Best time to visit Mongolia

Visiting Tsaatan Tribe in Mongolia 2024

Meet the reindeer nomads during their short-lasting stay out of the taiga's deep forests

Best time: mid-June–mid-August

Visiting Tsaatan Tribe
Visiting Tsaatan Tribe
Visiting Tsaatan Tribe
Visiting Tsaatan Tribe
Visiting Tsaatan Tribe
Visiting Tsaatan Tribe

Maybe some have heard of the Tsaatan tribe, but few have met them in person, for that small group of people have been hiding in the taiga forests since ancient times. The tribe consists of less than 50 families, and that small population still falls into two groups—western and eastern Tsaatans depending on what part of the taiga they occupy. This people's traditional husbandry is built around reindeer breeding. It is quite risky to limit one's means of survival to only one type of livestock, owing to harsh Siberian winter conditions which may easily wipe out huge masses throughout the so-called winter dzud, or starving. The tribe could even die out due to some reindeer disease, but thankfully an Italian association helped them out and provided the necessary reindeer vaccines.

The tribe is not going to change its long-established habits, and it would be very nice of you to bring them some products when you visit. They leave the deep forest and come closer to civilization only for a short period in summer from mid-June to mid-August, and may be found not very far from Tsaagan Nur Sun. A horse ride there would take one-two days. During the tour, you will have time to visit 5 to 10 families, so it would be wise to buy the same amount of products for each household as gifts. All the shopping can be done either in the capital city of Ulaan Baatar, or in Mörön, or in the very Tsagaanuur before departure.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Tsaatan tribe in Mongolia for the reindeer festival?

The Tsaatan tribe summer camp can be visited from mid-June to mid-August when they migrate closer to civilization. An annual reindeer festival is held in July, which is a popular sight for tourists. Show more

Where can I find the Tsaatan tribe during the winter season and is it safe to visit them then?

The Tsaatan tribe retreats into the higher ground of the taiga forest during winter. Due to the harsh weather conditions and remoteness of their location, visiting during this season is not recommended. Show more

What kind of products are recommended to bring for the Tsaatan tribe as gifts during the visit?

Visitors are encouraged to bring provisions like tea, sugar, rice, cooking oil, and basic medicines, as these are scarce in the taiga. Toys for children and binoculars for the elders are also appreciated. Show more

How can I arrange transportation to reach the Tsaatan tribe settlement?

Transportation to the Tsaatan tribe settlements can be arranged by chartering a jeep or taking a horse ride from Murun or Tsagaanuur. Local drivers familiar with the remote terrain are only available in Mörön city, so it is recommended to book well in advance. Horse rides may take up to two days to reach the tribe's heart of the taiga forest. Show more

What are some cultural etiquettes to be followed while visiting the Tsaatan tribe in Mongolia?

Visitors must dress modestly and avoid revealing clothing to respect the environment they are in. Alcohol consumption is not acceptable during the visit, as it is viewed as disrespectful. Asking permission before taking photographs of tribe members or sacred places is also encouraged. Show more

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