Wild Mongolia Trip Notes

Wild Mongolia

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 21 Jul 2016
Wild Mongolia
Trip code: CBSF
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Travel to Mongolia and experience the raw beauty and tradition of this remote region. Hidden from the world for many years, it is hard to imagine that this secluded country once created the largest land empire ever known. Unmatched geographical diversity, pristine grasslands, crumbling ruins and roaming herdsmen riding tough Mongolian horses - see it all on this journey through a land that time forgot. Please note this trip (The CBSF) is unchanged for 2017, however we will have a new special Naadam Festival Itinerary for 2017 which will be 6 days long and under the trip code CBSO. Departures during Naadam will be replaced by the below CBSO itinerary, please check back in a few months for more details on this new itinerary. CBSO 2017 Itinerary: 1 9th July Ulaanbaatar 2 10th July Ulaanbaatar (Opening Ceremony) 3 11th July Naadam 4 12th July Naadam 5 13th July Terllj 6 14th July Ulaanbaatar
Table of Contents
StyleYour fellow travellersEmergency contact
ThemesAccommodationVisas
Is this trip right for you?Accommodation NotesWhat to take
Why we love itMeals introductionHealth
MapMealsTravel insurance
ItineraryMoney mattersA couple of rules
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Physical ratingSafetyThe Intrepid Foundation
Included activitiesJoining pointFeedback
Important notesJoining point instructions
Group sizeFinish point
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer, Festivals and Events
Is this trip right for you?
- Staying in various ger camps, you will experience basic conditions which may take some getting used to. Note that you will need to bring your own sleeping bag. Most gers sleep up to six people, with comfortable beds and plenty of blankets.
- This trip involves long drives across some rough terrain and to remote areas, away from modern facilities and conveniences. As you'll spend a lot of time on the road, it is important to realise that the emphasis on this trip is on the journey. You'll travel through amazing landscapes and stay in some stunning locations.
- Driving times will vary; the times listed in the itinerary are approximate and subject to road and weather conditions. As we have our own vehicle(s), it may be possible to make stops along the way for photos, meals or to chat with locals.
- Vegetarians can be catered for, though choices may be limited. Please let us know if you have any specific dietary requirements when you book your trip. Some food will be traditional Mongolian style, but as the traditional diet consists solely of meat and dairy products, most meals are less challenging and based more on Russian or Western cuisine, which is now also common in the Mongolian diet.
Why we love it
- Mongolia is a far-out destination, but you'll be in excellent hands. Your experienced drivers, manning sturdy Russian vans fit to tackle the rugged countryside, will give you a crash course in the language
- Whether by camel or on foot, experience Mongolia's incredible landscapes, from the rolling dunes of Karakorum to the volcanic craters of the Great White Lake among the mountains
- Two homestays with local families allow you to experience nomadic life from the inside – a rare, rewarding cultural experience to remember
- Situated in the valley of the Delger River, the Tsenkeher Hot Springs offer the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long journey on the road
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Ulaanbaatar
Sainbainuu! Welcome to Mongolia. You can arrive at any time before your group meeting at 6 pm. The location of this meeting can be found at the hotel reception. Please have your passport, insurance and next of kin information ready to give to your leader at this meeting. Your hotel is located in a quiet residential area within walking distance to Sukhbaatar Square. Afterwards you'll have the option to join your fellow travellers for dinner at a local restaurant. If you arrive in town earlier and have time, be sure to get out and explore 'UB', a fascinating town where elderly Mongolians in traditional dress mingle with the nation's young business elite. A great place to start is Gandan Khiid, Mongolia's largest and most important monastery. The Fine Arts Museum, Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan and Intellectual Museum are also well worth visiting.

Notes: Rooms are twin share with private bathrooms. Due to the fact that much of Ulaanbaatar's infrastructure lacks regular maintenance, you may only have access to cold water at your hotel.
Included Activities
  • Informal Mongolian Language Lesson
    Optional Activities
    • Fine Arts Museum - MNT5000
    • Ulaanbaatar - Gandan Monastery - MNT4000
    • Ulaanbaatar - National History Museum - MNT5000
    • Ulaanbaatar - Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan - MNT5000
      Accommodation
      Guide Hotel or similar (1 nt)
      Day 2 Amarbayasgalant Monastery
      Today your adventure begins as you drive out through the beautiful Mongolian countryside (approximately 9 hours). Most of the drive today is on paved roads, but be prepared for some bumps after the final turnoff to the the remote Amarbayasgalant Khiid. Your leader and drivers will be glad to teach you some basic Mongolian words on the way – a great way to prepare for interactions with the locals, few of whom speak English. Your final destination today is Mongolia's second most important place of worship (after Gandan Monastery in UB), situated in the beautiful Iven Gol River valley, at the foot of Burengiin Mountain, in the Selenge province. After seeing the monastery, you will get your first taste of nomadic life at the first ger camp of the trip. This is the way that the majority of Mongolia's population has always lived – away from the city and in the wide open spaces of seemingly endless countryside. It's the quintessential Mongolian experience. Although such camps are set up for visitors, this type of accommodation is still used around the country, even in the capital where you will have seen many 'ger suburbs' surrounding the city centre.
      Included Activities
      • Amarbayasgalant - Monastery
        Accommodation
        Amarbayasgalant Ger (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
        Day 3 Selenge River
        Continue to the lovely Selenge River via the copper mining town of Erdenet (approximately 8 hours). There may be opportunities to spot some interesting wildlife along the way, such as marmots and many different species of birds. You will arrive at your ger camp in the settlement of Unit in the afternoon. Stretch your legs on arrival and take a walk up to the Togoo Uul (Pot Mountain) – an extinct volcano looming over the surrounding steppe. The hike to the top rewards you with views of the crater's lush interior. From this vantage, you can only imagine what this incredible landscape must have looked like millions of years ago. 
        Included Activities
        • Selenge - Uran Togoo hike
          Accommodation
          Amarbayasgalant / Ger (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
          Day 4 Selenge River
          Today your journey (approximately 9 hours) brings you to the mountainous outskirts of Ikh Uul for your first stay with a local nomad family. This is a rare opportunity to see how modern Mongolian nomads are preserving an ancient way of life while embracing some elements of modernity. You will be welcomed into the family ger and shown traditional Mongolian hospitality, starting with a bowl of salty milk tea and perhaps some aaruul (dried curds). This evening you will help your hosts prepare dinner – maybe some buuz (steamed dumplings) or barbecue. Your hosts may teach you some Mongolian games, such as shooting arrows from a bow in the local style. Many nomad families keep animals, so don't be surprised if there is some interaction with goats, dogs, horses and sheep. The location is remote, with no nearby settlements or light pollution. The night sky is incredible in clear weather, so be sure to do some stargazing before retiring for the evening.

          Notes: The conditions are very basic here, and this homestay may be a culture shock for some. There are no toilet facilities as such; your leader will point you in the right direction of the 'bathroom'. You will sleep in a mattress on the floor of one of the family's gers. It can get very chilly here in the evenings, so warm clothes are essential. There is also a one-camera policy on these homestays, which makes for a more immersive engagement with hosts and minimises intrusion. This is one way you can live the philosophy of responsible travel while in Mongolia. (Photos can be copied and shared among the group back in UB.)
          Optional Activities
          • Archery - Free
            Accommodation
            Ikh Uul Homestay (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
            Day 5 Lake Khovsgol
            Enjoy breakfast with your host family and bid them farewell. It's a long day of driving today, across some rough terrain, to Khovsgol Lake (approximately 9 hours). This is arguably Mongolia's most beautiful destination, a pristine wilderness area that's home to many ethnic minorities. It boasts spectacular scenery with stunning fir forests, lush green grasslands and meadows peppered with wildflowers. Since it is a popular destination for both foreign tourists and local holiday makers, you will likely come across other travellers here, especially in the peak travel months of June and July. You'll stay in a tourist ger camp just near the lake. Settle in for the night and sleep well, because there are plenty of optional activities to choose from tomorrow.
            Optional Activities
            • Boat hire per hour Khovsgol Lake - MNT10000
              Accommodation
              Blue Pear Ger (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
              Day 6 Lake Khovsgol
              Today you might like to hike up to one of the nearby peaks, visit a local shaman, or perhaps take a boat trip out on the lake. All of these are great ways to experience this gorgeous region. Tonight you will stay in a tourist ger camp near the lake.

              Notes: While you're here, the camp staff might offer you the option to visit a local settlement of reindeer herders. The reindeer are brought to Lake Khovsgol so the herders can benefit from tourism. This area, however, is not ideal for the reindeer, as they are native to much colder climates. For this reason, Intrepid does not recommend this activity.
              Optional Activities
              • Visit a local Shaman - MNT3000
                Accommodation
                Blue Pear Ger (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                Day 7-9 Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake
                On Day 7 you will set off early to drive back through the town of Murun, and on to Shine Ider (approximately 10 hours). Here you will enjoy the second family stay of your trip. Now that you know what to expect from a Mongolian homestay, you should feel more comfortable the second time around. Get to know your hosts as you help them prepare dinner. You might even have the chance to watch as the family's livestock are milked and herded. On Day 8, after breakfast with the family, you'll drive to the surreal Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan, aka the Great White Lake (approximately 7 hours). This natural volcanic lake, surrounded by mountains, is a surreal and memorable sight. Using the tourist ger camp at Maikhan Tolgoi as a base, you will drive up to one of the volcanic craters and hike to the top for spectacular views. There are plenty of nice trails to walk during your two-night stay here, so make the most of this relaxing break from the road.
                Accommodation
                Shine Ider Homestay (3 nt)
                Meals
                3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
                Day 10 Tsenkher
                On Day 10, travel to the Tsenkher Hot Springs (approximately 6 hours). These are situated in the valley of the Delger River. On the way, you'll stop at Tsetserleg, a lovely provincial town with a local market and a unique little museum housed in a former temple, which you'll visit with a local guide. At this stop, there's the chance to wander around the town for a glimpse at what provincial Mongolian life is like. Perhaps stock up on some snacks and drinks for the travels ahead. If there is time and the connection is good, you can also visit an internet cafe to get in touch with friends and family back home. From here it's about another hour to the hot springs, where you'll check into the tourist ger camp on arrival.
                Included Activities
                • Tsetserleg - Local Museum
                  Accommodation
                  Duut / Khangai Ger (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                  Day 11 Tsenkher
                  Today is a free day to relax, explore, or simply laze about in the thermal waters of these invigorating natural hot springs. Be sure to pack your swimwear so you can take part in this activity. Surrounded by the remote beauty of the landscape, this location is perfect for slowing down to a more meditative pace, reading a book and taking it easy. There are also optional hikes and activities on offer if you'd prefer something more active. 
                  Included Activities
                  • Tsenkher - Hot Springs
                    Accommodation
                    Khankhar Uul Ger (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                    Day 12 Karakorum/Khogno Khan
                    Continue to Karakorum (approximately 4 hours), a town built by the legendary Genghis Khan in the 13th century. Ask your leader and drivers to tell you some stories about this great man on the way – after all, he's the nation's hero. In Karakorum you will visit the first Buddhist centre of Mongolia, the immense Erdene Zuu Monastery. This impressive walled compound retains much of its former glory, and within it you can inspect the three temples, each one dedicated to a different stage of a Buddha's life – child, adolescent and adult stages. Later in the afternoon, you will drive to the Khogno Khan Mountains, the location of your tourist ger camp tonight.
                    Included Activities
                    • Karakorum - Erdene Zuu Monastery
                      Optional Activities
                      • Archery at Ger Camp - MNT5000
                        Accommodation
                        Khankhar Uul Ger (1 nt)
                        Meals
                        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                        Day 13 Karakorum/Khogno Khan
                        Karakorum just nearby is a sudden strip of sand dunes – a striking contrast to the landscape you have just travelled through. Here you will enjoy a camel trek along the dunes – an ideal way to experience this eye-popping landscape. At your ger camp, there might be the opportunity to practice the art of Mongolian archery under the tutorage of some local experts. It's certainly much harder than it looks, requiring good strength and aim! The afternoon is yours to spend as you please.
                        Included Activities
                        • Khogno Khan - Camel ride
                          Accommodation
                          Khankhar Uul Ger (1 nt)
                          Meals
                          1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                          Day 14 Ulaanbaatar
                          Travel back across the rolling grasslands to Ulaanbaatar (approximately 8 hours). The route will take you past 'ovoos' (roadside shrines) and ger suburbs. Arriving in the metropolis, you'll check back into your hotel. Depending on the arrival time, there might be the chance to shop for some local handicrafts such as cashmere and felt products, or check out some more of the city's sights and museums. Tonight you can celebrate your journey around Mongolia by witnessing a special cultural performance featuring throat singing and traditional dancing. There will be an optional final dinner at a local restaurant recommended by your leader.
                          Included Activities
                          • Ulaanbaatar - Cultural Performance
                            Accommodation
                            Guide Hotel (1 nt)
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                            Day 15 Ulaanbaatar
                            Say 'bayartai' to your group as your adventure draws to a close. There are no activities planned for the day, and you're free to depart the hotel at any time before 12 noon. If you'd like to stay longer in UB, it's recommended that you book additional accommodation well in advance.
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast
                            Itinerary disclaimer
                            ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                            OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: 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.
                            Physical rating

                            You need to have a good level of fitness and be in excellent health to take part in this trip. It's important that you are able to carry your own luggage (pack light!) as you will need to be able to take it on and off vehicles.

                            You also need to be able to cope with varying temperature as we will be experiencing climates from warm days to cold nights. Travel days can also be long, rough and in cramped conditions.
                            Included activities
                            Informal Mongolian Language Lesson
                            Amarbayasgalant - Monastery
                            Selenge - Uran Togoo hike
                            Tsetserleg - Local Museum
                            Tsenkher - Hot Springs
                            Karakorum - Erdene Zuu Monastery
                            Khogno Khan - Camel ride
                            Ulaanbaatar - Cultural Performance
                            Important notes
                            1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information.
                            2. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Ulaanbaatar Office can be reached on Tel: +976 991 83751, +976 990 86929 or +976 99764509.
                            3. 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 Ulaanbaatar. 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.
                            4. In 2016 the Wild Mongolia trips departing on 28th June and 10th July will be in Mongolia for the Naadam Festival. These will run on a slightly altered itinerary. This is the biggest festival of the year in Mongolia and involves elaborate parades and concerts, wresting and archery competitions and spectacular horseback events and races.
                            As Naadam is the busiest and most popular time for foreign travellers to visit Mongolia, the tourism industry is stretched to the limits and prices for services such as accommodation and transport increase. For this reason a surcharge applies for Naadam departures. Tickets to Naadam events are included in the price of your trip and will be booked for you in advance. In order to make the most of our time at the festival these departures run with adjusted itineraries. Final itineraries will be confirmed by your leader at the group meeting. An indication of alternates for the Naadam tours are as follows but please be aware these are subject to change:

                            Wild Mongolia (CBSF) - 28 Jun to 12 Jul 2016
                            Days 1-9 as per normal itinerary
                            Day 10 Tsenkher Hot Springs
                            Day 11-12 Karakorum/Khogno Khan
                            Day 13 Return to Ulaanbaatar for Naadam events
                            Day 14 Ulaanbaatar - Naadam events
                            Day 15 Depart

                            Wild Mongolia (CBSF) - 10 Jul to 24 Jul 2016
                            Days 1-3 Ulaanbaatar/Naadam events
                            Day 4 Amarbayasgalant
                            Days 5-6 Selenge
                            Day 7-8 Khovsgol
                            Day 9-11 Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake
                            Days 10-11 Khorgo
                            Day 12 Tsenkher Hot Springs
                            Day 13 Karakorum/Khogno Khan
                            Day 14 Return to Ulaanbaatar
                            Day 15 Depart

                            Group size
                            Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                            Your fellow travellers
                            GROUP TRAVEL
                            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.

                            SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                            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.

                            The single supplement excludes home stay nights.
                            Accommodation
                            Ger Camp (10 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (2 nights)
                            OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
                            The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                            TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
                            Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

                            CHECK-IN TIME
                            Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                            PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
                            If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

                            HOT WATER:
                            Please note that in many cities in Russia, including Moscow, hot water is turned off for up to one month during summer for routine maintenance. During this time only cold water may be available. In Ulaanbaatar due to the fact that much of the city's infrastructure lacks regular maintenance, we may only have access to cold water at our hotel year round.
                            Meals introduction
                            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.

                            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.
                            Meals
                            14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 12 dinners
                            Money matters
                            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.

                            SPENDING MONEY
                            When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                            CENTRAL ASIA:
                            If you're 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.

                            The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                            Restaurants: - we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added. In China tipping in restaurants is not common practice.

                            Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1-2 (Central Asia), CNY5-10 (China) per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.

                            Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest RUB30-50 (Russia)/US$1-2 (Mongolia, Central Asia)/ CNY5-10 (China) per person per activity day for local guides. Adjust the amount accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.

                            Porters: In some hotels in China a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.

                            Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of RUB50/US$2 (Russia/Mongolia/Central Asia) or CNY5 (China) per person per day is generally appropriate. Adjust the amount accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.

                            Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $US3-5, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, per person, per day can be used.

                            Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                            DEPARTURE TAX
                            All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                            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.

                            EMERGENCY FUNDS
                            Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                            Group leader
                            All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                            Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                            Safety
                            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:

                            Mongolia is relatively safe, but violent muggings and attacks do occur. Petty crime is common in Ulaanbaatar, particularly in markets or other crowded public places. Watch out for pickpockets. Be wary of large groups of street children and teenagers, who sometimes harass pedestrians for money when entering and leaving vehicles, pubs and restaurants. Keep passports, money and other valuables in a safe place. Report any theft to the Pick-pocketing Department of the Police: telephone +976-93022480; the police can provide a letter for insurance purposes.

                            The incidence of violent crime in Ulaanbaatar appears to be on the rise. There has been an increase in reports of foreigners being robbed and assaulted, especially when walking at night, and while using public transport and unlicensed taxis.

                            The number of violent incidents tends to increase during festive months – New Year, Tsagaan Sar (December – February) and Naadam (July). Take extra safety precautions during these months.

                            Mongolia experiences extremes of weather, from +35C in summer to -40C in winter. Even in summer, evenings can be cold because of the altitude and weather conditions can change without warning. There are long distances between settlements. Take appropriate provisions, including warm clothing, food and water if you are travelling outside main urban areas.
                            In recent years there have been occasional instances of civil and political unrest resulting in demonstrations and in some cases violence. On 16 September 2013 there was a political demonstration in central Ulaanbaatar during which several rifle shots were discharged. No injuries were reported. You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                            FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                            Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                            BALCONIES:
                            Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

                            TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
                            Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                            Pay attention on all roads, even small streets and alleyways. Vehicles find their ways into impossibly small passages leaving no room for both you and the traffic. Traffic can be very noisy and horns are used to signal turning, overtaking and to announce going through intersections.

                            SEAT BELTS:
                            Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                            PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                            While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
                            Joining point
                            Guide Hotel
                            Khoroo 8
                            Ulaanbaatar 14193, Mongolia
                            Ulaanbaatar
                            MONGOLIA
                            Joining point instructions
                            The best way to get to our joining point hotel is by taxi. Taxis are easily available at any time of the day from the parking lot just outside the airport and the train station.

                            The Guide hotel is located in the east side of the city center 2-3 mins from the well known Zaluuchuud Hotel and about 30 min drive from the airport (25-40.000 MNT). It is 15 min drive from the main train station (5000-10000MNT) about 5-8 mins north from the Central Square. The hotel is located in a courtyard surrounded by old soviet apartment blocks between Dashchoilin Monastery and Supermarket №4.

                            Below are instructions in Mongolian for your taxi driver: Гайд зочид буудал, Дашчойлин хийдээс баруун тийш, Хүнсний 4 дүгээр дэлгүүрийн чанх ард буюу ертөнцийн зүгээрээ зүүн талд нь байран дунд байдаг буудал. Утас:11353582; 11353888.
                            Finish point
                            Guide Hotel
                            Khoroo 8
                            Ulaanbaatar 14193, Mongolia
                            Ulaanbaatar
                            MONGOLIA
                            Emergency contact
                            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.

                            For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

                            In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.

                            Intrepid's Local Ulaanbaatar Office: +976 99183751; +976 96003751;+976 99086929
                            Visas
                            Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                            Mongolia Visa

                            Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and most EU countries will need a visa to enter Mongolia as a tourist for up to 30 days. Citizens of Canada will not need a visa for visits up to 30 days, and citizens of the USA will not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required.

                            If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance – this will not usually require a Letter of Invitation.

                            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 an indication of at which embassy you will be applying for your visa. Please allow up to 2 weeks for your LOI to be processed.

                            VISAS EN-ROUTE:
                            You may be able to apply for your Mongolian visa in Beijing en-route if you have time here before your trip. Please plan carefully and check the current embassy requirements. You will need to organise this yourself and ensure you have all the correct documentation to obtain the Mongolian Visa.

                            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 Trails
                            Apartment 17, Building SOT 4,
                            4th micro district,
                            Bayangol district,
                            Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
                            Phone: 976-99183751, 976-96003751

                            DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
                            You may be required to provide a copy of your itinerary, indicating the dates of your tour, along with your application.
                            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.

                            Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                            TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
                            It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

                            LUGGAGE STORAGE
                            Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.

                            WATER BOTTLE
                            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 ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

                            IMAGES FROM HOME:
                            During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.

                            SLEEPING BAG
                            A sleeping bag is required for some nights on this trip. If you do not wish to bring your own from home, you may be able to purchase one in Ulaanbaatar however availability and quality is not guaranteed.
                            Health
                            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.

                            MEDICAL FACILITIES:
                            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.
                            Travel insurance
                            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.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                            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 has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                            Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                            Responsible Travel
                            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.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                            We recommend that you dress respectfully at all stages of the trip especially when in and around religious sites such as Buddhist temples. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for both men and women.

                            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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). 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:

                            http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                            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.
                            www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/lotus-childrens-center/


                            For more information, or to make a donation please visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=mongolia

                            Feedback
                            After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback