horizon outlined by the magnificent Saradig mountain range and its peaks nearing 3000m. You will make a regal entrance to Lake Khovsgol by piloting a horse-drawn sleigh and take part in the two-day festival directly on the frozen lake’s surface. The second-largest lake in central Asia is known for its pure waters which freeze over in the winter months to create crystalline ice with four-feet of visibility straight down. Competitions of speed-skating, horse-drawn sleigh races and ice sumo take place alongside traditional games giving you the opportunity to mingle with the locals who will encourage you to learn and participate in all the festivities.
The chance to see this remote corner of the planet and meet its mysterious people in deep winter is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that neither you nor the Mongolian people you encounter will soon forget.