Nadaam Festival vacation in Mongolia

“Two week small group tour of Mongolia traveling overland and staying in traditional ger camps. Cross desert and steppe landscapes in search of wild horses and ancient citadels.”

Highlights

Ulaan Baatar | Gandan Monastery | ger camping | Karakorum | Arvaikheer | Gobi Desert | Khatan Suudal Steppe | Kongoriin Els sand dunes | Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park | Bayanzag | Terelj National Park | Tsonjin Bolog | Naadam Festival (only one departure date per year) |

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Date
Price
Basis
30 Jun 2019
US $ 4305
excluding flights
8 spaces left
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Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Nadaam Festival vacation in Mongolia

Accommodation and Meals:
We spend three nights in a mixture of hotels and nine nights in traditional ger camps. All accommodation is locally owned and run, which has a positive effect on the economy and community by increasing employment alternatives in the area. By spending the majority of the time in simple lodgings, 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 behind. 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.

Local Craft and Culture:
At the beginning of the trip, we visit Shankh Monastery on the way to Arvaikheer. Upon arrival there is time to visit the local museum, which contains nature collections, stone figures and Turkic scripts. Other cultural excursions include a trip to the Bayan Mountain Range to view rock art from 3000 BC, the Karakorum Muesum and the small museum near Vulture Canyon. Any money spent or given here as a donation contributes to the upkeep of these attractions. There is also the option to attend a traditional Mongolian song and dance performed by the world famous Tumen Ekh dance troupe. This includes throat singers, contortionists and Tsam dancers. 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 argil sheep or snow leopard pelts.

Local Interaction:
There are a number of opportunities along the way to meet local nomadic families. These interactions are often impromptu, though gifts of goods which the nomadic families don’t normally have access to (such as treats) are given. These interactions offer the opportunity to learn about the lifestyle of these families, try some of the produce they manufacture themselves such as cheese curd, buttermilk or arak (alcohol made from mare’s milk or camel milk). At other times we visit nomadic families in a more organised fashion in order to ride horses or camels which they keep and herd and use their services as a guide or wrangler. This contributes to their livelihoods.

We attend the Naadam Festival in Ulaan Baator. This is the biggest festival in Mongolia and is celebrated each year throughout the country from the smallest communities to the capital (where we attend the festival). Naadam showcases traditional Mongolian sports – archery, horse riding, wrestling and ankle-bone throwing. It is a celebration of the country’s nomadic roots and traditions and we mingle with Mongolians as we attend the various events.

Community support, projects and sponsorship:
Our local partners are involved in supporting local communities through Mongolia in a number of ways including supporting local education initiatives and providing essential amenities for underprivileged children and cooperating with small and medium sized enterprises. Specifically they’ve sponsored events such as Youth Investor Reality Show and the 8th Pearl Necklace Initiative. They are also founder and sponsor of the Mazaalai Foundation – protecting the Gobi Bear.

UK office
It all starts at home so we have first worked to reduce our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies in place, 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.

Group size
We operate small group tours that have a low impact on the communities we visit and we always ensure our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. This allows us to stay in unique and characterful accommodation that would not have benefitted from tourism due to their limited size. 

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