Trip Details – National Parks and Nature Reserves – Small Group Trip

‘It was a fabulous experience and your team is absolutely amazing. It seems like everyday brought a new wow thing to me. I had the chance to live unexpected and rich moments with Mongols and to discover beautiful landscapes.  This trip has a huge and deep impact on me.’ Séverine Baptiste -Blanchart, NPNR
‘I really like what you’re doing in Mongolia and congratulate you on creating such a great business.’ Grenville Smith, NPNR

Image: EL guest Mandy Wong

  • Start Date – August 27th 2022
  • Duration – 16 Days
  • Maximum Group Size 6
  • Accommodation – Homestays, family ger camps, local hotels, 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.

The remote Baldan Bereeven Khiid Monastery. It is a tough drive to get here so don't just come for an hour. Stay a day and make the most of the tranquillity.

Image: EL guest Severine B

Roughly 17% of Mongolia’s landmass has some form of national environmental protection with a focus on this increasing this up to 30%. A further 10% has local protected area status. This trip brings you into contact with some of the less-visited national parks and nature reserves in the country. The vast landscapes of Mongolia’s middle Gobi and the mountain forest-steppe of Khentii provide the backdrop on this active adventure where you will experience the striking raw natural beauty and traditional and 21st-century ways of Mongolia. By visiting two contrasting regions – Gobi and Khentii – you will leave with a better understanding of the diversity of the people and their way of life, the landscapes, and wildlife in Mongolia.

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
    Local lunch and welcome drink
    Travel: Free transfer

Day Two & Three – 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  exploring independently. We usually also plan a short safari with Batbold the protected area ranger but this does depend on his own schedule.

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 Two – 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 Four – Ikh Gazriin Chuluu | Gobi Desert

Ikh Gazriin Chuluu rock formations- Dundgobi Aimag, Mongolia

Ikh Gazriin Chuluu is characterised by extensive granite rock formations and surrounded by steppe and semi-desert habitat with local protection. The views between the rock formations and expansive and this provides a great location to explore as well as just to relax and soak up the solitude.

  • 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 150km on asphalt and dirt road (approx 6 hours driving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

Day Five – Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project | Gobi Desert

Travel to and explore the provincial capital of Mandalgobi including enjoying an informal stay at the Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project – a small, family run, non-profit conservation project that has been operating since 1975.

Why Do We Stay Here?

Gobi Oasis is a small tree-planting nursery project established by Byamba Tseyen in her hometown of Mandalgobi, Dundgobi in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia in 1975. For over 40 years, Byamba – the driving force behind the Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project, a retired forest engineer and local conservationist – has been leading this conservation project by growing small seeds & branches, and nurturing them in harsh conditions, before replanting them in areas in desperate need for defence against desertification.

Each group typically plants one tree at the nursery – EL and our guests have now planted over 120 of our own trees – species which are native to the desert – which represents around 3% of the total number of trees planted at Gobi Oasis.

As well as planting your own tree, we make a substantial donation per person for their visit and this payment will go towards the work of Gobi Oasis.

You will stay as the guests of Byamba and Radnaa – the founders of Gobi Oasis. Urnaa is their daughter-in-law and she will be your main host. She enjoys interaction with her guests and likes when they help her to prepare the evening meal.

 

  • Accommodation: Comfortable ger (at homestay in town). Sit down drop outside toilet. Hot shower available at the local town shower house – your own private cubicle with plenty of hot water. Queue with the locals and enjoy experiencing a little of their daily way of life
Homestay Mandalgobi Mongolia

Image: EL guest Brett Seychell

  • Meals: B/L/D
  • Travel: Approx 75km on dirt and asphalt road (roughly 3 hours driving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

Day Six & Seven – Erdenedalai Homestay | Gobi Desert 

Erdenedalai is our secret. Far from the ‘highlights,’ the ‘must sees,’ and large tour groups it is a beautiful region little visited by other international visitors. And that’s exactly why we make it one of our bases. It’s great for slow travel experiences of a more immersive kind.

Our community in Erdenedalai

Image: EL guest Joyanne Horscroft

Erdenedalai is Mongolian for ‘Jewel Ocean’ and although far from the ocean this tight-knit and traditional community located in the middle of the Gobi steppe provides a genuine insight into everyday life in Mongolia.

Even though annual precipitation in this area is low, with no permanent lakes and very few springs, roughly 5880 herder households make their home in this transition zone between steppe and desert. It is a beautiful region little visited by other international visitors as it’s not considered a highlight by guidebook writers or tour companies. And that’s exactly why we make it one of our bases. As mentioned, it’s great for slow travel experiences of a more immersive kind. Although just wide-stretching semi-desert steppe, the views are expansive.

This is the first of EL’s own ger homestays in partnership with the herding families of Erdenedalai. We focused on a region little visited by other western groups as this meant our support would have more impact. The income raised from this homestay provides an additional income to the herding families that host you during your stay. We work side by side with the family making sure our experiences are put together in a way that benefits the families, rather than disrupting their lives. As our guest, you benefit from a more intimate and genuine experience.

      • Accommodation: With Nergui herding family. Hot shower available at the local town shower house – your own private cubicle with plenty of hot water. Queue with the locals and enjoy experiencing a little of their daily way of life
Ger Interior Mongolia

Image: EL guest Severine.B

      • Meals: B/L/D
      • Travel: Day Six: Approx 110km total on dirt road (roughly 3-4 hours driving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

Day Eight & Nine – Gorkhi Terelj National Park

Herding family (Naraa & Bujee) - Gorkhi Terelj National Park

Drive out Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. It’s a long drive so rather than seeing this transfer day as a bore of a drive, adjust your way of thinking and see it as a Mongolian road trip. True, it will feel like a long day on the road but we break it up with a picnic lunch where you can stop for a while and take in the view. We recommend removing your watch and let the day and the journey unfold. Do not spend time in the van thinking ‘when will we get there’- you are already there; surrounded by the beauty that is Mongolia.

Although Terelj has a feeling of being over-developed (the main valley was first developed for tourism in 1964 with most continuing construction not having planning permission) and built up it remains a stunning area of magnificent alpine scenery which is still a joy to explore. You’ll transfer directly to your accommodation provided by herding family Naraa and Bijee.

You will notice that we don’t detail what you will do on your free day – that’s because we do things a little differently and leave the plan open as this leads to a more respectful experience for the family and a more flexible and relaxed experience for you as our guests. We have many ideas including experiencing the local way of life, an informal cookery lesson or just quietly enjoying the gentle natural beauty of the area. We can also arrange a horse trek or day hikes with a picnic lunch accompanied by your EL trip assistant and your Gorkhi-Terelj herder host – Naraa (or his son). Although the main valley is developed, the backcountry offers a diverse and wild landscape perfect for getting away from it all for a few hours.

Tsindee At Gorkhi Terelj National Park

Image: EL guest Julian Elliott

  • Accommodation: Simple private ger at family ger camp (4-5 guest gers). Asian style sit down outside toilet . No showers.
  • Meals: B/L/D
  • Travel: Day Eight – Roughly 280km on asphalt /dirt road to UB (approx 5 hours diving time not including stops) then roughly 100km on dirt and asphalt road to Terelj (approx 2 hours driving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

Staying With The Naraa Family

A Mongolian ger - Gorkhi Terelj National Park in summer in your guide to Mongolia's seaons

Your ger accommodation is provided by Naraa and Bujee – herders that move twice a year. They live approximately 10km from the main developed area across the Terej River in an area of gentle beauty.  Staying at their accommodation provides a great insight into how herders are adapting  – setting up micro-businesses as a way of substituting their income.

Crossing the Terelj River is challenging for vehicles. Instead, the EL team will bring you to the river, you’ll cross by the footbridge, and Naraa or Bujee will be on the other side ready to take you (you, your luggage, the EL equipment, and your EL team) using their small truck to their ger camp.

Where Naraa and Bujee’s schedule and the weather (!) allows, they’ll replace the vehicle with a yak or horse cart. Your luggage and the equipment go on the cart and you’ll just following the peaceful tempo of the cart to your accommodation (5km).

Day Ten & Eleven – Baldan Bereeven Khiid | Öglögchiin Wall | Khentii Aimag

The remote Baldan Bereeven Khiid Monastery. It is a tough drive to get here so don't just come for an hour. Stay a day and make the most of the tranquillity.

Image: EL guest Severine.B

Head into Khentii – named for the Khentii Mountains that dominate the north west of this province.  Due to the lack of a ‘touchable’ history is it easy to be persuaded that Mongolia is actually short on history. It is definitely not – Mongolia is an ancient land and has a rich and varied history. However, the country only offers a hint at the flow of peoples and the cultures that have preceded modern Mongolia.

The region hosts a number of cultural heritage sites demonstrating an evolving sacred cultural landscape. It is home to the Buriat ethnic group.

You’ll camp close to Baldan Bereeven Khiid Monastery – which would have once been the centre of local life for a population whose faith and devotion more than made up for the simplicity and the challenging remote life-style. 

You’ll also explore what is thought to be one of the burial sites of the direct lineage of Chinggis Khan (Öglögchiin Wall).

Image: EL guest Mandy Wong

      • 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. No showers.
      • Meals: B/L/D
      • Travel:
      • Day Ten – Roughly 150km on dirt road (Approx 5-6 hours driving time without stops but t the road conditions can be challenging especially after rain. Consider this day about the journey as much as the destination). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions
      • Day Eleven – Roughly 115km on dirt road (Approx 4 hours driving time without stops but t the road conditions can be challenging especially after rain. Consider this day about the journey as much as the destination). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

Day Twelve & Thirteen – Dadal | Onon Balj National Park | Khentii Aimag

The Onon-Balj National Park. Ditch your watch and head out to pastures new on a horse trek. The only way to explore this remarkable area with its wild wilderness spaces.

Image – EL guest Severine.B

Explore the area known as the birthplace of Genghis Khan. The whole region is principally used for livestock grazing and hay making, with many small-scale farms growing wheat, barley and oats.

Dadal is an attractive small community on the border of the Onon-Balj National Park. Genghis Khan’s birthplace believed to lie at confluence of the Onon and Balk rivers at Delüün Boldog – 3km north of Bayan-Ovoo (the centre of Dadal district) in the Delüün Boldog hills. You can also visit the (very small) Khajuu Bulag mineral water spring, where it is said the great man once drank.

You will cross the mighty Onon River using the birvaz.  The what? The birvaz is one of our favourite inventions – a floating platform on a pulley system that crosses the river – used by locals with their motorbikes or in this case, by EL with our Furgon van. Tserendorj is the operator and crossing the river this way gives you time to discuss the weather, the state of the Mongolian economy and to count fish.

A birvaz ferry. One way to cross a Mongolian river

Image – EL guest Severine.B

      • Accommodation: Please be prepared to be flexible! It could be a tent, a local hotel or end of season ger camp accommodation. Hot shower available at the local town shower house – your own private cubicle with plenty of hot water. Queue with the locals and enjoy experiencing a little of their daily way of life
      • Meals: B/L/D
      • Travel: Day Twelve – Roughly 190km on dirt road (approx 5-6 hours driving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

Day Fourteen – Toson Hulstai Nature Reserve | Dornod Aimag

Demoiselle Crane Mongolia

Image: EL guest Marian Herz

Mongolia has the lowest human population density of any country in the world, and the Eastern Steppe has one of the lowest densities in Mongolia – few human settlements or fences interrupt this breathtaking landscape. As you depart Dadal, you will be entering into Dornod Aimag – Mongolia’s easternmost province and part of Mongolia’s Eastern Steppe, one of the largest expanses of unspoilt, temperate grassland in the world. Wild camp in the middle landscapes of Khentii Province.

This vast landscape is characterised by flat treeless plains, rolling hills and a significant number of important wetlands. The wilderness of the Eastern Steppe is home to one of the world’s last great populations of the Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa). Spend one evening at Toson Khulstai Nature Reserve – created to protect its native population of White Tailed Gazelle. In 2020, it became an UNESCO biosphere reserve which seek to reconcile human activity with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Although the immense Gazelle herds are frequently elusive we may be lucky enough to come across a smaller herd.

Wild camping Mongolia

Image: EL guest Mandy Wong

      • 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. No showers.
      • Meals: B/L/D
      • Travel: Roughly 200km on dirt road (approx 5-6 hours driving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

Day Fifteen – Chinggis (Ondorkhan) | Khentii Aimag

Provincial town Mongolia

Chinggis, the recently renamed Provincial capital of Khentii Aimag (previously it was Öndörkhan), might seem a strange choice to add to a tour focusing on Mongolia’s national parks and nature reserves. However, Chinggis Khan (after whom the capital is obviously named) sought to unite the whole world. Everyone, including himself, was subject to a code of laws including environmental protection.

Whilst in Chinggis, why not visit the excellent Ethnography Museum. It is housed in the 18th century home of the Tsetsen Khaan, a Mongol prince who governed most of eastern Mongolia during the Manchu reign. You can also stroll to the Kherlen River – the longest river of the eastern Daurian Steppe and the most remote source of the Amur River which drains into Pacific Ocean. The Kherlen river starts in the alpine zone of Khentii Mountain range and runs over a distance of  1,250 kilometers through cedar-pine forests, forest steppes and the vast Eastern steppes – all regions where Chinggis Khan grew up.

      • Accommodation: Local hotel – twin share with western facilities (maybe not en-suite)
      • Meals: B/L/D
      • Travel: Roughly 250km on dirt and asphalt road (approx 6 hours driving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

Day Sixteen – Return Ulaanbaatar

The Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue in Mongolia. It is 131ft high!

En-route back to Ulaanbaatar stop at Tsonjin Boldog – this is the remarkable statue of Chinggis Khan. All 131 ft of it! Yes, it is a tourist attraction but it’s a big draw for Mongolians as much as westerners and the view is spectacular – facing east overlooking his homeland.

Return back to UB where we’ll transfer you to your accommodation and the rest of the day will be yours to create your own experience. Remember you could use our UB guide to help you to explore the urban side of Mongolian life in downtown Ulaanbaatar. Alternatively, one of our trip assistants could be made available but please let us know in advance.

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

      • Accommodation: Your own choice of accommodation
      • Meals: B/L
      • Travel: Roughly 350km on asphalt road (approx 6-7 hours driving time not including stops). Averages of between 30 and 65 km/hr are usual but depend on road and weather conditions

The Small Details

For all of our small group trips I offer a sliding price scale. I 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$ 3035 pp
  • 3-5 Guests        US$ 2925 pp
  • 6 Guests           US$ 2610 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. 

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.

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 Meet Our Team
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 National Parks and Nature Reserves small group trip

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.