Luxury travel to Mongolia? The words luxury and Mongolia do not usually mingle in the same breath but a fast-rising favorite to this region is challenging that notion. Today’s luxury travelers seeking to travel beyond the borders and a bit off the grid while retaining all the comforts are seeking luxury tours to Mongolia through Nomadic Expeditions.
In Mongolia you can follow your bliss by horse, by train, by camel, by car into the land the time forgot. Nomadic Expeditions sets up all manner of luxury travel adventures that remain beyond bounds for most travelers but now are accessible for the few that want to travel in the footsteps of Genghis Khan.
Known as Chinggis in this region, there are statues, parks and squares dedicated to the 12th century conqueror that founded the Mongol Empire and helped to turn it into the largest contiguous empire in history. And a night or two in Ulaanbaatar will provide insight into much of that history, accessible mostly through museums and temples.
Travel to Mongolia Now
However, to see Mongolia and know Mongolia, travelers best be on their way sooner than later. The Mongolian capital is seeing the pressures that have befallen most Asian cities, especially in China, over the last quarter century with a rush to modernize. The capital now has its first true five-star hotel, the Shangri-La, and the recently erected Blue Sky Tower, the city’s tallest skyscraper at some 300 feet. And those are only the first part of the city’s 2030 master development plans, which also include construction of regional towns and satellite cities, an updated railway, airport and mass transit system and grids of modern apartment buildings to complement the Soviet-style blocks that now house the city’s estimated 1.3 million residents (nearly half the country’s population).
But in Mongolia, through Nomadic Expeditions, you can mix history and legend with adventure and ease. You can ride the Silk Road by train from Moscow to Almaty crossing once treacherous no-man’s lands and visiting 6th century outposts that eventually opened up this world to western civilization. You can trek with a dinosaur expert to unearth fossils and footprints still echoed among the rocks of the Gobi Desert. You can ride with noble horsemen on the steppes of Mongolia and sleep in a decked out yurt at Three Camel Lodge surrounded by the purity and emptiness of a land that time forgot.
Nomadic Expeditions takes visitors to places they have read about in fiction or dreamed about in fantasy, preserved Shangri-las and legendary kingdoms that do exist for travelers willing to put in the time and effort to travel there and beyond.
True Nomad: Jalsa Urubshurow
Nomadic Expeditions is the work of Mongolian-American entrepreneur and business owner Jalsa Urubshurow. Part of what goes into making Nomadic Expeditions work is Urubshurow’s focus on preserving Mongolia’s delicate and relatively untouched ecosystems and respecting its history and precious ecology.
In 1992, upon invitation from Mongolia’s first democratically elected Prime Minister who was eager to encourage western tourism to this land, Urubshurow founded Nomadic Expeditions, Inc. and committed his company to sustainability while also taking the reach of his forays beyond luxury travel to Mongolia to other remote regions nearby: Tibet, Russia, Bhutan, and China.
He opened Three Camel Lodge in 2002 in an exotic and otherwise difficult to access area in the middle of the Gobi Desert.
While the lodge provides a taste of the nomadic life with warm, comfortable and well-equipped yurts, guests still get a sense of life in the Gobi – the quiet infinity of it, endless lands under sky and stars, interrupted by the rare yak or sheep-herder and little else. Hot water, private bathrooms (with L’Occitane toiletries) electricity, sumptuous feasts – little is neglected in this isolated lodge of many treasures. Three Camel Lodge has been recognized internationally by such publications as National Geographic Adventure magazine, which ranked it among the world’s top 50 eco-lodges.
From there, guests head to nearby “Mongolian musts:” the Flaming Cliffs that, at certain hours, make the Gobi appear to be rising up in preternatural conflagration. With a knowing guide, guests wander the cliffs and valleys in search of fossils – from the Jurassic era. Dinosaur eggs and skeleton finds are not uncommon.
Value of a Destination Specialist
Whether seeking a high end experience of luxury travel to Mongolia or getting their on a budget, travel to Mongolia is not easy. It takes time, patience, special permits and visas and a strong sense of adventure. This is not a destination for people looking for Las Vegas style non-stop entertainment. The world moves slowly here and offers a rare, and becoming more rare, dip into a vastness, a silence, a deep history full of ancient traditions quickly becoming more elusive by the day. It requires a destination specialist that knows the land and can read the traveler to present an experience that flows from the heart. For Mongolia and beyond, Nomadic Expeditions is that guide.
Why use a destination specialist? Not all travel is as easy as a packaged weekend in the Poconos. Small as the world is, many corners remain remote, unpredictable and full of adventure and that, of course, is often why we travel. As we test the bounds of world geography we also test ourselves and come out stronger, wiser and with great stories to tell.
Planning a trip to Mongolia
Travelers looking to explore Mongolia might want to make those plans coincide with one of the country’s age-old festivals of skill, pageantry and sheer beauty.
Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian Lunar New Year): It’s celebrated between the end of January and end of February and is mostly about the Sar feast, which includes dairy products, mutton and horse meat, rice with curds, fermented mare’s milk, dumplings and cookies stacked high as mini mountains.
Khovsgol Ice Festival: This happens in March when temperatures are still as cold as minus 31 degrees F in the windchill. There are horsesled races, ice rally drives, wrestling and tug-o-wars all on frozen Lake Khovsgol at Siberia’s edge. Even in the sultry summer months, temperatures here hover at 18 degrees F.
Gobi Camel Festival: Also a winter fest in March, this gathering near Dalanzadgad celebrates everything Bactrian.
Nauryz Festival: this is a celebration of Spring and renewal at the time of the Vernal Equinox. People settle rivalries and debts, fill all vessels in the house with milk, yogurt and grain, and welcome the coming year’s fortune of plenty.
Naadam Festival: Celebrated in summer across the land, Naadam festivals bring on traditional dress and “manly” competitions.
Eagle Festivals: The golden eagle festival held in the fall celebrates eagles preparing for a winter of hunting. The festival hails from ancient falconry arts that were practiced by neighboring Kazakhs and the fests remain much the same as they always were. These artful pageants spring up across the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia as the weather begins to cool. They make stunning visuals against Mongolia’s wide skies, endless plains and mountain ranges.
Luxury travel to Mongolia is best managed in the more temperate months of summer, from June to August, when temperatures range between 54-and 80 degrees F. Expect some rain, but not enough to become a bother.