Posted by Selena Travel / 08 19, 2020
There were once dozens of species of wild horses that lived on Earth. One remains, and you can find it most easily in Mongolia. It’s called the takhi, or Przewalski’s Horse. It’s named after a Polish/Russian scientist who discovered it for Western Science. Many wild horses, like mustangs, were simply domesticated horses that ran away. The takhi have never been domesticated, and managed to survive in the steppes of Central Asia.
These horses were thought to be extinct in the wild. Zoos in Europe and America have worked hard over the last 50 years to breed the animals in captivity. In fact, there were a number that were being bred in Ukraine when the Chernobyl incident happened. The Prague Zoo worked in partnership with the Mongolian government to fly in horses, and done a lot of work to help bring them in. In the last 30 years, zoos and the Mongolian government have cooperated to successfully reintroduced to Mongolia and China.
To see them most easily though, you can visit Mongolia. This is a great trip for any animal or nature lovers. There are two areas to visit to visit the horses: Hustai Nuruu National Park and Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area.
Hustai Nuruu is the easier park to get to visit and see the takhi. It’s located about two hours outside of Ulaanbaatar. It’s a beautiful nature reserve, where a small herd of the horses live. In addition to the horses, there are many bird species there. The rangers will help you to find the takhi, which can roam all over the 506 km2 park. The environment is broad steppe land as far s the eye can see, with maybe one or two gers visible. The takhi are often spotted grazing on hillsides in the sun, though occasionally you can see them drinking water from one of the streams in the park.
Getting to Hustai here is relatively straightforward. There are tourists’ buses that go out now, or you could hire a driver here. There is a ger camp near the park entrance where you can stay. The fee for the park is also about $10. Inside the park is a series of trails you could horseback ride, mountain bike, or just hike through. Bring cash when you visit for the gift shop, as cell phone signal isn’t reliable enough for credit card transactions.
This is the larger and harder to get to of the two Great Gobi National Parks. Located in Southwest Mongolia, on the border with China, this park is 46,000 km2, and is part of the whole Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area. There’s a lot to see here. Visitors can see Mongolian Wild Ass, and Siberian ibex, and if you’re very lucky snow leopards and lynx.
This one requires permits to get into. You’ll want to either bring your own tent, or see if you can stay in a ger camp located in the park. This one is best in the summer – the flights out there will be easiest and most frequent. You would have to fly into Khovd and get a ride to the park. This is one you may have to do with a tour guide or a group.
Whichever park you decide to see Przewalski’s horse in, you should bring a few things. First on the list is binoculars. Park rangers and guides don’t’ want to disturb the horses, and will keep far back from where they are. You should respect the animals by staying a fair distance away. You’ll also want a water bottle. Both areas are quite dry, and while Hustai has a café, while you’re out exploring you will probably get thirsty. Also wear some hiking boots; you may want to scramble up a hill to see all the different kinds of animals. Also bring an alarm clock. Takhi are most active at sunrise and sunset. In the summer months the days are quite long; they can start at 4:30 am and not end until 9 or 10.
All of this work will reward wildlife lovers with a great experience. The takhi story is truly amazing, and provides some much-needed hope for animal enthusiasts. Seeing the horses in the wild is a treat you will never forget.