Desert Dreams – The Gobi Desert Cup

It’s August & I couldn’t be more excited to share an adventure with you! I don’t know about you but time is flying by this year & The Gobi Desert Cup is quickly approaching.

Gobi 3
© The Gobi Desert Cup


What is this GOBI DESERT CUP, you say?

What: Taken straight from The Gobi Desert Website it is a “10 Days adventure, secluded from the rest of the world, living with nomadic people, riding endurance trained Mongolian horses, travelling 480km to test your endurance & challenge your horsemanship through an international endurance race” – because I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Doesn’t that sound enticing? Dreamy? Challenging? Like something you want to do?

And as if that incredible description of it all isn’t enough – you need to watch this: The Gobi Desert Cup

When: August 22nd through the 31st 2018

Where: Ulan Bataar – the capital of Mongolia & The Gobi Desert. If you are more visual when it comes to geography, here is a map:

Gobi Map
Snip-it of Google Map


Ride Director Camila Champagne took some time out of her incredibly busy schedule to chat with us about The Gobi Desert Cup. Note: her bio on the website proves just how much of a bada** woman & equestrian that she is so this interview is a precious one to me as she is a internationally revered Equestrian Queen!

Question 1:
IC: How many years have you been the Ride Director & what do you love most about organizing this ride with your team/staff every year?
Camila: We started in 2016, and this will be my second race as a ride director.
There are many great different aspects that I love about organising the ride; it starts with supporting the local nomadic people of Mongolia. We create jobs and hire their horses to create an extra income. Offering our riders a life-changing adventure where they may face the greatest challenge they have overcome. Every rider, horse, herder has a story, and we get to witness their incredible courage, determination, emotional and physical fitness. The Gobi Desert Cup’s of official has become a family. We are passionate about Mongolia, the horses, and endurance riding. We fight for horse welfare standards, a clean sport and lots of fun! They are all very experienced and offer great support to the riders before and during the race as they love to share their passion for the sport and Mongolia. I am very proud and lucky to have these people involved in the race, and they keep coming back! It makes for a great environment for all involved. The great people is what makes the race!
Question 2:
IC: How do you choose the horses that participate in the ride each year?
Camila: We select the horses with the following criteria: age, can they pass a basic vet check? have they had any experience over long distances? are they quiet? Are they sound on a trot out? strong hoofs? clean legs without scars, swelling or scar tissue. We aim to reuse the same horses that have performed well the year before. Then the horses undertake weeks of training, following programs that I have designed to suit the Mongolian horses.
Question 3:
IC: What is your most favourite part of the experience?
Camila: Well to be honest, it takes 12 months of hard work to bring it all together. When we get to Mongolia, meet everyone and see what WE as a team have accomplished, and to see the riders having the time of their lives is very rewarding! I also enjoy seeing our horseman’s each year, which are like my “brothers”, they call me:”sister camilia”. They are amazing horsemen. Each time I go to Mongolia to ride/train with them within the nomadic camp at our training centre is very special.
Question 4:
IC: What is the most challenging part of the experience?
Camila: Organising the riders! We also have to deal with the drought and find water. There are disease outbreaks that we need to keep an eye on to be allowed to travel our horses. And the weather, Mongolia can have some scary storms! But it is all to do with organisation and dealing with issues as they arise. Our main issue each year is the horses trying to run home. Yes, there are no fences in Mongolia, horses are let loose around the camp to eat grass, however as they are borrowed horses… some/most of them try to run home at night! The horsemen go and look for them each morning and also do rounds at night to check on them during training and during the race.
Question 5:
IC: What advice would you give someone trying to make it to their first trip in the Gobi Desert Cup?
Camila: Just do it! You have 10-11 months to get ready, we follow you every step of the way on your journey to the race. We advise on training and offer support. Believe you can and you are half way there. Join your local endurance club, start small 20, 40 and then 80km. When you get to 80km, you are getting close! Then try riding 40km 2 days in a row, a few weeks later try 3 times in a row then 4 times. Use one or 10 horses.. if you want to do it, you will find a solution, otherwise, you will find an excuse. Believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people who want to see you thrive!
The sky is the limit!
Gobi 2
© The Gobi Desert Cup

How amazing does that sound? I don’t know about you but I am ready to start training & give it a shot! Are you an equestrian? Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Then this is perfect for you! I’ve heard from friends who have traveled to & through Mongolia that it is the coolest country with the warmest people.
Gobi 4
© The Gobi Desert Cup


You can find tons of more information on THE GOBI DESERT CUP website & after doing some extensive research, here are some tips from us here at International Cowgirl Blog so you can be a successful international cowgirl (or cowboy) at The Gobi Desert Cup in the near future.

Tip 1: The weather is extreme year round as Mongolia is landlocked between China & Russia so choose your clothing wisely. You want to go for layers that you can add in cold mornings/evenings & take off in warm & windy afternoons. Keep it functional & don’t forget your sunglasses & SPF!

Tip 2: Riders in warmers countries will know more about this tip but neck scarves are a great functional tool & those Sham-wow towels that don’t drip water can help keep you cool but covered in extreme temps. Regular neck scarves will help keep you shaded & can also be utilized in windy, sandy areas to cover your mouth & nose.

Tip 3: Invest in a GoPro or something similar. They are easy to use whether you are familiar with using a camera or not & they are small enough to where you don’t have worry about bulky cameras & all the gear that comes with them. A plus to small Go-Pro style cameras is that their charge could probably last you whole trip if you played your cards right BUT there is a wonderful press presence along the way and at each stop so your journey will be documented well.

Tip 4: Keep a travel journal. Yeah, yeah, it may sounds like we are 16 & keeping diaries again but this is an easy & convenient way to jot down names, experiences, little things along the way that you could keep for bigger purposes down the road such as a book, scrapbook, or album depending on your preferences. For most people this could be a once in a lifetime trip and you don’t want to forget a single bit of it!

Tip 5: Don’t skip on the training. Take Ride Director Camila’s advice and start early. Keep up with your riding but also try yoga & Pilates so you are extra loose & nimble. You will have tons of help along the way from Training Day 1 until you leave Mongolia.

You can always stay up to date by following the organization on social media platforms such as their Facebook , Instagram: The Gobi Desert Cup (@thegobidesertcup), Twitter: The Gobi Desert Cup on Twitter YouTube  – I do warn you though; once you click that follow or like button, you will be hooked & calling your travel agent to book flights & get your adventure started ASAP!

Gobi 1
© The Gobi Desert Cup

As always, thank you so much for stopping by & I would love to hear about your experiences with The Gobi Desert Cup if you have gone in the past or plan on attending this year.

I’d like to publicly thank Heather Wallace -The Timid Rider for the opportunity to feature this event. She will be participating in this years ride as the Media Contact & Consultant, covering the entire event whilst immersed in the local nomadic culture. Please join me in wishing her all the best & safe travels to Heather & all the riders coming together from across the globe.

God bless & stay safe!

~International Cowgirl 

2 Comments on “Desert Dreams – The Gobi Desert Cup

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