This trek is in the remote north west of Mongolia, an area of the country rarely visited by tourists because of its location and lack of facilities. The local people have little chance to cash in on the benefits of tourism, so this is a real opportunity to make a difference to the lives of a few nomadic herdsmen who live in an almost cashless economy. We take a local guide and a few helpers who bring their own horses and camels to carry the luggage and equipment. This is the normal means of transport in these mountains where there are no roads and the people need to move frequently with their herds to find new grazing land. They are paid a fair wage and the money that they make on this tour will go a long way towards the purchase of another camel for their herd.
It is possible that you will meet the warden of the Mount Turgen Strictly Protected Area. He lives with his young family in a ger at the entrance of the valley and ensures that local people with herds of domesticated animals will not pass as they will cause destruction of the wonderful plant life and reduce the population of rare species. Snow leopards live in these mountains and the warden claims to have had about 50 sightings during his 20 year career here. His wife and daughters make small felt snow leopards to sell to anyone who occasionally passes by. This is the only shopping opportunity on this tour, apart from the time spent in Ulaanbaatar city.
When hiking in the national park in the region of Mount Kharkhiraa and Turgen we are obliged to pay to the warden a “Protected Areas Service Fee” on behalf of each tourist (already included in price of tour). The fee contributes towards the following services: (i) introduction of the activities of the information centre and eco-ger and provision of information on legislation and security activities of the protected areas, (ii) regulation of camping places in these areas, (iii) to provide tourists with information, brochures, booklets and warnings, (iv) garbage disposal.
During the trek we camp in Western-style tents as there is no other choice of accommodation in this remote area. Our staff understand the need to leave no trace behind them and all rubbish is carried to the end of the trek where we can dispose of it properly. Local people are interested – and pleased – to see that we take the effort to carry rubbish so far to avoid spoiling their beautiful environment. Our tourists tend to show a very good example to the locals, whose experience of non-biodegradable-rubbish is very limited. Also trekkers are instructed before arrival in Mongolia of the requirement for biodegradable soap, shampoo, etc. because washing is often in rivers.
The group size will be small, between 4 and 12 people. This reduces the impact we have both socially and environmentally.
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.