About Eternal Landscapes Mongolia And Booking With Us
Up until the end of 2021, we have revised booking conditions. In brief:
- All of our 2021 trips will remain at 2020 prices. We guarantee our small group departures with a minimum of two which means we are more likely to be able to guarantee trip departures, even with low numbers.
- For our guests who have booked a 2020 trip but decide to delay/cancel and are happy for us to keep your deposit, we will give you an additional 10% on your deposit.
- For any new bookings going forward (including rebookings), if you have to cancel up to 10 weeks prior to your arrival, you will get a refund including your deposit. Alternatively, we can offer you a 110% credit on your deposit, which can be used toward a future trip of your choice (with no cut off date. This can be transferred to a friend or family member).
- For any new bookings going forward (including rebookings), if you have to cancel between 10 and 4 weeks before departure, we will fully refund your balance (if paid), and give you a 110% credit on your deposit, which can be used toward a future trip of your choice (with no cut off date. This can be transferred to a friend or family member).
- For any new bookings going forward (including rebookings), if you have to cancel 4 weeks before departure, we will retain the percentage of your deposit and balance as highlighted in the booking conditions (no change from usual conditions).
- If we need to cancel your trip due to ongoing travel restrictions or significant health risks we will refund your deposit and balance (as per our usual conditions). You may choose to accept our offer of a 110% credit on your deposit (with no cut off date. This can be transferred to a friend or family member). We will aim to make any decision to cancel at least 60 days before departure.
- You can transfer your deposit or credit voucher (and trip payment) to a friend or family member.
- We appreciate that a lot of people will be financially constrained by the pandemic. For future bookings, we will be happy to accept small monthly instalments towards an EL experience.
Eternal Landscapes may be a small company but we take your financial security seriously. You can make your booking with EL safe in the knowledge that we are Travel Trust Association bonded (our membership number is U8885), fully insured through Travel Risk Professionals (Tasker and Partners) and take your safety and welfare seriously. Please just email Jess for more details.
We are also a registered Mongolian business (Gobi Gua Undur) with a membership of the Mongolian Tourism Association.
In order to secure your place on a trip you need to pay a deposit of £450 / $600 per adult. The remainder will then be due approximately 4-
The deposits are what we call ‘lifetime deposits’ – if you book and then an emergency means you cannot visit, this means you do not lose your deposit. We just keep hold of it until you can travel. Alternatively, you can transfer it across to a friend or family member.
It is always difficult to suggest a suitable amount of spending money to bring with you as everyone is different –
Just so you know, there are no hidden extras –
For domestic flights, there is an allowance of 15kg (including hand luggage). You may need to pay airline baggage charges (about $2-4USD) for each kg over this.
Jess will send this out in a separate email once you have confirmed your travel dates and trip choice. We have detailed Pre Departure Guidelines that Jess sends out with the booking form as well as other online guides including on safety, horse trekking and trekking. All written by Jess.
Road Travel With EL
Will we be cramped inside the van like sardines in a can?
No. Unlike other companies that try and fit 5 or 6 clients in a van for maximum profits, our maximum is three (four only on short transfers or research trips). That means there’s plenty of space.
I have fallen in love with the mighty Furgon. Most of our guests retain a soft spot for this legendary vehicle as well. You may think you would prefer the luxury of a Japanese FWD but they are not suitable to our style of travel. Why? If they break down, then the trip’s basically over.
Please don’t think you’ll be permanently broken down on the side of the road with the Furgon. Not at all. Furgon’s are very reliable and capable 4×4’s with impressive off-road capability. It’s just that when there is an issue it’s amazing what our boys can do with a bag of random nuts and bolts and some duct tape. Even a plastic bag.
My drivers are supremely talented at the Mongolian skill of ‘mongolchlokh’ – improvising the Mongol way. It’s a joy to watch so if your vehicle does break down, don’t get angry. Instead, watch the drivers do what they do best – improvisation.
Each driver privately owns each vehicle and as a result the interior and seat layout will differ from vehicle to vehicle. But, I provide a maintenance fund for each driver and they’re remarkably proud of their vans – both inside and out. Seat-belts will be available from late spring 2018 and our Furgons are fitted with grab handles in the passenger area.
Mongolia is the second largest landlocked country in the world. The infrastructure is basic. Mongolian people are tough and resilient and make their way of life in both the city and countryside look easier than it is. Mongolia will challenge you and at times irritate you but it’s worth the effort. We’re on hand to iron out any niggles and make the experience as smooth as possible but please remember that most of these hiccups are part of life in Mongolia and therefore travelling in Mongolia. We expect you to bring your flexibility and sense of adventure with you.
Tavel times are listed under the breakdown of your daily itinerary (under the subheading logistics). Please make sure you are aware of these travel times but remember that an integral part of Mongolian culture is not to ask about the length (time) of any road journey. Mongolia can be a challenging destination, road conditions can change dramatically with the weather and some drives may become longer as a result. But, don’t be put off by the road journeys. They’re part of Mongolian life. Accept them as part of the experience – Mongolia really is about the journey as much as the destination.
About Our Trip Style
In brief, we aim for local, fluid and flexible. Supporting local is at the heart of what we do and is central to each trip we offer. If you’re looking for a more luxurious style of travel then we may not be for you. It doesn’t mean we don’t genuinely care about you and your experience – we just don’t offer linen tablecloths and place settings at dinner. Often our guests are people who might normally travel independently, or have done in the past, and have trouble with the idea of an organised tour.
Mongolia is not necessarily the easy option – it is a tough country and the local people have learnt to adapt to this tough way of life. So, yes, travelling in Mongolia may be challenging for you at times. Tourism is still in its infancy so there is only a rudimentary tourist infrastructure in place. It’s actually quite refreshing.
Anyone in good health with normal, healthy fitness levels will enjoy an EL holiday although we ask that you make your own judgement according to your own fitness levels and general health.
You need to be flexible and patient. You must bring with you your willingness to participate and your sense of adventure and humour. Be responsible for yourself and use your common sense. You must also treat people the way you would wish to be treated.
If you have a known medical condition which could be a problem you will need to let us know before the trip. Alternatively, if you would like to get in touch with guests that have travelled previously with Eternal Landscapes, please let Jess know.
The maximum group size for our small group tours is between 4 and 6 depending on the style of trip which is refreshingly small for the travel industry. This is so that we can offer you as much as possible the freedom and flexibility of independent travel. It also helps to limit our impact on the local culture and environment. In addition, all our small group trips tours run with a minimum of two – this means there is more chance for the tour to run as we do not have to wait for high booking numbers.
Please don’t be worried about personalities within the group – we try hard to find the ‘right’ balance and remember there are free days which offer you the time to make your own Mongolian experience. Also, once at camp, you will be surrounded by space and have time to explore on your own.
For those who are solo travellers, see our separate webpage for further details.
We do offer tailor-
What sort of people come on trips with EL?
I think what’s key is people’s desire to experience Mongolia as authentically as possible.
Our youngest traveller has been 18 months and our oldest 84. We get slightly more solo travellers than couples. Males and females are split quite equally. As for nationalities –
Who will run my trip?
Running your trip will be one of our great Mongolian (male) driver / (female) trip assistant teams.
None of our team are slick trained professionals. They are local people who have a local and real everyday experience of Mongolia. Having worked as a tour leader for over 14 years, I have a fairly good understanding of what experiences people are looking for in a trip. We run a free training and development programme for our team based on my own personal experiences and feedback from our guests – past and present. We’re on hand but flexible….the idea being that you feel like you’re travelling with an informative friend.
My Drivers – ‘The Boys’
- We employ ten drivers. We know each one and their family personally.
- They are not modern city men – they are more traditional men – often now overlooked by other tour companies who prefer younger more international Mongolians who speak English. We wanted to provide equal opportunities and so as our trip assistants are female and typically younger with a more modern outlook, so our drivers are all male, older and from more traditional backgrounds. We find it is a partnership that works well.
- Yes, their English is limited but their role is to handle the Mongolian roads and not to converse fluently in a multitude of languages. Our drivers are extremely proud of their country and although of the ‘strong and silent’ type their presence will help to enhance your experience of Mongolia.
- Our ‘boys’ have superb driving skills, are expert mechanics and are supremely talented at the skill of ‘mongolclokh’ – improvising the Mongolian way. It’s a joy to watch so if your vehicle does break down, don’t get angry. Instead, watch the drivers do what they do best – improvisation.
- They are of the strong and silent type but take the time to know them and you’ll see why we employ them and why they are an essential part of our EL family. They are expert mechanics, consummate drivers, know the countryside like the back of their hands (their head is their inbuilt GPS), very adept chefs (they LOVE Mongolian barbecue!) and all round great men!
My Trip Assistants – ‘The Girls’
- As a female, it is important to me to use my skills and influence to improve the prospects for other women.
- We don’t source those considered the ‘best’ guides that work the tourism circuit and that already have guaranteed work with other companies. Instead, we provide training and development opportunities to Mongolian women that want the opportunity to work in tourism (whether that be for a professional reason, for development of personal skills or for economic empowerment) but that other companies won’t take as they don’t fit the stereotype or have the necessary experience. Our female Mongolian trip assistants are dynamic women who are searching for an opportunity to train and develop and we provide that long-term opportunity.
- They’re not professional guides (but then what’s the actual definition of a professional guide?). Nor are they western educated fluent English speakers (although they have studied English to Mongolian university level). And if you want to discuss Mongolia’s economic policy in detail then we’re probably not for you. But, you’ll travel with someone who sincerely loves their home country, loves their job and genuinely care about you as our guests. They also have a respectful connection with each of the families we work with and this leads to a more genuine insight for you.
- For us, this is a long-term investment and we invite you to part of this bigger travel philosophy. We’re proud to be able to provide a starting block to women in Mongolia.
‘My Girls’ are a mum of two, a librarian, a dedicated medical student training to be a GP, a journalist, an English teacher…. Pride runs deep in my girls and I have chosen them as they have a willingness to do right, a desire to learn and have a genuine love for and connection with their country. They sincerely care about you as our guests as well and are highly competitive at games of shagai (ankle bones), give great informal cookery lessons and are wicked at karaoke!
Will I have to tip them?
Each member of the EL team receives a responsible but fair salary and none have to rely on receiving tips to supplement their income. In addition, we make sure that everyone who works with EL 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 tip then thank you and we leave it at your own discretion – it is not compulsory but it is appreciated when given. If you would like to provide a tip, you will discover just how hard the drivers work, so a tip for the driver would be roughly equal to what you would give a trip assistant. As mentioned, it is not compulsory and if you give and how much you give is entirely up to you. There are more details in our Pre Departure Guidelines or get in touch with Jess.
I’m vegetarian….gluten free….a vegan….
We can provide for vegetarians and those with dietary requirements such as being gluten-free. We have also catered for vegans and for coeliacs. We are limited to what we can purchase but there’s still quite a bit of variety. But no, it won’t be the same as at home. Each of our Furgon vans has a small mobile kitchen and this allows us to provide more flexibility.
Mutton! Why is there always mutton?
Because this is the main staple meat that’s available all year round. Often its the only meat available in the shops. When beef (or yak) is available we will purchase it. Meat will be tougher than you are used to as it is not ‘hung’ in Mongolia – from steppe to the plate. It’s fresh and delicious.
We also understand that you may be a meat eater but not want mutton every night –
Will I get to try the local food?!
Absolutely! We believe that getting a real ‘taste’ for Mongolia means sampling the local cuisine. We love drinking suutei tsai (Mongolian milk tea) with our host families. We also love homemade clotted cream (orom) with jam on fresh bread, wild forest berries on homemade yoghurt, or freshly fried mutton pancakes (khuurshuur) at a road side guanz (a cafe –
Taking into consideration the time/season you are travelling, we provide those of you who wish an opportunity to try dishes from this simple yet delicious traditional cuisine.
Who does the cooking?
Each of our trips has a simple portable kitchen as it offers more freedom and flexibility. It also means we can have picnic lunches en-
The only (potential!) down-
But, we’re always trying out new menus and keep up to date by attending cookery classes at one of the restaurants in UB. As a gentle reminder, we do not have the chance to stock-
What drinks are included?
We always provide drinking water, tea and coffee. Alcoholic and soft drinks are not included.
We do not provide bottled water. We take fresh drinking water from local town pumps. The water quality in Mongolia is excellent by world standards but for added security, we provide a Steripen and/or Lifesaver filter for those who wish to neutralise their water. We don’t encourage buying bottled water because of the lack of recycling options.
We also now work in partnership with Water-To-Go and can offer a discounted rate on their excellent water bottles – https://watertogo.eu/partnerships/eternallandscapes/
There are plenty of opportunities to stop in villages and towns en route to stock up on alcoholic drink supplies although choice in the countryside is more limited than in Ulaanbaatar. If you know you like a good red wine, or nice whisky, then visit a supermarket in UB before departure (we usually make a stop en-route out of the city).
Unfortunately, Mongolia is not a ‘pack-
The PDG also provide info on the style of bag you should bring as well –
Mongolia is a relatively safe country in which to travel. Most crime is opportunistic and mainly in UB –
Mongolia is also a fairly healthy country to visit but ask a travel doctor about appropriate vaccinations, and what to take with you in the way of medicines.
We assume you are in good health and have a sufficient level of fitness to complete your chosen tour. It is very important that any illness, disability or medical condition that you suffer or are recovering from, have been brought to our attention at the time of booking.
What emergency back-
We travel in remote areas, so we take your health and safety very seriously. Our trip assistants are medically trained with the Mongolian Red Cross, and will provide care to the best of their abilities until you are able to reach a hospital.
The tour vehicle (Russian Furgon 4×4 van) is available if necessary. It is vital that you have your own travel insurance which includes repatriation. There is a separate safety documents provided for our guests in our Pre Departure Guidelines.
Mongolia’s weather system has a reputation for a reason. And yes, it may well rain. See it as a blessing. Mongolian herders celebrate rain as without it fresh pasture cannot grow and they lose their livelihoods. We’ll prepare you for what weather to expect during your trip (including links to the long-range weather forecast for the regions you will be visiting) and also provide a detailed packing list on booking.
There’s not much point in detailing averages as if travelling between May and September, four seasons in one day is a distinct possibility, and four seasons during the trip is an absolute certainty. Anything is possible, from 30°C and no wind in May, to 15°C and snow in August. You just have to accept that Mongolia is not a ‘pack light’ destination!
If you are travelling to Mongolia in the spring, the landscapes will probably look very arid and parched – not the lush green in the photos. There can also be some wind storms. Livestock will be coming out of the long, hard and tiring winter period so animal treks are not always available in the early spring –
• Summer and Autumn
(July and August can be hot enough that you just have to throw yourself in a lake or river).
Long, dry and very cold. The coldest months are December to February with some areas going down further than –
Mostly we are travelling and 1300-
Our treks are not tests of endurance or competitive races. Naturally, there will be some challenges but they’re mainly about seeing the world from a different perspective, new horizons and the joy of the great outdoors.
All treks are arranged through the families we work in long-term local community partnership with –
If you’re interested in one of our trekking itineraries, we will email out to you our detailed Trekking Checklist which explains in detail what you can expect. However….in brief….
Some treks have vehicle support and some don’t. Those that do, there is typically one pack animal for every 2 guest riders but we let the herder who is running the trek to make the final decision.
Robust saddle bags are provided, plus extra waterproof duffle-
If you’re on a horse trek, we do try to match your riding ability to the right horse. There will be plenty of opportunities to gallop, if you are confident but of course, we have a couple of rules relating to riding safely, particularly in ways that impact on other riders. We use the Russian style saddles that are available in Mongolia (not the wooden saddles that you may have seen the herders riding in photos which are as painful as they look!).
Horse and Camel Treks
We do not provide hard protective hats as there is not a good standard here in Mongolia. Check the small print of your travel insurance policy to see whether you are still covered in the event of an accident if not wearing a hat. We suggest that if you feel more comfortable riding in a hat, bring one along and wear it at least initially until you are familiar with your horse.
What about the bugs?
Mongolia is a country of approximately 80 million head of livestock, of stream, rivers and lakes, of four distinct seasons and of changeable weather conditions. All these elements combined create a haven for insects….so, there will be flies and mosquitoes. It depends whether you go early in the season or later, and how high up you are but you won’t be plagued by bugs at every location and mainly just for an hour or two – usually when the wind has died in the early evening. Where required we do the Mongolian thing and light a ‘utaa tavik’ – a smoke fire to help keep the insects away. No major precautions are necessary –
Simply the best way to experience Mongolia! Not all our trips include camping so check the individual itinerary.
We provide spacious VANGO tents. You share two people (same sex/friends travelling together/couples) to a tent. You will never be expected to share with someone of the opposite sex….unless you prefer to! For those of you travelling independently, where possible we do try to provide you with your own tent. However, this is not promised or guaranteed.
The tents are easy to put up and down and you will be expected to help each other in putting up and taking down the tents. However, one of the EL crew will always be happy to help.
We provide a thin insulating foil mat and a blanket per tent– we recommend that you bring a thermo-
If you have a favourite tent of your own, feel free to bring it along with you.
We provide a kitchen tent and a toilet tent (well, a tent to cover the hole in the ground. I call it a ‘loo with a view!”). We don’t provide camping showers but showers are taken en-route at local town shower houses where you get your own private cubicle with plenty of hot water. Its a case of queuing with the locals and enjoying experiencing a little of their daily way of life.
For all our camping trips, we provide a kitchen tent for rough weather or shade.
Will we get to stay in a ger?
As much as possible we use family operated ger camps. This is not a contrived experience, it is a business agreement –
We cannot offer exclusivity at the ger camps as this limits the income of each family but, none of us at EL like crowds of people so we work hard to make sure you also have peace and solitude.We try to get the right balance but during peak season please accept that you might see other westerners. You do not get a private ger as an individual but one to share as an EL group.
In the words of Lynn McCaw –
Standards will vary and all we ask is that you respect that this is someone’s way of life and home and that they provide what they can in relation to their circumstances. (Beds will vary in comfort – most rural family members still traditionally sleep on the floor so don’t really understand the concept of double memory foam mattresses!).
I really want to experience the nomadic culture
And you will –
Just remember these are real people with real lives to lead – we NEVER turn up unannounced and we never just turn up to a herding family demanding accommodation. We do not try to change Mongolians or their way of life for our/your own benefit or comfort. Please try and embrace (!) and enjoy any differences that you come across in Mongolia. Experiencing the differences is all part of your trip and makes it a more authentic and positive holiday for you.
Will there be the opportunity to wash (myself and my clothes too)?
Showers can be limited (because of the lack of infrastructure and running water. If you’re staying at tourist ger camps, most take their water supply from either a tank or deep well and are heated by solar). On all itineraries, we also use the local town shower houses – the cubicles are clean, the water plentiful and hot. These shower houses are frequently a highlight for our clients!
We provide washing bowls and soap powder to wash clothes if necessary. So please ask. Just to be clear, there are no washing machines!
What about the toilets?
‘A loo with a view’!
During the day while travelling there is always somewhere to wander off to for a bit of privacy. At ger camps, you will typically be using Asian style long drop toilets, compost toilets or western style toilets – depending on the standard of ger accommodation. (Rural Mongolians (town and country) do not have access to running water so most toilets are of the outside Asian style long-drop/squat toilet although a few will be ‘sit-down.’). If you’re at a homestay with no toilet or camping then we dig a simple Asian-style squat toilet, with surround. You might like to practice squatting at home to strengthen your legs (as suggested by a few of our clients!)
The toilets are not there to disgust or challenge you. It’s daily life in rural Mongolia.
We provide toilet paper (but not the Aloe Vera option!)