Riding a motorcycle on rough rocky jeep tracks across Central Mongolia is a truly exciting experience and one that will lead you to appreciate the beauty and variety in the Mongolian landscape, as well as give you the chance to experience the ancient nomadic lifestyle. Off-road motorbike experience is required because the roads outside Ulaanbaatar city are rarely black-topped but usually pot-holed hard-pack or rocky trails.
The group size will be small, not more than 9 people. This reduces the impact we have both socially and environmentally.
The furthest place on this tour, the White Lake, is within a national park which is a wilderness area under State protection because of its historical, cultural and environmental value. It is divided into two zones: (i) ecotourism zone in which tourism, fishing and some plant gathering is allowed, and (ii) limited use zone where domesticated animals are allowed to graze with park permission. The National Park covers 28 square kilometres and includes the Khorgo volcano and the lake. It has been protected since 1965 to safeguard spectacular mountain scenery and endangered flora and fauna.
On entering the National Park we are obliged to purchase a special permit for each tourist (already included in price of tour). The fee contributes towards the following services: (i) provision of information on legislation and security activities of the protected areas, (ii) regulation of camping places, (iii) to provide tourists with information, brochures, booklets and warnings, (iv) garbage disposal.
All accommodation on tour is at ger camps, authentic ger tents set up for tourists and furnished with beds and a stove, with toilet and washing facilities on the site. The ger camps are owned, and have been developed by, local entrepreneurs and the staff are all people from the vicinity or students from town, who benefit greatly from the opportunity to get a modest cash income during the short tourist season. Some of the ger camps use solar power to heat water for hot showers. Each ger has a wood-burning stove which staff will light if requested. We discourage our clients from using this facility if it is not very cold because the fuel used is trees cut down in the nearby forests.
Travelling by motorbike means that you will take yourself through this country, directly exposed to the terrain and the weather conditions. When you meet local people you do so on the same level, not just as foreigners passing through in the relative comfort of a vehicle, but as someone who has chosen to experience the real thing. Yet unlike cycling, horse riding or hiking, you can get to see an enormous part of Mongolia in a relatively short space of time.
We have a strict set of guidelines, enforced by our experienced staff, which are intended to minimize any negative environmental impact caused by motorbikes. Each person booking on the trip must read and agree to follow our “Guidelines on Motorbike Tours”. This includes the following sections:
"Our off-road motorcycle trips are intended to be a positive experience for all involved. The tour is not a race or competition and dangerous riding will not be tolerated. All participants are expected to respect the culture, nature and people of Mongolia."
"It is our duty to travel through Mongolia without damaging its pristine environment, nor disrupting the lives of the local population and their animals. Sometimes we will be riding through National Parks and Natural Reserves where flora is protected by law. Sharp braking or spinning wheels will be frowned upon by the locals and damage the reputation of the Company. Arrival at camp signals the end of the riding day. Please do not continue riding round the area wasting petrol and damaging the ground."
"Most of the roads we travel on are not black-topped, but clear trails are obvious. Straying away from the tracks risks damage to the environment and the motorcycle. Places which are or have been inhabited by nomadic families are likely to be surrounded by rubbish such as metal or bones which can easily damage the tyres. Additionally, if you divert from the trail to an area that cannot be accessed by the support vehicle, it will be difficult to rescue you in case of accident."
When passing through Tsetserleg town we visit a felt making project with demonstrations of how felt is made on a small scale and can buy felt products made for the tourist market. This project has been set up to create employment for local people, to educate tourists on this traditional craft, and to increase the income from tourism. The restaurant that we use in this town is the result of another successful project intended specifically to provide employment in a town where many people do not have jobs. Some of the ger camps have a small shop where they sell paintings, traditional clothing, carvings and other crafts, made during the winter months by people in the area. Our tourists are encouraged to buy souvenirs in these places as they are genuine mementos of the holiday and will certainly help to support the families of the shop owner and the craftsman.
The staff on this tour are all Mongolian and their salaries make a considerable financial difference to their families. Unemployment in Mongolia is high and for those employed by the State, salaries are low. People joining this tour will enjoy the riding, the country and the people in the knowledge that they are making a positive contribution to the local economy.
The company is owned and run by Mongolians with small offices in Mongolia, UK and Germany. The itinerary for this trip, and indeed the whole brochure, can be downloaded from our website, reducing the need for printing in most cases. Upon booking a tour, clients are given a Tour Dossier which includes a section on attitudes and behaviour. We explain some of the most important issues so that tourists will not be embarrassed nor locals offended. During the tour, the leader or interpreter will educate the group on the more important points of Mongolian etiquette so that everyone feels more comfortable when we enter a local home or temple.