Unleash your inner cowboy, Indiana Jones, or Lawrence of Arabia, and climb in the saddle for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
Some argue that taking a road trip is the best way to learn about a new country. Others swear on motorbike trips, while backpackers will tell you that going slowly on your own two legs, mixing with the locals, learning their customs, and tasting their food is the finest method. Equestrians will disagree.
You don’t have to be a pro to enjoy your time in the saddle at these postcard-perfect and adventure-packed horseback riding destinations:
1. Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia
The ancient Mongols were well-known horse breeders and mounted fighters, possibly the best of their day. Horsemanship is still in their blood today.
Mongolia’s untamed steppes are best explored by horseback south of the Siberian Taiga. The pace of life here has mostly stayed the same since the Bronze Age, and as the seasons change, nomads travel great distances with their herds, surrendering to the elements and living in perfect peace with nature.
Khövsgöl, popularly known as “Mongolia’s midnight blue gem,” is the country’s largest freshwater lake in northern Mongolia. Despite its isolation, some families call this isolated corner of the globe home. The Tsaatan are a nomadic reindeer herder tribe who dwell west of Lake Khövsgöl. Only 30-40 families remain, living in tepees and constantly on the move, shifting camp five to ten times every year.
Ride Mongolian horses to this remote location and meet the last remaining reindeer herders and one of the world’s last nomadic tribes. On a multi-day horse trekking excursion, you will camp in utter wilderness and journey through fields of wildflowers, valleys, rivers, and mountains, discovering northern Mongolia as a nomad.
Horseback riding in Mongolia is advised between June and September due to its climate (short summers and harsh, frigid winters). You need to have some horseback riding experience as well as a strong level of fitness, as the rough terrain and lengthy hours in the saddle can be challenging.
2. The Andes, Peru
Horseback riding vacations are becoming increasingly popular in the Andean countries, particularly in Peru. The Sacred Valley of the Incas runs from Cusco to Machu Picchu and is widely regarded as the most beautiful area of the Peruvian Andes. Explore this secluded part of the earth from a fresh perspective: riding Peruvian Paso horses.
Cross terraced fields and eucalyptus forests, ride seemingly endless paths on ancient Inca roadways and stop for excellent Peruvian cuisine.
3. Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia, also known as the “Land of Beautiful Horses,” is best explored on horseback, with its iconic fairy chimneys, mushroom, and anthill-shaped buildings.
Horses have long held a particular part in the history of these countries, and visitors have been riding Anatolian and Arab horses around Cappadocia for generations. Horseback riding is still one of the most significant ways to explore this awe-inspiring lunar landscape, visiting cave dwellings and fascinating underground towns.
Cappadocia, in central Turkey, is known for its beautifully formed rock formations and is a geological anomaly. Since the Bronze Age, when inhabitants began carving Byzantine churches, monasteries, villages, and cities into the red sandstone, the location has been constantly inhabited.
A horseback riding tour in Cappadocia will take you through orchards, parched plateaus, and interesting moonscapes. You’ll get a taste of traditional Turkish living by meeting residents who still live in dwellings cut into sandstone outcrops. You can even spend the night in some of these structures. You might also camp out under the stars. Whatever you select, there will be plenty of finger-licking Turkish cuisine and delicious Turkish tea.
Tours range in length from a few hours to many days. Be prepared to spend long hours in the saddle if you want the entire experience.
4. The Maasai Mara, Kenya
On a horseback safari in the Maasai Mara, you can gallop or trot alongside zebras, giraffes, elephants, and other exciting species. Ride away from the dusty roads clogged with 4X4s and tourists and into the massive savanna for a true wilderness adventure.
You will cover more ground on the back of polo ponies than you would walk, with a lower impact on the wildlife and habitat. You will enjoy the tranquil landscape of the unbroken savanna with no boundaries or disturbances, with only the galloping horses interrupting the calm.
The Maasai Mara is famed for the Great Migration, which takes 1.5 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebras from Tanzania’s Serengeti plains to Kenya’s Maasai Mara from July to September. During this time of year, nothing beats an equestrian experience in the Mara!
5. Patagonia, Chile
Patagonia is known for having the world’s third-largest glaciers (after Antarctica and Greenland), which descend directly into the water below. Torres del Paine National Park, with their granite mastodons rising almost vertically from sea level to 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and is primarily regarded as South America’s best national park.
Long gallop on Criollo horses through glacial valleys, virgin beech forests, and gorgeous meadows, passing through green rivers, lakes, glaciers, and tall granite spires in Torres del Paine. On horseback riding vacation in Chilean Patagonia, you’ll stay at estancias, traditional Patagonian farms specializing in animal farming, or camp under the Chilean night sky.
Multi-day excursions cover a lot of ground. As a result, prior expertise is highly suggested, and you must be in excellent physical condition to ride for up to seven hours daily.
6. Petra to Wadi Rum, Jordan
The stunning beauty of Wadi Rum, often known as the “Valley of the Moon,” owes its fame to the Academy Award-winning film Lawrence of Arabia. On horseback riding vacation in Jordan, you can retrace Alexander the Great’s steps by riding strong Arabian horses and discovering vast stretches of desert.
Travel by horseback from Petra to Wadi Rum through one of the world’s most breathtaking desert settings. Petra, often known as the “rose-red city,” is an open-air museum, an ancient city carved into the cliffs of a secluded steep valley, its beautiful façade chiseled by the Nabataeans in 400 BC. From here, you’ll ride with indigenous Beduin tribespeople across Wadi Rum’s colorful desert, with stunning rock formations, sandy valleys, and tiny gorges.
Set up camp in the middle of the desert, surrounded by granite monoliths and sands. Enjoy Arabic cuisine while riding Pure Arabs, Bedouin Arabs, and Anglo Arabs. They may not be very tall, but they are sturdier than they appear and can resist harsh desert conditions. A horseback riding excursion in Wadi Rum is best suited for experienced riders willing to spend long hours in the saddle.
7. Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
Follow in the footsteps of old Silk Road traders as you travel across the Tian Shan Mountains in the Pamir-Alai mountain range. Then, as you travel deeper into the forest, ride Kyrgyz horses through the untouched countryside, passing past distant communities.
Enjoy horseback riding on the banks of Issyk-Kul, the world’s second-largest alpine lake and “Kyrgyzstan’s gem.” Ride along Song Kol Lake, which is 3,016 meters (8,895 feet) above sea level, for a detailed look at Kyrgyz nomadic culture centered on horse breeding and horsemanship.
Cross high alpine pastures, glaciers, and pine forests against the backdrop of Lenin Peak, Kyrgyzstan’s second tallest, and Khan Tengri, the Tian Shan Mountains’ most soaring. Camp in the wilderness or stay in a yurt with nomad families you meet along the way and enjoy traditional fares such as homemade hot bread with fermented mare’s milk, spicy soup, and tea.
Summer is the most fantastic time to go horseback riding in Kyrgyzstan because winters may be frigid, particularly in the mountains. Therefore, intermediate riding skills, as well as a sense of adventure, are required.
8. Golden Circle, Iceland
On a horseback riding tour in Iceland, you’ll see the land of ice and fire, the midnight sun, and the Northern Lights. In addition, glaciers, waterfalls, geysers, hot springs, volcanoes, and lava deserts can all be visited. The Golden Circle trip is one of the most popular in southern Iceland. While most people prefer a road trip to see everything on the agenda, why not do it differently and avoid the crowds?
Ride during the day, soak in hot springs at night, and stay at local farms. Popular Golden Circle horseback riding tours begin on the outskirts of Reykjavik and take you to the Geysir Geothermal Area, which is famous for its geysers and hot springs. While the geyser that gave the area its name, Geysir, has been dormant in recent years, Strokkur erupts every five to ten minutes. The Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the site of the world’s first parliament in 930AD, are highlights.
Learn more: Do Horses Enjoy Being Ripped?