In this week’s Travel SOS, Kay O’Sullivan explores the tour options in Mongolia for the adventurous Maree, who is planning a trip there next year.
I am going to Mongolia next year on my own for up to 25 days and, as you may expect, I have found very few tours in the travel books and on the net. Can you help me with details of any tours and which tour companies are safe to use on the net?
A. I’m so impressed with your adventurous spirit. I have never been within cooee of Mongolia, so I contacted Lonely Planet author and long-term Ulaanbaatar resident Michael Kohn via Twitter for his advice.
Michael has written 20 guides for Lonely Planet and has worked as the English editor for the Mongol Messenger, a weekly newspaper in Mongolia. He also reports on the area for various international news outlets, including the BBC, Bloomberg and Reuters. You can’t get any more experienced than that.
Michael suggested that you take a look at tours he recommends on pages 35-37 of the 2014 edition of Lonely Planet Mongolia. (It’s the most recent edition.)
You can buy the book via lonelyplanet.com for $38.99, the ebook for $27.29 or specific echapters for $4.99 each. The best deal for you would be the bundle that delivers both the ebook and the print version for $38.99.
I took a look at the tours offered on the net and agree with you there aren’t that many. But the good news is that there are a number of reputable tour companies operating in the country, who will take good care of you and do a great job of introducing you to this fascinating land.
These include Intrepid Travel, Peregrine Adventures and World Expeditions, all of which are Aussie companies with vast experience around the world and particularly in Asia. GAdventures is another respected international tour company, although I would add that it tends to attract a young crowd. There is more of mix of ages, from the young to the more experienced travellers, with the other companies I have mentioned.
The security of dealing with an Australian company has great appeal for me, especially in remote locations. With Intrepid, Peregrine and World Expeditions, you talk to a local Aussie expert before you go and you know there will be back-up, support, and your loved ones will be kept well informed if, heaven forbid, anything untoward happens while you are travelling with the company.
Intrepid has eight Mongolian trips listed on its website. Wild Mongolia stands out for me. It is a 15-day trip and is rated highly by the independent travellers on the site who gave it an average of 4.5 stars out of five. Monks, monasteries, an overnight stay in a traditional ger, hiking, a homestay with a family and a good look at the capital of Ulaanbaatar. Sounds terrific.
Peregrine Adventures has one trip listed for 11 days, beginning and finishing from Ulaanbaatar. While World Expeditions has a number of trips that take in Mongolia as part of wider travels and some exciting adventures, cycling and trekking options that take you to the far reaches of Mongolia, and that’s a long, long way by anyone’s measure. The truly adventurous can team up with mountaineer Tim Cope for high-altitude trekking. Not for me, but maybe for you, you adventurous spirit.
Hope this all helps.
Do you have a travel question for Kay? If so, email your Travel SOS to [email protected]
Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has worked for numerous papers, magazines and on the internet, both here and internationally.