This Is Us 2013! – The Eternal Landscapes Team

Small Group Adventures in Mongolia – Tuesday’s Snapshot
December 10, 2013
Mongolia’s Gobi Desert – Tuesday’s Snapshot
December 17, 2013
In the winter months I go into review mode and as part of this winter’s review I am considering a new look blog and newsletter. The guy who is helping me asked about my love for Mongolia and why, out of all the roads I could have chosen, I followed this one. I mentioned that I couldn’t it without the loyalty and friendship of the team that I have  – here is a brief introduction to ‘us’ – the EL team!

‘Boss 1’ – Jess

A ‘selfie!’  – ‘Boss 1’  on our 2013 Wild Treks Research Trip at the Kazakh Eagle Festival, Bayan-Olgii

I oversee all aspects of the business. The winter months are spent re-evaluating, reviewing and adapting Eternal Landscapes. The summer is dedicated to running and overseeing our trips. Working as a senior tour leader for a leading adventure company brought me to Mongolia where I fell in love with the spirit of the country and the distinctive and unforgettable landscapes. Mongolia has made a home in my heart for the last 9 years.

I was inspired by the knowledge, understanding and pride of the Mongolian team that I worked with when I first arrived in Mongolia, and this motivated my to take their love of their home country and to use it in order to bring it to others within the concept of fair tourism. Fair for our clients, for my team and for Mongolia – its natural environment, people, culture and traditions.

I believe that local travel is the best form of travel. Yes, the amenities are minimal, the weather can be challenging and the roads at times difficult but ultimately it’s the time spent exploring the landscapes, meeting the locals and experiencing their way of life that is the most uplifting and enlightening.  Mongolia gives you time to think and gain a fresh perspective – it provides the perfect antidote to the rush and crowds of everyday life elsewhere.  

Of course, I couldn’t do it al on my own!

‘Boss 2’ and Lead Driver – Turuu

The ‘Boss 2’ with his beloved Furgon meeting new friends and contacts on the road. This time, having just crossed  the Onon River near Binder by the ‘birwaz’ ferry. Turuu’s Furgon becomes the EL mobile office and our home during the summer months.

Enktur is from Erdenedalai in Dundgobi Aimag – the ‘middle Gobi’. Turuu was the lead driver of a team of four drivers on my first ever trip that I led in Mongolia. From day one, his experience, input and the respect he has for his culture became an integral part of how I ran a tour.

He has a natural talent for driving, mechanics and improvisation. But, he also has a natural talent for heading a small team. Admittedly, he is at his happiest when faced with the freedom of the open road but he is also remarkably adept at being the second in command via mobile phone from a windswept campsite somewhere in Mongolia! 

Turuu is known throughout the drivers’ community as a great man – and all members of the EL team would agree with that too!

An EL style business meeting – Jargalant, Northern Mongolia

Turuu and I operate some of EL’s small group and tailor made adventures and, although it can prove a logistical challenge for us and will increasingly continue to do so, we both believe that being on the road allows us to stay in touch with the ‘real’ Mongolia and helps to keep our knowledge fresh. Our friendships with local people are genuine friendships – forged over time, mainly with tea, sometimes with vodka. This means we offer adventures that give that local perspective and our local knowledge and genuine love for the country underpins every one of the journeys that we design and offer.

However, two shoulders are not big enough so are slowly building our team.

Khaliunaa – ‘Annie’

Annie with her kilowatt smile!

Annie is a new mum, she is studying for a Masters in English whilst preparing to set up a new cafe business in UB (which I am very excited about). Annie was the translator on my first trip and we have been firm friends ever since. I like to call Annie the cog in the EL wheel – helping me with UB based jobs when I’m in the UK and providing vast reserves of support and friendship when I’m in Mongolia. Finger’s crossed, Annie will hopefully be working as one of our Trip Assistants on one or two of our shorter trips in June 2014. 

Second Drivers – ‘The Boys’
Our second drivers are of the ‘strong and silent’ type – but all with personalities the size of Mongolia itself. They all bring so much more to each trip than their role as a driver. Although their English can be limited, they are accomplished members of the EL team and just through their presence, they help to enhance our guests’ experience of Mongolia.

Turuu with Sandag and honoured (pink) guest! Sandag has been great friends with Turuu for many years and is a truly great Furgon driver who is always looking to improve his skills. We employ Sandag for his vast experience and knowledge and we love him for his loyalty.
Hasaa! New to EL in 2013,  Hasaa is delightfully kind with a stunning singing voice that stops you in your tracks. He may be our youngest driver, but the old traditions of rural Mongolia run deep with Hasaa. His home town is in the middle Gobi and when passing through he just loves to show off his new young family.
Ganba! Ganba has a gentle soul and is our very own gentle giant.  His Furgon van is his ‘home away from home’ and he always makes sure to offer the warmth of Mongolian hospitality even when on the bumpiest road.

The EL Trip Assistants – ‘The Girls’
Our trip assistants are not professionally trained guides but local women who have a genuine love for and connection with their country. Their main role is to act as a facilitator – to provide a link between our guests and all things Mongolian. They deeply love their country, are highly competitive at impromptu games of shagai (ankle bones), give great informal cooking lessons and genuinely care about our guests.

(Finger’s crossed, Gaya who runs Gaya’s Guesthouse in Kharkhorin will be joining the EL trip assistant team in 2014.)

Enkhee – collecting berries in the Orkhon Valley! Enkhee is from the small community of Chuluut in Arkhangai Aimag and although her base in now in UB, her genuine respect and love for rural Mongolia is an essential ingredient in all the adventures she works on. She worked as a translator with me when I first arrived in Mongolia and it makes me immensely proud that she is now working for EL as a trip assistant.

Selenge! We’re lucky to have Selenge as we are certain she is destined for  bigger things. Selenge works at the  International School of Ulaan Bataar. Her love is hiking and she especially loves exploring the Khovsgol region as this is where her family are originally from.


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