Eastern Mongolia small group holiday

“For those who love to get away from it all, two weeks of horse trekking and wild camping in Mongolia’s less visited national parks.”


Ulaanbaatar | Gobi Desert | Ikh Nart Nature Reserve | Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project | Wild camping | Homestay in Erdenedalai | Horse trekking in Gorkhi Terelj National Park | Stay in traditional Mongolian gers | Baldan Bereeven Monastery and Öglögchiin Wall | Dadal – birthplace of Genghis Khan | Wilderness trekking in Onon Balj National Park | Bayan Adraga |

Description of Eastern Mongolia small group holiday

Mongolia’s vast open spaces and wilderness areas have long been sought after by travellers seeking a real escape, but this small group tour of Eastern Mongolia takes you even further, to some of the country’s lesser visited national parks and nature reserves. Over two weeks beginning and ending in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, you’ll truly feel like you’ve got away from it all entirely on an active adventure full of traditional culture and endless skies.

Your accommodation will largely be a mix of wild camping in protected areas, one a breeding site for vultures and a natural habitat for wild Argali sheep, and gers stays with local families, one of the must-do experiences when in Mongolia. You will also spend a night a tree-planting project in the Gobi, to learn about efforts to tackle encroaching desertification.

Led by Mongolian guides, you will trek out on foot or on horseback, mingle with tight-knit herding communities, and visit a region thought to have been the birthplace of Genghis Khan. Every morning you’ll emerge from your tent to spectacular views, feeling totally rejuvenated and a world away from the regular tourist trail.

The itinerary is designed by a ‘micro business’ with deep, longstanding connections to Mongolian people, and is about as far as you can get from packaged, all-inclusive or big tour group holidays. If you seek adventure, peace and solitude, and authentic cultural insights, you will find them on this small group tour of Mongolia.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Check dates

For departure dates contact us on 01273 823 700
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.
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.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

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 travel philosophy for our National Parks and Nature Reserves itinerary where we can show real evidence of our practise.

Combatting Desertification - Community Project

As part of this trip you will stay with the Radnaarbazar family in Mandalgobi. They are owners of the Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project. This is a small, family run, non-profit conservation project that has been operating since 1975 in Mandalgobi, Dundgobi Province. Their main conservation work is the planting of seedlings and nurturing them into trees.

Part of your tour payment goes as a donation towards the Gobi Oasis project. You will also visit the tree nursery and learn more about their conservation practises.
Each group typically plants a tree at the nursery - my team and our guests have now planted over 115 of our own trees which represents around 3% of the total number of trees planted at Gobi Oasis. A single young tree can absorb 26 pounds of CO2 per year so we’re (very) slowly doing out bit towards contributing towards carbon reduction as well as making a positive impact towards desertification.


The disposal of rubbish is a major issue in Mongolia - especially with plastic. As part of my responsible tourism ethos we 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.


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.

Group Size

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 I say small group travel this is what I mean. Our group size on this trip has been kept small - a maximum of six. This means that experiences during this itinerary become more personal and authentic for you. We are not an overwhelming presence - on the local communities or the local environment - especially in the protected areas which you will visit during this itinerary.

Our itineraries and departures

Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures for each of our itineraries. Our National Parks and Nature Reserves only has one or two departures per year.

We also 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.

Yes on this itinerary we visit Gorkhi Terelj where tourism has become more concentrated in Mongolia but we also visit areas that are not necessarily considered ‘highlights’ by other tour companies or the guidebooks such as Bayan Adraga on this itinerary. 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 area, it also means that we help to support communities that might not otherwise benefit from the tourism industry.

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 - Naraa and Bujee have a mobile phone. It doesn’t mean their way of life is dying out and that they’ll be shortly moving into the city - just that their way of life is adapting. Just like ours does.

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. 


During this experience you will at certain locations camp in tents. When we camp, 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. Always.

(We also finance our own two-day rubbish collection in a national park in Mongolia. Arranged through the local community and protected area rangers, we have been arranging this since 2014.)

And in 2016, we went one better. We made our own toilet tent (using materials bought locally in Ulaanbataar). It's only a small step but it helps manage our overall environmental impact. It's only a small step but it again goes towards helping to manage our overall environmental impact. As part of your trip our trip assistants give a briefing at the start of the experience about 'toilet paper ethics' - how and where to dispose of it correctly.


This itinerary focuses on some of Mongolia’s national parks and nature reserves. Where we mention the option of observing wildlife in their natural habitat, we do this alongside the protected area ranger of that specific region. We also receive training from Association Goviin Khulan (one of the wildlife NGO’s we work with). By doing this we make sure that our visit doesn’t impact too greatly on the natural environment and the wildlife. As an example, Ikh Nart Nature Reserve is one of the protected areas we visit on this trip. It represents one of the last strong-holds for the globally threatened Argali Sheep - the largest mountain sheep in the world (Ovis Ammon) and is also a breeding site for one of the world's largest vultures, the Cinereous Vulture. During the wildlife observation, the ranger directs us on where to locate ourselves, makes sure we observe through binoculars rather than getting too close and reminds us to keep noise to a minimum so as not to disturb the wildlife.

The Impacts of this Trip

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 used ger accommodation provided by the Mongolian families such as herders Naraa and Bujee based in Gorkhi Terelj National Park. However, 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 such as the one in Dadal. 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.

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 EL 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.

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.


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.


3 Reviews of Eastern Mongolia small group holiday

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 05 Oct 2018 by

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

Hard to say….there are so many…I enjoyed the wildness of the landscapes, the blue rivers which drew a special picture when the light was right,
the welcoming lovely people, the chance to get in contact with "real Mongolian people".
There is something about Mongolia for me which I did not expect and which I cannot describe in English. (In German I would maybe say: Die Mongolei hat mein Herz berührt...) . Thank you to Jess and the team who helped us to have all these great experiences!

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

Be aware that this trip does contain long car drives! Jess is vey clear on that and it is true. If you do not like to sit in a car long times the you should think about choosing another trip maybe. I enjoyed the landscapes flying by and the impressions I got looking out of the window.

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

Yes, I think the organisation is showing great efforts in supporting locals and to reduce environmental impact. (Local drivers, trip assistances which get the chance to improve their language skills, supporting local projects, introducing us tourists to these projects to improve our understanding of the local situation, the way how EL select accomendation etc...).
Maybe one tiny suggestion for improvement...the jam for breakfast could maybe also be a local Brand (at least for me there is no reason to buy European jam ...but this is a minor comment only).

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

I loved it! And - one day - I will come back!

Reviewed on 09 Oct 2014 by

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

Travelling across the steppe on unmade roads to stay with nomadic herders in Gers and help with daily life particularly milking yaks and goats.

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

Leave any idea of home comforts at home and enjoy the Ger life style. It can be hot and very cold in September so lots of layers. Lots of customs and traditions if you are staying in family Gers - make sure you are familiar with them. They eat mainly meat and dairy products but this is not a problem for a veggie like me because the tour assistant cooks and is very good - obviously you do miss out on some of the activities involving meat but that is your choice.

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

We stayed with herders and travelled with local people using the drivers own van so benefit to the - wood is used to cook and for heat so does pollute but only option at the moment - did plant a tree in the Gobi.

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

It was a brilliant way to experience Mongolia, felt part of the way of life - well as much as you could in 2 weeks.

Reviewed on 29 Sep 2013 by

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

All of it ... Mongolia is an incredible country ... it's so vast and never-ending. The people are very noble and their hospitality is very generous. The nomadic way of life is very hard but the people seem to do it so naturally. The flora and fauna is very interesting. Travelled 2,063 kilometres in 16 days in an old Russian Fulgon which was very comfortable.

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

The operator is an excellent small company which specialises in small group adventures - what you see is what you get - so visit the website. Jess who runs the company has a great love for Mongolia and knows about absolutely everything that you could ask her. Her local staff are also very dedicated - like Jess - and that makes it all the more an incredible trip.
Make sure you take the right clothes with you. I live in Cambodia and had not quite prepared myself for the extremes in temperatures.

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

Yes. Jess supports many local causes e.g. tree planting with Gobi Oasis. We camped out and I'd like to say we didn't leave any detrimental footprints at any of our campsites.

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

Absolutely EXCELLENT. I'm an intrepid traveller who has visited all 7 continents. I'd love to have given 5 ***** for my holiday review below, but can only give it 4 **** because I don't like your wording! For me it's "one of the best holidays I've been on" NOT the best. Which is a shame ....!?

Popular similar holidays

Mongolia nomad horse riding holiday

Mongolia nomad horse riding holiday

Horseriding & staying with local Nomadic familes in Mongolia

From £1449 9 days excluding flights

Mongolia adventure holiday, small group

Mongolia adventure holiday, small group

Discover the remote Mongolian countryside

From £4199 - £4249 16 days including UK flights

Mongolia tour, hunting with Eagles

Mongolia tour, hunting with Eagles

Winter experience living with eagle hunters of Mongolia

From US $1555 - US $2365 9 days excluding flights

Mongolia eagle hunting festival holiday

Mongolia eagle hunting festival holiday

Altai Mountains glaciers, nature & eagle hunting festival

From £2850 - £2995 13 days excluding flights

Convert currencies