Trip Details – Central Heartland & West – Mongolia tailor made tour

‘Local touch, dependability, professionalism and attention to detail. There was a real difference between the experiences of other tourists that we encountered and ours. Every point of comparison was a big plus for EL. The way the tour was structured, the vehicle, the EL team, the places, the families, the limited number of driving hours, the camping spots, the feeling of remoteness of the lakes depression … the list goes on. Many times we said to each other how glad we were to have chosen the right company.’ EL guest Teo Marinska, Western Explorer

Khar Nuur in Zavkhan Province, Mongolia

Image: EL guest John Holman

Forming part of our ‘Wild Tracks’ series of road trips that are designed so you can stay for longer and explore deeper, our Central Heartland and West experience is about exploring the diversity of Mongolia’s immense and powerful landscapes. As you head west out of Ulaanbaatar, you explore alpine lakes, historical river valleys, Mongolia’s highest mountains, open steppe grasslands, and sand dunes. This closeness of diversity is matched by a few other places in the world.

It is time spent exploring and ‘just being’ in the landscapes which can be such an uplifting and enlightening part of a Mongolian experience and this is an essential element of this trip. Combined with homestays with local families that we work in long-term local community partnership with that make their lives within these epic landscapes and wild camping, this makes for an exciting and original road trip. Come and join us, let each day and each journey unfold, and gain a fresh perspective.

Forming part of our series of Wild Tracks road trips that allow you to stay for longer and explore deeper, this is a customisable tailor-made experience. It is adaptable, giving you the freedom to build a unique and personal experience for your chosen dates. This means we can adapt the experience based on your personal preferences and your travel dates. For example, maybe you want to add a more adventurous element such as a 2-3 day foot trek or a 2-day bike ride? Or, maybe you need to shorten the length of the trip or want to focus on a different area. We can run this for 4 or more people but can offer this to a group of 2 or 3 but with an increase in the tour price. We prefer a maximum group size of 6 as it helps manage our impact but we will increase it for private trips.

Positive Impact Overview

  • By not offering this experience as a group tour experience with multiple departure dates we are limiting our impact. Although we all love spending time in nature, we need to strike a balance. By having a limited number of departures each year we’re not creating a tourism circuit.
  • Helping to create long-term employment and development opportunities for our team of Mongolian female trip assistants. (We also employ a team of older, more traditional male drivers – helping to prevent them from becoming unemployed.)
  • 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 measure the carbon footprint of the experience and balance the footprint of each traveller through the Mongolian Nomad Carbon Project. We wanted a high-standard offsetting 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 – restoring traditional nomadic practices to enable ecosystem recovery and carbon uptake.
  • A donation is made to the Mongolian projects we support and that you will visit such as the Uuliin Nuur Community Project in Ulaanbaatar and the Mongolian Calligraphy and Arts Centre in Kharkhorin.
  • This 23-day experience promotes staying longer and exploring deeper, thereby making the most of your international flight.

  • Duration: 23 Days – Adaptable – length or season
  • Accommodation – Homestays – Hosted by families we work in long-term local partnerhsip with, Family operated ger camp, Wild camping
  • Maximum Group Size – we prefer 6 as it helps manage our impact but we will increase it for private trips
  • 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.
  • This is a customisable trip. It is adaptable, giving you the freedom to build a unique and personal trip for your chosen date. Upgrade your accommodation for all – or just part – of your trip, slow down the pace with few extra nights here and there or add a few more active adventures along the way. All images used throughout this document were taken either by EL guests or members of the EL team. This is the Mongolia that you will also experience.
  • COVID-19 – Book With Flexibility & Confidence. We have a comprehensive FAQ section.

Detailed Day-To-Day Breakdown

A link to a downloadable itinerary for our Central Heartland & West  private, tailor made experience will be coming soon. For now, please email or send a message through WhatsApp for details. Price details are below.

From Our Blog

Learn more about our annual national park community clean up at Terekhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park.

Learn more about beautiful Kkar Nuur.

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

The Small Details

Group Size – Minimum of two or pay a surcharge | We prefer a maximum group size of 6 as it helps manage our impact but we will increase it for private trips 

  • For all of our tailor-made 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.
  • If you are travelling with children, let us know their ages as we do offer free experiences for children under 15 excluding certain costs.
  • These are our 2023 prices including a 10% discount as a way of saying thank you for choosing to travel after two very difficult years and also as a way of celebrating Mongolia’s reopening.
  • 2 Guests      US$ 4765 + domestic flight of approx $250
  • 3-4 Guests  US$ 4030 + domestic flight of approx $250
  • 5 Guests      US$ 3665 + domestic flight of approx $250
  • 6 Guests      US$ 3310 + domestic flight of approx $250

Where Does Your Payment Go?

  • In our experience, how people choose who to book with usually comes down to the cost. Budget is a very personal thing and everyone is different in what they want to pay.
  • We’re a registered Mongolian business and registered social entrepreneurship. We are not a luxury tour operator. We’re a small business that receives around 150-200 bookings per year. We can’t compete on price with our budget competition that don’t pay sustainable wages, or with the international companies that use agencies to run their trips and receive 1000s of bookings per year. We also can’t compete with individual guides or drivers that offer cut-price trips.
  • To help you see where your payment goes, we’re very much driven by our philosophy of making a positive difference in Mongolia through tourism.
  • We focus on community-based tourism – working directly with local people, communities and projects – slowly building up relationships and what we call long-term local community partnerships with them. 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. We also run our free long-term training school for Mongolian women that want to work in tourism – providing training and then creating long-term flexible employment opportunities for them. 
  • Your payment remains in Mongolia and goes back into the communities through which you travel. 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.  We also focus on making sure our impact is as positive as it can be. I am the only westerner (the rest of my small team are Mongolian) and we don’t work with any outside agencies or ‘buy’ services from other in-country operators.
  • We are also a member of Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency – a collective of travel organisations who have declared a climate emergency and are coming together to find solutions. We accept our responsibility to tell the truth, work together, and help build a new, regenerative tourism.
  • 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 (4×4 Russian Furgon van + 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 festival is highlighted in itinerary
  • For winter trips, we also provide each traveller with one of our traditional hand made goatskin blankets. These are used by most rural Mongolians and go on top of the sleeping bag. They are fantastic insulation. Also, you get a pair of Mongolian felt boots to wear during your time in Mongolia. These are commonly used by herders and insulate the feet much better than western-style hiking boots and socks can do. They are waterproof. About the cold, predicted winter temperatures could scare at first sight, but it is a very dry cold and with good preparation (as in the right clothing including thermals)  minus 25 ° C could be compared with – 5 ° C in Europe. We look after you!
  • 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 (including our flexible Covid cancellation policy) –

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.

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 use the carbon calculator tool Carmacal – specifically designed for tour operators and 2017 winner of the UNWTO Award for Innovation in Research and Technology. We then measure the carbon output of the meals we provide on tour using and add this to the carbon total.  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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