North Mongolia holidays, tailor made

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Accessible tourism overview:
Mongolia is one of the largest and most remote countries in the world with a limited infrastructure in place. However, we work solely in Mongolia so have local knowledge and can provide support and guidance. Our trips can be organised with your own driver/guide and we can adjust our trips specifically to your individual needs but this is also dependent on the budget available. We are more than happy to take individual requests into consideration.
Limited mobility:
We have had guests with Parkinson’s, MS and also Prader Willi syndrome on both our small group and tailor made trips. However, we request clear guidelines in advance as to your needs and requirements before we accept the booking. Depending on the level of limited mobility, we might advise that you travel with a companion.
Blind or limited vision:
We are more than happy to cater for people who are blind or have limited vision - both our small group trips and tailor made trips are available to book if travelling with a sighted person. Our tailor made programmes can be adapted for ease of travel and to suit your needs. All pre departure information before the trip is provided in a written format but I am more than happy to go over these verbally by phone. Information in braille is not available in Mongolia which means all the information during the trip will be delivered verbally.
Deaf or limited hearing:
We are more than happy to cater for people who are deaf or who have limited hearing - both our small group trips and tailor made trips are available to book if travelling with a hearing person. Our tailor made programmes can be adapted for ease of travel and to suit your needs. Our guides are not trained in sign language however, hence why it would be useful to have a travelling companion who can sign.
Cognitive conditions:
We have had guests with Parkinson’s, MS and also Prader Willi syndrome on both our small group and tailor made trips. However, we request clear guidelines in advance as to your needs and requirements before we accept the booking. Depending on the severity of the condition, we might advise that you travel with a companion.
Free from food:
We can cater for vegetarians, vegans, gluten free and other specialist diets. However, travellers book knowing that their will be limitations in place due to what is available in Mongolia. We provide clear guidelines as to what style and type of meals we can provide so travellers know in advance what to expect.
LGBT:
We welcome everyone. Our teams of guides and drivers are open and welcoming people. We make you aware in advance of any challenges you may face in Mongolian culture which is still a traditional society.
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: North Mongolia holidays, tailor made

Environment

Always a tricky one this. We can promise you the world but how do we prove it? Responsible, sustainable or ethical travel - in recent years, it has developed many labels and is now a widely-used selling tool in the tourism industry. But, what does it mean? Although there is no real clear definition, it has to be more than ensuring that we collect all of our rubbish, asking before taking a photograph or being aware of the cultural norms. That’s what we should be automatically doing anyway.

Below are some of the elements of my responsible tourism philosophy for our tailor-made itinerary where we can show real evidence of our practice.

Our itineraries and departures :

Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures for each of our itineraries. Also, we do not concentrate specifically on one area.
Mongolia is a country of incredibly diverse yet fragile ecosystems. By limiting our presence in certain areas, we help to preserve and protect and help to avoid the area changing environmentally due to repeated and extended exposure to tourism.

Wherever we visit, supporting local is at the heart of what we do and at the centre of each experience we offer. By not focusing on one specific area, it also means that we help to support communities that might not otherwise benefit from the tourism industry.

Yes we visit areas where tourism has become more concentrated in Mongolia but this trip focuses on rural communities where local members such as Tsegmid are keen to work with and learn from international visitors.

Our trips also focus on 21st Century Mongolia - yes, you’ll get to experience the traditional way of life but at the same time gain an overview as what it means to be Mongolian in 21st Century Mongolia.

The people we work with are ‘real’ people. Not tourism professionals. You’ll meet people from Ulaanbaatar, you’ll meet herders, you’ll meet Mongolians that live in the provincial centres as well as the smaller town and rural communities. They are all Mongolians. Take time out to meet them.

Waste :

The disposal of rubbish is a major issue in Mongolia - especially with plastic. As part of our responsible tourism ethos I pay a local Mongolian NGO (Mongolian Quilting Centre) to make fabric tote bags for our guests which we hand out for free as a welcome pack at the start of each trip. This is a souvenir for our guests but it also helps to support the project and helps us to cut down on the waste we produce. As part of your Mongolia experience with us you will also receive such a tote bag.

Also, you can book knowing that we finance our own two-day rubbish collection at Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park in Mongolia. Arranged through the local community and protected area rangers, we have been organising this annual event since 2014.

Water :

First up, we do not provide bottled drinking water as apart from in the capital city, there is just no way to recycle the bottles. Instead, we take fresh drinking water from local water supply points. We provide two 20 litre water containers and provide a Lifesaver carbon filter and an Adventurer Steripen in each vehicle.
Also, for a majority of all of our trips, we do not use the typical tourist ger camps that often have very bad eco-credentials. Instead, we use a mix of accommodation and use the locally provided town shower houses. This is where a majority of Mongolia's rural population come to shower. They are small business enterprises operated for the local communities and a great way to support local, meet the locals and do as the locals do themselves. It also helps us to manage our own environmental footprint.

In 2017 we started working with Water-To-Go. Our travellers are now able to purchase a Water-To-Go reusable filtered water bottle and receive a 15% discount. From each purchase, an additional 15% is donated towards the Mongolian well-project run by CAMDA (Cambridge Mongolia Development Appeal) that we support. This NGO directly supports Mongolia’s herders.

City Nomads Folding Bike :

Each of the tour vehicles we send out have a city nomads folding bike. We provide this service for free. Why? It allows our guests to explore further into each region but without relying further on the tour vehicle. It also allows for informal interaction between the local community and our guests as we let the locals use the bikes as well.

Although we are reliant on 4x4 vehicles for the main section of the tour (after all, this is Mongolia!), in the city centre we do use public transport rather than private mini-vans for our city tours.

Community

Training school for Mongolian women :

As a female, it is important to me to use my skills and influence to improve the prospects for other women. We don’t source the best guides that work the tourism circuit and that already have guaranteed work with other companies. Instead, we provide training and development opportunities to Mongolian women that other companies won't take as they don't fit the stereotype or have the professional qualifications.

Our female Mongolian trip assistants are dynamic women who are searching for an opportunity to train and develop and we provide that long-term opportunity.
You’ll travel with someone who sincerely loves their home country, loves their job and genuinely care about you as our guests.For us, this is a long-term investment and we invite you to part of this philosophy. We’re proud to be able to provide a starting block to women in Mongolia.

Cultural Impact :

My company is not a ‘world specialist’; we concentrate on the country we know and love – Mongolia. We research, design and operate each itinerary ourselves and do not source our itineraries from other agents.

Supporting local is at the heart of what we do. Part of this philosophy is that we use ger accommodation provided by the Mongolian families such as the Dondov family. At no point have we ever rocked up and demanded accommodation. Our relationships with the families we work with are genuine - forged over time and with plenty of tea.

Families offer ger accommodation to help supplement their income. Most are small rural businesses providing extra accommodation. Some accommodation is offered by herders, some is offered by ‘retired’ herders who no longer migrate, some by families that live in small town communities and some by families that own small ger camp businesses. By using this form of accommodation it provides you with a more genuine insight in to the real way of life in Mongolia and it benefits the local communities through which we are travelling.

However, these are real people with real lives to lead and at no point do we ask the families to change their way of life for our/your own benefit or comfort. If they don’t have a shower, neither will you! (Don’t panic!…see below!). We ask our guests to try and embrace (!) and enjoy any differences that they come across in Mongolia. Experiencing the differences is all part of any trip and makes it a more authentic and positive holiday for you and a more respectful and enjoyable experience for the locals as well.

One example of this is our use of the local town shower houses. Very few families have access to running water from a tap. We do as the locals do and use the local town shower houses. They’re a great way to meet members of the local community but it also means we do not put too much pressure on local resources. In the words of author Jack Weatherford in Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – ‘Compared to the difficulty of daily life for the herders, living permanently in those areas, ours were only the smallest of irritations.’

We have even written our own guide to the culture and traditions of Mongolia - researched over the 13 plus years I have lived and worked in Mongolia. You receive this guide on your arrival into Mongolia as a way of preparing you for your experience.

Ulaanbaatar :

You’ll start off in Mongolia’s capital city. Read a guidebook or a travel forum and frequently Ulaanbaatar is overlooked. But, it's home to roughly 45% of Mongolia's population and this alone means that it should be experienced. We don't offer a tour of museums or souvenir shops but a day spent walking through the local areas of the city. What’s it like to live there? What kind of communities exist? What are the challenges? My aim is that you experience all aspects of Mongolian culture - rather than just those highlighted by guidebooks.

A majority of Ulaanbaatar's 1.4 million (ish) population live in the ger districts that surround the central downtown - approximately 60% of the population actually. There are few safe community spaces within the ger districts - especially community spaces where children can play. But, Nogoon Nuur (Green Lake) is bucking this trend. Nogoon Nuur is now a thriving community space made possible by a committed individual, Ulzii, who since 2012 has been working to restore Nogoon Nuur and develop a public park.

I love this community area immensely and we now include a visit on our free city walking tour - making a donation per EL guest per visit. On our family trips, we arrange and fund for the visiting children to purchase and donate reading books to the Nogoon Nuur community space.

Keeping it Local :

Yes, the tents for our camping trips are from a UK manufacturer but everything else is sourced in Mongolia and as much as possible, made in Mongolia. Where possible, we don’t just buy from a shop but we source the material ourselves from the markets in Ulaanbaatar and then have each product made to our specifications through local family businesses. Supporting local is a major part of who we are and we make a constant effort to support local businesses. We only use Mongolian owned accommodation, we buy Mongolian produce for the meals on the tour including ‘stocking-up’ in the smaller towns that we pass through so they benefit from our custom. We also use locally owned restaurants both in UB and in the countryside. We encourage you to support traditional crafts by buying direct from local artisans who you'll meet en-route as well as purchasing products from the projects we support. We try to put money and support back into the local communities, strengthening local businesses, families, and individuals that represent all spectrums of Mongolian life.

Combatting Desertification - Cooperative Ar Arvijin Delgerekh :

As part of this trip you will stay with rural families who are part of this Cooperative based in the Khangai Mountains.

Much of Mongolia’s tourism sector depends in the long term on the preservation of the country’s cultural and physical landscapes. But, by visiting Mongolia, you are making your own impact on the country.

The Cooperative is a local people-led project that is committed to working at a grassroots level towards long term preservation. It focuses on working with herders producing spun yak wool, providing them with an alternative to diversify and increase their income and helping them to protect the land which provides them with their way of life (mainly because they are not so reliant on the money brought in from cashmere combed from their goat herds. Large goat herds can be very destructive on the environment).

2 Reviews of North Mongolia holidays, tailor made

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Reviewed on 10 Apr 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


There were so many! Staying with nomadic herding families in their gers and joining in with their daily lives. We loved cooking meals with the families we stayed with. We enjoyed a 28km hike at Terkhin Tsagaan Nuur especially walking the last 4-5 km across a frozen lake. We visited national parks and saw the Takhi (wild horses). We saw minutes-old lambs and twin goats being born. Mongolia's gorgeous landscapes and the blue, blue sky will remain with us.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Join in! It's an amazing opportunity to spend time with local families who were all so welcoming and hospitable. We helped out with herding goats,
collecting dung for the fire and cooking on the stove. Be prepared that the facilities may be very different to home but this is every day life for the people
you are visiting. There was no running water in many places that we stayed but we took showers at local town shower houses every few days. Recommend
taking wet wipes for a quick 'wash' (disposing of them properly) on non-shower days. Head torches are very useful. Also, check out how warm/cold the
weather is likely to be and pack appropriately. We visited in spring and experienced lovely warm sunny days as well as some very cold nights so basically
packed thermals and t-shirts and everything in between.


3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we really felt that the trip directly benefited local people. Our driver and trip assistant were Mongolian and the company have a policy of employing
female trip assistants in order to give local women opportunities to work in tourism. We stayed with many people who offered up their family homes to us.
The company also supports community projects such as tree planting in the Gobi, rubbish collection events and a play area for local children in Ulaan
Baatar.
Consideration was also given to environmental responsibility. We shopped at supermarkets for food for meals but used boxes instead of plastic bags.
Drinking water was collected into 2 x 20L containers via local pumps and wells and we filled our own reusable bottles from these for our drinking water, so
we avoided single-use plastic bottles. There was a facility to filter the water but we decided that we didn't need to and our tummies were fine throughout the
trip. This is a company that genuinely extols the virtues of sustainable travel.


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic tour with a brilliant company who absolutely love Mongolia, its landscapes and its amazing people. Highly recommended.

Reviewed on 02 Jul 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Living with Nomadic families

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Forget all facilities, forget every material thing and feel, be in contact with Mongolians, live their lives, enjoy the peacefull places, laugh with them. It's a great experience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we fee that we benefit local people because they are meeting different cultures too and share their experiences

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Exiting tour, without many facilities but living the real life. We love this tour. We have enjoyed a lot.

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