‘It remains a stand out adventure – remote, beautiful, free and with great interaction with the environment – including landscapes, animals and off course, the people. A true adventure, unlike any other. And it was possible thanks to the special way you built EL and tailored our trip.’ Ben Kidron, Khovsgol On Ice
The wild and diverse landscapes of Khovsgol Nuur National Park dominate northern Mongolia and form the backdrop to this cultural adventure which focuses on the way of life for Mongolia’s Darkhad ethnic group.
At the heart of Khovsgol Nuur National Park lies the revered Khovsgol Lake – stretching 136km and affectionately referred to as “Dalai Ej” or “Mother Sea” by Mongolians. The Darkhad skillfully craft traditional horse-drawn sleighs, utilizing them to traverse this magnificent and you’ll embark on a three-day expedition across the lake on their sleighs built by the Darkhad and in their company. You’ll find hospitable refuge each evening within the homes of local families. This experience culminates with an immersion into Darkhad culture at the annual Ice Festival.
In this intimate small-group venture, you’ll uncover a more local and hidden side to Khovsgol. The journey has been thoughtfully developed by EL and Baasanchuluu, a herder and member of the Darkhad ethnic group we work in long-term local community partnership with. Our enduring partnership with Baasanchuluu and the local community ensures you as our guest a genuine and lasting connection with the region.
You will come across other companies offering tours combining Mongolia’s ice festival with the camel festival. However, this requires multiple domestic flights, and emissions per kilometer for domestic flights are always much higher because such a large proportion of the flight is spent taking off and landing. This is one reason why for our Ice Festival experience, we arrange a road trip to and from Khovsgol. We believe that flying from place to place gives you no context of location, no real experience of the country or the lives of the people in-between. Travelling across the country slows you down and gives you time to experience the ‘places in-between’, the places and communities not actually mentioned in the guidebooks. The landscapes take on an extraordinary beauty in the winter, and being part of them is the only way to experience them. It also allows for a slower-paced more immersive experience.
Positive Impact Overview
- 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 – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/about-us/
- 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/
- 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.
- No domestic flights. Emissions per km for domestic flights are high because a large proportion of the flight is spend taking off and landing. As we are serious about tackling the carbon footprint of the trips we offer, we try that a majority of our experiences don’t include domestic flights.
- The maximum group size is six which is refreshingly small for the travel industry and allows us to manage our impact.
- Our winter trips all have a 15% discount as a way of encouraging travellers to travel outside of the main travel season – helping to make tourism less concentrated around peak season in Mongolia (summer) and to help the income of the people we work with be more evenly distributed – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/low-season-travel-mongolia/
- Includes Khovsgol Ice Festival
- Start Date: February 24 2024
- Duration: 12 Days
- Accommodation – Homestays – Hosted by families we work in long-term local partnerhsip with, Local Hotels, Family Operated Ger Camps
- 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 small group trip. However, our maximum is group size is six – which is refreshingly small for the travel industry. These 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 this document were taken either by EL guests or members of the EL team. This is the Mongolia that you will also experience.
- Winter is a quintessential Mongolian season. It is cold, very cold, but the cold is an important part of what makes Mongolia and its landscapes extraordinary at this time of year. For all of our winter trips, we provide traditional felt boots, hand-made goat skin blankets and can provide winter deels as well.
- Book With Flexibility & Confidence (see below).
From Our Blog
Learn more about the philosophy behind our horse sleigh expeditions.
The Small Details
- For all of our low season experiences we offer a sliding price scale. We appreciate your holiday funds are precious and so the price depends on the final group size. The more individual travellers that book so everyone benefits.
Group Size – Maximum of six. Minimum of two required for a guaranteed departure (or pay a surcharge)
- Final group size of 2 guests USD 2720 pp
- Final group size of 3-5 guests USD 2390 pp
- Final group size of 6 guests USD 2170 pp
The above prices include a 15% discount pp as a thank you for choosing to travel with EL outside of the main season. We are keen to extend the season for the benefit of our Mongolian team and the rural families and Mongolian businesses we work with – to make tourism less concentrated around peak season (July) and to help the income of the people we work with be more evenly distributed. Thank you for being part of that 🙂
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
- 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
- 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)
*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.