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Boojum Expeditions

14543 Kelly Canyon Road, Bozeman, MT 59715 USA
TEL 406-587-0125 FAX 406-585-3474
Email [email protected]

Since 1985, Boojum Expeditions has specialized in horseback treks and adventure travel in Tibet, Mongolia, and remote regions of China. We also offer horseback travel to Argentina, Venezuela and Yellowstone National Park.

Boojum Basics

What’s a Boojum? Boojum Background Boojum FAQ Photo Album

1996 Trips

Tibetan Highlands Horseback Trek Hovsgol (Mongolia) Horseback Trek
Kazakh Horseback Trek Northern Patagonia Horseback Ride
Venezuela Beach Ride Mongolia Fishing Lodge
Yellowstone: The Classic Packtrip

1996 Mongolia Exploratory Trips

What’s an exploratory? Ride / Raft in Arhangay
Saddles / Paddles: Lake Hovsgol by Horse and Kayak

1996 Dates and Prices


Additional Information Sources


What's a Boojum?

In his epic nonsense poem, “The Hunting of the Snark” , Lewis Carroll (of Alice in Wonderland fame) describes an eclectic band of travelers in search of the elusive Snark. The Boojum, a spectral, mystical Snark alter-ego figures prominently in the poem’s dénouement but is never described or illustrated. Half a century later, an English botanist and aficionado of Carroll saw the strange Idria Columnaris tree, unique to Baja California and dubbed it a “Boojum”. When we began our adventure careers over 20 years ago many of our trips took place in Baja California and we adopted the intriguing name, for better or for worse.

Boojum background

Boojum Expeditions is the culmination of 25 years of travel, teaching and adventure. We have both been active as guides in horseback, mountaineering, sea kayaking, rafting and overland touring trips since our early 20’s. For ten years, before founding Boojum Expeditions, we directed the Boojum Institute, a non-profit environmental education program based in Southern California. In 1984, as China opened up, we organized and led the first group of tourists to visit the Wolong Panda Reserve. From there we became intrigued with the possibility of horseback travel in China’s remote regions. Since 1985, when we ran the first horseback trip in Inner Mongolia, we have traveled on horseback with Tibetans, Oroqen, Kazakhs and Mongols.

Compared to the BIG adventure travel companies, we’ve remained a “mom and pop” operation for twelve years. We like it that way. We personally research and design each trip. We personally lead nearly all our trips. When we’re not able to lead a trip, we draw from a handful of extraordinary people who have co-led trips with us and share our love of horses and adventure.

Linda Svendsen and Kent Madin

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Boojum Expeditions FAQ

(Frequently Asked Questions)

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Tibetan Highlands Horseback Trek

July

The eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau, where the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers gather their strength before descending across China to the sea, is home to the “black tent” nomads of Amdo and Kham. At elevations between 8,000 and 10,000 feet they tend their yak and sheep herds in some of Tibet’s most productive grazing land.

This is the “other” Tibet, rarely visited and little known to the outside world, who’s attention focuses on the Lhasa-Xigatze region, center of political and administrative life in Tibet. Ringed by snow capped mountains, the lush grasslands of and remoteness of the region have sustained traditional nomadic life, in spite of efforts to collectivize the people and crush the culture. Tibetan Buddhism or Lamaism is alive and well in eastern Tibet . New construction of temples is evident in nearly all towns. Shrines at mountain passes or river crossings that had fallen into disuse are now festooned with offerings of silk “katas” , prayer flags and “mani” stones, inscribed with prayers in Tibetan script.

On these high pastures, clans of nomads move with the seasons as their “fields on the hoof” dictate. Reaching this area is challenging, both physically and politically. Roads into the area from Sichuan and Yunnan must first climb through deep river canyons and over 14,000 foot passes to reach the grasslands. Permission to travel in this area is generally restricted and some areas, like Aba County, are hotbeds of Tibetan nationalism.

We cover 12-20 miles per day in a mixture of walking, trotting and catering on mixed terrain. There will be mountain passes to cross and rivers to ford. Our wranglers are local herdsmen , who, for the other 355 days of the year, tend their herds as their ancestors have for thousands of years. The wranglers supply the tack, riding and pack horses, and handle the stock after the day’s ride is over. Our crew includes a Boojum Expeditions trip leader, Chinese and/or American interpreters, a couple of cooks, bus drivers and occasionally a police escort, depending on the particular route. The police presence is not to “control” our group of foreigners, but to insure that our horses are not stolen. This is an area with a real “wild west” attitude and “rustling” and horse theft are long-standing traditions between rival clans.

General Itinerary: Day 1. Arrive Beijing- 2. Sightseeing in Beijing - 3. Fly to Chengdu - 4. Drive to Maowen - 5. Drive to Zoergai - 6. Meet wranglers and horses - 7-14 Riding, camping - 15 Drive to Maowen - 16. Drive to Chengdu - 17. All day Chengdu - 18. Fly to Hong Kong - 19. Depart Hong Kong

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Hovsgol (Mongolia) Horseback Trek

June-August

Since 1991, Mongolia has been struggling to rebuild both an economy and a national identity that were devastated by 70 years of communism. The legacy of Genghis Khan is the single greatest point of cultural pride for Mongolians and his heritage is at the heart of the “herdsman’s” life. By coming to Mongolia to ride horseback we honor and share their most heartfelt cultural traditions. As in Tibet, Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism) permeates the herder’s lifestyle and is enjoying a resurgence after decades of repression.

Geographically, our riding area in Hovsgol is very similar to the northern Rocky Mountains. Within Mongolia, Hovsgol is renowned for it’s scenic beauty. Mountains ranges as high as 12,000 feet are interspersed with wide grassy valleys and clear rivers. Hovsgol is the northernmost province (aimag) of Mongolia and lies on the border with Siberia and Tuva. Hovsgol Lake, second largest body of freshwater in the world, is the centerpiece of a national park which our ride will cross. The region is famous for game and fish including elk, bear, wild boar, ibex, marmot, salmon, grayling and a member of the trout family called lenok.

We will spend most of our riding time in the Darhat Valley, just east of Lake Hovsgol. We travel 15-25 miles per day using the small, tough Mongol ponies whose forefathers carried the armies of Genghis Khan and his sons to world domination in the 13th century. These ponies are remarkable for the stamina and the fast trot which covers ground quickly in varied conditions. Our wranglers are local herdsmen who provide the horses and look after the pack animals. We ride on Russian style cavalry saddles, simple and surprisingly comfortable.

One of our objectives on the ride is to visit an encampment of the Tsaatang or “reindeer” people, a nomadic ethnic minority in Mongolia whose economy revolves around domesticated reindeer. Even in the height of summer, the Tsaatang live high above tree line and the ride to reach their camp is both rugged and beautiful. The Tsaatang live in tipis and in many ways their lifestyle and religious beliefs echo those of Native Americans.

In addition to the riding, participants are encouraged to bring fishing gear as the fishing in Mongolia is spectacular. Both fly and spin casting rigs will work well for salmon, grayling and lenok. Fish are a welcome respite from a diet which emphasizes mutton three times per day.

General Itinerary: 1. Depart US, 3. Arrive Beijing, 4 Fly to Ulaan Baatar, 5 Fly to Moron, begin drive to Hovsgol, 6 Drive to Renchinlhumbe, 7. Meet wranglers, begin ride, 8-14 Horsetrek through Darhat Valley and local mountains, visit to Tsaatang village, 15. Begin return drive to Moron, 16 Drive to Moron,17. Fly to Ulaan Baatar, 18. Fly to Beijing, 19. Fly to US

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Kazakh Horseback Trek

June-July

The Altai Mountains form a natural border between modern Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Xinjiang Province in China and are home to the Kazakhs, a Muslim, Turkic speaking culture of nomadic sheep herders. In the high valleys of the Altai, political borders mean very little to these people who travel where and when it is necessary for the welfare of their flocks. Kazakh culture, like most cultures in central Asia, is an amalgam of many traditions, languages, styles of dress and religious beliefs. The Altai Mountains have been a crossroads for thousands of years and surviving and flourishing along those crossroads is the hallmark of the Kazakhs.

Our trip begins in Beijing where we make our flight connection for Urumuchi, the capitol of Xinjiang Province in the far northwest of China. This region, like the Tibetan region, has it’s share of political turmoil where Kazakh and Uighur minorities chafe under Han Chinese rule. Urumuchi is a large, fairly ugly industrial city and we spend only a brief while there. By air or bus we head north from Urumuchi to the town of Altay, in the foothills of the Altai Mountains.

Altay has something of a frontier town feel about it. Horses tied at hitching posts are nearly as common as motorbikes and trucks. Bactrian camels are a common sight in town, often on their way to market laden with wool from high in the mountains. We will meet our local guides and horses alongside the river, just outside of Altay. We begin our ride along the river, with all our goods and food packed on a string of two-humped camels. Our 8 day ride takes us deep into the mountains, to where the China-Mongolia border is manifest only by a weathered and rusty sign. Plan to eat plenty of cheese and tea since this trip often resembles a progressive tea party, as we stop at yurts along the way to pay our respects and share news.

The Kazakhs, though Muslim, are from the “liberal” wing of Islam. They enjoy a fast horse, a fat sheep and fiery liquor and count hospitality towards strangers as an obligation and an opportunity to throw a party. In addition to their prowess with horses, Kazakhs are some of the last people to hunt with eagles. There is no more stirring sight than to watch a horseman canter across a lush green valley with a full grown eagle on his arm!

General Itinerary: Day 1. Depart US, Day 3 Arrive Beijing, Day 4 Sightseeing in Beijing, Day 5. Fly to Urumchi, afternoon sightseeing, Day 6. Fly (Drive) to Altay, Day 7 Meet wranglers and horses, sightseeing in Altay, Day 8-14 Riding and packing through the Altai Mountains, Day 15. Return to Altay, Day 16 Fly (Drive) to Urumuchi, Day 17 Fly to Beijing, Day 18 Depart for US.

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Northern Patagonia Horseback Trek

November-April

The history of northern Patagonia parallels that of our own West, complete with pioneer families, enormous cattle ranches (estancias), local cowboys (called gauchos), railroad tycoons and cycles of boom and bust. We work with the scions of two pioneer families, one English, one American. Michael Eddy’s family has been in Argentina for three generations and ranches over 15,000 acres of the windswept eastern coast. Martin Jones’ grandfather settled on the slopes of the Andes near a tiny town called Bariloche.

Our trip is designed to combine horseback riding with an intimate look at the history, landscape and culture of northern Patagonia. We’ll be Michael’s guests at Estancia Cortaderas, riding along the coastal dunes for two days. The Eddy’s are avid polo players and you’ll have an opprotunity to chase a ball around on their practice field. We then travel by car to the nearby Valdes Peninsula famous for whales, sea lions and penguins. We then travel across the breadth of the continent to Lago Nahuel Huapi and the town of Bariloche. Arriving in Bariloche, we’ll ride for 5 more days on 20,000 acres of private wilderness at the feet of the Andes. We’ll ride spirited locally bred polo ponies at Estancia Cortaders and sturdy criollo horses in the Andes. We’ll enjoy the hearty and meat rich cuisine of the pampas and learn about early and recent history from Argentines who embody the heritage of Patagonia.

Itinerary: Day 1. Depart US for Buenos Aires, 2. Arrive Buenos Aires, connect to domestic flight to Viedma. 3. Meet Eddy family and begin ride. Camp out. 4. Continue riding to Estancia Cortaderas, overnight at the estancia. 5. Drive to Puerto Madryn at Valdes Peninsula. 6. All day tour by van of Valdes Peninsula. 7. Travel to Bariloche. 8. Drive to Estancia Nahuel Huapi, camp out. 9-13 Riding an exploring in wilderness around Bariloche. 14. Return to Bariloche, hotel overnight. 14 Fly to Buenos Aires and connect for flights to US

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Venezuela Beach Ride

January, February, March

We love winter here in Montana but when the mercury hugs the bottom of the thermometer, we can’t deny the attraction of a hot, sunny place by the sea for riding horses. We imagined a week-long getaway to someplace close and friendly with great food, local color and tropical drinks. We settled on Venezuela. Off the northern coast of Venezuela lies Margarita Island, famous at one end for fancy resort hotels and wind surfing; unknown at the other end for it’s deserted, desert peninsula framed by Caribbean waters.

We fly from Miami to Caracas and then on to Margarita where we transfer directly to our first vehicle supported camp spot. Then we ride for 5 days and 4 nights at a leisurely pace, with plenty of time for midday siestas, long lunches and frequent dips in the ocean. Our gear is transported by jeep and we ride local horses and tack. Our hosts own a ranch on the island and will introduce us to the less cosmopolitan but equally colorful life and culture of the Macanau peninsula.

Itinerary: Day 0. Fly to Miami, overnight in airport hotel, 1. Early morning departure to Venezuela and Margarita Island, camp out. 2.-5 Riding and exploring the coast of the Macanau peninsula, fishing villages, snorkeling and fishing. 6. Transfer to Rancho Negro, overnight in lodge accommodations, sightseeing. 7. Return flight to Miami.

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Mongolia Fishing/Hunting Lodge

June and September

As a joint venture with our Mongolian partners, we are building a rustic wilderness lodge in northern Hovsgol Province at the confluence of the Shishgit and Tengis Rivers. Fishing is excellent for taimen, lenok, grayling and other sport species. The lodge is accessible by horseback or helicopter and features a large dining, living hall with attached kitchen, small, two person sleeping cabins, and a Russian style sauna bath with showers. We will have an exploratory trip in early June to check on the building progress and float and fish the Shishgit and lower Tengis. We will then have scheduled departures in September using helicopters to fly in and out from Ulaan Baatar. We are currently applying for permits for hunting elk, bear, moose and ibex. Those first hunts would take place November of 1996. For further information on this new fishing destination please call the office or e-mail.


Yellowstone in Autumn

September 8-14

This end of summer trip is one of our favorites. In September in northern Yellowstone leaves are turning, wildlife is abundant and a nip is in the evening air. We work with our friend, H.A. Moore who is one of Montana's most experienced and most respected horse packers. Our route varies each year, depending on current conditions, but always reaches the spectacular high country of our most famous National Park.

Camping accommodations are first rate, with excellent meals, blazing sunsets, good fellowship around the campfire and great fishing and wildlife viewing. We'll see elk, bison, deer, hawks and eagles and perhaps find the track of a grizzly bear or two. The trip includes your first night hotel in Bozeman and transportation to the Park entrance from Bozeman. This trip is limited to 8 riders and fills very fast!

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What's An Exploratory?

When we plan trips to a new area, there’s always a first, “shakedown” trip. You get to see things first, but also with some of the nuts and bolts of organization in need of tuning or just plain missing! We put a lot of time and research into new trips but want participants to know from the beginning that on these trips we really expect the unexpected. Exploratory trips require you to be a little more flexible and tolerant of delays and last minute changes of plan. It also means being on our best behavior as ambassadors of our culture; we set the tone for future groups to visit the region, whether through Boojum or otherwise. If you are considering joining an exploratory trip, be sure you’ve had ALL your questions and concerns addressed before making your commitment.

Saddles / Paddles: Lake Hovsgol by Horse and Kayak

July-August

On the entire planet, only Lake Baikal (to the northeast) contains more fresh water than Hovsgol. This 75 mile long lake is the jewel in Hovsgol National Park and has been described as the limnological equivalent of the rain forest. The lake is framed to the east by dramatic, rocky peaks and bordered on the west by rolling steppe. This is truly the last, Last Best Place where wildlife abounds and the fishing is extraordinary for salmon, trout-like lenok and grayling. The only boats that ply Hovsgol are little used ferries and the occasional rowboat. To our knowledge, no one has been sea kayaking on Hovsgol yet

Our trip begins in Beijing where we connect for a flight to Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia’s capitol. From UB we fly to Moron and then drive to Hatgal, at the southern end of Hovsgol. From Hatgal we will ride for five days, averaging 15-20 miles per day with a truck and jeep carrying our camping gear and kayaks. When we arrive at Turt, at the northern end of the lake, we’ll swap saddles for paddles and spend 5 days paddling back down the rugged, roadless western shore to end up at Hatgal and meet the vehicles.

This trip is suitable for travelers without prior riding or paddling experience, GIVEN, that they are fit and flexible about traveling a new route. Permission of the trip leader and a phone interview are required.

Itinerary: Day 1. Depart US, 3. Arrive Beijing, overnight. 4. Fly to Ulaan Baatar. 5. Fly to Moron and drive to Hatgal, camp out. 6. Meet horses and wranglers, begin riding. 7-9. Riding up the east coast of Hovsgol with vehicle support. 10. Arrive Turt, begin paddling south down west coast of Hovsgol. 11-14. Paddling and camping out. 15. Arrive Hatgal, drive to Moron. 16 Fly to Ulaan Baatar. 17. Fly to Beijing. 18 Fly to US.


Ride / Raft in Arhangay

June

Last year we explored Zavhan aimag with an eye to finding an appealing combination of riding and moderate river rafting. Virtually unknown in Mongolia, river running is about as new to Mongolia as horseback riding is traditional. We think a combo trip provides just the right juxtapostion of ancient and modern. Zavhan was beautiful but ultimately, the river was too flat. We’ve seen the Chuluut River from the banks of it’s basalt gorge and it definetly has a short but beautiful stretch of whitewater and eventually drains to the Selenge and out to Lake Baikal.

We will be flying to Tsetserleg, capitol of Arhangay and ride horseback for 5 days with vehicle support until we reach our put-in point on the Chuluut. Then we have 5-6 days of floating with partial vehicle support to our take-out near Moron. The terrain between Tsetserleg and the Chuluut is superb riding country; rolling hills, forested mountains and flat valleys dotted with the gers and livestock of the local people.

At the put-in we’ll send our horse back with the wranglers and pump up our Russian style catarafts for the descent down the Chuluut. The first 25-35 kilometers is in a deep basalt gorge, a legacy of the intense volcanic activity which shaped central Arhangay. Leaving the gorge, we’ll float at a liesurely pace through some of Mongolia’s most idyllic pasture lands. Fishing on this trip will be excellent as will bird watching. There will be plenty of time to meet local people.

Itinerary: Day 1. Depart US. 3. Arrivie Beijing. 4. Fly to Ulaan Baatar. 5. Fly to Tsetserleg, camp out at wranglers camp. 6-10. Ride horseback with vehicle support, camping out. 11-15 Rafting down Chuluut River.16. Fly to Ulaan Baatar from Moron. 17 Fly to Beijing. 18 Fly to US.

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1996 Dates and Prices

Hovsgol Horse Trek July 9-July 26 & July19-August 2 $3950.00
Our classic ride in the Hovsgol region. Over a week of horsepacking through the Darhat Valley east of Lake Hovsgol with a visit to the "reindeer people" camp plus great fishing, camping, culture, scenery.
Ride/Raft in ArhangayJune 28-July 13 $3400.00
A five day ride over rolling steppe to reach the Chuluut River canyon. Then a five day float in Russian-style catarafts to the confluence with the Selenge River.
Saddles/Paddles in Hovsgol July 19-August 3 & August 5-20 $3650.00
A first! Riding up the eastern shore of Lake Hovsgol for five days, then five days paddling 2 person kayaks down the wild western shore. Fishing, wildlife, scenery.
Tibetan Highlands June 27-July 16 $3950.00
Eight days of horsepacking with the "black tent" nomads in eastern Tibet. Temples, rivers and high mountainson this high altitutde ride along the Yangtze and Yellow River divide.
Yellowstone: The Classic Packtrip September 8-14 $1375.00
Seven days packing in a remote section of northern Yellowstone National Park. Bison, elk and bear; great fishing and camaradrie around the campfire.
Patagonia Horse Trek November 13-27 $3425.00
Estancia life on the east coast, wildlife of the Valdes Peninsula and a five day ride in the foothills of the central Andes.
Venezuela in Winter January through March From Miami $1200.00
A warm, week-long "escape from winter" riding and camping on deserted beaches of Margarita Island in the Caribbean. Seven days with four nights camping, five days riding.

Included in Trip Cost:

Meals, accommodations, horses, guides, specialized equipment (tents, rafts, kayaks), permits, land transportation and internal air flights.

Not Included in Trip Cost:

International airfare, visas, tips, airport transfers and meals not taken with the group. Our office will facilitate favorable international air fares and details of your visa applications.

Send us a message, request a brochure, ask us a question [email protected]

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Photo Album

  1. Looking east across the Darhat Valley, Mongolia. (13K)
  2. Traditional and cavalry saddles on horses, village of Tsagaan Nuur, Mongolia (24K)
  3. Linda Svendsen and Dorlegjev, head wrangler, Mongolia. (55K)
  4. Hand drawn ferry crossing at Shishgit River, Mongolia. (23K)
  5. A morning’s catch of trout-like lenok on Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia. (29K)
  6. Tibet guide/wrangler. Guns are a precaution against horse thieves, Tibet. (22K)
  7. Kent Madin and Mongolia/Tsatang guides, Mongolia. (76K)
  8. Winter log home of the Tsatang (reindeer) people, Mongolia. (32K)
  9. Michimaad, translator and guide with reindeer, Mongolia. (25K)
  10. A young girl on horseback, Mongolia. (17K)
  11. Sighting an old flintlock rifle made in the mid-1800’s, Mongolia. (27K)
  12. Reindeer and tipi-like tents of the Tsatang people, Mongolia. (24K)
  13. Siesta time, Tibetan style, Tibet. (35K)
  14. Old woman riding a yak, Tibet. (33K)
  15. Three monks from a small temple near Zoergai, Tibet. (58K)
  16. James Robson and Kazakh friends, Altai Mountains, China. (47K)
  17. On the trail in Tibet. (25K)
  18. Interior of the rebuilt temple at Zoergai, Tibet. (35K)

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Kent Madin
Boojum Expeditions: 14543 Kelly Canyon Road Bozeman, MT 59715 406-587-0125
Fax 406-585-3474


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