Tours and private itineraries
Mongolia is a country four times the size of Montana and, like Montana, lies between 40 and 50 degrees of latitude. The climate, geology, vegetation and wildlife of Mongolia is also very similar to that of Montana. The landscape ranges from dry grassland (Gobi) in the south to steppe, snowy mountains and taiga in the north.
Genghis Khan is Mongolia's favorite son and, understandably, he is revered within Mongolia. Disparaging remarks about Genghis are the one sure way to NOT make friends in Mongolia. In fact, virtually all written accounts of Genghis Khan and his empire were written by the people he defeated, so what we know as "history" has a natural anti-Genghis bias. Genghis Khan was a firm, unambiguous ruler who was also remarkably tolerant of different religions, new technologies and diverse points of view. His empire, while built with an iron fist, served to mix cultures from Korea to Europe and the long term positive effects of his empire building are undeniable.
Mongolians are nomadic herders and each herdsmen strives for a healthy balance in his livestock of sheep, goats, camels, cattle (yaks) and horses. The Mongolian diet revolves around meat and milk products with very little in the way of vegetables.
Mongolians are traditionally Tibetan Buddhists with a healthy dose of Shamanism thrown in. After seventy years of government decreed atheism under the Communists, Mongolia is just rediscovering its spiritual roots.
In the countryside of Mongolia, people still live much as they have for centuries. Their lifestyle is well suited to the environment and has been refined through time. People in the countryside are simple but enjoy a high level of literacy and are more sophisticated than what the term "nomads" may conjure up to the western mind.
Ulaan Baatar, the capitol city, is a modern city of 700,000 (one third of the entire population of Mongolia). High rise apartments, crowded suburbs, chaotic traffic are in stark contrast to the quiet, simple life of the countryside. Ulaan Baatar is where east meets west, where the promise of technology and modern values collides with traditional culture. In Suhkbaatar Square, near the statue of the revolutionary hero Sukhbaatar, you can see hip young people talking on their cell phones next to old men in traditional dress flipping their prayer beads, talking to the Gods.
In Ulaan Baatar you may expect western standard hotels, a variety of restaurants, good art and history museums and a friendly and open populace.
In the countryside expect rustic accommodations in gers, simple meals, bumpy, dusty roads and a friendly and open populace.