Mongolia cultural holiday & Naadam Festival
How Mongolia cultural holiday & Naadam Festival makes a difference
We are a joint Mongolian-English partnership of two and our passion is Mongolia - one of the most spectacular, fascinating and welcoming countries in the world. Mongolia can provide you with an incredible holiday, one with a real difference. However, we believe that travel has to be beneficial to all concerned - a positive experience for both you, the visitor, and for Mongolia – its natural environment, people, culture and traditions.
Unlike a majority of the larger tour companies, where small group travel can mean being in a group of up to 12-18 people, when we say small group travel this is what we mean. Our group sizes are kept small - a maximum of eight. Experiences become more personal and authentic for you and more respectful towards the environment and the local families and communities. We are not an overwhelming presence.
Travelling with Respect: Welcome Pack/Code of Conduct:
Things are done differently in countries in which we travel. This is partly why we love to visit other countries. We provide a Welcome Pack to each client on arrival in Mongolia and one is available in each vehicle. The aim of the pack is help enhance your personal experience of Mongolia, ensure you receive the warmest welcome and help you to connect with the people of Mongolia in a positive way – it covers language, culture, local traditions and values. It also provides guidelines as to how you, as our guest, can help us contribute to travelling responsibly in Mongolia.
With the Welcome Pack we provide a handmade re-usable shopping. Made by one of the local projects that we support, we ask clients to make a concerted effort to use it rather than adding to the excess of used plastic bags.
Our itineraries and departures:
Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures for each of our itineraries – between one and three per season. Mongolia is a country of incredibly diverse yet fragile ecosystems. By limiting our presence in certain areas, we help to preserve and protect these highly sensitive areas and help to avoid the area changing environmentally due to repeated and extended exposure to tourism.
We are not a ‘world specialist’; we concentrate on the country we know and love – Mongolia. We design each itinerary ourselves (whether they are small group journeys or individually created for tailor-made clients) and do not source our itineraries from other agents. Each year we continue our research, which helps us to provide journeys that venture beneath the surface of this glorious country.
The research allows us to meet herding families local to the individual areas, who we then rent horses or camels from on the itineraries specific to that area or use as local guides on our treks, thereby helping clients to understand the area from a local perspective and making a positive contribution directly to the families. In addition, we meet the local rangers of the protected areas and nature reserves (many who receive low incomes and whose budgets, for the protection of the local area, are minimal). Where possible, we integrate a walk with or visit to a ranger into each itinerary (so that clients benefit from specialised knowledge of the local area and the rangers from an additional income).
Visits to local families:
Encountering families in the vast distances of the Mongolian countryside is a true educational experience and an integral part of your visit to Mongolia. However, part of our travel philosophy is to allow you to gain an understanding but without being intrusive and impacting too greatly on the families daily lives. Visits to local families are spontaneous and not contrived experiences and any visits are kept short. Any gift is handed over at an appropriate time and in an appropriate manner – we always say thank you for hospitality with a box of essentials – such as salt, sugar, matches, oil and candles.
Other Environmental Initiatives:
Where possible we try to use paper products that come from FSC renewable sources and use recycled paper for printing and double-sided print for multiple sheets. We always re-use scrap paper in the form of notebooks. All paper is recycled at the end of its office use. We do not leave electronic equipment on/on standby overnight and avoid printing/sending documents and itineraries to clients, (we use email and try to put as much information as possible on our website).
Our visits to the national parks and protected areas of Mongolia can bring economic benefits as our entrance fees contribute to maintenance and conservation. As visitors we benefit from the natural beauty but must be aware of, and manage, our own level of impact - we are visitors and must respect Mongolia’s natural environment.
Wildlife: We often include walks at sunrise, as this is one of the best times to see wildlife in its natural habitat. We ensure that clients keep their distance, use binoculars if they have them and use a lens when taking photos of animals rather than approaching too closely. We make sure we avoid any nesting or breeding sites. We ask all clients not to have their photo taken with ‘wild’ animals often found at sights with high tourist numbers. These animals are often taken from the wild when they are very young and are often mistreated.
We do not include camel or horse treks in our itineraries in the early spring months of the season (April and early May) when the animals are often still weak from the long winter and harsh spring winds.
Waste: We ensure that only minimal packaging/plastic is taken on tour, into the countryside, and encourage clients to bring re-chargeable batteries (we ask that clients using disposable batteries take them home to recycle them where re-cycling facilities exist). All litter is carried with us until we can dispose of it in a responsible manner (we do not bury or burn it).
We collect any recyclable waste, such as glass bottles, and hand it over for local recycling when we reach a town with recycling options available. Empty plastic bottles are saved and handed over to nomadic herders (who use the bottles for their milk products) – they live in a largely cashless economy and the plastic containers are very useful to them.
Water: This is a colossal issue in most tourist destinations including Mongolia. We ask our clients to remember that in certain areas economical use is necessary – we must be sensitive as to how we use the local water sources. If camping, we camp downstream of any local communities so we do not pollute their water sources. Our camp toilets are dug at least 200ft away from any water source. We ensure that no-one washes themselves or their clothes directly in a water source.
We carry sturdy and reusable 20 litre water containers from which clients refill their own individual bottles that they retain for the entire trip (we encourage clients to travel with a reusable water bottle – either a collapsible plastic pouch or a sturdy aluminium bottle).
Ger Camps: When we do overnight at a family homestay our visits are not forced on the host families.
Large tourist ger camps use a lot of local precious resources and do not necessarily benefit the local community as many are privately owned. On the occasions that we do stay at a tourist ger camp we try to ensure that it has evidence of at least one operational environmental based initiative (such as solar panel provided electricity) or it employs local people from the area who benefit greatly from the opportunity to get a modest income during the short tourist season.
Our Campsites: Where possible, we use only existing campsites, keep them small and, if required, we always ask permission of local families or park rangers. We carry all litter with us until we can dispose of it in a responsible manner, removing any litter left by others (to the best of our ability). We ensure that we leave our campsites in a better condition than we found them.
Camp Fires: We do not have a campfire every night, we use existing fire rings and keep the fire small. We use only fallen dead wood and only where there is a plentiful supply - there must be enough for local usage. The fire is always put out at night and we do not burn any plastic or metal on our campfires.
Community Projects: Mongolia has been independent since the break-up of the Soviet Union. With independence came many social issues such as unemployment, leading to the disintegration of the family structure, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.
These are still relevant issues in Mongolia today. In addition, the extreme climate of Mongolia can lead to harsh and savage winters that often lead to herders becoming destitute due to the loss of their entire livestock. This situation often results in urban relocation as the herders search for any form of employment. With unemployment already high, they face continued hardship but now in alien conditions and circumstances.
Part of our philosophy is to support local projects that help Mongolians to help themselves. We make a donation from our profits (per person that books) to each project that we support (one environmental, one cultural and one social) and can show real evidence of this. In addition, we purchase hand-made items from these projects to give to our clients as a thank-you gift.
A Fair Deal: We operate as a team and we each receive a fair and responsible salary in relation to the work we do when we are on tour – decided by us as a team. No-one has to rely on a tipping system to supplement their income and each driver is provided extra funds to help with the maintenance of their vehicles – they are not expected to pay for this out of their wage. Mongolian herders have an inherent respect for their environment, however, elsewhere in Mongolia, ‘green thinking’ is only just emerging. As a result, we train as a team concerning travelling responsibly and awareness of environmental issues relevant to Mongolia.
Keeping it Local: We make a constant effort to support local businesses. We use a Mongolian owned hotel in UB, we buy Mongolian produce for the meals on the tour (and not just in UB, we ‘stock-up’ in the smaller towns that we pass through) and we use locally owned restaurants both in UB and in the countryside. We ask clients to avoid purchasing mass produced items and support traditional crafts by buying direct from local artisans who they will meet en-route.
Mongolia cultural holiday & Naadam Festival