Travel in Mongolia

I get cold easily: If you chill easily, a lightweight down vest is a good item to pack, as it compresses easily into a small stuff sack and provides excellent warmth worn under your outer shell jacket. Bring very warm socks and ensure your shoes and boots can accommodate the extra thickness. The key to staying warm is staying dry. Choose your clothing so that under-layers wick moisture away from your skin and so that outer layers are breathable. A warm hat, gloves, and socks will prevent heat loss from exposed skin.

Allergies: If you are allergic to insect stings, please bring your emergency medication and inform the guide of where it will be stored in your daypack, etc. You should show the guide the antidote and give the guide clear instructions for administering it. The most common allergens in Mongolia are grasses, trees, wildflower pollen, dust, and of course, animal dander on treks with pack animals. Seasonal allergy sufferers will find that the end of July through mid September is the peak period for pollen. Bring your allergy medication and an inhaler if you suffer from asthma, and inform the guide of where the inhaler is kept in your luggage. If you have food allergies, you should inform us prior to your trip. Your guide will be briefed on checking for food ingredients to avoid during the trip.

Back or neck problems: If you have back or neck problems or previous injuries to the back or neck, please contact us so we can help you assess whether the trip you have chosen is suitable for you. Very rough roads and long drives can aggravate existing conditions and make for an uncomfortable trip. In some cases, wearing sufficient support is enough, in others we may recommend choosing a different trip.

Contact lenses: Generally contact lenses pose no problem. You will have water for washing so you can change your lenses with clean hands. You should bring your own lens solution with you, one spare container for your lenses, re-wetting drops, and a back-up pair of glasses. The air in Mongolia is very dry, and some people experience discomfort due to their lenses drying out. It is good to have a pair of glasses you can wear in case this happens and your eyes need a rest.

Gifts for families you visit �?many visitors want to bring small gifts for family visits and have asked us for ideas. Crayons, paints, coloring books, notebooks, and unlined paper for drawing are always appreciated by children. Toys for small children are always a big hit, whether new or used. Please refrain from giving a lot of candy �?children do not have much access to dentists, and the normal treatment for cavities is pulling the tooth. If you have a Polaroid camera, people will also be excited to get photographs of themselves or their children. Pictures of the Dalai Lama or khatags, the traditional Buddhist blessing scarf, will be appreciated by older people, and green tea, incense, hand lotion, lip balm, and other useful items will be appreciated by everyone. Sewing needles, strong thread, band-aids or plasters, and first aid cream for small injuries is also very useful. It is considered bad luck to receive an empty container, such as a cup.

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Equipment & Packing Tips

A detailed packing list is suggested for each of our trips in the trip information section. Please check the recommended packing list for the specific trip you are taking. Our suggested packing lists do not aim to be comprehensive or exhaustive; we know that every traveler has different needs. If you feel there is something else you should bring with you, please do so, and when in doubt contact us for a recommendation. You should pack everything in a soft bag or backpack rather than in a suitcase or trunk, which will make it easier to load into vehicles and on pack animals. The following general packing list gives recommendations on the type of equipment or clothing we have found most practical, based on our experience in Mongolia.

backpack or soft bag �?best if foldable.

sleeping bag - rated comfortable down to -5C for summer trips, -15C to -20C for spring and autumn, and -40C for winter, if you are coming between June and August and staying exclusively in ger camps (no tent camping) you may not need a sleeping bag. In this case, we recommend you bring a cotton or silk sleeping bag liner, as ger camp sheets are always undersized and the blankets provided may be scratchy or coarse.

waterproof bag cover (on treks and horse treks, expedition style trips) �?one large enough to cover your backpack or bag and a smaller one for your day pack.

day pack �?should have wide, comfortable shoulder straps.

head lamp/flashlight �?a head lamp is preferable

spare batteries/bulbs

personal medications �?our first aid kits are equipped with basic first aid supplies, but by Mongolian law we are not allowed to dispense any medications. You should bring common medicines for headache, stomach upset, colds or allergies, based on your experience and your knowledge of what you might require. Bring a sufficient supply of all prescription medications.

towel �?a travel towel that is compact, very absorbent, and fast drying is the best kind

riding boots (for horse treks) �?almost any style of riding boot will be sufficient, but the taller ones are more comfortable for longer rides unless you will be wearing chaps.

hiking boots (for treks) �?should be waterproof and breathable, with Gore Tex boots being the best for Kharkhira and other Altai treks. This is a permafrost area, and water is trapped at the surface, so it will be difficult to avoid some wet ground.

hiking shoes (for all trips) �?it is best to wear hiking shoes for all trips, which give good support and protect your feet from rocks, loose stones, etc. Boots or shoes for non-trekking trips need not be waterproof.

waterproof shell/rain jacket or poncho �?in most cases a waterproof/windproof shell with a hood is ideal. Ponchos are more practical on a horse trek as they can cover your saddle and prevent your seat from being wet. Jackets or ponchos for horse treks should be of a subdued, darker color, and preferably of a material that does not crackle or rustle much. Some Mongolian horses are spooked by unfamiliar bright/light colors and noises from plastic or nylon rain gear.

waterproof pants �?should fit over your other pants, and from May through September need not have a lining or should have a very light, breathable lining.

fleece jacket or warm sweater/jumper �?we find a fleece jacket with a full length zipper in front to be the most practical, and wind-stopper fleece the best for spring and autumn.

chaps (for horse treks)

riding helmet (for horse treks)

cotton t-shirts �?two to three T-shirts will usually suffice

long sleeve shirts �?one light weight, fast drying, light colored one, preferably with buttons down the front so you can wear it open over a T-shirt for sun protection �?and one medium weight for cool evenings.

lightweight trousers �?two pair, and if you have one with zip-off legs that can double as shorts, this is ideal

shorts �?the fast drying kind are ideal

warm hat �?wool or fleece, which can cover your ears

long underwear �?(for treks and horse treks) in summer a lightweight top and bottom will suffice. Your long underwear should be the synthetic kind that wicks away moisture from the skin and keeps you dry

socks �?socks should be of a material that keeps your feet dry

underwear �?fast drying. Sports/athletic bras offering good support are best for countryside portions of all trips �?roads are bumpy here!

sun hat �?should shade your face, ears, and the back of your neck

gloves �?lightweight for trekking and riding, warm for spring and autumn trips

sandals �?to be worn around camp, in the shower, and wading in streams or lakes. The best kind have adjustable straps around the ankle, and will stay on your feet if you are walking in a slippery stream bed

sun glasses �?should be dark and offer UV protection

sun cream �?choose one with stronger protection (SPF 20 or more) if you are light skinned. A sunscreen in stick form that can be applied to lips, nose, cheeks, and the tops of your ears is a very handy item

spare glasses �?carry them in a sturdy case

walking shoes �?should have sturdy soles and good support

insect repellent �?read the label carefully and avoid those that are toxic to fish and amphibians, or wash these off well away from rivers, lakes, and streams

resealing (ziploc) plastic bags �?bring enough to protect your documents, money, camera, binoculars, and other items from wetness, sand, and dust. A few extra bags are handy for repacking wet clothing until you reach your next camp and can dry them out

binoculars/camera �?carry in a soft padded case if possible

water bottle �?for treks and horse treks, should have a wide mouth for refilling easily

wet tissues �?choose unscented ones that will not attract insects

watch/alarm clock �?an inexpensive watch with an alarm is a handy item

money belt/pouch �?it is preferable to have a flat pouch that can be worn inside clothing

insurance confirmation copy �?must be left on file in our offices

emergency contact number �?must be left on file in our offices

casual clothes for travel/city �?you may want to bring an extra folding bag so you can leave any spare items in the hotel or at our offices

It is a good idea to try on clothing at home to ensure that what you bring is sized for comfortable layering. Weather in Mongolia is unpredictable, and layering your clothes for warmth is a practical alternative to packing bulky items you may never wear.

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