Cultural Mongolia with the Naadam Festival
Before You Go
Away from its capital, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is primitive and little affected by the modern world. Mongolia’s landscapes, therefore, lack power lines, paved roads, and often even permanent buildings of any kind. It is a place where native people live as nomadic herdsmen, their daily routine unchanged over thousands of years. To travel in Mongolia requires a true spirit of adventure, flexibility, and sense of humor. Mongolia’s infrastructure is still in its infancy, roads can be in poor condition, and delays and changes to this published itinerary are likely and should be expected.
Accommodations are comfortable and clean and range from first-class hotels in the capital to traditional nomadic gers—dome-shaped tents covered by felt and canvas, known perhaps more widely by their Russian name, yurts. These well-managed ger camps offer an authentic experience of Mongolian culture, and provide the unique opportunity to visit areas that otherwise lack tourist accommodations. Homey and comfortable, gers are heated by wood-burning stoves; most lack en suite facilities, which are usually located in a central building.
Please be advised that in Mongolia it will be next to impossible to adhere to a vegetarian diet, though yogurt, cheese, and fermented milk will be available. Meals are hearty and simple; however, fresh vegetables and fruits are naturally in short supply. Temperatures will range from the mid-50s°F to the low-80s°F during the day, with temperatures dropping into the low-40s°F at night. To best enjoy your experiences in Mongolia, you should be in good physical condition and able to participate on nature hikes of one or two miles over rough or uneven trails.
Trip Preparation: Gear Up!
Walk steady and strong through Mongolia with your LEKITM Ultralite Ti Trekking Staff; adjustable from 24.4 to 51.2 inches, it’s easy to pack and use in the field. A thermofoam grip and ten-degree positive angle, as well as a fleece-lined strap, keeps you comfortable while walking up or down hill.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
Activity Level & Accommodations
For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You must be able to walk distances of up to three miles, sometimes over uneven surfaces, and climb steps that may not have handrails. Opportunities will also be available for optional hikes requiring more exertion.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your flight to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia at least two hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-ticket confirmation. Be certain the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination allowed, and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.
If you booked your flights through Zegrahm we will send you any flight itinerary updates approximately 3 weeks prior to departure. As airlines frequently adjust their schedules, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be easily done online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.
If you encounter significant delays or problems en route, proceed to your airline’s ticket counter or flight gate for immediate assistance, and contact Zegrahm at 1.800.628.8747, 206.285.4000, or 206.219.1641. Advise Zegrahm of all changes to your arrival into Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia so that we may inform our Expedition Leader.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates and for those who have booked additional night(s) through Zegrahm Expeditions at our group hotel, the Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar.
If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
For your international flight to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and return flight home from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia please check for luggage weight restrictions with your airline provider or our air department if you are booking your international air arrangements through Zegrahm.
We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage, as it is easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
The weather in Mongolia in July is mild. Average daily temperatures will range from the low 50s°F to mid 80s°F.
The following are average high/low temperatures in July for selected locations on our itinerary:
As of December 2016, the exchange rate is as follows:
|$1 US dollar (USD)||2,488 Mongolian tugrik (MNT)|
Your expedition includes most necessities; but you may want additional spending money in local currency for your trip. Our expedition leader will help advise the best way to get local currency once at our hotel in Ulaanbaatar.
ATMs are a good option for obtaining local currency in Ulaanbaatar, but access to ATMs is limited outside of the city. Try to carry your cash in smaller denominations as most merchants outside the city may have limited access to exact change.
You will receive your Pre-Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, complete packing list, reading list, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior to your departure.
In Mongolia the power sockets are of type C and E, which are two-wire plugs with two round pins. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
You will need electrical adaptors to use any appliances with standard North American plugs. Check the voltage capacity of your appliances, unless your appliances have a range that is up to 220 V or higher, or has a dual-voltage switch, you will also need an electrical converter. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Ulaanbaatar and Ulaanbaatar/home city. Zegrahm Expeditions has an air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. For more detailed information, please contact our office at 206.285.4000 for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
There are no vaccines required for travel to Mongolia, however the CDC recommends all travelers are up to date on routine vaccines, and that most travelers are up to date with hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines, as travelers can get typhoid and hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Mongolia. Please consult with your doctor to decide what is right for you.
In general, drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. By preventing dehydration, you may prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, sunglasses, and a high-SPF sunscreen.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of your expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.
The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Internet & Phone
Your final documentation will include contact information for our hotels, including phone and fax numbers as well as email addresses, if available.
Internet access will be limited outside of our hotel in Ulaanbaatar. We suggest you participate in this expedition prepared to unplug.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00am on the North American west coast:
|10:00am||New York, NY|
Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form included with the Pre-Departure packet, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Please note it is very difficult to adhere to a vegetarian diet in Mongolia and unfortunately, kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly. Laundry service will be available for a small fee during the trip, and by using it, you can limit yourself to just four or five outfits and not be inconvenienced by an overabundance of clothing.
Bring loose, comfortable clothing appropriate for the variable conditions you will encounter. Bring adequate sun and wind protective clothing and gear, including a hat or visor and sunblock, as we will be outdoors for extended periods of time. For pants, it may be convenient to bring pants with zip-off legs. You also need sturdy, non-skid walking shoes. Please make sure your shoes are well broken-in before you depart.
In general, dressing conservatively will ensure your attire does not come in the way of cultural experiences.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It is recommended that your passport is valid for 6 months after you return home, through January 19, 2018. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You need to have a minimum of two blank pages available for entry/exit stamps in your passport. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
Visas are not required of US nationals for entry into Mongolia for stays of up to 90 days.
If you are traveling independently of the group or to any other countries prior to or after the program please check the entry and visa requirements with the local consulates of each country you plan on visiting.
PLEASE NOTE: Nationals of countries other than the US should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
Payments & Cancellations
A deposit totaling 25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this expedition. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Airfare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
- 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
- 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
- 1 through 119 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition. Unfortunately we are unable to offer insurance to guests residing outside the United States.
With Our Compliments
We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. Gift certificates to our Zegrahm Store and Longitude Books will offer you the opportunity to purchase gear from our store along with books or maps suggested in the highly recommended titles sent. The certificates will be sent in your Pre-Departure Packet approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificates for more details.