Accessible Travel Mongolia

We understand that accessible travel issues are more than just mobility challenges – everyone’s needs are different and include those with sensory disabilities, hearing disabilities and medical conditions and people with invisible disabilities – including those living with long-term illness and severe allergies such as coeliac disease. We are aware that disability is any physical, sensory, psychiatric, neurological, cognitive, or intellectual condition that restricts everyday activity.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2023),  about 16% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. We agree that travel – including adventure experiences – can and should be for all.  That’s what has motivated us to start the conversation around accessible travel to Mongolia. Ensuring equal access to travel is simply the right thing to do.

While we are not a specialised disability tour operator, our small business size grants us considerable flexibility. We operate exclusively in Mongolia and live here too, giving us extensive local knowledge. This unique perspective allows us to offer personalised support and guidance to all our guests, ensuring a tailored and supportive travel experience. We have had the privilege of hosting guests with diverse needs, including those who use wheelchairs, are visually impaired, or have conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), early-onset dementia, and Prader-Willi syndrome, in both our small group and customised tailor-made experiences.

As a small business focused exclusively on Mongolia, where we also reside, we offer deep local knowledge and dedicated support. While we are not a specialized disability tour operator, we are committed to accommodating guests with various needs. We have had the privilege of welcoming individuals who use wheelchairs, those who are blind, and guests with Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), early-onset dementia, and Prader-Willi syndrome. Our experiences are available in both small group settings and customized, tailor-made formats to ensure inclusivity and comfort for all our guests.

We recognise that our website currently lacks accessibility features for individuals with disabilities, and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. It is something we will try to learn about and work on – making the necessary changes. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through the following methods so I can assist you personally.

A Personal Story

Accessible Travel Mongolia

This is Keith – my Dad (this is Jess writing – the founder of EL). Dad died in November 2021 but lived with advanced Parkinson’s Disease for many years which impacted how and where he could travel.

The photo was taken at Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park in Mongolia during Dad’s second visit to Mongolia – his first since his diagnosis.

Prior to Dad being diagnosed, I didn’t give accessible travel much thought – especially not in terms of Mongolia. But over the years, as Dad’s Parkinson’s advanced and impacted on what he could do, I began to view it in a different light.  I noticed how people were quick to marginalise him. Also, at airports and in cafes or restaurants, he was often seen as a nuisance – someone slow who was holding up the line.

However, as long as Dad still wanted to travel, I wanted to be able to help him do so. We knew there were limitations in place but travel, although it has its challenges, is a joy and should be available to all who want the opportunity to experience it.

I personally think that in the travel and tourism industry we don’t put enough emphasis on assisting those with accessibility needs. We are a small tour operator and not a disability lobbying group. However, we want to go beyond accessible travel just being a box-ticking exercise to comply with legislation or to look good on the website.

Yes, Mongolia has its challenges but that doesn’t mean that those with accessibility issues cannot visit it. Although those needing support may choose a specialist company, we are happy to get the conversation started.

What we need from you is clear guidance on :

  • What you can and cannot do.
  • What you need.
  • How you would like to travel.

We will then look at what we can realistically provide and whether we can provide something suitable for your disability. We will also look at whether we can provide the support you need.

We offer small group and tailor-made options. Depending on your level of disability, we might request for you to travel with a companion – someone that knows you and your limitations. For those who do choose to travel with us, we do provide detailed Pre Departure Guidelines although these are in written format although we could look at producing a recorded audio version.

Our small group trips are not specifically designed for travellers with disabilities and as they are set-date, they cannot be adapted. If you are able to participate in a small group but require additional support, we can arrange for an extra team member to assist you in a supportive role. This enables you to enjoy your travel experience with the added comfort of affordable support. Many of our guests with disabilities have successfully joined our small group experiences.

Our tailor-made experiences can be adapted for ease of travel and to suit your individual needs and are organised with your own driver/trip assistant (guide). What we can arrange is also dependent on your available budget. You might want to bring your own carer (or we can provide one of our team members although it would be in a support role not as a carer). If you do bring your own carer, they travel at cost only – just covering their accommodation and meals.

As mentioned, we’re not a specialised disability tour operator but we will do our best to help. We’re a small company but always open to feedback and if you have any ideas on how we can help travellers with accessibility issues experience Mongolia, please do get in touch.

Mongolia is one of the largest and most remote countries in the world with a limited infrastructure in place. Although disability within Mongolia is no longer invisible, there remain significant challenges ahead for the local disabled population and therefore for any international travellers with accessibility issues.

Here are a few examples of the challenges you can face. Please do not be put off though. This is just to help you see the bigger picture. Please get in touch so we can start the conversation.

Wheelchair users or those with mobility issues

  • There remains poor pedestrian access with uneven pavements and no ramps.
  • Tour vehicles typically do not come with wheelchair platform lifts so currently we can only take wheelchair users that can (with assistance) get in and out of the vehicle without relying on a mechanical lift. This would apply to a majority of tour companies.
  • There are limited options to rent wheelchairs in Mongolia so you would need to consider bringing your own – with spare parts.
  • There are no electric buggies available to rent at the sites.
  • A majority of accommodation is not adapted to wheelchairs. Not all hotels have lifts and ger camps have steps leading into the ger and the toilet/shower block is separate (typically 15-30 metres away from the ger accommodation and often with steps). The cubicles can often be small and not suitable for wheelchairs).
  • You might not get low-level baths, standalone showers or lowered light switches.
  • Outside of a few hotels in Ulaanbaatar, there are no public toilets in Mongolia which are adapted to those with accessibility issues.

For those who are blind or with limited vision

  • Menus are rarely large print.
  • Information in braille is not available in Mongolia – whether that be in hotels, museums or restaurants.
  • All pre-departure information before the trip is provided in a written format (we are a small business and do not have the resources to provide the information in braille).
  • All information provided during the trip itself will be delivered verbally by your EL team.

For those who are deaf or with limited hearing 

  • Our EL team are not trained in sign language.
  • Hearing loops are not available in Mongolia – whether that be in hotels, museums or restaurants.

While disability in Mongolia is no longer invisible, there are some significant challenges but, although progress is slow, there are changes. As an example, for the first time, the 2010 state census included specific questions related to disability in a drive to gather better information and to be able to see the bigger picture of people with disabilities in Mongolia.

According to the 2020 Census, nationwide, there are 106.4 thousand persons with disabilities, which is 3.3 percent of the total resident population.

The census highlighted that a total of 12.9 percent of the population with a functional disability are youths aged 18-34, 46.9 percent are those 35-64 years old, and 40.2 percent are those 65 years old and above.

 

Although several laws have been written on rights for those with disabilities, few methods exist to implement or monitor them. Discrimination also remains an obstacle. One positive step was the creation in 2012 of the Department for People with Disabilities at the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection.

A majority of people living with disabilities in Mongolia could live independently if they had proper access to public facilities and essential services. Unfortunately, most don’t. There’s a desire for more autonomy and to be able to contribute to the economy and society in general.

Although frustration still abounds, advocacy groups and NGOs in Mongolia such as the Independent Trade Union of Disabled Persons of Mongolia, the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (APDC), and the Mongolian Association of Wheelchair Users have been working to raise awareness about the challenges people with disabilities face participating in their communities.

As mentioned, we’re not a specialised disability tour operator but we will do our best to help. We’re a small company but always open to feedback and if you have any ideas on how we can help you or travellers with accessibility issues experience Mongolia, please do get in touch.


We Would Love To Hear From You!

WhatsApp: +44 (0) 7810280403     Mail: jess@eternal-landscapes.co.uk


If you’re in Ulaanbaatar why not pop in to our office. We love receiving guests.
The kettle is always on.

Just call Tuya to arrange +976 88011476.
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