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.

Positive Impact Overview

  • Helping to create employment and development opportunities for our team of Mongolian female trip assistants. (We also employ a team of older, more traditional male drivers – helping to prevent them from becoming unemployed.)
  • EL will make a donation per traveller to the Hustai National Park Trust NGO helping to support their essential conservation work.
  • No domestic flights.
  • We measure the carbon footprint of the experience and balance the footprint of each traveller through the Mongolian Nomad Carbon Project. Helping to create employment and development opportunities for our team of Mongolian female trip assistants. (We also employ a team of older, more traditional male drivers – helping to prevent them from becoming unemployed.)
  • A group size of a maximum of six has been set in order to limit negative impacts on wildlife and its habitat.
  • The itinerary has been created and designed by Association Goviin Khulan – making sure to create local benefits for Mongolia’s wildlife and people such as contributing to community development in the areas where the project is conducted. For example, in the training of local guides and rangers supported by the Association Goviin Khulan.
  • As well as leading the expedition, Association Goviin Khulan receive a financial contribution for their essential work in protecting and conserving the endangered Mongolian Khulan and its natural habitat.

  • Start Date – June 11th 2023
  • Duration – 12 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.
  • COVID-19 – Book With Flexibility & Confidence. We have a comprehensive FAQ section.

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.

Detailed Day-To-Day Trip Breakdown

We are updating our experiences for 2023. A link to a downloadable guide to our Mongolian Conservation & Research Expedition will be coming soon. For now, please email or send a message through WhatsApp for details. Price details are below.

From Our Blog

Learn more about elements of our Gobi Conservation and Research Expedition from our blog posts.

Khamariin Khiid Monastery in Dorngobi Aimag – Mongolia’s East Gobi – is also considered an energy centre.

Learn more about the work of Assoication Goviin Khulan and also their hopes for conservation in Mongolia.

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.
  • We’re now offering a 10% discount in honour of World Wildlife Day on March 3rd 2023.

Group Size – Maximum of six. Minimum of two required for a guaranteed departure

  • 2 Guests         US$ 3885 pp US$ 3495
  • 3-4 Guests     US$ 3230 pp US$ 2905
  • 5 Guests         US$ 2800 pp US$ 2520
  • 6 Guests         US$ 2525 pp US$ 2275

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.

Take a look at our comprehensive FAQ section (including our flexible Covid cancellation policy) –

We are members of Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency and a signatory of The Glasgow Declaration which requires us to publish an annual Climate Action Plan. It also means we have essentially signed up to work towards halving our emissions by 2030 and reaching Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050. We must report publicly on an annual basis on progress against our interim and long-term targets, as well as on actions being taken.

One of the five pathways defined in the Glasgow Declaration is ‘measure’ and we have started the process of measuring the carbon footprint of our tours. We use the carbon calculator tool Carmacal – specifically designed for tour operators and 2017 winner of the UNWTO Award for Innovation in Research and Technology. We then measure the carbon output of the meals we provide on tour using and add this to the carbon total.  We then balance the footprint for each tour by purchasing Plan Vivo Foundation carbon certificates which are used to support the Plan Vivo Mongolian Nomad Project – working in partnership with the Mongolian Society of Range Management.

It’s not perfect, but it is a start. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and the way we measure the carbon footprint of our tours is manageable and achievable for us – a very small business with limited finance and resources.

We will be publishing the carbon footprint for each tour on each specific tour page but this will take a little time.

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