Luxury adventure tours to Mongolia are few and far between. The Mongolian-American tour company, Nomadic Expeditions, has taken this challenge to new tiers of possibility, opening up this place to western travelers with an abundance of comfort and luxury for memorable immersions in a fast-disappearing way of life.
No visit to Mongolia is complete without a foray into the Gobi Desert, an easy half-million square miles of arid dunes, rugged cliffs, craggy mud flats and rolling hills of short, rough grasslands. Visit in the popular summer months or opt for spring, a lovely time filled with warm days and chilly nights where visitors can roam the expanses by SUV, horse and camel and scarcely see another human. And there is, indeed, so much to see.
Nomadic Expedition Offices in the USA
Nomadic Expeditions, with offices in New Jersey and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, was founded in 1992 by Mongolian-American Jalsa Urubshurow. This visionary, whose parents had migrated to the U.S. in 1952 to escape Russian persecution in Mongolia, wanted to share his ancestral homeland with sophisticated westerners. Soon after establishing Nomadic Expeditions, Urubshurow set about building a luxury eco-lodge in the Gobi Desert. Locals helped him build what is now Three Camel Lodge, built from scratch using wood and materials that could be sourced as closely as possible. The lodge is comprised of gers, tented dwellings used by nomads for centuries, though these luxurious versions have helped Three Camel Lodge win international hospitality and media awards.
Journeys into the Heart of Mongolia
Adventure-minded and sophisticated travelers keep Mongolia atop their bucket list for reasons that easily stand out for anyone who visits.
You won’t find traditional five-star resorts here but you will find a sky filled with 5,000 stars. You won’t find white sand beaches (Mongolia is the world’s second largest land-locked country, right behind Kazakhstan) but you will find the endless dunes that make up 10 percent of the Gobi Desert and reach heights of 100 feet in their shifting waves. You won’t find mixologists and trendy bars, but you will sip cocktails as you watch the waning sun turn the Flaming Cliffs into a desert of fire. You won’t be shopping for souvenirs in upscale malls but you will be scavenging for dinosaur bone chips in a valley where nearly a century ago fossilized dinosaur eggs were found by American adventurer Roy Chapman Andrews, said to have been the original inspiration for Indiana Jones. How to tell a dinosaur relic from recently deceased animal bones? The dinosaur bone sticks to your tongue, of course, as every Mongolian nomad knows.
Guests of Nomadic Expeditions are treated to an extraordinary experience in this remote corner of the world. Tours are managed by English-speaking staff that take guests to outcroppings in the middle of a vast landscape that still have remarkably preserved petroglyph drawings of animals and nomadic life. Comfortable late model Toyota Land Rovers provide the horsepower. Guests hike, trek, ride back-friendly two-humped Bactrian camels, watch festive local competitions in all manner of hunting and animal mastery and get to have a front row seat to an ancient and disappearing culture that has not changed for a thousand years.
Ancient Dreams at Three Camel Lodge
At Three Camel Lodge, each ger is given to capacious, cozy and clean furnishings, a wood-burning stove for heat prepared and tended by staff, plush towels, an attached bathroom with hot water (very rare in these parts), electric lights, and all the endless views one could ever imagine.
City soundscapes are traded for rural reverberations: neighing horses, baying goats and lambs, hissing camels, vociferous herdsmen. Winds blow along the plains, a cerulean sky nearly void of clouds marks most days.
After a long day wandering the steppes, guests head back to the Lodge for some tea with yak milk, followed by creative cuisine, fine wines (Urubshurow keeps a wine cellar stocked with stellar appellations), rare vodkas, and entertainment provided by local villagers.
No day is like the other on a Nomadic Expeditions tour and all days are light years in time from Western experiences or daily lives.
Special Picks: The Golden Eagle Festival happens in October in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia. Kazakh hunters come from afar with golden eagles in tow to enter them into competitions of speed, agility, and accuracy, all accompanied by days of ceremonies and dance performances.
Another treasured experience is a spiritual tour of Mongolia with Buddhism scholar Robert Thurman in a land where Buddhism was once silenced. The journey heads to sacred sites and temples and includes meditation sessions, as well as insights into the history and renewal of Buddhism in this land.
Jalsa Urubshurow, Founder and CEO of Nomadic Expeditions, will join Robert Thurman on this special journey happening June 25 – July 7, 2017 and priced at $10,900 per person/double occupancy. (Single Supplement: $1,650). Donations will be given to Tibet House in the amount of $1,000 per traveler.
All tours to Mongolia start with flights from Beijing to Dalanzadgad Airport and then a 90-minute drive to Three Camel Lodge.
Nomadic Expeditions arranges both escorted group journeys and customized private tours and, while specializing in cultural and adventure expeditions from the rugged Altai Mountains in the west and the stunning Lake Hovsgol in the north to the vast steppes of the Mongolian heartland and the rugged Gobi Desert, it also offers immersive tours into Bhutan, China, Siberia, and Tibet.