Please be aware that Mongolia is a very traditional country with many customs that may be different to those of your own country. During your Mongolian adventure your guide will introduce and explain to you many of these customs and traditions. Please listen to your guide and respect the traditions of the people whom you will see and visit. We have a saying in this country ‘If you drink the water, follow the traditions’. Therefore please honour our way of life and be open-minded during your Mongolian tour.
Check Your Expectations At The Border!
I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for other countries… “What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”; “Virginia is for Lover’s”; “Incredible India”… well Mongolia should have one that says “No Expectations”. We have some of the most incredible scenery in the world, some of the only true nomads left in the world, and when you look at the sky you’ll be truly amazed (day and night!), BUT as far as the infrastructure of the country goes, well it may be a little bit different from how things run in your country.
In the cities you’ll find some fairly modern and comfortable accommodation suiting all budgets, although we do still have power outages and water stoppages. But in the countryside its going to be as rustic as it gets. There are very few paved roads in Mongolia, and most of those are not in great shape, so much of the driving will be done on tracks, which are really nothing more than paths through the steppe that people have driven over many times to pack the dirt down. Tracks are NOT for fast travel, they constantly change because of being washed out by the heavy rains or because they get too beat-up, so the going is slow and far from being smooth. Most of the vehicles we will use are very basic 4-wheel drive vans and jeeps because of the harsh terrain. These vehicles may not look like much, but they are rugged and when they do break down its fairly easy to repair them which out on the steppe is important!
Accommodation is very basic in the countryside; you will be sleeping in tents or in the gers of local families. Typically that means we will be cooking our meals on portable stoves. We will have to stock up on food provisions in the cities, so even that will limit some of your options. As nomads do not have their own running water supply we may not be able to have a daily shower and going to the bathroom means using some place just outside of camp (nomadic families rarely dig a pit toilet since they move so often).
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is still possible for you to enjoy Mongolia. There are more vegetables being grown in Mongolia today than there were 10 years ago, but Mongolians eat meat, so that is what is mostly available. We will go out of our way to find veggies, but the selection will be limited.
If you are the kind of person who loves an adventure, someone that can adapt to changing conditions, someone that is willing to try something new, someone that loves nature at its absolute basic and can appreciate a culture that has not changed much over the ages then you, my friend, will LOVE Mongolia!