Mongolia: Nomadic Culture & Outdoor Adventure

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Video and Photos

Mongolia
Mongolia
Horse trek in Mongolia
Horse trek in Mongolia
My host family and I (in a yurt)
My host family and I (in a yurt)
Right before the horse trek
One of the ger camps we stayed at
Getting to know some camels
students sitting inside a Mongolian yurt
students sitting inside a Mongolian yurt
Mongolian baby
Mongolian baby

About

Land in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital. You’ll experience urban Mongolia, and take lessons in throat singing and playing the morin khuur. Get to know the city and take Mongolian language lessons. Visit Buddhist pilgrimage sites and study Mongolian arts. You will complete a community service project, such as teaching English to local students. Trek on horseback to the ancient, pristine Lake Khövsgöl. Witness horsemanship, wrestling, and archery competitions at the Naadam festival, the largest festival in Mongolia.

Travel to Mongolia’s vast grasslands to experience rural life during a homestay with a nomadic family, where you will live in a traditional ger, a round tent. Help your host family tend livestock and learn how to cook meals, prepare dairy products, and ride on horseback.

Your Experiment concludes in the Gobi Desert, where you’ll witness its natural beauty and see Buddhist temples. Venture into the desert on camelback and sleep in a ger under the desert sky.

Highlights
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Community Service
  • Language
  • Camping
  • Homestay

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.93 Rating
based on 14 reviews
  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.9
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 8 of 14
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Katie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best month of the year

I had the most amazing experience, I made new friends and learned about a culture I never really thought about. I expanded my views of the world and how even people living in the same country can have different ideas, habits, and beliefs based of of where they live and what they have access to. We got to ride horses, stay in gers (yurts), ride camels, visit monasteries, help out at a school, and learn the language. I also made 15 new life long friends, we had our ups and downs like all groups do and came out stronger and more united because of the conflict we resolved. This program has changed my life and me in the best ways possible

What would you improve about this program?
A better packing list is the biggest thing I can think of. We were all unprepared for the weather.
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Rosie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved going to Mongolia

I loved going to Mongolia. It was super fun and interesting. Everyone was super nice and all the activities we did were really cool. Mongolia is an amazing country with beautiful scenery, interesting history and the kindest people. Some highlights was going to the capital, working with students, going to the Gobi desert, and the homestay. Getting to know another country was really fun and seeing both the similarities and differences between the US and Mongolia was really interesting.

What would you improve about this program?
It was great!
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Faith
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had the time of my life

My trip to Mongolia was the first time I've left the East Coast of the United States. I was so scared, but as soon as I met the 15 other teens who are sharing the same fears as me I was at ease. The country was unbelievably beautiful and unique. I felt truly welcomed by the leaders and in country partners. This trip was truly the best experience of my life and I wish it could've lasted longer.

What would you improve about this program?
This trip could only be improved by a more comfortable seats for the international flights.
Default avatar
Anders
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Why I'm Glad I Went to Mongolia

For everyone nervously considering whether they should take the plunge on the Experiment's program, I would really recommend that you do. While I'm contributing to it, the pool of online information you'll find won't give you the full view of the trip that I remember searching for. It's a big step to commit to something like this, but know that everyone on the 2018 trip had to go through this process, and I don't think anyone regretted their choice to enroll.

Worries you may have (all that I can think of):

-Living conditions:
We had pretty nice accommodations. We were in the Park Hotel in UB for about a week total (this could change for all I know, but I expect what you would end up with would be similar). Rooms (of 2) had a small bathroom and shower. We could get hot water most of the time. The beds, at Park and all other locations, were fine and easy to fall asleep on after packed days. We also had showers in Sainshand (Gobi location).

-Bathrooms:
In UB, Sainshand, and a few other places, we had standard flushing toilets.
Much of the rest of the time, we had simple outhouses.
At our homestay, we had no formal bathroom buildings. The world was our toilet.
I, of course, can't speak for everyone on my trip, but I didn't have much trouble with any of this.

-Food:
Mongolian food is pretty good. It's pretty simple, usually meat and grain. We eat at some restaurants in UB. We took a bunch of meals in private dining halls when we were staying outside of a city. We usually got something like Lipton tea with almost every meal. Portion sizes are huge.

-Water:
Though the temperature obviously couldn't be controlled, we had good, storebought, or otherwise clean, water for almost all of the trip. The one exception was in the homestay when we would generally be drinking milk tea with our families. The water situation shouldn't be a much of a deterrent.

-Horses:
We had the opportunity to ride horses with the group and at our homestays. Technically no one had to ride, but no one in our group left without doing a fair amount of horse riding. The horses were generally pretty relaxed and first-time riders didn't have much trouble.

-Language:
I'd certainly recommend some language preparation, but don't be worried if you don't know much/anything before you come to the program. We were adequately prepared with simple, functional language. My small Mongolian-English dictionary was very useful for more complex communication.

Highlights:

-Homestay:
The real deal. Living and participating in an ancient way of life. This was the greatest degree of immersion that we experienced. My host family understood that I didn't really know what I was doing in their lifestyle, but worked to include me, giving me whatever simple tasks that I could understand. I had some contact from the group throughout, but that week was mostly a process of learning and growth in a totally new environment.

-The Group:
Sharing new and challenging experiences brought the group so close together. Even after just the plane ride and first day in the country, I could tell that we were developing connections. By our last days, we had bonded an amazing amount. No matter how different my fellow Experimenters seemed, I found that I could more or less relate to everyone. We could all find some sort of common ground. Over a month, a group of people I'd never met became trusted friends.

-Everything else:
Our travel took us from North to East to South and gave us many interesting opportunities on the way. Our itinerary brought us many new experiences.

I don't know what history you have with travel, but this trip was very special to me because it offered a completely new and unique experience. It truly is hard to put into words how important and life-changing this trip was, but I can't recommend it more.

Default avatar
Angelika
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Learning to feel comfort in the unknown.

During my month with The Experiment, I learned first hand how to travel effectively. Having minimal international travel experience before the Mongolia trip, I went in with low expectations. Stepping off the plane, I was immediately enveloped by the new culture and fully immersed in learning the language. My group leaders were warm, supportive, and thoughtful throughout our experiences. My fellow experimenters and I became very close & our relationships grew immensely during our month together. We considered ourselves an experiment family and have formed plans to meet up in the near future. The experiences we shared stretched each and every one of us in a way you can't fully understand without having been there. A few of my favorite moments from the trip were when we as a group reflected and questioned what we had learned or experienced. Theres a special comfort knowing that wherever you go in the world, the unity & friendships you share with other people (wether you speak the same language or not) is remembered. The most valuable skill I retained from my travels was finding comfort in the unknowns. As Chris Burkard said “if everything goes perfect you walk away completely unchanged”. This has been true and applicable to all facets of my everyday life in the US. I understand the fears that many teens & parents have about traveling abroad. I can't recommend enough that you push past those fears and choose The Experiment in International Living. The ways in which I grew as an individual, the people I interacted with, and the experience of Mongolia were truly priceless.

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Raechel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What I was able to experience in Mongolia

Though Mongolia is one of the hardest programs for the Experiment in International Living, it is one of the most freeing and satisfying experiences of my life. By going into another country where you don't know anyone, you've never heard the language let alone speak it, you are putting yourself way out there. In this program you do that and you have to deal with different food, hygiene standards and cultural norms. This experience, which I was extremely nervous to be a part of at first, shaped me into a more open and confident person. I am not very social but I quickly became comfortable around the group I was with, learned that putting myself out in the world is beneficial and I should do it more often. I learned to make mistakes and be okay with that. I was able to put myself out there during a relatively mentally stressful first few days because I had to do that to get anywhere and not feel isolated. I also became more comfortable with people entering my "personal bubble" because in Mongolia, personal space is not a thing and don't expect them to understand what it is.

Mongolia is a very beautiful country. On the first day of orientation in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, we were told that Mongolia is known as the land of the blue sky. The sky in Mongolia is the bluest and biggest sky you could ever see. At night when you weren't in a soum center or city, you could see the Milky Way. There were animal everywhere (which was amazing.) The openness, of the people and landscape, mixed with the natural world and way of life made Mongolia one of the most freeing places mentally and physically.

Mongolia is an amazing country to visit with this program, you learn so much about yourself and a larger culture that is vastly different from the United States. You learn to better appreciate what you have and the connections you can make with strangers.

What would you improve about this program?
The packing list was not helpful in some cases. I thought that I wasn't able to pack shorts and had to wear capri pants or long pants the entire time due to the countries culture being conservative, this assumption did not hold true and was excess stress. There could also be a more information on how you won't have running water or electricity for a while. It would be great if you could recommend bringing a travel pillow too.
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AGUSTIN
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Mongolia

I had an amazing experience in Mongolia this summer. I wanted to be immersed in a culture different from mine and the program really focused on the Mongolian way of life, traditions, and customs. The experience was amazing, Mongolia is a beautify and i would go back in the blink of an eye. I had a wonderful time and all the group leaders were extremely friendly and funny and over all wonderful people. I can not imagine having the same amount of fun as i did with other leaders.

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Abigail
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Mongolia

Every minute of my time spent in Mongolia was beyond special. We woke up every day under an endless blue sky and set off on another adventure. Through this trip I met people I will always share connections with and did things I never thought possible. My group made it so there was never a dull moment, and our leaders were always there for us no matter what we needed. This trip taught me the power of immersion and the beauty of adventure, from sunrise hikes to herding with my host family I gained a life time of truly incredible memories. I would recommend this trip to anyone seeking a once and a life time adventure, with the willingness to try a boat load of new things.