Mongolia has always been on my bucket list of destinations and the opportunity to go out and play polo was one not to be missed. This is the land of the Mongolian Horse small but strong and key in Genghis Khan's domination of the world.
As the plane starts its descent you can see the mountains stretching out for miles. Suddenly almost from nowhere a city appears and you are landing in the capital of Ulaanbaatar. The oldest building is 90 years old and over a quarter of the country now live here. This wasn’t what we had come to see so we all jumped into our bus and started the journey out into the mountains.
As we made our way to the Steppe we could see why Mongolia was so special. The countryside seems to stretch out for miles and miles with nothing to inhibit your view. No trees, no houses just rolling hills with goats, yaks and horses running wild across the plane.
After 6 hours we made it to camp. Up upon a hill looking out onto the most stunning views across the Steppe, you could see the river for miles carving its way out through the valley and the mountains reached out in all directions. As we explored camp we found different Gers (Yurts) for different activities. We had a Ger to sleep in with Log Burning Fire, comfy bed and a little sink, then there was the kitchen Ger where all the food would be prepared and we ate breakfast, there was a technology Ger and a Bath Ger (this soon become the girls favorite)
When we woke the next day the excitement was running through the camp. Today we got to play polo! The horses were at the bottom of the hill so we wandered down chattering away wondering what we’d be in for. I had visions of not being able to stop or turn while being run off with into the distance never to be seen again!!! (not over dramatic at all) Lizzy who was looking after the horses for the summer saw the slight fear in my eyes and presented me with a handsome steed called Sheep! The first thing you need to get used to is that they are herd animals so they like to be much closer to each other than you are used to. Once you have this down and are comfortable with them standing squished up next to each other you relax.
Next step was chukkas. This is always the acid test! There were some fantastic players that had flown into play meaning no messing, get stuck in. Then there were the Mongolian players, on horses before they could walk, riding in races across the country with no saddles! These boys could ride! It was ok though because I had my Sheep and he was frankly sensational! Fast (took me a few days to get to fast), strong, stopped and turned and what heart!
For the next 10 days we played polo from dawn till dusk! We broke in the middle of the day to enjoy delicious food and either played archery or had a bash at traditional sword fighting. Which is much harder than you think it’s going to be!! We also went on incredible long rides up into the mountains, when we arrived a delicious picnic/bbq was laid out for us all to enjoy. We were also able to visit the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery where you could learn about the history of Genghis Khan and see the beautiful temples of ancient Mongolia.
For anyone looking for a Polo or Riding Adventure where you will be immersed into another culture and escape the stresses of the modern world, this is the trip for you. Join us in 2018 on one of our polo adventures to Mongolia for more details: https://www.adastraadventures.com/mongolia