frequently asked questions


Food on the Trips

Questions close to everyone's heart (or stomach) about what you will be eating when you ride with us.

Do we have to eat boiled mutton every day?

Pete, our master baker in 2004There is often an expectation that you will be forced to eat boiled mutton everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That's certainly the basis of the diet of local nomadic people in the countryside ("meat for men, grass for animals"). The climate makes it very difficult to grow vegetables, and they're difficult to herd, when it's time to move on. It's therefore not surprising that vegetables are as rare as hens teeth (or hens for that matter - you can't herd those either).

At Zavkhan Trekking we pride ourselves on the meals we create from the limited supplies available. We bring fruit and vegetables with us from Ulaan Baatar, along with staples such as rice, flour and pasta. We trade for delicious yoghurt, cheese and milk when we encounter local people. In the evening we cook fresh bread on the camp fire. In autumn we feast on blueberries, currants, pine nuts and other fruits of the forest. And the rivers hold some excellent eating fish, if you can catch them.

We typically have a vegetarian main dish, and a separate meat dish, so vegetarians will be fine. See below.

You are welcome to pitch in with cooking if you enjoy creating camp fire cuisine, so bring along your favourite yak (or chick-pea) recipe. We sometimes bring a cook along, but it's also fun to work as a team.

I'm vegetarian, will I survive?

Don't worry, we won't leave you to starve on the steppe and be eaten by wolves. In fact our meals tend to be based around a vegetarian main with a meat accompaniment (see above). We can also cater for people on a gluten-free diet. However if you're vegan, you will really struggle!

"The food was much better than I had feared given my vegetarian requirements." Duncan, UK.

That could be taken as 'damned with faint praise', but our trip leader Jen is vegetarian, so she knows her vege cuisine.

Will I get to try the local food?

Jenya preparing sheep's head soupPart of the fun of visiting another country is to try the local food. Most foreigners struggle with the Mongolian cuisine, but you will certainly have the opportunity to try it. On each trip we buy a sheep or two off the local nomads, despatch it in the traditional way, and then everything is eaten, with nothing wasted. And we mean nothing - you will get to try every internal organ there is, if you so wish (boiled of course). Some of it is great, some of it less so.

We often stop in and visit families along the way, when you will get to drink bowls of suutei tsai or salty, milky tea (better than it sounds). We also keep an eye out for airag, or fermented mare's milk, which everyone should try at least once.

Is there somewhere I can get a cold beer or a glass of wine at the end of a long hot day of riding?

There is nowhere to buy drinks (or anything else) once riding. However you may have the opportunity to buy local beer at the last town before we meet the horses, to take along. There is a wide variety of vodka, ranging from dire to passable. Don't even think about wine (unless you bring it from UB). You might get the chance to try airag, or fermented mare's milk if you are lucky.

Do you have a question that we haven't answered above?
If so, please don't hesitate to contact us.