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Imagine the world's most cosmopolitan cities: frantic, frenetic New York, sophisticated Sydney, glamorous and glittering Las Vegas. Now imagine their polar opposite; remote plains, raw natural beauty, tumbling watercourses and abundant wildlife, and a culture hewn from many millennia of nomadic living, thanks to a tumultuous climate that can be both brutal and beautiful. Welcome, then, to Mongolia, a country seemingly so distant from the rest of the world that it has become a byword for isolation: the 'outer' prefix, though no longer applied, distancing itself further still.
But Mongolia is rugged, remote. It's one of the few places left on the planet where you can sleep in a herder's ger - a traditional felt yurt - round up sheep from the back of a scrubby horse, and actually, properly get back to nature. The 21st century has seen development arrive in the country, with outsiders arriving for guaranteed adventure and burgeoning business opportunities. Visas are easy to acquire, the authorities see tourism as a key to future growth and local communities are getting in on the act. Despite the warmest of welcomes, however, Mongolia is still a developing country, with only a small infrastructure and the most basic of facilities outside the surprisingly enormous and unsurprisingly bohemian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
The city itself is an eye-opener, where businessmen of the pulsating commercial centre rub shoulders with nomads fresh from the steppes, and traffic fights with tradition for space on the strangely westernised streets. Outside of Ulaan, however, you'll find space. The sweeping landscape blurs with the subtle colours of grey, green and brown, and though the country is mountainous in regions there are areas so flat you feel as if you can see the curvature of the Earth. Though the appeal of Mongolia is usually exploring the great outdoors, whether on foot, horseback or by kayak, no trip is worthwhile without visiting the nomadic communities. Mongolia does not disappoint and many who visit return looking to recapture the sense of peace that they have yet to find at any other destination. At A&K we believe in promoting cultural interaction based on mutual respect and an understanding of cultural differences, neither accelerating the modernisation of ancient cultures, nor suppressing their natural evolution. Woven through Mongolia's nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan Buddhist tradition in which ancient Shamanist practices are still evident.
May to August sees a warmer climate for Mongolia's summer, while the cold season runs from November to March. The traditional Nadaam festival takes place each July Fly To
Ulaanbataar's Chinggis Khaan International Airport
14 hours from London
GMT +8 hours
Visa required for UK passport holders
No yellow fever certificate required
The Galapagos. After Mashpi we were somewhat apprehensive and hoping that the luxury and diversity of the Lodge would not deter from the different experience that was awaiting us on the MV Eclipse. Wow! The whole job lot with the crew, the guides, the food, the other guests and the islands and wildlife . . . . just blew us away. An American lady and her husband that we teamed up with on some trips said to us "How are we going to explain to friends and family back home about this place?" We all agreed that you couldn't! Thanks for organising the holiday Eleanor and thanks to A&K
- RY, Berkshire
Our experts can tailor-make the perfect holiday to suit your individual requirements, however, if you need inspiration or a starting point, below are some of our suggested trips and experiences:
Nights: 11 | from £7,555pp
Holiday type: Group departure
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Annie, Brandon, Debbie, Margaret, Vicky Hamlin, Vicky Smith and Rachel - are experts in designing travel experiences across the region to suit your personal needs, interests and budget. Their intimate knowledge of every hotel and resort featured in our Orient, India, Australasia and Indian Ocean portfolio, together with our own network of offices throughout these areas, allows us to offer unique in-depth knowledge, unparalleled insider access and the VIP service for which Abercrombie & Kent is renowned.
Read about our lastest experiences in our Travel Blog pages.
To find out more about our Orient team, click on the consultant links below or call them on 01242 547 704 or enquire online
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I have never been compelled to write to a company to tell them about my booking experience, but I feel that in this instance I must. I spoke to both Robin Spanner and a representative from another travel company. The next day, Robin sent me a full tailor made itinerary whilst the other rep sent me a link to one of the standard holidays on their website. Needless to say, Robin had already won my custom and confidence.
- GB, London