“Yaks, Yurts and Dancing Horses”

July 9 – 17, 2020

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full then WAITLIST  All must log in to Book or Wait

#solomongoliatravel

 

Imagine a Kingdom of Singing Sand Dunes, Flaming Cliffs, throat singers, 2 humped camels and dinosaur eggs. Come follow the footsteps of where Marco Polo ventured 700 years ago on our new AFS expedition of a lifetime to Mongolia!

Why is Mongolia trending for travelers this year? Maybe because it is so exotic, yet safe to visit. Maybe it’s the raw nature in the most expansive horizons on earth with diverse landscapes and brilliant star-studded skies. Maybe it’s for all of the fun to be had in this remote land of Genghis Khan. The intriguing country offers the coolest festivities, chock full of unique cultural traditions. Our past AFS group – which sold out in 3 days – loved it. But this time we enhanced it by including the dramatic Gobi Desert for you!! Together, we explore the best regions of their incomparable National Parks. Visit friendly nomadic families, ride the iconic Mongolian small horses, trek by camel, join the folklore dancing, pose with eagles, heck – you may even milk a yak!

The highlight is the epic Naadam Festival with its dazzling spectacle of local cultural arts, (got your seats a year ahead). Each year, nomads gather to celebrate – demonstrating archery, wrestling, throat singing, eagle calls and incredible horsemanship. Kind of like mixing a great party with the Olympics. After fun in Ulaanbaatar, we fly into Gobi, “Mongolia’s Outback,” the world’s most northern desert – a vast landscape of sweeping dunes, sandstone cliffs and unique wildlife. Gobi is called the “Cemetery of Dinosaurs” after the world’s first dinosaur nest and eggs were discovered here in 1921. You’ll love “glamping” in our tented yurts at the Dream Gobi Camp! We move safari-style in 10 thrilling jeeps and Land Rovers with some fun rides on dromedaries along the way.                                                                                        

Love the outdoors?  This wild land of untouched beauty is called the Great Wide Open.  So unspoiled, the nearest Starbucks is 2500 miles away.  There are more horses than humans and it’s a photographer’s dream. Instagram yourself with the funniest looking animals and their nomadic herders against breathtaking backdrops. July averages a comfy 66 degrees  – a perfect time to visit.

This one a total bucket list vacation for your Bragging Rights to prove you are a true global traveler and not just a US tourist. So affordable, no other company can compete.  We include domestic air, 18 meals, and fine accommodations. No visas needed for us. Just bring some tips and laughter.  I’m limiting participants so this will sell out fast.   

Come hear the cry of the eagle in a nomadic land of pure simplicity.  Embrace your inner explorer to discover a delightful place like no other and let your dreams begin!

HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

  • Deeltei Mongol festival ( traditional costumes contest and fashion parade)
  • Naadam Festival that showcases parade, wrestling, archery, horse racing, anklebone shooting, folklore singing and dancing.
  • Vultures Canyon in Yol Valley (South Gobi)
  • Singing Sand Dunes of Khongoryn Els ( South Gobi)
  • Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag (South Gobi)
  • Wild Horses ( Khustai Nuruu National Park)
  • Chinggis Khan Statue Complex
  • Visiting nomadic families
  • Opportunities for camel and horse riding

@solotravelgroup

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full then WAITLIST  

Mongolia Map

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full then WAITLIST

Download printable PDF itinerary

July 9 – Depart USA

Roundtrip air is easy from US to Ulaanbaatar. See AFS Trip Tips to come via email

 

July 10 – Welcome to the capital on Mongolia!                            D

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and go immediately to the Holiday Inn which is centrally located in the downtown area with most key sites within walking distance.

Late afternoon marks the beginning of the Deeltei Mongol Festival that features parade by people in traditional costumes. Last groups had a ball here dressing up in costumes with the locals. Expect to witness folk art concerts, circus performances, ankle-bone shooting as well as a contest of Mongolian national clothes. The entire Chinggis (Genghis) Khan Square will be filled with venders and performers. There will be gers (what we call yurts) and tents or people displaying handcrafts and carvings and food.

In the evening we’ll have a AFS Welcome Dinner and get to know your fellow travelers.

Overnight: Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar

July 11 –  Naadam Festival !                         B/L/D

This morning we attend the Opening Ceremonies of the spectacular Naadam Festival. Soldiers on horseback, dressed in Chinggis Khan Warrior regalia enter the National Stadium followed by hundreds of adults and children dressed in traditional costumes representing Mongolia’s different ethnic groups. ThePresident of Mongolia will official mark the festival’s beginning followed by the first challenge of wrestling. The entire grounds around the stadium are filled with people in traditional dress participating in different feats of competition from archery, to throat singing to eagle dancing.

Later, we visit the ornate Bogd Khan Palace Museum, the last remaining of the Mongolian emperor Bogd Khan (1869–1924). Considered the third most important person in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy-only after Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, his palace is filled with almost 9,000 treasured possessions. We will then continue to the hilltop Zainsan Memorial that honors allied Mongolian and Soviet soldiers killed in World War II. The panoramic view gives you a great perspective of Ulaanbaatar in the valley below, as well as the Tuul River flowing past the city.

Overnight: Holiday Inn Ulanbaatar

July 12 – Naadam and Horses                                B/L/D

Following breakfast, we travel to Khui Doloo (20 miles) to the horse racing field. The field marks the finish line for a 10 to 20 mile crosscountry race by children and youths between 5 to 13 years old. The length of races depend on the child’s age and in between the arrivals of the thundering horses and their jockeys you can mingle with the locals who come to cheer them on. We can wander through the nomadic tented camps and food stalls that spring up behind the race track and experience a gathering of entire nomadic Mongolia at one site!

Afterwards, we travel to Hustai National Park where we willfirst have lunch in a ger camp before exploring the park. Keep your eye open for the wild takhi – also known as Przewalskii’s horses which have been reintroduced to the park after near extinction.  We’ll return to Ulaanbaatar in the evening.  It’s said this cirt is “sinfully fun” with so much to do.  So much to do here from Foodie Tours, Ice Bar, pubs and clubs and more.

Overnight: Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar

July 13 – Yol Valley and Gurvansaikhan National Park                           B/L/D

In the morning, we take a short flight to South Gobi where local guides will meet us with 4WD vehicles.  We will visit the local Natural History Museum for an insight into the flora and fauna of the area and proceed to and proceed to the Yol Valley in Gurvansaikhan National Park, situated in the lap of the Altai Mountains.

Nestled deep within the hills, the valley is a safe haven to get away from the desert heat and narrows into a beautiful gorge as it goes deeper into the hills. It is also a haven for wild animals such as ibex, yaks and wild sheep, and the vulture.

We’ll have free time to either hike through the canyon or rent a horse with the lead. Horse ride!  Our evening is spent glamping in the amazing Dream Gobi Ger camp where we have our deluxe gers, complete with their own bathroom facilities inside. Out here in this amazing remote area, you will witness the spectacular Blue Skies Mongolia is so famous for and witness an array of stars like you have never seen before.

Check into our Gers with full bathrooms!  Wait ‘til you see this place – top notch above other camps.

Overnight: Dream Gobi Ger Camp   link

July 14  – Khongoryn Els                                        B/L/D

After breakfast, we enjoy a scenic drive to Khongoryn Els and our new ger camp, Gobi Erdene, stopping along the way to photo ops. After lunch, we hike to the natural phenomenon known as the Duut Mankhan – the Singing Sand Dunes. The singing comes as the wind moves sand across these vast mounds. Khongoryn Els or Khongor Sand Dunes are some of the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia. Reaching up to 984 feet high, they are over 7 miles wide and more than 62 mileslong.

Later, we’llvisit a nearby nomadic family for an authentic insight into the local life. Each summer, nomads arrive here in South Gobi with their livestock to take advantage of the green pasture close to the Khongoryn River. We’ll visit their home and have the opportunity to ride their camels to explore the area!  The families may offer sour cheese and yak milktea to try if you would like.

Overnight: Dream Gobi Ger Camp

  

July 15  – Bayanzag                                                             B/L/D

After breakfast, we will leave for Bayanzag and the stunningly beautiful Flaming Cliffs. The place was named by the American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews who came to the Mongolian Gobi

Desert in the early 1900s and found Asia’s first dinosaur skeleton and eggs. The red cliff gleams with sunlight and can be seen from miles away. We’ll explore the ridge of the cliff on our own and perhaps look for the pieces of Dinosaur bones.

Flight back to Ulaanbaatar

Overnight:  Blue Sky Tower Ulaanbaatar   link

 

July16 – Ulaanbaatar                                                             B/L/D

 After an early morning breakfast, we will fly back to Ulaanbaatar and head to the Chinggis Khan Statue complex for great photo opps and awesome selfies. This massive statue of Chinggis Khan on horseback towers 131 feet tall. You are able to enter the statue from the chest of the horse and climb up to the head of the horse where you will enjoy the panoramic view of the vastplains.

Return to Ulaanbaatar city late afternoon and you have free time for shopping. This area is known for its fine cashmere products, camel hair products, leather and local crafts. Consider a Foodie Dumpling Tour, visit to Lama Temple, Winter Palace or visit the National Mongolia and  Dinosaur Museums.  In the evening we toast each other farewell at our final group dinner.

Overnight: Blue Sky Tower  Ulaanbaatar

July 17 – Back to USA                                                          B

 After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport to head back home

BOOK NOW  or call 770-432-8225 If trip full then WAITLIST

Land Price :    $2575  pp twin share includes your internal air!

 Deposit $500

 Air:  There are only a handful of airlines that fly to Ulaanbaatar and they will not book group reservations during the festal.  See trip tips for more.

INCLUDES

  • 5-nights hotel accommodation ( First three nights Holiday Inn and last two nights Blue Sky Tower) and 2-nights in a deluxe ger in Dream Gobi Lodge (Total 7 nights)
  • All transfers and sightseeing by private vehicle (4WD Minivans in South Gobi-4 persons per van)
  • Three meals a day (Set menu). (First-day dinner only, three meals a day from day 2-6, breakfast and dinner on day 7 and breakfast only on day 8)
  • English speaking local certified guide
  • Sightseeing admission tickets
  • Drinking water (1.5 liters per day)
  • Internal Air Ulaanbaatar-South Gobi-Ulaanbaatar
  • Nadam Festival admission ticket.

NOT INCLUDED – Gratuities (added to invoice), optional camel or horse rides  (around $10)

From Lonely Planet –

Welcome to Mongolia

Rugged Mongolia is an adventure destination where travellers can experience nomadic culture and vast, untouched landscapes.

An Open Country

#solotravelsMongolia existed in a Soviet bubble for most of the 20th century. Now a generation beyond the fall of communism, Mongolia has emerged as a young democracy with a promising economy based on mining, agriculture and tourism. Some revenue is being funneled back into improving tourist facilities, including a new international airport near Ulaanbaatar. Visas are relatively easy to acquire; a handful of nationalities won’t even require one. Competition among the tour operators has led to better services. Despite the warm welcome, travel can be rough at times, with only basic facilities in many areas.

Mongolian Wilderness

Mongolians are fully aware of the unique beauty of their country. Ask locals and they will probably start gushing about the spectacular countryside, vast steppes, rugged mountains, clear lakes and abundant wildlife and livestock. Some areas are so remote you could drive a full day and see almost no signs of human habitation. It’s this true wilderness experience that many people find so appealing. City residents from Ulaanbaatar have also started to discover their own country and camping is now popular among urban locals. Protected areas cover almost a fifth of the country and the government is looking to increase that figure.

Nomad Hospitality

Mongolia’s nomadic culture is famous – visitors can sleep in a herder’s ger (traditional felt yurt), help round up the sheep, ride horses and simply ‘get back to nature’. The legacy of Chinggis Khaan and resurgent nationalist pride sharpens the experience. A culture of tremendous hospitality makes locals more accessible. In a world beset by locks and gates, it’s refreshing to meet people willing to open their doors to strangers. When travelling in Mongolia, however, keep in mind that guests are expected to reciprocate any forms of generosity, so when visiting families, always have a ready supply of gifts for the kids.

Not Just Grass & Horses

Once half nomadic, Mongolia is changing rapidly as its citizens flock to Ulaanbaatar and other big cities for work and study opportunities. The capital in particular is changing at a dizzying pace and many Mongolians have bought wholeheartedly into the global economy, capitalism and consumerism. Whether they are rural or urban, Mongolians take pride in their country’s democratic institutions of civic participation. Mongolia is eager to be part of the global community, sending its troops on peacekeeping missions around the globe and promoting itself as a country to host northeast Asian peace talks; visiting now puts you in the middle of these dramatic transformations.

Welcome to The Gobi

The Gobi reveals itself in pockets of amazing scenery, bridged by vast stretches of desolation where smartphone signals die and silence saturates. It can be daunting to be this far out in such harsh conditions, but this is where desert foliage shimmers in greens and golds, and where Tibetan lamas etched ancient messages on red rock cliffs. You’ll watch horses romp and gazelles sprint, hear goats and sheep cry, and commiserate with camels huddling in fierce winds that gather and roll across the steppe. At night galaxies erupt on the domed sky.

No wonder it’s one of Mongolia’s top-draw regions, promising colossal sand dunes, ice-filled canyons, dinosaur fossils, camel treks, and hospitable nomadic herders who will shower you with warmth, and more than a little milky tea. So choose one of those criss-crossed two-wheel tracks and follow it ever deeper into the mystery.

 

  •  All prices are per person twin share.  Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies.  Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably.  AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”  
  • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.  
  • Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
  • We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary. 
  • Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!

Air – Details presented in Trip Tips sent via email to bookers

Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar

HolidayInnBenefit from Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar downtown‘s convenient location, 15 minutes’ walk from Chinggis Khaan Square.You’ll enjoy all the convenience of a city centre location when you choose Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar. Chinggis Khaan International Airport is less than 30 minutes away and all the fascinating sights of the city are also within easy walking distance from the hotel such as the Government House, Chinggis Khaan Square and the numerous shopping malls available in the city. This welcoming hotel is ideally located for to meet all your business, leisure or conference needs and provides complimentary high-speed internet throughout. Holiday Inn value and comfort come as standard, plus you get the chance to discover our revolutionary Open Lobby; it’s a brand new take on the hotel lobby – a place where you can eat, drink, meet and work; really wind down and have fun. Fancy a lunch or dinner and a bottle of wine with business partners or friends? You’ll also love our new all day dining menu. Need to grab a quick coffee and breakfast to go or a midnight snack after a long day? It’s all up for grabs in the Holiday Inn Open Lobby. Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar features purpose built meeting rooms and a spacious ballroom for large events such as weddings or company events and after a long day in town working or visiting, our guests will be able to relax and enjoy our fully equipped gym and spa.

  •  All prices are per person twin share.  Single rooms limited per group and a single supplement applies.  Cost set by hotel/cruiseline and vary considerably.  AFS will find you a roommate match. All hotel rooms are “run of house.”  
  • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS.  
  • Land – Price based on a minimum number of trip participants, as well as local currency exchange rates which can fluctuate.
  • We write our itineraries over a year in advance. Though unlikely, we always reserve the right to modify schedules, tours and hotels if necessary. 
  • Group air – Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and the group is ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until the group air is set or we advise – though unlikely, airlines, times and dates can change!

AFS Trip Tips Mongolia 2020

Prepare to be thrilled by our most unique destination yet as we delve into the great wide open!  Here is a country where visitors can still see the past.  Centuries of nomadic living have given Mongolians a natural bond with travelers and are famous for their hospitality.  You’ll see an eyeful of beautiful wilderness to get photos of a lifetime and we’ve made this exceptionally fun!

Our last group 46 raved about this trip and that was without the Gobi. We negotiated an amazing price to include the Gobi Desert experience to witness the soul of this vast country. You’ll love our Dream Gobi Camp and dune bashing by jeeps. Your camels will lend for great Instagramable photos.

You have a wonderful group of 32 travel lovers at this point with space for a few more, so please tell your friends. Our contracted price is based on 38 participants which is a perfect medium size group for us. After final payments are in, will send you a contact and room list by email. Until then always refer to these Trip Tips on our website as updates will be added as necessary.

IMPORTANT PAYMENT DATES

  • 2ND DEPOSIT FEB 8. $ 500 – Second Deposit due – Email to charge it.
  • FINAL PAYMENT DUE MAR 9.  We prefer checks for Final Payment. Credit card fees are costly for a small company to absorb. While we build costs into smaller deposits, we incorporate a $60 credit card convenience fee as a line item on each invoice in order to defray processing costs. When paying by check, deduct this $60 amount.

Make your payment out to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080. If you won a contest on a past trip and have a coupon, mail it in, and we’ll process it just like a payment made by check. You may review your balance, booking items, and profile after logging into www.afstravelers.com. You may check your outstanding balance at any time on your profile after login. Reminder emails will always be sent.

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Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)  Suzy Davis

As a former flight attendant of 14 years with free travel, Suzy has logged over 100 different countries in her 6 tattered passports.  She founded AFS in 1989 to share the world with others.  For the first 10 years, she led ALL solo travel tours but now leads four or five each year. Her favorite group leads are to places outside the boundaries of normal comfort zones where one wouldn’t travel alone because she loves all the challenges. As a cultural ambassador, Suzy is fearless and loves to connect her groups with locals. Her enthusiasm, travel wisdom and patience are extraordinary.

She says, “I deeply care that my tribe blends well and that each member is having Large Fun.  My head is always churning with intuitive preemptive thoughts, and communicating these to our local guides. I make sure there is downtime for relaxation and provide suggestions for activities outside our itinerary.”

Suzy is a former Miss Wisconsin and teacher with a passion for Travel Writing. In her free time, she does site inspections and travel shows abroad for future trip ideas. At home, she loves cooking foreign dishes and loving on her dog, Gracie.  (Read more in her President’s Letter.)  “At the end of trips, it is music to my ears when I get to hear – “Suzy, this solo Vacation exceeded my wildest expectations!”

ABOUT MONGOLIA- All tourists begin in the capital of Ulaanbaatar where 40% of the population resides.  It’s a rapidly developing city where the East intersects the West.  Lots of museums, pubs, shops, galleries, etc.  (We changed your hotel here as with a better Trip Advisor rating.)  The most popular countryside experience is in Terelj National Park where your gers are.  Some say it’s like Yosemite with stunning rock formations, valleys and rivers.  Don’t be startled by the number of stars in the sky here.  Mongolia has become such a popular destination.  There’s fierce competition for hotel rooms now, especially during the festival.  This is a poor country with salaries averaging $100 per month.  Mining, cashmere and tourism are the main industries.   It is one of the only legitimate democracies in the whole of Asia.  Visitors say there is a relentless sense of hospitality.

Trip Prep:

  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages.  We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy.
  • To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  • No shots, no visas
  • Be sure passport valid until December 2020

Fitness level – 2   (No trouble walking.)

Air –  We’d like to present Group Air but now due to the popularity of the Nadaam Festival, most airlines blocked group seat reservations. It’s a first for us but no worries, I’m still searching. In the meantime, start searching on your own from West Coast (LA X) or NY.  Land starts at 2 PM July 10, so depart a day early. This is round-trip USA to Ulaanbaatar July 9 and 17. Use search engines. We love Googleflights and Faircompare. Prices are a wide range. If you find a good rate, let us know. Direct flights higher in cost. Only airlines to consider Air China, Korean, Cathay Pacific, Turkish, China Airlines and Aeroflot.

You can get individual rates from your hometown either with our friend Postak – postak@farandhigh.com 612 605 4428  and give him your exact airdates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate to get ticketed.

Transfers-  We get only one airport transfer in and out to hotels and will give you set times closer to departure. Chosen times will be based on the majority of arrivals of airlines. If your flight time coincides with the group, you may take our single airport group transfer. If your flight time falls outside the group, you’ll need to make your own transfer arrangements.  Taxis in this region are reasonable. Here is a great planning resource – www.taxifarefinder.com.  Here, you can view fixed airport rates, search if there are any bag fees, know peak vs. low times vs. low, etc.

Meet Up With Group- On Day 1. July 10  a time will be set to meet the group at the Holiday Inn address: Sambuu St 24, Ulaanbaatar for a briefing. More on this later.

 Baggage– . 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 30lbs – weigh on a bathroom scale. (Limit due to internal flights that’s15 kg.  That’s plenty of stuff).  Also, jeeps in Gobi can transfer large bags.  Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties several times .This weight limit is set for our porterage and luggage vans.  If you overpack by adding side pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans where to stow this excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. The new hard cases are difficult to fit in coach storage. Be sure to attach ID to both bags. Leave space for great souvenirs.

Packing – July is the warmest month to visit, but evenings get cool.  Google weather a week before.  Just casual clothing to layer.  You will ride horses.  Bring warm jacket or fleece.  No hiking boots necessary.  Just shorts, tees, jeans better and warm jacket because deserts are cold at night. A totally informal trip.   Also bring a daypack, rubber slippers for ger, mini flashlight, raincoat or poncho, sunscreen, wide brim hat.  In monasteries you must be covered elbows to knees.  Please bring items like school supplies or small toy

 Electric:  – Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.

230 Volts and a converter is required if any electronic device does not fit with that voltage.  Cellphone, tablets, etc do not need convertors.  2 prong should fit all.  Hotels have hair dryers, bring hat for gers.

 Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 in cash should suffice. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card.  Always bring some cash! )   Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.

Currency is Tugrik Exchange Rate  $1= 2700 Tugrik as of this writing

Follow the link below to create a conversion cheat sheet

https://www.oanda.com/currency/travel-exchange-rates

Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I know $300 cash is plenty of money for a week for me. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card

Avoid using an ATM unless it’s an emergency. If you must use an ATM, use them at airport or banks.  Credit cards far safer than your debit card.   I know $300 cash is plenty of money for a week for me.  I convert half of it upon entry.   I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.

Gratuities – (Prepaid)

It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $12 to $18 per day should cover all for the trip.  A $85 total will be added to your invoice. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum.  For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a personal stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Bell staff/porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip $2. Restaurants – 10%. For group lunches or dinners, please leave a dollar or two for waitstaff!

An article link about tipping when traveling is below

Click to read article –  Huffington Post on new tipping guidelines

Google –  Nadaan Festival:  The Superbowl of Mongolia!  Tickets all set.  Also – Genghis Khan, South Gobi desert, Ulaanbaatar, Yol Valley, Flaming Cliffs, Hustai Nat Park.

Communication–  Internet is available in Ulaan. With cell phones/smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Roaming rates (used by Facebook and other apps) are expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, What’sApp and Facebook messaging when using WIFI are best!  I don’t know anyone who makes calls home nowadays.

Stay off public Wi-Fi without using VPN, if possible. If not, never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.

Be Smart: “Avoiding Hackers on Vacation,” Experts say! …Thieves not only want your money but also your hard-earned Frequent Flyer Points!  Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN. It’s worth the cost. In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.

Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.

Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.

It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.

Retail Therapy –  Fine cashmere sweaters and throws and will products, organic skin products, silver bowls, leather goods, walk clothing, carpets, paintings, endless handicrafts and the worlds coolest hats! The last group filled their cases with cool stuff!

 Dining–  Will have a wide variety of choices both western and local cuisines.   Local diet consist of dairy, meat and animal fats. (Yaks, goats, horses, camels, sheep.)  Great stews and dumplings and noodles soups.  Kefir.  Russian influence with a lot of vodka. You’ll have delicious and diverse selection of western meals throughout.

 Photography –   Ask permission before shooting local people.  Bring large memory card. If you are running out of space on your card, drop your pixel size down to get more room. This will give you room for hundred more photos without deleting. There is no real need to shoot at 10 megapixels unless you plan on making a poster. Edit/delete each night.

Books:  Read “Through the Eyes of the Snow Leopard”

Customs:  On arrival, you’ll complete customs form which you must keep in passport until departure.

Nadaam Festival:  The Superbowl io the country.  Tickets all set.

Gobi Extension:  We have 16 booked and are sold out on this optional extension.  No trip leader

 Fitness Level:  No trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles.  Uneven surfaces are not a problem.

Private Facebook Group Page

The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.

Where can I find the FB link? In a departure from the past, the Private FB Group Page will be created when the Final Payment is due (about 3 months prior to the trip). The link will be emailed to you at that time.

Why are we are doing it this way? We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors and misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted here in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.

Accommodations –Please see the itinerary Hotel tab for details.  Hotels can change, but it’s rare. You can Google these if you like, or you can use the hyperlinks provided on the itinerary on our website.

Holiday Inn -Ulaan, Dream Gobi Lodge & gers, then to fab Blue Sky Hotel in Ulaan.

Roomies – Single supplements have significantly increased – if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   Note, kindness begets kindness.

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.  For free days we like to use Viator.com

Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time.  We often recognize this, as well as see AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before or after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.

Emergency Contact – Text Terry 770-367-4909   or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/  and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle all home for true Emergency.  Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.

Cancellation Penalty:  

At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Open the following link to review our terms again:

https://www.afstravelers.com/terms-and-conditions/

Optional Travel Insurance– If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.

Click here to Purchase Travel Insurance online

or copy link https://www.travelsafe.com/agent-insurance-plans?a=116C7AB9-8B4C-47AF-AE9E-7D26AB3A6A0E

Phone them at 888-885-7233 and give code “ADVGA02”

Click to learn about Travel Insurance 101.  Or copy this link  https://www.afstravelers.com/solo-travel-trip-insurance-101/

If you need assistance, I will email the form to you upon request.

Travel Psychology 101

Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that whenever you travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.

Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.(This goes for your roommate, too. Most of us are used to living on our own; but, have fun while being accommodating and patient when sharing a room with another fellow traveler).Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make it’s own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please understand that things differ in foreign countries.  The people are most hospitable here, yet travel abroad always requires an open mind, flexible attitude and adventurous spirit.  We love intrepid tourists who are willing to embrace the unpredictability and exoticism of foreign lands.   The purpose of this journey is to have fun, explore, get great photos, make new friends and return home safely with memories always worthy of recollection. 

From Lonely Planet

 Welcome to Mongolia

Rugged Mongolia is an adventure destination where travellers can experience nomadic culture and vast, untouched landscapes.

An Open Country

Mongolia existed in a Soviet bubble for most of the 20th century. Now a generation beyond the fall of communism, Mongolia has emerged as a young democracy with a promising economy based on mining, agriculture and tourism. Some revenue is being funnelled back into improving tourist facilities, including a new international airport near Ulaanbaatar. Visas are relatively easy to acquire; a handful of nationalities won’t even require one. Competition among the tour operators has led to better services. Despite the warm welcome, travel can be rough at times, with only basic facilities in many areas.

Mongolian Wilderness

Mongolians are fully aware of the unique beauty of their country. Ask locals and they will probably start gushing about the spectacular countryside, vast steppes, rugged mountains, clear lakes and abundant wildlife and livestock. Some areas are so remote you could drive a full day and see almost no signs of human habitation. It’s this true wilderness experience that many people find so appealing. City residents from Ulaanbaatar have also started to discover their own country and camping is now popular among urban locals. Protected areas cover almost a fifth of the country and the government is looking to increase that figure.

Nomad Hospitality

Mongolia’s nomadic culture is famous – visitors can sleep in a herder’s ger (traditional felt yurt), help round up the sheep, ride horses and simply ‘get back to nature’. The legacy of Chinggis Khaan and resurgent nationalist pride sharpens the experience. A culture of tremendous hospitality makes locals more accessible. In a world beset by locks and gates, it’s refreshing to meet people willing to open their doors to strangers. When travelling in Mongolia, however, keep in mind that guests are expected to reciprocate any forms of generosity, so when visiting families, always have a ready supply of gifts for the kids.

Not Just Grass & Horses

Once half nomadic, Mongolia is changing rapidly as its citizens flock to Ulaanbaatar and other big cities for work and study opportunities. The capital in particular is changing at a dizzying pace and many Mongolians have bought wholeheartedly into the global economy, capitalism and consumerism. Whether they are rural or urban, Mongolians take pride in their country’s democratic institutions of civic participation. Mongolia is eager to be part of the global community, sending its troops on peacekeeping missions around the globe and promoting itself as a country to host northeast Asian peace talks; visiting now puts you in the middle of these dramatic transformations.

 Welcome to The Gobi

The Gobi reveals itself in pockets of amazing scenery, bridged by vast stretches of desolation where smartphone signals die and silence saturates. It can be daunting to be this far out in such harsh conditions, but this is where desert foliage shimmers in greens and golds, and where Tibetan lamas etched ancient messages on red rock cliffs. You’ll watch horses romp and gazelles sprint, hear goats and sheep cry, and commiserate with camels huddling in fierce winds that gather and roll across the steppe. At night galaxies erupt on the domed sky.

No wonder it’s one of Mongolia’s top-draw regions, promising colossal sand dunes, ice-filled canyons, dinosaur fossils, camel treks, and hospitable nomadic herders who will shower you with warmth, and more than a little milky tea. So choose one of those criss-crossed two-wheel tracks and follow it ever deeper into the mystery.