Last Modified: 10 Jun 2015
Trip code: CDOM
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2015
Discover the magic of Mongolia on an overland tour through this remote country. Beginning in Ulaanbaatar, travel to Mongolia’s colourful towns, ancient ruins and stunning national parks. Learn about the conquests of Genghis Khan, bathe in effervescent hot springs and spot bountiful wildlife as you traverse this epic country's great plains. Tucked away between Russia and China, Mongolia remains one of the world’s enigmas, a true Intrepid destination with a fascinating mix of cultures and landscapes. See ancient Karakorum, quirky Ulaanbaatar and the legendary grasslands on an unforgettable overland journey through Mongolia.
TRIP CHANGES FOR 2014:
For logistical reasons this trip has changed from 1st January 2014. We now no longer visit the Gobi Desert, Vulture Canyon, Bayan Zag or Arvaikheer, instead taking a different route through the Orkhon Valley, along the Tamir and Chuluut Rivers and passing Khorgo volcano and Zuun Lake. As a result of these changes we now also visit some of the other destinations in a different order.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
- The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Days 1-2 Ulaanbaatar
Tavtai Morilogtun! Welcome to Mongolia.
Border information: Welcome to Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia. If you are starting in Ulaanbaatar, enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar's ChinggisKhaanInternationalAirport
There will be group meeting at 18.00 hrs.
Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this meeting will take place. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport and insurance details at this meeting.
Tonight you will stay in a well located hotel.
This morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum. This afternoon we will spend a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian may need, so a trip here will certainly give visitors a fascinating insight into peoples lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.
Overnight in a local hotel.
Hotel for the night: Zaluuchuud Hotel
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Ogii Lake
Today we drive out of the city and into the countryside; we hope to arrive at Khar Bukh Balgas ruins in the early afternoon.
Khar Bukh Balgas was built during the Kitan period, at about 1000 AD and was part of a chain of fortresses that were used to govern and control the northern region and borders of the Kitan state. Upon arrival at the site, we will explore the ruins and learn about the various kingdoms that dominated Mongolia during that era.
After our visit to the ruins we will drive to Ogii Lake where many nomadic families spend their summer. The Lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities where it is not uncommon to spot at Swan Goose, White Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelicans.
We will stay in ger tents tonight.
Yurt (1 nt)
Day 4 Karakorum
An early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin or otherwise known as Karakorum.
Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honor of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a battle that took place close to the site. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin.
Kharkhorin, better known as Karakorum, was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. Withing the walls of this spectacular city Kings were chosen, laws made and the fate of the next city to be conquered were determined. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery and other historical monuments in the area.
We will overnight in a ger camp by the Orkhon River.
Yurt (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Orkhon Valley
Today we head south , driving along the river's banks. Our first stop will be for a two and a half hour trek (the first hour will be uphill) to Tuvkhon Monastery. This Monastery was established during the 1650's by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests.
We then continue south and reach the Orkhon Valley where we will set up our camp for the night.
Leaving our camp, we drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River. Here we take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where a cool swim awaits.
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts)
Days 7-8 Tsenkher Hot Springs
After Breakfast our trip heads North crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach the area Mongolians call 'the paradise of the horse herders' for its lush grasses and open valleys. We drive to the Tsenker hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82° C, and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak.
On our second day we will take a short, easy walk to meet one of the many nomadic families that spend their summers here. The afternoon is free to explore the valley and surrounding hills either by foot or by horse.
We stay at a ger camp during our time here.
Yurt (2 nts)
Day 9 Tamir River
This morning we drive to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, where we will make a short visit to the local market, if time permits we will also visit the provincial museum.
This evening we will arrive at a beautiful scenic spot by the Tamir River where we set up our camp for the night.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 10 Chuluut Canyon
This morning we pack up camp and drive to Taikhar Chuluu - a massive rock which is connected to local mythology. From here we have another few hours' drive, crossing Arkhangai Province. Khangai literally means in Mongolian "Prosper", and it is an apt name for the vast green meadows, running rivers and rolling hills which would be the backdrop of the view seen through the window throughout much of the day.
In the afternoon we arrive to a good observation point for the Chuluut Canyon, we will set up our camp nearby.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 11 Khorgo Volcano
This morning we have a fairly short drive to the foot of Khorgo Volcano. We spend today hiking to the top of the Volcano for a view over its perfect crater. From the top of the volcano we continue our hike though fields studded with pine trees, stopping off en route at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon.
We stay overnight at a ger camp tonight.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 12 Zuun Lake
Driving north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful routes, we cross high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks as we pass by remote villages.
Our final destination will be Zuun Lake, a small alpine lake in the mountainous region of Khovsgol.
We will camp tonight.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 13 Murun
Today we continue driving through the mountainous region of Khovsgol province, crossing a few more stunning passes en route.
We hope to arrive at Murun, the provincial capital, around noon time. We will visit the local market, Danzadarjaa Monastery and the local museum.
We will camp overnight on the outskirts of Murun.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Lake Khovsgol
This morning we pack up camp and drive out to an ancient burial site featuring Mongolia's mysterious deer stones, these are memorial stones representing important leaders and warriors, carved with deer motifs. After visiting the site, we continue our trip northward to one of the world's biggest fresh water sources, Lake Khovsgol.
Lake Khovsgol and its amazing surroundings are home to several of Mongolia's ethnic minorities as well as a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife. One of the most interesting ethnic groups living near the lake is the Tsaatan or as they are better known - 'The Reindeer People'. A small tribe of Tsaatan consisting of about 40 families lives with its herds of reindeer in the forests around the lake. These graceful animals provide the tribe with all its basic needs - milk, meat and transportation. As there are very few Tsaatan left and this is a mobile population, we may meet them but there are no guarantees, however, the scenery of the area is well worth the exploration.
We will stay at a ger camp during our time here.
Yurt (2 nts)
Day 16 Murun
This morning we will take a hike around the forests and meadows near the lake. Lying at about 1650 meteras above sea level, surrounded by mountains rising above 3100 meters, the waters of Khovgol are deep and spectacularly clear and pure. We will hike through thick pine forests carpeted with flowers and explore the setting of Mongolia's 'Blue Pearl'.
After lunch we will drive back to Murun and stay overnight in a ger camp.
Yurt (1 nt)
Days 17-18 Selenge River & Bulgan
We will be crossing central-northern Mongolia over the next two days. The long road offers diversified landscapes, from vast, open steppes to beautiful sand dunes.
We will camp overnight by the Selenge River on our first night and camp on the outskirts of Bulgan on our second night.
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts)
Day 19 Amarbayasgalant Monastery
This morning we pack away our camp and drive for a a few hours to Amarbayasgalant Monastery. Built between 1727 and 1736 by the Manchu Emperor Enkh Amgalan, Amarbayasgalant is among the largest monasteries in Mongolia to have survived the purges of the 1930's. With about 60 monks living and studying here, the monastery functions today as one of Mongolia's central religious institutions, and consists of 29 different temples, all built in the calssic Tibetan style.
Tonight we will camp near the monastery.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 20-21 Ulaanbaatar
Today we have a full days drive from northern Mongolia back to Ulaanbaatar. This evening is free to relax, explore or shop for souvenirs.
Tonight we stay at a hotel for the night.
Today is your departure day. No activities are planned for today.
Hotel (1 nt)
We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climates from the hot deserts through to the colds of the high mountains. Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and all included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases.This Kitty price indicated on the trip notes below is indicative only. Please refer to the 'Check availability' page on the website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
Kitty does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.
As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
The official currency of Mongolia is the Tugrik (MNT).
Tugrik may only be obtained within Mongolia. The easiest currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, although it is possible to exchange RUB, CNY and other currencies at some exchange points. Larger denomination notes often attract a better exchange rate.
Please be aware that there are no reliable banking or exchange facilities outside of Ulaanbaatar. Major credit cards may be accepted in some shops and restaurants in the capital. Some banks will allow cash advances against a credit card but cash withdrawals are subject to a 5% or more service charge.
In Ulaanbaatar you will be able to find ATMs that accept international cards and use them to withdraw local currency; however these should not be relied on as your sole financial source. Some souvenir sellers and tourist restaurants may accept USD or EUR as payment but all other purchases in Mongolia must be made in local currency.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
Tipping is entirely voluntary. The crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person
If you are leaving Mongolia by air, the departure tax is T12,500 (approx US$10). A small foreign exchange counter, next to the place where you pay your departure tax, will change US dollars into Tugrik if you don't have any left.
Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
The Mongolian National festival 'Naadam' takes place in mid July every year. Thousands of nomads spend weeks travelling from all parts of the country to take part in the celebrations in and around Ulaan Baatar. After the spectacular opening ceremony, areas both in Ulaanbaatar itself and on the city outskirts become venues for the various events which include traditional wrestling tournaments, archery competitions and perhaps most exciting of all, horse racing in which up to 500 horses take part. It's the main national holiday of the year and many rural Mongolians make the journey to the capital to take part. Please note that there may be slight changes in the itinerary for trips running during this time to enable us to best experience the festival.
CHANGES TO PLANNED DRAGOMAN ROUTES:
We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.
Maximum of 22 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Bush camp (no facilities) (10 nts), Yurt (7 nts), Hotel (3 nts)
The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hostels or hotels. Where it's not practical to camp (ie: in towns and cities), we use hostel or hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hostel and hotel stops depends on the route and area.
Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, which allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
Please note that camping is participatory, which means you will be expected to set-up and pack down your own tent.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
All meals when camping
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
Vegetarians may choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home, ie protein bars, dried fruits, etc although vegetarian options (while limited) are always offered for all included meals.
On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman trips use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
43 Baga Toiruu St
Joining point instructions
Zaluuchuud hotel is located east of the city centre. It's a 30-minute drive from the international airport and 15-minute drive from the railway station. If you are arriving at the airport during the day, a taxi rank operates from outside the arrivals area. Expect to pay about MNT15,000-20,000 (about US$15) to the hotel. If you are arriving late at night when the official rank is closed you may have to bargain with the taxi touts who charge about MNT30,000.
Normal check in time at the hotel is after 1pm.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
43 Baga Toiruu St
Finish point instructions
Zaluuchuud hotel is located east of the city centre. It's a 30-minute drive to the international airport and 15-minute drive to the railway station. A taxi to the airport should cost about MNT15,000-20,000 (about US$15).
A departure transfer is available - please enquire at time of booking.
Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
MONGOLIA (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND):
Australia: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Nationals of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom can for tourist purposes visa free for 30 days. US passport holders can travel in Mongolia for up to 90 days visa free.
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI):
Most embassies do not require a LOI. However, should you be required to present one with your visa application please contact us. There may be a fee for this service. In order for us to provide a LOI through our local partners we will require a clear, colour scan of your passport along with indicating at which embassy you will be applying for your visa. Please allow up to 2 weeks for your LOI to be processed.
VISA ON ARRIVAL:
Visas are not available on arrival at any land borders into Mongolia. Due to changes in visa regulations we are no longer able to provide visa invitations for visa on arrival at the Chinggis Khan International Airport.
You may be able to apply for your Mongolian visa in Beijing en-route if you are travelling on a long combination trip. A LOI is required for applications in Beijing.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa (J) that covers the duration of your stay in Mongolia. Visas are usually valid for 3 months from the date of issue and enable to you to stay for up to 30 days.
Name and address of host person or organization in Mongolia:
Mongolian Ways Ltd.
5th Khoroo, 6th Khoroolol
Bldg. 17, door 39
+976 11 330351
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You may be required to provide a copy of your Dragoman itinerary, indicating the dates of your tour, along with your application.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than: length 20 inches, height 9.5 inches and depth 26.5 inches. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock with a long shackle.The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks shouldn't have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
CAMPING EQUIPMENT / MATTRESS:
A sleeping bag (we recommend a 3–4 season). It can get very cold at night in winter months in desert and mountainous regions. If you're travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter the weather. Pillows are NOT provided so please bring a travel pillow along.
We don't provide a mattress so please bring your own (a Thermarest / inflatable mattress is recommended).
A simple plastic bag / waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures.
Temperatures in Mongolia range from 10-25 C during the day to close to or below freezing at night, especially in April-May and September-October. We recommend that you bring warm clothes including a windproof jacket, scarf, gloves and warm hat as well as some lighter clothes for milder temperatures.
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt “cigarette lighter” socket which may be used at the crew’s discretion, however, do bear in mind that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. We suggest you bring a mix of normal and rechargeable batteries and the appropriate recharging unit. Hotels and many campsites have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day.
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.
We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
People with allergies to animals should be aware that Mongolians live in very close proximity with their live stock and while staying in family gers you may be exposed to many animals such as dogs, horses, goats and yaks.
The diet and hygiene standards of Mongolia may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc and bring some medication/re hydration salts etc should you experience stomach problems.
In spring and early summer in rural areas Mongolia ticks are prevalent. Please take precautions when walking in these areas by wearing long trousers and boots and check your clothes and body thoroughly.
It is also worth noting that outside of Ulaanbaatar medical facilities are virtually non-existent. It can take up to a few days to reach any modern facilities should you require medical attention whilst on the road.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
DRAGOMAN TRANSPORT SAFETY
• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.
• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.
• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.
• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion
• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells
• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.
• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver
• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.
• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.
• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.
• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.
• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.
• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.
• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.
• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavor to sort the situation out.
• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.
• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.
• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or home stays
CAMPSITE FIRE SAFETY:
• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.
• Know how to raise the alarm.
• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.
• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.
• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.
OTHER CAMPSITE SAFETY
• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.
• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.
• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.
• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.
• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.
• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.
• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.
• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.
• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.
• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.
• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.
• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.
• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.
• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group.
• We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;
• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.
• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.
• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).
• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.
• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.
• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.
• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.
• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as
individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is
part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.
DRAGOMAN PERSONAL SAFETY:
One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling.
There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:
• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.
• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.
• Avoid carrying too much money.
• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport,
air tickets, cash and other valuable items.
• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.
• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.
• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away
by the crew.
• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.
• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader or local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Mongolia include:
* The Lotus Children's Centre cares for children who are the victims of abandonment, neglect or abuse. Currently housing some 150 children, the centre provides for basic health, shelter and educational needs. Employment and effective life skills are also imparted as the children grow, in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty.
Lotus is always happy to receive donations of a wide range of items: clothing of all sizes, shoes, underwear, socks, coats and scarves; arts and craft supplies for school activities; child-care goods and toiletries such as nappies/diapers, nappy rash, anti-fungal and scabies creams, soap, shampoo, sunblock, insect repellent etc. Please advise your leader if you have brought something to donate, so that they can arrange for it to be passed on to Lotus.
Financial donations will be doubled by Intrepid Travel. Donations can also be made via your leader or via The Intrepid Foundation donation box at the Lotus Hostel. More information about Lotus can be found on their website here: www.lotuschild.org
Carbon Offset C02-e 861.00 kgs per pax.
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