‘Start to finish, this was an exceptional experience. We have worked with a lot of travel companies and would highly recommend EL. For people who like to get off the beaten path, you guys are perfect!’ LeeAnne Lavender
Embark on a remarkable journey through the untamed beauty of Khovsgol Province, where stunning wilderness sets the stage for an unforgettable adventure. Our carefully created biking routes have been selected to immerse you in the heart of northern Mongolia’s mountain forest-steppe regions. Beyond just landscapes, you’ll delve into the lives of the people you encounter along the way, gaining an authentic understanding of their way of life.
Our primary biking route traverses an area seldom explored by Western groups, amplifying the potential for genuine cultural exchanges with the local communities. While Khovsgol Lake is part of the itinerary, this journey transcends the typical tourist checklist; it’s an exploration of genuine, everyday Mongolia, complete with its wild landscapes.
We’ll take you on some of our favourite biking routes navigating horse trails and river crossings offering both beauty and challenge. Flexibility is key, and with our dedicated EL tour vehicles at your side, we can offer you the freedom to transition from four wheels to two, ensuring a truly personalized adventure.
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.
- 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.
- 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 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 – restoring traditional nomadic practices to enable ecosystem recovery and carbon uptake – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/climate-action-plan/
- Duration – 13 Days – Adaptable – length or season
- 101 days biking – Flexible distances
- Accommodation – Wild camping, Homestays – Hosted by families we work in long-term local partnerhsip with, Family ger camps, Small ger camp
- 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.
- 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.
Where do you cycle when there are no roads? Vast and wild, the Mongolian steppe is the perfect setting for a rugged, off-road adventure. Experience wilderness and a way of life that’s withstood the test of time and the elements. Dirt, grass and gravel roads abound. Where there are none, simply pedal your way across open steppe – the rolling undulating terrain that makes up the majority of the country.
We have developed great cycling routes in collaboration with the local communities that we work in long-term local community partnerships with. We offer a range covering different physical abilities and biking experience. With our Gobi Steppe Trails you make your own pace although we suggest that at least a moderate level of physical fitness will be an asset. Distances are kept at roughly 50km for each cycling day (but with the option of extending for those keen). While there are no ‘technical’ mountain biking sections experience confidence in riding dirt trails will be an advantage as all biking days are on dirt, grass or gravel trails – typically vehicle width.
Our bike routes are not about competition or physical endurance. Yes, you can have your own personal deadlines but it’s about experiencing Mongolia – its landscapes, its people and its way of life. All biking days are optional. Go the whole distance or you can hop in the van whether that’s for only an hour or for the whole day.
The route and distances described in the itinerary are fluid and depending on the local conditions and how the group feel as well as potential encounters with locals along the way on any particular day we may cycle further or less far that day. The passes referred to in the itinerary are typically low – usually requiring just 100-200m of vertical rise / descent although this does depend on the final route chosen.
Please also take the number of nights camping and style of ger accommodation into consideration. We believe that camping allows you to experience the wonderful remoteness of Mongolia and by using local family ger accommodation, it provides you with a more genuine experience. We use good quality camping equipment but home comforts are not a feature of this trip.
- Our bike trips are fully supported with an EL Mongolian team of (female) trip assistant and (male) driver.
- Depending on the group size we either provide a specific bike guide or one of our drivers’ acts in this capacity. We don’t hire our bike guides or drivers from outside our company and our team has a wealth of knowledge and experience as they are local to the country.
- Our Russian Furgon 4×4 vans provide backup – transferring luggage and all equipment and maybe at times those who need four wheels not two!
- Wearing a helmet is compulsory. If you take an EL bike then you’ll have free use of a helmet.
- Before booking a biking trip, understand that all rides take place in remote regions. Hospitals outside Ulaanbaatar have limited resources and so are suitable only for relatively minor injuries. Any repatriation – even that organized by your insurance company – would be back to Ulaanbaatar. The road infrastructure considerably extends any time of transport to a hospital. Your trip assistant is trained in basic first aid through the Mongolian Red Cross and we provide a medical kit on each trip. But, to a large degree you are responsible for your own safety while riding.
Each trip is different based on whether it is one of our set-date small group trips or a private trip tailor made to your requirements. Use the following information as a guide and don’t hesitate to get in touch for more specific details.
- You don’t need to be super fit for this ride but we suggest that you have a good level of fitness and you need to be positive.
- While there is no ‘technical’ mountain biking sections experience in riding uneven dirt trails will be an advantage.
- Distances are kept at roughly 50km for each cycling day but some days are shorter or longer depending on the route. There is a daily breakdown in each specific itinerary. However, the daily riding distance does depend on several factors including the terrain, weather conditions, riding speed and experience of the trip members and of course whether the unexpected happens – as is common in Mongolia.
- All biking days are optional. You can go the whole distance or you can hop in the van whether that’s for only an hour or for the whole day.
- Travelling on an EL cycle trip is not about competition or physical endurance. They are about the journey and you can make your own pace.
- For an approximate guide, the average pace is about 15km per hour but that is flexible depending on your own confidence.
- The terrain is variable but for the most part, the terrain can be described as undulating with climbs sometimes (depending on the route).
- Most biking days are on hard-packed dirt surfaces, grass, sand and gravel trails and sometimes animal tracks. There are times that there are no visible tracks at all, biking across the steppe.
- There’s no biking on asphalt / main roads – it’s all classed as off-road. While some trails are generally smooth, some have loose gravel and sandy patches with some rocky descents. Also, if the route is in a mountain forest-steppe region then expect to be dealing with tree roots.
- The weather will also impact on the terrain. At times there will be a strong headwind which can make for slow progress. Depending on your route and / or rainfall, there may be river crossings or crossings of wet marshy areas but remember you have the vans if you don’t want the challenge.
The price for our signature and tailor made trips includes the price of a GIANT XTC bike. However, there are options to upgrade or even to bring your own bike. We don’t hire out our bikes – they are used solely on our bike trips.
GIANT XTC 800
The Giant XTC 800 is part of Giant’s hugely capable off-road range. It is suited to many different riding disciplines and terrains. We own the Giant bikes and use them solely for our bike trips – they are well maintained by our team of drivers who are also mechanics.
Our Giant bikes have a lightweight alloy frame, Shimano components and front suspension. They are a light and versatile hardtail cross-country bike. With 21 speeds and a wide range of gearing, you never need to pedal too hard or easy on terrain that varies in elevation. The bikes are equipped with mechanical disc brakes for increased stopping power in any weather conditions.
Farley 5 Fatbike
If you wish to upgrade, consider the reliable and comfortable Farley 5 fatbike, this high-performance mountain bike has exceptional versatility. The lower tire pressure means improved grip and traction on the most challenging terrain.
Bring Your Own
If you bring your own bike, please make sure it is a mountain bike, preferably with front suspension, and that it is in good mechanical order. Each of our Russian 4×4 Furgon vans has Thule roof-mounted bike racks (17kg maximum weight).
If you are bringing your own bike, talk to us about your arrival and departure dates to ensure that if you choose a trip with domestic flights, we have time to transfer your bike by road to and from Ulaanbaatar.
- All bikes are serviced prior to the trip by our team.
- Basic spares and tools are carried in the support vehicle, though we cannot guarantee having spares for every conceivable problem.
- If you’re bringing your own bike then also bring a basic tool kit, a spare tube and a air pump suitable for the bike.
Mountain biking in Mongolia has a focus typically on adrenaline addiction and the achievement rather than the journey. Not with EL.
We believe in a balance and are switched on to our impact. Hence our maximum group size of six as this helps to leave less of an impact on the land – such as when braking hard or skidding. This also means we have a minimal impact on domestic livestock and wildlife as well.
In addition, we follow tracks that are already in existence.
The group size on our tailor-made options can be adjusted to suit you. Maybe you’re interested in one of our tailor-made options but your travel partner doesn’t want to bike. No problem. You can both come along. Your travel partner will receive a ‘no biking’ discount and we’ll adapt the itinerary to keep it interesting for them. Ask Jess for details.
If you like our tailor-made options but are looking to explore a different region, let Jess know the number of people in your party and we’ll put some itinerary designs together for you and send them across with the pricing.
From Our Blog
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 – 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
The price below includes use of a GIANT XTC 800 bike. If you prefer to bring your own bike, please ask for the prices.
- Final group size of 2 guests USD 3440 pp + domestic flight of approx USD 300 (or take the public bus and we’ll cover the price of the ticket)
- Final group size of 3-5 guests USD 3075 pp + domestic flight of approx USD 300 (or take the public bus and we’ll cover the price of the ticket)
- Final group size of 6 guests USD 2780 pp + domestic flight of approx USD 300 (or take the public bus and we’ll cover the price of the ticket)
Maybe you want to bike but your travel partner doesn’t. No problem. Both come along. Your travel partner will receive a ‘no biking’ discount (included in the pricing below).
- Final group size of 2 guests USD 3180 pp + domestic flight of approx USD 300 (or take the public bus and we’ll cover the price of the ticket)
- Final group size of 3-5 guests USD 2810 pp + domestic flight of approx USD 300 (or take the public bus and we’ll cover the price of the ticket)
- Final group size of 6 guests USD 2520 pp + domestic flight of approx USD 300 (or take the public bus and we’ll cover the price of the ticket)
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.
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/
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.
- 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
- Camel or horseback rides
- Entrance fees to monasteries, temples, and museums (when with local team) – excludes camera tickets
- 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)
*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.
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.