Responsible tourism: Highlights of Mongolia, small group tour
This tour travels through some very remote regions, many of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. The nature of this trip means that many nights are spent camping. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns. We use gas for cooking, but on occasions may use firewood – but only where this does not deplete natural resources and deprive local communities from using this themselves. Washing of dishes is carried out well away from any water sources so as not to contaminate them.
We visit the Gurvansaikhan National Park on this trip which provides a habitat for rare and endangered species such as the Gobi bear and snow leopard. We are careful to use tracks (where they exist) to avoid disturbing the flora and fauna of the region. Travellers are briefed on appropriate behaviour within the park and other areas.
In conjunction with our local team we work with the ger camps and hotels to help them to implement best practice in terms of environmental issues, from energy conservation to waste disposal.
We visit a community of Tsataan people on this trip, a traditional reindeer herding group who have been very much marginalised in the past. We are careful to ensure that we do not break any local taboos, and travellers are briefed on appropriate behaviour when visiting such groups. Our local team works in conjunction with the Tsataan Community and Visitor Centre, an organisation set up to promote the interests and well being of the Tsataan, and fees paid for the visit go directly to the Tsataan people themselves. The presence of tourism in such areas also helps to encourage the maintenance of traditions - in the face of competition from the modern world it helps to reinforce the idea that their customs have worth and should be maintained.
We also visit a number of historic and spiritual sites on this trip. Where entrance fees exist, the inclusion of these within our tour price helps to maintain them, not just for other western travellers but for local people for whom they hold far greater significance. We also use local guides in such places – again where available – which helps to ensure that remote communities can gain from tourism, however small this may be in the grand scheme of things.