Mongolia adventure vacation

“A 23 day small group adventure – max six people – staying with local families or wild camping for an in depth, intimate exploration of untamed Mongolia. ”

Highlights

Ulaan Baatar walking tour | Gobi Desert | Erdenedalai | Baga Gazriin Chuluu | Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park | Khongoryn Els | Central Grasslands | Arvaikheer | Khogno Khan Nature Reserve | homestay with yak herders in the Khangai Mountains | northern Mongolia | Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur (White Lake) National Park | Jargalant | Lake Khovsgol National Park | Selenge Gol | Bulgan | Khustain Nuruu | some family homestay accommodation and wild camping

Travel Team

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Check dates

2020: 6 Jun, 1 Aug
Accessible tourism overview:
Mongolia is one of the largest and most remote countries in the world with a limited infrastructure in place. However, we work solely in Mongolia so have local knowledge and can provide support and guidance. Our trips can be organised with your own driver/guide and we can adjust our trips specifically to your individual needs but this is also dependent on the budget available. We are more than happy to take individual requests into consideration.
Limited mobility:
We have had guests with Parkinson’s, MS and also Prader Willi syndrome on both our small group and tailor made trips. However, we request clear guidelines in advance as to your needs and requirements before we accept the booking. Depending on the level of limited mobility, we might advise that you travel with a companion.
Blind or limited vision:
We are more than happy to cater for people who are blind or have limited vision - both our small group trips and tailor made trips are available to book if traveling with a sighted person. Our tailor made programmes can be adapted for ease of travel and to suit your needs. All pre departure information before the trip is provided in a written format but I am more than happy to go over these verbally by phone. Information in braille is not available in Mongolia which means all the information during the trip will be delivered verbally.
Deaf or limited hearing:
We are more than happy to cater for people who are deaf or who have limited hearing - both our small group trips and tailor made trips are available to book if traveling with a hearing person. Our tailor made programmes can be adapted for ease of travel and to suit your needs. Our guides are not trained in sign language however, hence why it would be useful to have a traveling companion who can sign.
Cognitive conditions:
We have had guests with Parkinson’s, MS and also Prader Willi syndrome on both our small group and tailor made trips. However, we request clear guidelines in advance as to your needs and requirements before we accept the booking. Depending on the severity of the condition, we might advise that you travel with a companion.
Free from food:
We can cater for vegetarians, vegans, gluten free and other specialist diets. However, travelers book knowing that their will be limitations in place due to what is available in Mongolia. We provide clear guidelines as to what style and type of meals we can provide so travelers know in advance what to expect.
LGBT:
We welcome everyone. Our teams of guides and drivers are open and welcoming people. We make you aware in advance of any challenges you may face in Mongolian culture which is still a traditional society.
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Responsible tourism

Mongolia adventure vacation

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Always a tricky one this. We can promise you the world but how do we prove it? Responsible, sustainable or ethical travel - in recent years, it has developed many labels and is now a widely-used selling tool in the tourism industry. But, what does it mean? Although there is no real clear definition, it has to be more than ensuring that we collect all of our rubbish, asking before taking a photograph or being aware of the cultural norms. That’s what we should be automatically doing anyway.

Below are some of the elements of my responsible tourism philosophy for our Untamed Mongolia itinerary where we can show real evidence of our practise.
Our itineraries and departures

Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures for each of our itineraries. Our Untamed Mongolia only has one or two departures per year. Also, we do not concentrate specifically on one area.

Mongolia is a country of incredibly diverse yet fragile ecosystems. By limiting our presence in certain areas, we help to preserve and protect and help to avoid the area changing environmentally due to repeated and extended exposure to tourism.

Wherever we visit, supporting local is at the heart of what we do and at the center of each experience we offer. By not focusing on one specific area, it also means that we help to support communities that might not otherwise benefit from the tourism industry.

Yes we visit areas such as Lake Khovsgol where tourism has become more concentrated in Mongolia but we also offer itineraries that stretch to areas that are not necessarily considered ‘highlights’ by other tour companies or the guidebooks such as Baga Gazriin Chuluu on this trip.

Our trips also focus on 21st Century Mongolia - yes, you’ll get to experience the traditional way of life but at the same time gain an overview as what it means to be Mongolian in 21st Century Mongolia.

The people we work with are ‘real’ people. Not tourism professionals. You’ll meet people from Ulaanbaatar, you’ll meet herders, you’ll meet Mongolians that live in the provincial centers as well as the smaller town and rural communities. They are all Mongolians. Take time out to meet them.

Group Size

Unlike a majority of the larger tour companies, where small group travel can mean being in a group of up to 12-18 people, when we say small group travel this is what we mean. Our group size on this trip has been kept small - a maximum of six. This means that experiences during this itinerary become more personal and authentic for you -especially your stay with the Galbadrakh family at Tsenkher. We are not an overwhelming presence - on the local communities or the local environment.

Waste

The disposal of rubbish is a major issue in Mongolia - especially with plastic. As part of our responsible tourism ethos I pay a local Mongolian NGO (Mongolian Quilting Centre) to make fabric tote bags for our guests which we hand out for free as a welcome pack at the start of each trip. This is a souvenir for our guests but it also helps to support the project and helps us to cut down on the waste we produce. As part of your Mongolia experience with us you will also receive such a tote bag.

Also, you can book knowing that we finance our own two-day rubbish collection at Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park in Mongolia where you will be staying yourselves on our Untamed Mongolia experience. Arranged through the local community and protected area rangers, we have been organising this annual event since 2014.

Water

First up, we do not provide bottled drinking water as apart from in the capital city, there is just no way to recycle the bottles. Instead, we take fresh drinking water from local water supply points. We provide two 20 litre water containers and provide a Lifesaver carbon filter and an Adventurer Steripen in each vehicle.

Also, for a majority of all of our trips we do not use the typical tourist ger camps that often have very bad eco-credentials. Instead, we use a mix of accommodation and use the locally provided town shower houses. This is where a majority of Mongolia's rural population come to shower. They are small business enterprises operated for the local communities and a great way to support local, meet the locals and do as the locals do themselves. It also helps us to manage our own environmental footprint.

In 2017 we started working with Water-To-Go. Our travelers are now able to purchase a Water-To-Go reusable filtered water bottle and receive a 15% discount. From each purchase an additional 15% is donated towards the Mongolian well-project run by CAMDA (Cambridge Mongolia Development Appeal) that we support. This NGO directly supports Mongolia’s herders.

Camping

During this experience you will at certain locations camp in tents. When we camp, where possible, we use only existing campsites, keep them small and, if required, we always ask permission of local families or park rangers. We carry all litter with us until we can dispose of it in a responsible manner, removing any litter left by others (to the best of our ability). We ensure that we leave our campsites in a better condition than we found them. Always.

(We also finance our own two-day rubbish collection in a national park in Mongolia. Arranged through the local community and protected area rangers, we have been arranging this since 2014.)

And in 2016, we went one better. We made our own toilet tent (using materials bought locally in Ulaanbataar). It's only a small step but it helps manage our overall environmental impact. It's only a small step but it again goes towards helping to manage our overall environmental impact. As part of your trip our trip assistants give a briefing at the start of the experience about 'toilet paper ethics' - how and where to dispose of it correctly.

Community

Taking A Road Trip

A majority of visitors who visit the Gobi fly down to Dalanzadgad - the provincial capital of the southern Gobi. However, most of the guests know and understand the philosophy behind our 'road trips' - that flying from place to place gives you no context of location, no real experience of the country or the lives of the people in-between. That’s why our Untamed Mongolia trip focuses on traveling across country - it slows you down and gives you time to experience the ‘places in between’, the places and communities not actually mentioned in the guidebooks.

Combatting Desertification - Cooperative Ar Arvijin Delgerekh

As part of this trip you will stay with rural families who are part of this Cooperative based in the Khangai Mountains.

Much of Mongolia’s tourism sector depends in the long term on the preservation of the country’s cultural and physical landscapes. But, by visiting Mongolia, you are making your own impact on the country.

The Cooperative is a local people-led project that is committed to working at a grassroots level towards long term preservation. It focuses on working with herders producing spun yak wool, providing them with an alternative to diversify and increase their income and helping them to protect the land which provides them with their way of life.

Cultural Impact

My company is not a ‘world specialist’; we concentrate on the country we know and love – Mongolia. We research, design and operate each itinerary ourselves and do not source our itineraries from other agents.

Supporting local is at the heart of what we do. Part of this philosophy is that we use ger accommodation provided by the Mongolian families such as the Batsuuri at Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. At no point have we ever rocked up and demanded accommodation. Our relationships with the families we work with are genuine - forged over time and with plenty of tea.

Families offer ger accommodation to help supplement their income. Most are small rural businesses providing extra accommodation. Some accommodation is offered by herders, some is offered by ‘retired’ herders who no longer migrate, some by families that live in small town communities and some by families that own small ger camp businesses. By using this form of accommodation it provides you with a more genuine insight in to the real way of life in Mongolia and it benefits the local communities through which we are traveling.

However, these are real people with real lives to lead and at no point do we ask the families to change their way of life for our/your own benefit or comfort. If they don’t have a shower, neither will you! (Don’t panic!…see below!). We ask our guests to try and embrace (!) and enjoy any differences that they come across in Mongolia. Experiencing the differences is all part of any trip and makes it a more authentic and positive vacation for you and a more respectful and enjoyable experience for the locals as well.

One example of this is our use of the local town shower houses. Very few families have access to running water from a tap. We do as the locals do and use the local town shower houses such as the one in Erdenedalai. They’re a great way to meet members of the local community but it also means we do not put too much pressure on local resources. In the words of author Jack Weatherford in Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – ‘Compared to the difficulty of daily life for the herders, living permanently in those areas, ours were only the smallest of irritations.’

We have even written our own guide to the culture and traditions of Mongolia - researched over the 13 plus years I have lived and worked in Mongolia. You receive this guide on your arrival into Mongolia as a way of preparing you for your experience.

City Nomads Folding Bike

Each of the tour vehicles we send out have a city nomads folding bike. We provide this service for free. Why? It allows our guests to explore further into each region but without relying further on the EL vehicle. It also allows for informal interaction between the local community and our guests as we let the locals use the bikes as well.

Although we are reliant on 4x4 vehicles for the main section of the tour (after all, this is Mongolia!), in the city center we do use public transport rather than private mini-vans for our city tours.

Ulaanbaatar

You’ll start off in Mongolia’s capital city. Read a guidebook or a travel forum and frequently Ulaanbaatar is overlooked. But, it's home to roughly 45% of Mongolia's population and this alone means that it should be experienced. We don't offer a tour of museums or souvenir shops but a day spent walking through the local areas of the city. What’s it like to live there? What kind of communities exist? What are the challenges? My aim is that you experience all aspects of Mongolian culture - rather than just those highlighted by guidebooks.

A majority of Ulaanbaatar's 1.4 million (ish) population live in the ger districts that surround the central downtown - approximately 60% of the population actually. There are few safe community spaces within the ger districts - especially community spaces where children can play. But, Nogoon Nuur (Green Lake) is bucking this trend. Nogoon Nuur is now a thriving community space made possible by a committed individual, Ulzii, who since 2012 has been working to restore Nogoon Nuur and develop a public park.

I love this community area immensely and we now include a visit on our free city walking tour - making a donation per EL guest per visit. On our family trips, we arrange and fund for the visiting children to purchase and donate reading books to the Nogoon Nuur community space.

We Source Locally

Yes, our tents are from a UK manufacturer but everything else is sourced in Mongolia and as much as possible, made in Mongolia. Where possible, we don’t just buy from a shop but we source the material ourselves from the markets in Ulaanbaatar and then have each product made to our specifications through local family businesses. We try to put money and support back into the local communities, strengthening local businesses, families, and individuals that represent all spectrums of Mongolian life.

16 Reviews of Mongolia adventure vacation

5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 19 Aug 2019 by

Every day was packed with memories - holding eagles, connecting with local families and hiking up incredible mountains, to name but a few! Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Jul 2019 by

Nadaam was the highlight, as was meeting the eagle hunters, but throughout the trip the stunning scenery continued to delight, amaze, stun and impress. Staying in ger camps was great, as was meeting the locals. Read full review

Reviewed on 28 Jun 2019 by

Superb, outstanding, highly recommend. This will be a vacation to always remember. Such lovely people and a lovely company to work with. Read full review

Reviewed on 24 May 2019 by

Riding on horses and spending time with the families were the most memorable parts of our vacation. Read full review

Reviewed on 27 Jun 2018 by

100 out of 100...The program is well balanced between activities and the lazy camping days Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Jul 2017 by

Going over the sand dunes and staying in gers or in tents in what seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and then a herd of goats and sheep comes along. Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Aug 2017 by

Climbing the 'Singing Sand Dunes' (Khongoryn Els) at sunset was amazing! It was a big effort to make it to the top, but we were rewarded with once-in-a lifetime views over the vast sand dunes and Gobi Desert while mother nature turned on a spectacular pink and purple hue. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Aug 2017 by

The space and serenity of Mongolia. And watching sunrise and sunset caily in front of your eyes. Read full review

Reviewed on 27 Jul 2016 by

Amazing. Trip of a life time.....The amazing landscapes were very memorable as were the Mongolian people and their culture. The wild camp sites were a huge highlight of the trip. Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Jul 2016 by

It was fantastic, with excellent local interaction with the families who owned the Ger Camps, fab views and an idea of the vastness of the country/ steppes. Read full review

Reviewed on 26 Aug 2015 by

The landscapes, the animals, the people, the small group we were traveling with: it all was just right and made for a mind-blowing vacation. Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Aug 2015 by

Exceeded my expectations on every count Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Jul 2015 by

10 out of 10. I have been an independent traveler for more than 40 years, but would have wanted nothing different on this trip. Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Jul 2015 by

Authentic. Poignant. Challenging but very genuine. Read full review

Reviewed on 03 Jul 2014 by

Excellent. The operator delivered on what was promised. They are knowledgeable and experienced. I feel I experienced most of the various Mongolian climatic areas, from the desert to the mountains and northern lakes. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Aug 2013 by

Excellent. It had a good mix of tourist activities with more non-touristy things. Meeting the local Mongolian people was the best part of this trip. Read full review

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