Trip Details – Altai Wilderness Trails – Mongolia trekking tour

‘The partnerships they have with local families are out of this world. It enables you to be brought into someone’s family and neighbourhood in a really special way. Other highlights were the landscapes! And the culture. The remoteness. The lack of other Westerners. The variety of scenery in different types of weather.’ EL guest Kestrel Henry

Altai landscapes Mongolia

Embark on a remarkable trekking adventure through Mongolia’s formidable Altai Mountains, which proudly stand as guardians of the country’s western frontiers and are located at the crossroads of Central Asia and Siberia. Our Altai Wilderness Trails experience invites you to savour the majesty of the Altai Mountains, slowing down to fully appreciate the diversity of the landscapes and the lives of the people who call this region home.

Rather than following the beaten path of standard trekking routes within Altai Tavan Bogd, our Altai Wilderness Trails offer a unique opportunity. You will be led by Mongol Kazakh eagle hunter Asker, with whom we maintain a long-term local community partnership. Asker will share his intimate knowledge of the area as he guides you on a captivating 5-day trek, beginning from his summer pasture nestled in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. From there, your journey will take you to the pristine Khoton and Khurgan lakes, before embarking on a drive and trekking adventure to reach Base Camp, situated near the imposing Pontanii glacier—the largest of the glaciers in the Mongolian Altai and in the shadow of the revered ‘Five Holy’ peaks.

Our hosts are perfectly attuned to the land they inhabit, having lived and worked within these landscapes for generations. This enduring connection has helped shape the Mongol Kazakh Mongol personality, characterised by qualities such as rugged individualism, resilience, endurance, self-reliance, and tolerance. Our trekking experience will allow you to connect with nature, discover the wild beauty of this frontier area and immerse yourself in rich culture of the region. But most importantly, it will allow you to forge connections that transcend borders and cultures.

Positive Impact Overview

  • The maximum group size is six which is refreshingly small for the travel industry and allows us to manage our impact.
  • The experience has been built with a focus on Mongolian culture and on creating local benefits for local people & communities including families we work in long-term local community partnership with – helping to supplement their income to help prevent urban migration, face the challenges of climate change and allowing them to maintain their fragile herding lifestyle. We don’t work with an intermediary or agency in Western Mongolia.
  • Our team of female Mongolian trip assistants is breaking down barriers in tourism and leading the way for other Mongolian women from a diverse range of backgrounds to work in and be supported by tourism. Mongolia’s growing economy has not directly translated into better employment opportunities for women and by choosing to travel with us you’re helping us to create long-term development and employment opportunities for our brilliant trip assistants – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/chandmana-erdene-a-circular-approach-to-tourism/
  • High unemployment rates and toxic masculinity are two very real issues faced by older more traditional men in Mongolia. By choosing to travel with us you’re helping us to provide long-term employment for our team of older, more traditional male drivers who have experience and accumulated knowledge but who would otherwise struggle to find employment and provide for their extended families.
  • We are in the process of measuring the carbon footprint of each experience we offer and balancing the footprint through the Mongolian Nomad Carbon Project. We wanted a high-standard project local to Mongolia where the local community had a positive say in the scheme and its impact. It’s the first project of its kind in Mongolia – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/climate-action-plan/
  • A donation is made to the Mongolian projects we support and that you will visit such as the Uuliin Nuur Community Project in Ulaanbaatar – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/project-support/
  • Although this experience takes place in peak season (summer) we only offer one departure of this experience per year. This means that we don’t create a ‘tourist circuit.’ And although we’re visiting an area considered a highlight, by focusing the entire trip on the area we’re helping to spread our support into the local area.

  • 5 days foot trek | 3 days foot trek
  • Start Date – July 29th 2024
  • Duration – 17 Days
  • Accommodation – Homestays – Hosted by families we work in long-term local partnerhsip with, Wild Camping
  • Travel with & experience the friendship of our great Mongolian teams of male driver & female trip assistant as well as the friendship of the families we work in partnership with.
  • No single supplements for solo travellers
  • This is a small group trip. However, our maximum is group size is six – which is refreshingly small for the travel industry. Our small group sizes mean that our trips are more respectful for your host families that we work in long-term local community partnerships with. It also means you’ll be one of few rather than one of many and this leads to a more genuine experience as well as a more personal and real insight for you as our guest. It also means that no two trips are ever the same as we can keep things flexible. All images used throughout our website were taken either by EL guests or members of the EL team. This is the Mongolia that you will also experience.
  • We measure the carbon footprint of each tour we offer and balance the footprint through the Mongolian Nomad Carbon Project. See ‘The Small Details’ below.
  • Book With Flexibility & Confidence (see below)

Detailed Day-To-Day Breakdown

Please email or send a message through WhatsApp for the full itinerary details. Price details are below.

From Our Blog

Learn more about western Mongolia, the Kazakh eagle hunters that live there and their way of life from our blog posts.

Read about how we work with some of Mongolia’s young female eagle huntresses and their families.

Our guide to hunting with eagles by Mongolia’s Kazakh eagle hunters. Learn about the ethics, culture, and traditions.

Our long-term local community partnership with Kazakh embroiderer Halmira in Ulgii, Western Mongolia.

Read about Mongolia’s Altai Tavan Bogd National Park.

The Small Details

For all of our trips we offer a sliding price scale. We appreciate your holiday funds are precious and so the more people that book so the price comes down and everyone benefits.

Group Size – Maximum group size of six. Minimum of four for a guaranteed departure (or pay a surcharge)

** If you’re considering this trip as a private experience for a group, we prefer a maximum group size of 6 as it helps manage our impact but we will increase it for private trips. Get in touch for details.

  • Final group size of 4-5 guests  USD 3675 + domestic flight of approximately USD 380 pp (or take the public bus and we cover the cost)
  • Final group size of 6 guests    USD 3025 + domestic flight of approximately USD 380 pp (or take the public bus and we cover the cost)

Where Does Your Payment Go?

  • As well as a registered Mongolian business that pays tax in Mongolia we are also a social travel enterprise that invites our guests to be part of a bigger travel philosophy. Our goal is a form of tourism that is fair and equitable for everyone and every experience we offer helps to support our work. This means we don’t offer tick-list or general travel experiences which limits our size and income. (We receive around 100-150 travellers a year.)
  • Our team of female Mongolian trip assistants is breaking down barriers in tourism and leading the way for other Mongolian women from a diverse range of backgrounds to work in and be supported by tourism. Mongolia’s growing economy has not directly translated into better employment opportunities for women and by choosing to travel with us you’re helping us to create long-term development and employment opportunities for our brilliant trip assistants. We are also in the process of establishing a formal tourism training intiaitve and support centre for Mongolian women – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/chandmana-erdene-a-circular-approach-to-tourism/
  • We are committed to providing honest and ethical business opportunities for the local people we work with, at fair rates, as well as providing long-term support.  High unemployment rates and toxic masculinity are two very real issues faced by older more traditional men in Mongolia. By choosing to travel with us you’re helping us to provide long-term employment for our team of older, more traditional male drivers who have experience and accumulated knowledge but who would otherwise struggle to find employment and provide for their extended families.
  • Your payment remains in Mongolia and goes back into the communities through which you travel and our trips provide long-term support to a range of Mongolian herding families as well as projects that we work in long-term local community partnerships with. We work side by side with each and our experiences are put together in a way that benefits and support each family or project, rather than disrupting their lives or work. As an example, our long-tem support of herding families allows them to survive the challenges of climate change.
  •  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 coming together to find solutions and to help build a new, regenerative tourism – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/climate-action-plan/
  • All meals outside of the city of Ulaanbaatar. Mainly prepared and cooked by your local team so they are fresh and it means we offer more flexibility for any dietary requirements. We also provide filtered drinking water (not bottled), tea, and coffee. 
  • In Ulaanbaatar: local lunch and welcome drink on city walking tour
  • Local team of English-speaking female Mongolian trip assistant and Mongolian male driver
  • All overland transportation throughout the trip (+ fuel)
  • Each vehicle has a charger for cameras and phones
  • Free (informal and relaxed) city walking tour of Ulaanbaatar
  • Transportation to and from the airport on arrival and departure days
  • All activities mentioned PLUS any activities offered including
    1. Camel or horseback rides
    2. Entrance fees to monasteries, temples, and museums (when with local team) – excludes camera tickets
    3. Festival tickets if a festival is highlighted in the itinerary
  • International airfare to and from Mongolia
  • Accommodation in Ulaanbaatar

* Our trip pricing excludes the price of accommodation in UB though. Why?  Everyone is different is the standard of accommodation they prefer at the start and end of a trip. As there is now such a variety of hotels in UB it is easier to exclude this cost. I provide a list of ideas covering varying standards and budgets and I can also help with booking. There’s everything from a homestay through to Airbnb, US$10 guesthouses and the Shangri-La!

  • Domestic flight where/if applicable

*If you are travelling by domestic flight, the schedule and cost of the domestic flights have not yet been determined by the Mongolian airlines. Once you have booked this trip, you will be notified directly by us as soon as that info becomes available. Reservations and payment arrangements for any domestic flight will be coordinated by us.

  • Passport and visa fees

Let us know your nationality at the time of booking and we’ll confirm whether you need to apply for a Mongolian visa. It is a relatively easy process depending on your nationality and we can help with some of the formalities.

  • Travel insurance (mandatory) 
  • Gratuities

*Each member of the local team receives a responsible but fair salary and none have to rely on receiving gratuities to supplement their income.  In addition, we make sure that everyone who works with us or helps us is fairly rewarded for their work and the service they provide. At the end of the tour, if you wish to make a gratuity to the local team then thank you – it is not compulsory but it is appreciated when given. If you would like to provide a tip,  a tip for the drivers would be roughly equal to what you would give to the tour guides – anything from $20 (USD) per member of staff (driver & tour guide) is a good minimum guide.

Take a look at our comprehensive FAQ section – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/mongolia-faqs/

We are members of Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency and a signatory of The Glasgow Declaration which requires us to publish an annual Climate Action Plan. It also means we have essentially signed up to work towards halving our emissions by 2030 and reaching Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050. We must report publicly on an annual basis on progress against our interim and long-term targets, as well as on actions being taken. We do this in our Climate Action Plan linked above.

One of the five pathways defined in the Glasgow Declaration is ‘measure’ and we have started the process of measuring the carbon footprint of our tours.

  • We wanted an accurate footprint analysis whilst also keeping the process manageable and achievable. Of the limited carbon calculators available to small tourism companies with a restricted budget we have signed up with the carbon calculator tool Carmacal – specifically designed for tour operators and the 2017 winner of the UNWTO Award for Innovation in Research and Technology.
  • However, there are limitations with this online tool in the fact that – like most online carbon calculators – you can only measure transport and accommodation and a few very specific activities. But, the main contributors to carbon footprints are food, consumption, transportation, and energy, and all are heavily utilised during a tourism experience.
  • As a result, Jess has been working with postgraduate student  Kelly Hirschbuehler from the Responsible Tourism Management Postgraduate Course of Leeds Beckett University in the UK – the only responsible tourism management MSc certified by the UNWTO – looking at how we can measure the carbon emissions of meals on tour as well as the carbon footprint of our office as well as certain tour activities.
  • Using the calculations provided by Kelly in her research project we can now better calculate – not perfectly but still better – the overall carbon footprint of each trip we run.

We then balance the footprint for each tour by purchasing 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.

It’s not perfect, but it is a start. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and the way we measure the carbon footprint of our tours is manageable and achievable for us – a very small business with limited finance and resources.

We will be publishing the carbon footprint for each tour on each specific tour page but this will take a little time.

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