Responsible tourism: Mongolia adventure vacation, small group
Accommodation and Meals: We spend four nights in a mixture of hotels and eight nights in traditional ger camps. All accommodation is locally owned and run, which has a positive effect on the economy and community by increasing employment alternatives in the area. By spending the majority of the time in simple lodgings, we significantly reduce our carbon footprint for the trip. We also operate on a ‘leave no trace’ basis, which involves disposing of waste at major towns and Ulaanbaatar, rather than leaving rubbish behind. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are used wherever possible where meals are provided. Chefs are often able to produce some delicious Mongolian specialties for clients as well, like ‘Tsuvian’- pasta served with vegetables and strips of meat, or ‘Buuz’- steamed dumplings stuffed with meat.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Local Craft and Culture: At the beginning of the trip, we visit Shankh Monastery on the way to Arvaikheer. Upon arrival there is time to visit the local museum, which contains nature collections, stone figures and Turkic scripts. Other cultural excursions include a trip to the Bayan Mountain Range to view rock art from 3000 BC, and a visit to the Manzushir Monastery on the edge of Bogd Haan National Park. Any money spent or given here as a donation contributes to the upkeep of these attractions. The cultural highlight for some is an evening of traditional Mongolian song and dance performed by the world famous Tumen Ekh dance troupe. This includes throat singers, contortionists and Tsam dancers. Handicrafts are available widely in the larger cities and typically include colourful leather boots, embroidered textiles, decorated flagons and carved wooden items. Buying traditional crafts is encouraged as this is a means of supporting the community and, in some cases, of keeping customs alive. However, guides will be careful to point out that some souvenirs on offer can be damaging to the environment or wildlife- like the horns of argali sheep or snow leopard pelts.
Charity: Our local operator has been supporting the Lotus Children’s Centre in Mongolia. The organisation is a small NGO that acts as a home and school for about 80 vulnerable children. Our operators have donated bicycles, computers, and used camping equipment to facilitate the children’s education and play time. On occasion they have even provided employment for older children who were struggling to find a secure job. If clients would like to make charitable donations whilst on the trip, this can be done in the form of small gifts and supplies at the villages we encounter. For example, our visit to the camel breeding family in the South Gobi is a good opportunity.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.