2 independent reviews for Mongolia cycling & mountain biking holidays

Reviews for Mongolia cycling & mountain biking holidays

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review 13 Mar 2010

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

Excellent trip but the highlight has got to be the stunning country side. Wasnít sure what to expect but the mountains were tough to cycle up but fun to come down. Hiding out from the rain in a local families nice warm ger being given homemade yaks cheese and yak yoghurt vodka. The locals were so friendly

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

Take plenty of warm clothing and a warm sleeping bag as the temperature really drops at night and it can get really cold despite the temperature during the day. Donít try the local Arag! A local weak alcoholic drink made from mares milk but it is an acquired taste - tastes like gone off milk!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. They donít light fires (no matter how cold it is!) as wood is rare and should be left for the locals. All rubbish is taken away and empty water bottles are given to locals for reuse to sell their Arag.

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

Fantastic - fully recommend it.

review 10 Aug 2008

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

Fantastic scenery, wide open unspoilt countryside which was very sparsely populated. Great terrain for mountain biking as there is no traffic apart from the odd inquisitive yak on the path. A total contrast to central London. We met a great group of people from Australia, US, NZ and the UK with a mix of ages from about 30 to late 60's which all added to the experience.

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

Key tips are: 1) take your own toilet paper as it isn't provided (very necessary item). 2) take your own bike seat, the first 3 days are all on river rocks and your butt knows all about it. 3) other essentials - pack enough sunscreen for the whole trip (the villages do not sell it), bio-degradable soap and shampoo as the river is the only washing facility, diarrhoea tablets are a must (7 out of 12 people on the trip got the runs/vomits). 4) If you're a novice mountain biker this might not be the trip for you. We were lucky that the more experienced members of the tour party helped us out but, the crew didn't seem willing to help or advise in this respect.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Other than the tour leader all staff on the trip (drivers, cooks, mechanic etc) were local Mongolians & some provisions were bought from the local community during our trip e.g. goats milk, cheese etc... There were a few areas where the operator could improve and ensure that they continually comply or exceed the guidelines they set e.g. toilets were positioned too close to rivers (within 5-10m when 50m was meant to be the minimum), a few local crew disposed of rubbish out of the window of the truck, ensuring only bio-degradable soap is used at all times. Some of the campsites (those near to towns) were not really suitable (broken glass, rubbish etc...) and no effort was made to clear this up or improve it for the community. It was not made obvious to us what other efforts the tour operator was undertaking to support the local community.

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

Mongolia was a great destination & the scenery and culture is a great experience for all travellers, the freedom that a bike provides is an added bonus. One downside on our trip was that over half the Group got food/water poisoning & given all food and water is provided by the tour operator this was very disappointing.

Read the operator's response here:

Compliance with issues such as the toilet position in the camp and staff attitudes to rubbish disposal is, on the whole excellent. Our staff generally excels themselves in these regards, not because they like to follow rules but because keeping the environment clean is important to them and their culture. We will ensure that the staff is fully informed on these issues... particularly new staff. Regarding the use of bio-degradable soap, we do encourage its use, mentioning it in the Trip dossier, the Trip Information Booklet sent to passengers before the trip and in the group meeting upon arrival. Any further involvement on our part could be construed as inappropriate. The company efforts in supporting the local community and local charities are something that we are happy to discuss with passengers. I am pleased to say that from providing some materials for auction (i.e. a bicycle among others) to raise money for the Lotus Children's Foundation, we were able to raise over US $7000 that was directly given to the foundation on mid-July 2008. This money is going towards a community centre that will be built in Ulaanbaatar. On one other issue was passengers getting sick. This is as unfortunate issue with most travel. However, there did seem to be more problems on this trip than usual. We have been using a water filter this year, in order to reduce our amount of plastic bottles. After reviewing the feedback, we have decided that confidence in the drinking water supply is critical to people's enjoyment of the trip, and we believe that this is not possible using a filter. We have therefore decided to return to the use of plastic bottles until a suitable alternative can be found.

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