Mongolian Conservation And Research Expedition

Two Mongolian Wild Ass (Khulan) on our Mongolian Conservation and Research Expedition

Mongolia is a country with a diverse and fragile environment traditionally preserved through long-standing environmental customs and beliefs. Challenged by the climate emergency and the impact of mining, the protection of Mongolia’s natural landscapes and its flora & fauna is now being re-emphasised. We form long-term local community partnerships throughout the country and working in this way means we have personally come into contact with some remarkable people working at a local level in conservation and wildlife protection. We have spent time experiencing their way of life as they show us the more hidden side to their home and the challenges they face. These people are the motivation behind our conservation trips and our Mongolian Conservation and Research Expedition will allow you to come into contact with environmental safeguarding and wildlife protection at a grass-roots level in Mongolia – specifically in the connection with the Asian Wild Ass (Khulan in Mongolian).

This experience is in alliance with the Association Goviin Khulan NGO who works to protect the endangered Mongolian Khulan and its habitat in partnership with local rangers and communities of the southeast Gobi. This is a multidisciplinary and innovative approach that takes into consideration the needs, difficulties, and culture of the local area and involves directly the local population in research activities for long-term success.

You will gain an understanding and privileged insight into the true wild Gobi – specifically, the ecology of the little-visited Dorngobi (east Gobi) region which as well as the Khulan supports a wide range of other wildlife including Siberian Ibex, Argali sheep, Goitered Gazelle and Grey Wolves. Goviin Khulan practice people-centred conservation and during this journey as well as learning more about the wildlife of the Gobi Desert you will meet local people such as Buddhist monks, small market gardeners, and nomadic herders who are partners in conservation with Association Govin Khulan. You will have the opportunity to discuss with them about their involvement in the Association Goviin Khulan conservation program and their actions and motivations towards the protection of the Gobi ecosystem.

  • Start Date – June 2022 – Dates TBC
  • Duration – 9 Days
  • Accommodation – Local hotel, rural family operated ger camp, wild camping
  • 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.

Mongolia sits at the crossroads of the Central Asian steppes, the Siberian taiga (forest region), and the Gobi Desert and hosts a range of globally significant biodiversity within its boundaries. We have always looked to see where our support can have the most impact and the Mongolian Khulan (Equus hemionus hemionus) is one of the 5 recognised sub-species of the Asiatic Wild Ass and represents the largest population of this species in the world. As a result, Mongolia is a very important place for the conservation of this species due to having the densest distribution of Khulan in the world.

In addition, a majority of conservation funding goes towards the snow leopard or the Takhi (Przewalskii) horses even though the population of the Mongolian Khulan is at risk due to illegal hunting, habitat fragmentation and competition with domestic livestock to access to natural resources – Khulan numbers have declined significantly. Further threats to the species include loss of habitat as a result of human settlement and due to resource extraction such as mining and also because of the degradation of their natural grazing land. There is also restriction of the Khulan’s movements due to the Trans-Mongolian railway, and due to roads and fences associated with mining development.

Internationally, the Mongolian Khulan is listed in the Red List of the IUCN as ‘Endangered, and ‘Very Rare’ and ‘Endangered’ in the Mongolian Red Book (Mongolian Red List of Mammals).

  1. A group size of a maximum of six has been set in order to limit negative impacts on wildlife and its habitat.
  2. A financial donation per person will be made by Eternal Landscapes to Association Goviin Khulan. This financial donation will help Association Goviin Khulan to conduct new research field trips, buy additional technical equipment for their research team and local partners (park rangers and citizen conservationists who work with them) and new educational materials.
  3. Each guest will receive a copy of Anne-Camille’s conservation book The Lost Khulan of The Gobi with its beautiful illustrations by the Mongolian artist Zolbootulguldur O. The funds of this book go back into conservation education carried out by AGK in Mongolia.
  4. It is very important to consider the needs and difficulties of the local population that share the same habitat as the wildlife and to involve the population ensures the long term success of a conservation program. The trip will contribute to community development in the areas where the project is conducted. This includes the diversification of incomes of the communities visited and with whom you stay, training and employment of local guides and rangers to guide you and assist Association Goviin Khulan in collecting data.
  5. Data collected will be used in the continued protection of Gobi wildlife. This range of data will include use of water sources by Mongolian khulans/wild asses and by other species (wild and domestic), watering behaviour of the Mongolian Khulan, nature of interactions between khulans/wild asses, wild and domestic fauna and human activities at and in the surroundings of water sources, illegal activities occurring in our study area and the biodiversity of our study area.

Our Mongolian Conservation and Research Expedition has been put together between EL and Anne-Camille Souris – an ethologist and a member of the SSC/IUCN Equid Specialist Group since 2007. As president and research manager of the Association Goviin Khulan, Anne-Camille has been studying the Mongolian Khulan since 2004. She first conducted research on this sub-species in the southwest Gobi during the summer 2004. In 2006 she then started research and conservation work on the populations that occur in the south and southeast Gobi where there was less work towards the conservation of this endangered species. In 2007, she co-founded the Association Goviin Khulan to enhance protection of the endangered Mongolian Khulan. This trip will either be led by Anne-Camille or one of her research associates.

Mongolian Conservation And Research Expedition - Trip Breakdown

Day One – Final Arrival Day | Discover Ulaanbaatar | City Walking Tour

Image: EL guest Tammy McCorkle

Ulaanbaatar (UB) is home to roughly 45% of Mongolia’s population and our free city walking tour will give you a more local introduction to this vibrant frontier style city with a strong Mongolian identity of its own. It is the beating heart of Mongolia and the hub of contemporary Mongolian urban life. The reality for many Mongolians takes place in this urban context, in a city they are striving to develop and improve. Ulaanbaatar deserves to be appreciated and explored as the urban centre that it is. 

Our informal and relaxed city walking tour will give you a contrasting insight into a way of life, compared to that of the rural population as you spend the day in the company of one of our female Mongolian trip assistants exploring the city through the eyes of a local.

  • Accommodation: Your own choice
  • Meals: Local lunch and welcome drink
  • Travel: Free transfer

Day Two – Khustain Nuruu National Park

Transfer to Khustain  – one of Mongolia’s conservation success stories  – noted for its successful reintroduction of the endemic Przewalski horse– the only wild horse to survive in modern times and known as Takhi in Mongolian.

Khustain Nuruu National Park is part of UNESCO’s ‘Man and the Biosphere’ reserves. The Khustain National Park Trust was established in 2003 and deals with the management of the national park contracting with Mongolia’s Ministry of Nature and Environment. Khustain is now run as a dedicated NGO specialising in nature and environmental research and conservation. As the Przewalski horse (known as takhi in Mongolian) is a flagship species, its protection also helps to increase environmental awareness in Mongolia.

Having arrived, visit the (recently updated) information centre located at the entrance to the park. Then, depending on your arrival time,  explore the ridges with views over the distant Moltsog Sands as well as the partly forested Khustai Mountains. Trek to look-out points, while having a reasonable chance to see red deer, corsac foxes, Siberian marmots, black vultures and other numerous raptors such as eagles and falcons.

The stars of the show are obviously the Takhi which are free-ranging through the hills and mountains of the national park. The Takhi have a number of ranges which include the ridge tops of the national park. As with all wildlife, there is no guarantee of catching a sighting but we will try – whilst keeping within the strict rules and regulations of the NP.

A harem of wild Takhi / Przewalski horse (Equus przewalskii) grazing at Khustain Nuruu National Park in central Mongolia

  • Accommodation: Of your own choice in Ulaanbaatar
  • Meals: Lunch
  • Travel: Roughly 110km on asphalt and dirt road (approx 2 hours diving time ONE WAY not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual depending on road/weather conditions

 

Day Three & Four – Ikh Nart Nature Reserve | Gobi Desert

Ikh Nart Nature Reserve Mongolia

Image: EL guest Mandy Wong

As you travel south through steppe to desert terrain, you will start to get an understanding of the diversity of Mongolia’s natural habitats. You could observe wildlife native to the Gobi – especially herds of White Tailed Gazelle.

Your destination is Ikh Nart – a wildlife region of rocky terrain and canyons. Located in Dornogobi Aimag, this reserve harbours a wide diversity of flora and fauna and is a long-term study site between Denver Zoo and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The studies aim to understand the ecology of the region, the behaviour of the resident species and to improve conservation management in the region.

Three projects are on-going – the Argali Sheep / Siberian Ibex Project, the Carnivore Project and the Cinereous Vulture Project. Although small (66,000 hectares), Ikh Nart represents a strong-hold for the globally threatened Argali Sheep – the largest mountain sheep in the world. It is also one of the most significant breeding sites for the Cinereous Vulture (European Black Vulture).

Spend the second day discovering the wildlife and biodiversity of the region together with your Association Goviin Khulan guide. f the local protected area ranger (Batbold) is available, he will also join you.

Batbold - protected area ranger of the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve. His local knowledge is as vast as the area he protects.

Batbold – protected area ranger of the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve. His local knowledge is as vast as the area he protects. Image: EL guest Severine.B

  • Accommodation: Tent Camp. UK VANGO tents. We also 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!”). Solo travellers receive their own tent – no single supplement required.
  • Meals: L/D and B/L/D
  • Travel: Day Three – Roughly 320km on asphalt and dirt road (approx 7 hours diving time  not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual depending on road/weather conditions.

Day Five – Khamariin Khiid Monastery | Energy Centre | Gobi Desert

Khamariin Khiid Monastery -established in the 1830's and located close to Sainshand in Mongolia's south eastern Gobi Desert.

Khamariin Khiid is a monastery that is considered  an energy centre known as Shambala created around the cult of a Mongolian monk – Danzan Ravjaa. The monastery was destroyed during the 1930s political purges but has been reconstructed and is a major pilgrimage site for Mongolians. It also gives spectacular view points out over the Gobi.

We include a visit because the monastery plays an important part in the history and culture of the Gobi. In addition, Buddhist monks are traditionally taught to love and protect wildlife and use their environment in an appropriate manner. Buddhist communities in Mongolia often work within the local community to help protect the local environment.

  • Accommodation: Tent Camp. UK VANGO tents. We also 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!”). Solo travellers receive their own tent – no single supplement required.
  • Meals: B/L/D
  • Travel: Roughly 10km on asphalt and dirt road (approx 7 hours diving time  not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual depending on road/weather conditions.

Day Six – Eleven – Research Area – Mandakh, Ulgii, Queen’s Spring, Golden Mountain and Khanbogd

Image of a long-legged buzzard taking off in flight during our Mongolian Conservation and Research Expedition

Image: EL guest Marian Herz

This is the start of six days spent in the Goviin Khulan research area. Examples of the activities that could be conducted in the research area are:

  • Observation of wildlife species including recording GPS positions for each species observed
  • Recording of the presence of each species observed including animal tracks, dung and scats.
  • Settlement of camera traps at strategic locations
  • Sampling of plants in specific areas
  • Record of carcasses found,
  • Meeting with rangers and families involved in the project
  • Cleaning of specific sites

Areas you will visit include:

Golden Mountain

Officially known as Ergeliin Zuu, this is a protected natural reserve where dinosaur fossils were discovered in the 1920s by Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions. Gobi fossils tend to be well-preserved, revealing minute details of life during the Late Cretaceous Period – 80 million years ago. You may also observe black-tailed gazelles, Mongolian (white-tailed) gazelles, Mongolian khulan and birds of prey. Part of the day will be spend meeting a local family who work as ‘citizen conservationists for Association Goviin Khulan.

Native Mountain

‘Native Mountain’ is home to a Buddhist monastery – Ulgii Khiid. In Mongolia, many mountains, rivers and other natural spaces are revered as sacred – either because they are the residing place of a deity or because they are viewed as a deity in themselves. Often, monasteries were built on such sites as was the one built at Native Mountain.

The monastery of the site of the ‘Native Mountain’  was destroyed during the 1930s political purges but since then re-introduction of Buddhism in the 1990s some of Mongolia’s ruined monasteries and temples have become operational again.

At ‘Native Mountain’ you will meet with the community of monks and you will have the opportunity to discuss with the monks about their involvement in the Association Goviin Khulan conservation program and their actions and motivations towards the protection of the Gobi ecosystem. During your time here you should be able to listen to morning prayers.

During part of your visit, you will be specifically focusing on the observation of wildlife to collect additional data for AGK. This will include visiting a site of petrified wood (it has been protected since 1996 but is threatened because of illegal robbery of the artefacts) as well as meeting community members such as Gansukh and Otgon and families who are now involved in the khulan project as Citizen Conservationists.

Queen’s Spring

Located just 150km from the Chinese border, this region is a natural habitat for the khulan. It is an area where you can expect to find water holes created by the khulan. Water sources are an important factor in the distribution of Khulan populations including natural springs such as the one at Queen’s Spring. In the summer months the species occurs within 10-15 km of standing water, and this range increases  in the winter when it is not restricted by water availability as there is typically snow fall. In fact, the Association Goviin Khulan have observed Khulan digging holes in a dry river bed to access water.

Khanbogd

Just 10 years ago, the district of Khanbogd, in southern Mongolia’s Omnogovi province, was barely visited – just home to a community of local herders. That changed with the discovery of gold and copper deposits and the creation of  the Oyu Tolgoi mine – Mongolia’s largest copper mine. Khulan waterpoints are clustered along the edges of the Khanbogd massif in the mining infrastructure corridor. Hence Khanbogd is an important research area especially as OT offsets have included the protection of 80,000 of khulan habitat.

  • Accommodation:
  • Day Six – Ten – Tent Camp. UK VANGO tents. We also 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!”). Solo travellers receive their own tent – no single supplement required. It might be that at Native Mountain you can stay in simple shared accommodation provided by the monks but this is not guaranteed or confirmed. No showers apart from if en-route the local town shower house is open (your own private cubicle with plenty of hot water. Queue with the locals and enjoy experiencing a little of their daily way of life).
  • Day Eleven – Provincial Hotel in Sainshand. The Khar Gobi Hotel is unexpected in the provincial dustiness of Sainshand. You’ll be surprised!
  • Meals: B/L/D
  • Travel: Driving will be between sites. Most days will be 4-5 hours driving time on dirt roads (not including stops) although some may be shorter or longer depending on the route and / or the activities. Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual depending on road/weather conditions.

Day Twelve – Return Ulaanbaatar

Following the route of the Trans-Mongolian train line you will head back to UB. On the drive today you will travel through a diversity of Mongolia’s natural habitats – everything from the wide gravel plains to the gentle rolling steppe.

On arrival into UB, we’ll transfer you to your accommodation and the rest of the day will be yours to create your own experience. You’ll meet for a farewell dinner.

We will transfer you to the airport or train station on your departure date.

  • Accommodation: Of your own choice
  • Meals: B/L/D
  • Travel: Roughly 550km on asphalt road to (approx 8-9 hours diving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual depending on road/weather conditions.

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 of six. Minimum of two required for a guaranteed departure

  • 2 Guests        US$ 2680 pp
  • 3-4 Guests     US$ 2530 pp
  • 5 Guests        US$ 2230 pp
  • 6 Guests        US$ 1965 pp

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
  • 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.

What Will It Be Like?

Although there is a structure in place – we don’t provide a tight schedule or overly detailed itinerary – that sort of rigidity just seems incongruous in a land of such freedom among a country of herders.

Yes, there may well be irritations and difficulties – this is Mongolia, one of the largest, most remote countries in the world, with limited infrastructure. Mongolian people are tough and resilient and make their way of life in both the city and countryside seem easier than it actually is. Mongolia will challenge you at times. We’re on hand  to iron out any niggles and make the experience as smooth as possible but you need to be sure you’re able to demonstrate flexibility,  patience, and both a sense of humour and a sense of adventure. 

Are you up for a road trip? It’s something to consider since there are always several long travel days on any Mongolian journey.  Mongolia can be a challenging destination, road conditions can change dramatically with the weather and some drives may be prolonged as a result. It simply comes with the territory. Traveling long distances is an integral part of Mongolian culture and it is considered bad form to complain or ask about the length of time of any road journey. If you can accept the journey as part of the overall Mongolian experience, you’ll do fine.

What About The Weather?

Mongolia’s weather system has a reputation for a reason. 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.

Travelling In The Winter

  • Winter trips can sometimes be susceptible to unforeseen problems which might result in last-minute itinerary changes.  Things will not happen on a perfect schedule and conditions will be very rugged – you will be required to step outside your circle of comfort. Please base your expectations on this important point.
  • Facilities will be more limited than you have maybe experienced on previous winter trips elsewhere.
  • In towns, accommodation is heated through a central piping system which gets turned on in late September and turned off in May. You may find the rooms overly warm and stuffy but there is typically no thermostat so the only option is to open a window.
  • Apart from in the towns, your accommodation will be in family provided accommodation where there won’t be hot showers and the toilets will be OUTSIDE Asian style long drops. All family accommodation will be prepared for winter and heated by a stove but you’re probably used to an insulated house with central heating. There is a substantial difference.
Who Is The Local Team?

You will travel with a team of male Mongolian driver and female Mongolian trip assistant. We do not outsource the logistics of our trips to drivers and guides working the tourism circuit. Instead, we have worked on nurturing our own local operations and provide long-term training, support and employment opportunities to those that want the opportunity to aim to be the best they can be thus supporting them in their aim. This has led to the formation of our small but great team. 

**Our female Mongolian Tour Guides are dynamic women who are searching for an opportunity to train for the long-term career opportunities that we provide. You’ll travel with someone who sincerely loves their home country, loves their job and genuinely cares about you as our guests. We are proud to be able to provide a starting block to women in Mongolia. We invite you as our guests to become a part of this philosophy.

   **We employ ten male drivers and knows each one personally. Their English may be limited and they are not necessarily modern urban types – more the traditional strong and silent type – but they are superb at navigating the Mongolian roads. (Often older or more traditional men are 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.) If you take the time to get to know them, you’ll see why we employ them. As well as handling the challenges of the roads, they 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 – improvise!

Meet Our Team
Our Local Long Term Community Partnerships

We work with a network of local families throughout the country. These are long-term local community partnerships we have built up over the 15 years+  we have been based here. These are also our own personal friendships.

We never ask a family to change their daily living for us.  We do not try to change Mongolians or their way of life for our/your own benefit or comfort. We don’t ask them to change their daily schedule or to put on an ‘act’ as this would lead to a contrived experience. Nothing is planned in any program, because we do not disturb the rhythm of life of the working families visited. We are just trying to share / experience  a portion of their life (also rarely wear a watch let alone work to an agenda!).

Our Community Partnerships
What Is The Tour Vehicle?
  • The 4×4 Russian Furgon / UAZ van (not jeep). Our Furgons are driver-owned but we support the drivers with maintenance fees.
  • Each vehicle has its own simple mobile kitchen, its own sunshade, a small library as well as a 220v inverter/charger. We only put a maximum of three to four guests per vehicle.
  • Each Furgon has a high wheel-base, ample luggage space, a sociable layout with forward and backward facing seats, surround side windows and most importantly, impressive off-road capability.
  • As is typical with all Furgons, due to the design of the vehicle, seat-belts are not available (2021 although we’re working on it for 2022. Get in touch for details if you’re concerned) but our Furgons are fitted with grab handles in the passenger area.
What Are The Meals Like?
  • Included meals will be provided mainly by the local team team. Since each of our vehicles contains a kitchen, it offers considerable freedom and flexibility. It also allows for picnic lunches en-route (and gives you lots of time to stretch their legs and do a little exploring). 
  • The majority of Mongolians eat meat and for Mongolia’s herders it is an essential part of their diet. Due to the remote locations and the lack of facilities, there will naturally, but occasionally, be limitations in place. (If you’re the type of person that must have five pieces of fruit a day then you may struggle.) But you can count on meals that will be tasty and filling. The team is encouraged to purchase local seasonal produce to help support each community we pass en-route. Also, we take food miles into consideration so do not expect kale smoothies or Thai curries or paella or Chinese stir fry. We just provide honest, heartening grub. You may see a pineapple in one of the markets but, no! We won’t necessarily buy it! 
  • We make every effort to cater to those with dietary requirements. However, you are personally responsible for providing clear information regarding dietary needs so we can help you to understand well in advance what you might realistically expect. There will be ample room on the booking form for you to convey these details. 
  • In Ulaanbaatar, there is a wide range of local Mongolian restaurants and international options. There are Japanese, Italian, Indian, Ukrainian, French, Mexican, American and even North Korean restaurants to name a few. Vegetarians are well represented, too, with a surprising number of meat-free, vegan restaurants. Most pubs and bars also serve food.
Being Vegetarian in Mongolia
What About Drinking Water?

In rural areas in Mongolia, there is no running water. Since recycling is extremely limited in Mongolia, we do not buy bottled water. Instead, the local team travels with two 20l containers per vehicle and collect drinking water from the small town drinking water stations and filter it for your consumption. You will need to bring a resusable water bottle with you. We provide a detailed packing list on booking.

Our Partnership With Water-To-Go
Toilet Breaks When Driving

Regular toilet breaks are taken during road transfers. There are limited public facilities available (none) so we provide a small trowel and plastic bags. You can either take the trowel and dig a small hole (in which you can leave the toilet paper and then re-cover with the soil) or place your toilet paper into the small bag and place the bag into the main rubbish. We do not burn the paper – arid conditions, a strong breeze and grassland do not make for a good mix!

Providing Toilets In Tourism
Accommodation - Family Operated Ger Accommodation & Homestays
  • As much as possible we use rural family operated ger accommodation. We prefer to support this local form of accommodation as it helps provide a supplementary income and extra financial security for them meaning they are one step further away from having to consider urban migration.
  • These are all families we work in long-term local community partnership with – we NEVER turn up unannounced and we never just turn up to a herding family demanding accommodation.
  • The circumstances and type of ger accommodation provided will change from family to family. Consider them as small rural businesses NOT rustic luxury homestays. Be prepared for a variety of standards. Please remember 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!
  • You should have your own private ger either to share as a group but we don’t offer exclusivity as this limits the income of the families so do expect other westerners during peak times.We try to get the right balance but during peak season please accept that you might see other westerners
  • Toilets (Familes & Homestays) – Some will be better than expected. Some will be worse than expected. Most will outside long (or short) drop Asian style and if it is at a family home then the toilet will be shared by you and the family. The toilets are not there to disgust you – this is the reality of life on the ground.
  • Showers (Familes & Homestays) – Most Mongolians visit the local town shower house. So this is what you do as well. It gives you an introduction to real daily life for a majority of Mongolians in both urban and rural areas as well as a hot shower. You get your own private cubicle with plenty of hot water. Queue with the locals and enjoy experiencing a little of their daily way of life- Most Mongolians visit the local town shower house. So this is what you do as well. It gives you an introduction to real daily life for a majority of Mongolians in both urban and rural areas as well as a hot shower. You get your own private cubicle with plenty of hot water. Queue with the locals and enjoy experiencing a little of their daily way of life
Accommodation - Tent Camps
  • Not all itineraries include tent camping. Please check your itinerary.
  • We use VANGO Hurricane or Nemesis tents. There is also always a kitchen tent and also a toilet tent.  However, this is not the same as a 5* safari in Africa!
  • When camping, we do not camp too close to family gers as this intrudes on their privacy. However, local life is only a short walk away. If you like landscapes then you will love our campsites.
Accommodation - Tourist Ger Camps
  • If requested and in some locations (such as Khovsgol), we do offer accommodation at ger camps. We don’t book the most luxurious or the most exclusive. Instead, we choose the ones that we think work best for you and your style of trip as well as the locations you are visiting.
  • There WILL be times during your journey when the availability of certain amenities at these ger camps may be lacking. The reasons for this can be varied – low season; high season; electricity/generator problems; remote locations; the simple fact that some amenities are only catered for between certain times of the day. Examples of this could be a ger camp having a lack of hot water, or only having hot water at certain times.
  • Lighting in the evening at some places may be by candle-light, and electricity may not be available.
Accommodation - Local Hotels
  • We don’t use hotels in all itineraries.
  • Where we do use a hotel, it is locally owned – built for the passing Mongolian trade rather than for western visitors so they have been built with the local population in mind so they are not corporate chains. However, one or two will pleasantly surprise you.
  • Why do we do this? It brings money and support into the local communities.  As well as staying at the hotel we eat in local restaurants and buy our tour produce from the local market so you get a more real insight into the way of life for the locality.

We are members of Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency which requires us to publish an annual Climate Action Plan. As part of our plan we carbon offset all domestic flights.

Although carbon offsets are far from imperfect and not the whole answer, they make a difference. Emissions per kilometer for domestic flights are always much higher because such a large proportion of the flight is spent taking off and landing. With this in mind, as a company, we will be calculating the offset for all domestic flights used by our guests and paying the offset to buy 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. 

Blog posts to inspire & connected with our Mongolian Conservation And Research Expedition

COVID-19 - Book With Flexibility & Confidence - Learn More
Sign up to our Newsletter

Written by Jess - the founder of Eternal Landscapes - there's no spam, no sharing your details and no random offers. It goes out once or twice a month. Hopefully enough to be of interest but not too much to annoy.

We respect your privacy.