Mongolia adventure vacation with festival option
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.
Urban city walking tour of Ulaanbaatar Gobi Desert Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park Khongoryn Els sand dunes Two-day camel trek Central Grasslands homestay with yak herders in the Khangai Mountains wild camping & hiking Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur (White Lake) National Park Lake Khovsgol National Park Wild Takhi horses of Khustain Nuruu family homestay accommodation and wild camping
US $3325ToUS $3770 excluding flights
The June 20 departure includes the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar including the opening ceremony, horse racing, & wrestling. The max group size is 6 as this leads to a more personal & flexible experience. Solo travelers receive their own tent.
We are offering a 10% discount on all departures for this experience as a way of celebrating Mongolia's reopening of its borders & being able to travel again. That's $375 - $335 off per person. We look forward to welcoming you to our Mongolia.
Description of Mongolia adventure vacation with festival option
2022: 20 Jun, 6 Aug
2023: 20 Jun, 29 Jul
2023: 20 Jun, 29 Jul
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.
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.
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.
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.
16 Reviews of Mongolia adventure vacation with festival option
5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed on 19 Aug 2019 by Anna VereyEvery 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 Judith HattonNadaam 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 Jennifer JSuperb, 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 Dan DenegreRiding 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 Lolita Bizune100 out of 100...The program is well balanced between activities and the lazy camping days Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Jul 2017 by Josephine TantiGoing 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 Lynette SmithClimbing 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 Kat KassimThe 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 Paula RidgeAmazing. 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 Kathleen CullitonIt 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 Sophie van het ErveThe 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 Viv McWatersExceeded my expectations on every count Read full review
Reviewed on 20 Jul 2015 by Naomi Luck10 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 Aiko MichotAuthentic. Poignant. Challenging but very genuine. Read full review
Reviewed on 03 Jul 2014 by Marian HerzExcellent. 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 Stephanie McDonaldExcellent. 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
As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) vacation so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetAlways 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 our responsible travel philosophy for our Untamed Mongolia experience where we can show real evidence of our practice:
Signatory Of The Glasgow Declaration | Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency
We focus solely on Mongolia and over the past two decades we have seen the impact of the climate emergency on this vast country. Annual precipitation has decreased (the (previously reliable) seasonal rainfall pattern has become erratic) but localised severe weather events have increased. There’s also an increase in desertification and a loss of biodiversity. This is combined with Mongolia’s annual mean air temperature increasing by 2.24°C from 1940 to 2015 – triple the global average.
We are aware that tourism is part of the problem and as a business working in tourism we feel we have a responsibility to help combat problems including those created by tourism itself. We already work responsibly on a local level – we’re a registered Mongolian company and social travel enterprise, focusing on creating positive social change in Mongolia. We believe that travel can and should be a positive experience for both the visitor and for the destination country itself – its natural environment, people, culture and traditions. We can provide evidence of our work. However …
Although we believe travel has to be beneficial to all concerned we also understand that it is not currently beneficial to our planet. But we can’t solve this alone. The problem surrounding climate change can only be solved by working together. This is not about cancelling international travel but it is about traveling better – traveling in a more conscious way. As an industry, we need to come together and act to make our sector more sustainable.
That's why we are a signatory of the Glasgow Declaration (a commitment to take action to halve tourism’s emissions by 2030 including our own, and to report on progress made each year) as well as a member of Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency – a collective of travel organisations that have declared a climate emergency and are and taking purposeful action to reduce their carbon emissions and coming together to find solutions and to help build a new, regenerative tourism.
Managing Our Carbon Footprint
It is well documented that the tourism industry is a major contributor to global carbon emissions which are a major part of the climate emergency. As a tourism business – especially one working in Mongolia, a country where a majority of our guests have no option but to fly to – we have a moral responsibility to make sure the way we work is as sustainable as possible. It’s a long road with no definitive answers but below are the achievable steps we are taking to reduce our emissions.
1) We’re creating an environmental management plan and climate action plan with the help of postgraduate students on the Responsible Tourism Management Postgraduate Course of Leeds Beckett University in the UK – the only responsible tourism management MSc certified by the UNWTO.
2) We will be working with C-Level to measure our carbon footprint. Carbon offsetting is not the answer to fixing the climate emergency. But, offsetting is part of our wider environmental management and climate action plans and helps us to take responsibility for our current carbon footprint. Using C-Level we will be balancing our CO2 emissions by investing in Plan Vivo Certificates – environmental service certificates, each representing the reduction or avoidance of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide. The Mongolian Nomad Project we invest in through our carbon offsetting is of Plan Vivo Standard – based on ethical principles intended to deliver long-term climate, livelihoods and biodiversity benefits.
3) We’re looking at ways we can incorporate the work of local grassroots projects working on protecting Mongolia’s environment into our experience. One such project is Combatting 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 (mainly because they are not so reliant on the money brought in from cashmere combed from their goat herds. Large goat herds can be very destructive on the environment).
Because of Mongolia’s geographical location and climate, it faces a strain on its freshwater supply which the impact of tourism will only exacerbate. We’re creating looking at how we can limit our own impact on Mongolia’s future freshwater shortage which looks at the accommodation we use, the way our team uses water as part of each trip and also how we provide drinking water to our guests. Two examples of this are:
1) 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 in each tour vehicle and provide a Lifesaver carbon filter or an Adventurer Steripen in each vehicle. In addition, we have formed a partnership 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 put towards buying Plan Vivo Foundation carbon certificates which are used to support the Plan Vivo Mongolian Nomad Project - working in partnership with the Mongolian Society of Range Management.
2) 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 including the families that will host you on our Untamed Mongolia experience. The shower houses 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.
The disposal of rubbish is a major issue in Mongolia - especially plastic. As part of our Sustainable Tourism Strategy, we are working on limiting our general use of plastic and as part of this, we have created our Mini Plastic Free Mongolia Challenge which we invite our guests to be part of - as well as our team members.
As part of our Responsible Travel ethos, we work with 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 Untamed Mongolia experience, you will also receive such a tote bag.
Also, you can book knowing that we finance our annual community two-day rubbish collection in Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park in Mongolia. This is an area you will visit as part of your Food of the Nomads experience. Arranged through the local community (including Batbold and Jargaa who will host you during our Untamed Mongolia experience) and protected area rangers, we have been arranging this since 2014 - even in 2020 despite a lack of income due to the Covid pandemic.
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 the family experiences during the trip become more personal and authentic for you and more respectful towards the local people you will meet and the local families you stay with. We are not an overwhelming presence - on the local communities or the local environment.
At the moment our vehicles are driver owned as it gives each driver more flexibility in the low season months. We use Russian 4x4 Furgon vans (diesel & petrol) as these are the most suitable vehicles for handling Mongolia’s rugged terrain. However, we are always looking at ways to manage our overall impact including the impact made by our tour vehicles and this includes providing cycling and trekking experiences as well as using the Trans-Mongolian railway for transport throughout the country. We also have a limited number of departures for each of our itineraries. We also 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.
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 tour vehicle. It also allows for informal interaction between the local community and our guests as we let the locals use the bikes as well.
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.
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. 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.
PeopleOur company is not a world or a multi-destination specialist. We concentrate on the country we know, live in and love – Mongolia. We research, design and operate each itinerary ourselves and do not source our itineraries from other agents. That means we’re part of the community that we work to support.
A Fair Deal
As a registered social travel enterprise, we look to make sure we work responsibly within tourism and to make sure our work benefits local projects, people and communities as much as it benefits our guests and us as a business. We’re a little different in we believe everyone is equal. That means our guests are equal to our team who are equal to the Mongolians we work with on a more general scale. Respect is at the core of what we believe in.
We focus on creating local community partnerships that offer long-term support to local people, families and Mongolian projects – encouraging their own sense of enterprise. We also look at ways we can continue to work with each family even when their personal circumstances change. We want to continue strengthening these partnerships whilst making sure that they have a positive impact. As part of our philosophy, we don’t stop working with families just because their circumstances change … instead, we look at alternative ways in which we can work with them.
All of our team are Mongolian (apart from Jess) but we don’t source the ‘best’ guides that work the tourism circuit and that already have guaranteed work with other companies. Instead, we provide free long-term training, development and employment opportunities to Mongolian women that want the opportunity to work in tourism (whether that be for a professional reason, for development of personal skills or for economic empowerment) but that other companies won't take as they don't fit the stereotype. Our female Mongolian trip assistants are dynamic women who are searching for an opportunity to train and develop and we provide that long-term opportunity.
Volunteering & Charity
The local projects that we actively support are typically grassroots level projects that provide greater opportunities and benefits for local communities within Mongolia. We don’t arrange orphanage or school visits but one example of how we provide long-term support is that as part of our free city walking tour of Ulaanbaatar - Mongolia's capital city - we take our guests to visit a local project called Nogoon Nuur. We make a donation per person we take to the project which is used by the project for maintenance on their community center. Another example is our work with the Mongolian Quilting Centre which we pay 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 working with disadvantaged Mongolian women.
Traveling With Respect
Our trips 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 that we form long-term local community partnerships with. They are 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. 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 Water in the Environment section!) 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.
An example of our philosophy is that for our Untamed Mongolia experience we used accommodation provided by Mongolian families. For this trip, that’s families we work with in the central heartland. Families offer accommodation to help supplement their income. Most are small rural businesses providing extra accommodation. Some accommodation is offered by herders, some are offered by ‘retired’ herders who no longer migrate and some by families that live in small-town communities. By using this form of accommodation it provides you with a more genuine insight into the real way of life in Mongolia and it benefits the local communities through which we are traveling.
In addition, although we sometimes visit areas where tourism has become more concentrated we also offer itineraries that stretch to areas that are not necessarily considered ‘highlights’ by other tour companies or the guidebooks. By not focusing on one area, it also means that we help to support communities that might not otherwise benefit from the tourism industry.
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