Mongolia cycling holiday
Optional single supplement £165.
Minimum age 16.
Description of Mongolia cycling holiday
A sixteen day Mongolia cycling holiday that really is a wilderness expedition on two wheels, travelling in a circuit that does also include a car and train transfer. But otherwise, you pretty much join the traditional nomads and wilderness communities, wild camping along the way and seizing this great opportunity to see the country’s great steppes and summits from a saddle.
This is an adventurous cycling holiday and one that is categorised as moderate to challenging, cycling from anything between 30-70kms per day. On the moderate days you will take on the likes of the Khangai Mountains foothills, with three short passes to conquer before descending to a traditional Ger camp and enjoying the Tsenger Jiguur springs. Another ‘moderate’ day would be cycling through the wide open Arhangai steppe ride, passing lakes where wild horses gather to drink, Mt Khairkhan and various mountain passes looming in the distance. This wilderness landscape of peaks and plains is very typical of Mongolia’s wonderful wilderness scenes.
More challenging cycle days usually involve some mountain passes, such as Tuluugiin pass where you are rewarded with a campsite at the end of the day near two extinct volcanoes, Mt Uran and Mt Togoo. Cycling through the herders’ trails of the Khangai Mountains again is uplifting in all senses of the word too, taking us up to high pastures that are home to the very Mongolian yak. Tsagaan Davaa is another challenging pass with a 300m ascent, but the beautiful down section of the journey is into the town of Tsetserleg, in a magnificent mountain setting on the eponymous river, where you camp that night. After an afternoon’s rest by the river, fishing and chilling.
With time to enjoy other such urban spaces too such as the capital, Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet and the township of Bugat, this itinerary has a real mix of ups and downs, wilderness and towns. It is, however, a cycle into another world and by camping out there under the wide open night skies, meeting nomadic communities and taking in these vast, unchanged landscapes, this really is a cycling holiday at its most intrepid and incredible.
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1 Reviews of Mongolia cycling holiday
Reviewed on 23 Jul 2013 by Monica Holland
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Seeing the Naadam festival.
The friendliness and competence of the local staff - two drivers and two cooks. They will remain in my affections forever.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Take a lavalava. It makes an emergency tent when the hot sun is beating down on your head, it can be a towel, a bathrobe, a shoulder covering for temples, a modesty screen when having a public pee stop. Never travel without your lavalava.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I couldn't say. I sought out a fair trade shop myself to buy my souvenirs.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
We had a number of grumblers in our group who made the tour leader wary and distant at times. This made it hard for the rest of us. When he realised not all of us were in the 'grumble camp', he was a lot more friendly and communicative to us. We also had a cyclist fall off and break her arm. She had to be evacuated out - another sobering effect on the trip. Hence my 'very enjoyable' rating below.
PlanetAccommodation and Meals:
We spend nine nights camping in the wild, two nights in comfortable hotels, two in traditional Mongolian gers and one on a sleeper train. All accommodation is locally owned and run, which has a positive on the economy and community by increasing employment alternatives in the area. By spending the majority of the trip wild camping, we significantly reduce our carbon footprint for the trip. We also operate on a ‘leave no trace’ basis, which involves disposing of waste at major towns and Ulaanbaatar, rather than leaving rubbish where we set up camp. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are used wherever possible where meals are provided. Chefs are often able to produce some delicious Mongolian specialties for clients as well, like ‘Tsuvian’- pasta served with vegetables and strips of meat, or ‘Buuz’- steamed dumplings stuffed with meat.
As a cycling holiday, this trip has very limited detrimental impact upon the environment, residents and communities in the regions we visit. Use of the bikes allows us to cover fairly large distances, while offering very little adverse impact, like pollution and threat to wildlife. Cycling also allows for easy access to the local population, shops and restaurants, which facilitates cultural exploration. By hiring our bikes locally, we also give our business to the rental company, which is beneficial for the community. Through this activity, we are able to raise local awareness for a kind of tourism which refuses to sacrifice the environment and real connections with people for financial gain.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleLocal Craft and Culture:
Although much of the tour is spent cycling through the fairly remote steppe, there are opportunities to become accustomed with local culture throughout. At the beginning of the trip, clients take an introductory tour of Ulaanbaatar, including Sukhbaatar Square and Gandan Monastery. We also visit the 16th century Erdene Zuu monastery, which is the largest and most famous in Mongolia. Handicrafts are available widely in the larger cities and typically include colourful leather boots, embroidered textiles, decorated flagons and carved wooden items. Buying traditional crafts is encouraged as this is a means of supporting the community and, in some cases, of keeping customs alive. However, guides will be careful to point out that some souvenirs on offer can be damaging to the environment or wildlife- like the horns of argali sheep or snow leopard pelts.
Our local operator has been supporting the Lotus Children’s Centre in Mongolia. The organisation is a small NGO that acts as a home and school for about 80 vulnerable children. Our operators have donated bicycles, computers, and used camping equipment to facilitate the children’s education and play time. On occasion they have even provided employment for older children who were struggling to find a secure job.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
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