Mongolia tour, land of the great Khan
Description of Mongolia tour, land of the great Khan
This adventurous trip uses the back roads of Mongolia to provide an epic insight into one of Asia's most distinctive countries, combining spectacular landscapes with a chance to engage closely with locals who are a lot friendlier today than the country's most famous son, Genghis Khan, was back when his medieval armies swept across Eurasia to found history's greatest ever contiguous empire.
After a dip into Mongolia's unexpectedly cosmopolitan capital Ulaanbataar, your journey into wilderness begins, starting with the remarkably coloured 'flaming cliffs' of Bayanzag and the towering sand dunes at Khongor Els.
Reaching the remote Gobi desert, you'll use the remote Zulgani Oasis to explore wonders such as the dramatic Khermen Tsav canyon with its superb hiking trails. Head north, dive into the Khangai Mountains to discover the intriguing provincial capital Bayankhongor, from where you'll explore a surrounding landscape of rich forests, meadows and river valleys. You'll also visit the dramatic 16th century ruins of Kharkhorin – Genghis Khan’s capital in its 13th century heyday.
The trip finale brings you to the sweeping grasslands of the Hustai National Park, roamed by what are claimed to be the world's only true wild horses. In this iconic landscape, you will also experience the hospitality of the people of these plains – including a likely invite into their nomadic homes - gers - for a glass of airag (fermented mare’s milk)!
But wherever you are here, you'll find Mongolians are as unforgettable as their country.
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PlanetOne of the most unique and awe-inspiring features of Mongolia is the beautifully vast and diverse landscapes it offers. This adventurous itinerary will take you off-the-beaten track by 4WD through some of Mongolia’s National Parks, tallest sand dunes, beautiful rich pasturelands and mountainous forests. We are extremely conscious of how important it is to protect and preserve this unique natural environment and this is why we have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the environments we visit on this tour are not damaged or spoilt in any way. While we use vehicles to get from A to B, we leave them when possible to explore on foot, limiting our impact on the terrain. Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to this trip and as tour operators, it is something we are careful to promote. Your guide on this trip will have been trained to uphold environmental policies and all clients are fully briefed on appropriate/responsible behaviour whilst in wilderness areas like the Orkhon Valley on days 8-10 of the tour. This beautiful region of valleys created by volcanic activity contains rich pastureland and is therefore home to much wildlife and many nomadic families. It is thus important that we act respectfully when walking and journeying through these parts to visit natural wonders like the Ulaan waterfalls. This is another reason why we keep the group size to a maximum of 10 people so we can minimise the human impact on fragile sites such as these.
On day 11 of this trip we will visit Hustai National Park, home to the world’s only true wild horse – the Takhi horse. This unique breed disappeared from Mongolia decades ago because of poaching and habitat loss and if it hadn’t been for the commitment of European Zoos to pursue careful breeding programs with close international cooperation and the help of Mongolian Scientists these horses may never have returned to live wild in Mongolia. Thankfully this cooperative international effort has ensured the breed’s protection and seen the population of wild Takhi rise considerably – something you will be able to experience first-hand as you explore this beautiful region and visit the park’s information centre which was built to aid their conservation.
On this trip you will stay mostly in Ger Camps – a wonderfully authentic, sustainable and characterful choice of accommodation. This semi-permanent, traditional form of accommodation is more importantly less intrusive on the environment. For example on day 8, we will overnight at the Ursa Major Ger camp. This delightful ecocamp prides itself on working with the environment and local communities to minimise the negative impacts that tourism can bring to a destination. For example all toilets are made from wood and composting and instead of showers hot towels are bought to your ger in the evening and morning. There is no electricity in the gers but a torch and candles are provided. .
PeopleIn Mongolia we use local ground handlers - this means that all the operational costs go directly into the local economy and helps to improve employment opportunities in remote regions. We work with Mongolian owned hotels and tourist Ger camps directly – these camps in the countryside hire local staff, creating numerous employment opportunities and ensuring that money goes directly into the community. Although the tourist season is limited, this income allows country dwellers enough food and supplies to survive the harsh winters. To put this into perspective; Our drivers earn 250, 000 tugrik for one trip - these wages are equal to the cost of educating one child for a year or to feed his family for 1 month. In each part of the trip we employ local guides in addition to our Western guides, such as Bat-Erdene, Tulga and Munkhbat, which again places funds directly in the pockets of local families.
On this adventurous itinerary there will be plenty of opportunity for our travellers to meet locals and semi-nomadic communities. For example on day 6 of the tour, when we are passing from Zulgani Oasis to Bayangobi, as we leave the Gobi desert behind us and enter greener lands, we will cross several villages and have a chance to visit with these people to find out more about their unique lifestyles. Spending nights in a Ger and visiting local families like we do on day 2 of the tour in Bayanzag, will give you an authentic experience of the lifestyles of the Mongolian people and allow you the chance to be charmed by their warm and generous hospitality. We believe that paying visits like these to smaller, more isolated communities is incredibly important because it promotes an enriching cultural exchange and can be an extremely rewarding experience.
In order to facilitate an enduring support structure for the communities we visit, and to show a commitment to these values, in January 2009 we set up a charitable foundation through which we can directly channel funds to both existing NGOs and our own development projects. In addition to organising ethically sensitive tours, having our own charitable foundation allows us to raise money – through the cost of our tours, charity trips and fund raising events – which can then be used to fund various projects in education, sanitation, reforestations and a number of other important issues facing developing communities.
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