The Mongolian countryside is not all about basics when it comes to accommodation. Besides simple homestays at nomadic families or staying in the gers of tourist camps with more or less the same standards, you can also embark in unique and charaterful stays at several spots across Mongolia. Here are our 5 favourite ger camps in the land of the nomads.
1. Sweet Gobi
Tucked on the edge of ElsenTasarkhai dunes, just a few kilometres from the geographical centre of Mongolia, the Sweet Gobi geolodge offers a unique view on the sand dunes and the sacred Khogno Khan mountain.
This eco-camp has stylishly appointed gers with king size beds, comfy mattresses, Egyptian cotton sheets and traditional soft furnishings and design features. In keeping with their environmental credentials, the toilets are compostable plus there is a ‘bathroom’ ger where they provide a personal head massage and hair-washing service.
The large dining ger provides delicious meals that combine local and western cuisine, a range of beers and wines and outstanding views of the surrounding plateau. For lunch, you can devour excellent local lamb or beef seasoned with aromatic herbs, and varieties of fresh salads are also served. Vegetarians are well taken care of as well.
Gers are scented with incense of pine needles and after dinner you will want to wrap yourself in the warmth of the stove while watching the starry skies through the ger rooftop.
2. Tultiin Tokhoi
Located next to the ancient deer stones outside Mörön in Northern Mongolia and about an hour drive from Lake Hovsgol, Tultiin Tokhoi camp is the all-time favourite of our guests from accross the world. Well equipped gers with comfortable beds offer amazing views of the Delger River and mountains from their terraces. The largest structure on site is the wooden restaurant / bar with stylish carvings. It is also the social centrepiece where you can share stories of your adventures with the fellow travellers staying at the ger camp.
But probably the most unique characteristic of Tultiin Tokhoi is its atmosphere created by its friendly, English speaking owner, Esse, who is also a local guide. Esse is always more than happy to share his knowledge and expertise in the history and sights of the Northern Mongolia. During summer months you may also experience a local ethnic performance, which is often staged in the camp.
Tuultiin Tokhoi is a great base for exploring Darkhad Valley and Hovsgol Lake or for venturing to the reindeer herder communities in east taiga. It is also perfectly situated for horse riding excursions, boat trips, cycling, or visiting and exploring the nearby caves.
3. Red Rock
Red Rock is a small ger camp set in a remote part of East Gobi Desert, inside the Ikh Nart National Park and offers a truly off the beaten track experience. The surroundings are mainly rocky with a little scrub vegetation and Red Rock’s main advantage is that it is very quiet – it is probably the be the best camp on our list to unwind and just enjoy being in this special part of the Gobi. Gorgeous sunsets, picturesque landscapes and blue sky compliment the almost spiritual atmosphere.
Red Rock is a low impact camp, which means no running water, no generators, and no permanent structures. The beds are comfortable and large and furnishing include characterful table and chairs, place for luggage and a small wash stand. Facilities are simple, but clean and functional. Toilets are a compost-style, housed in a clean wooden cabin with comfortable seats and hand washing facilities. Showers are housed in a traditional ger with water heated by sun and on a dried camel dung fuelled fire.
The Camp also has a small library ger onsite where you can wind down and read a book in complete, undisturbed silence.
Food is excellent, and you will eagerly look forward to meal times when staying at Red Rock. Breakfast features a range of items including cereal, bread, fruit, juice, cheese, fritters, yoghurt, blueberry jam, eggs and local sausages. Lunch and dinner starts with a lovely seasoned salad, followed by soup, mains and a little dessert – fruit or delicious home-made ice cream.
4. Ar Davkhar
Ar Davkhar tucked in the pristine Eastern coast of Lake Hovsgol is a prime example of how a ger camp resort can blend in the beauty and the spirit of a place without destroying it, testament to the owner – a former Park Ranger. It is situated in a strictly protected area of the Hovsgol National Park, and although remote and less accessible than other camps on the western side of the lake, it offers unparalleled beauty and modern comforts.
The owner still partakes in a lot of research and conservation work with both flora and fauna and is eco-driven in the true sense of the word. The camp features compost loos and the owner also invests in anti-litter education in the community and heads the fight against illegal poaching.
The food prepared in the ger camp is delicious, with lots of traditional fare plus the best of local countryside produce such as wildberry jams, local uurum (clotted cream) or bing (pancakes). Ar Davkhar also features a sauna on the edge of the lake, fed by a wood fire that also heats the water for shower – and it is fantastic after the end of a long day in the saddle, complete with quick dashes into the icy waters of Lake Hovsgol just outside.
5. Princess Lodge
Princess lodge is a charming ger camp located 90 km north east of Ulaanbaatar in a beatuful remote spot in the Terelj-Ghorki National Park. Even tough it is the nearest ger camp on our list to the capital, it is certainly not the one easiest to get to, with no roads or settlements in the area and with wilderness and natural beauty surrouding it. It is set in the mids of the rolling steppe full of wild flowers and it is the only ger camp in Khan Khentii wilderness. Princess Lodge was named after the Princess Temple located in the vicinity, dedicated to a Manchu princess who married into the Mongolian royal family and is wildly popular with the locals.
Owning to its location, Princess Lodge is an excellent base for horse riding, mountain biking, hiking throughout Terelj Park, kayaking on the nearby Baruun Bayan river as well as for wildlife watching: butterflies, birds, plants, flowers are in abundance in the area and you may get lucky in tracking larger animals too, such as deer, wild pigs and even wolves and bears.
Facilities are better than in most ger camps and include flush toilets and hot showers, 24-hour electricity provided by solar powered batteries and a Finnish style wooden sauna. Food served is second to none too: A vegetable soup with burritos in the evening at this scenic place is something you will long for after a day exploring the Khan Khentii wilderness.