Mongolia mountain biking tours

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2017: 1 Jun
Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Mongolia mountain biking tours

Cycling through Mongolia on rough jeep tracks and trails is a marvellous way to enjoy this unspoilt country. We ride through areas rarely visited by tourists and there are often no hotels, guest houses or shops for several days of the trail. In fact for much of the journey there are no permanent buildings at all. The local people are nomadic, living in ger tents, a hardy self-sufficient nomadic lifestyle that has changed little since the days of Genghis Khan.

The group size will be small, usually not more than 12 people, to reduce the impact we have both socially and environmentally. We camp in Western-style tents for the first few days, using river water for washing (biodegradable soap is a must and at the time of booking clients are given a full list of what to bring). A pit latrine is set up at each camping place and toilet paper is burned before we leave. We travel with a Mongolian cook who serves Mongolian and European food using mainly ingredients produced in Mongolia with a few luxury items imported from Europe like Dutch cheese.

Our staff understand the need to leave no trace behind them and all rubbish is carried with us until 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 good example to the locals, whose experience of non-biodegradable-rubbish is very limited.

The Mongolian people we meet along the way never look surprised to see a group of lycra-clad foreigners on bicycles whizzing past. Sometimes they will invite us in for tea and yoghurt. The tradition of hospitality and sharing of news by passing travellers is normal within the culture and not viewed by the hosts as an imposition, however many people are in the group. We suggest to our clients that they bring photographs of their own homes to show and small gifts such as souvenirs from their own town or a Polaroid camera as Mongolians like to have photos of themselves to keep. According to the situation, we may give a suitable amount of money to the host family. This would be done by the tour leader only and is taken to be a gift rather than payment for services given.

In the town of Tsetserleg we stay in a guest house / restaurant that was set up a few years ago as a project specifically designed to create jobs for local townspeople. 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, to educate tourists on this traditional craft, and to increase the income from tourism.

At the end of the Gobi Desert and Khangai mountain bike tour we spend the last night at a traditional ger camp in Kharkhorin. Here authentic ger tents have been set up for tourists and furnished with beds and a stove, with toilet and washing facilities on the site. The ger camp is owned by a local entrepreneur who is himself from Kharkhorin. 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. 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.

At the ger camp there is 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 here as they are genuine mementos of the holiday and will certainly help to support the families of the shop owner and the craftsmen.

At the end of the Bulgan mountain bike tour we spend the last night in the valley of Amarbayasgalant, probably the best preserved Buddhist monastery in the country outside Ulaanbaatar. There is a small shop where one can buy religious paraphernalia like written prayers, incense and ceremonial blue silk scarves (“khatag”). Actually this is the only shopping opportunity of the tour apart from a few village stores where one can purchase sweets, drinks and local essentials like washing soap and matches.

The staff on these tours 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.

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