Cultural Connections

Musings about my experiences, art, and life in Mongolia and beyond.

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Location: Ulaanbaatar, Tuv aimag, Mongolia

Native Chicagoan currently teaching in Mongolia.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ger Camping in Terelj National Park

Terelj national park is a lovely place to take a break from the urban insanity. It’s a bit overrun with tourist camps, but there are plenty of places to hike and take a break amongst the interesting rock formations and alpine like valleys dotted with wildflowers. We tried a few different camps, some mentioned in Lonely Planet’s Mongolian guide.

The first camp we stayed at was Melkhi Khad, located in a lovely, quiet valley near the Aryapala meditation center. Getting there via the unpaved road was a bit treacherous. It’s a family run camp and not as well maintained as the guidebook says. The twin beds appeared to be from a garage sale and I feared waking up in a collapsed bed. There were no showers and the bathroom was shared by everyone. They served traditional style Mongolian food which was ok. We were able to arrange horses to ride up to the gate of the meditation center. Our young guide reminded me of my 11 yr. old nephew.

Next, we stayed at the UB2 lodge to be near the Terelj River. The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) was having some kind of meeting there that week, but we managed to get a ger in the back. Not very traditional in décor, but a much nicer and cleaner accommodation compared to the first camp. However, they charged us about $5 less than a regular room and of course we had to walk to the hotel to use the toilet. We also had to ask to use a shower and Altay was told he couldn’t use the shower for some unknown reason. Hotel food, which was prepared by a European chef, was overpriced and not very good – shocking! In general, service was poor; staff was unorganized, uninformed and not very well trained.

Last, we stumbled upon the Khan Terelj camp – the best camp of our visit. A fairly new, family run camp with clean and cozy, well furnished gers. Settled in a large valley surrounded by interesting rocky mountains, it is located in the center of the park. It was nice to wake up to the sounds of cows mooing and horses neighing in the background. We had to pay a few extra dollars to use the showers and sometimes the hot water ran out, but that was the only downside of the camp. Staff was friendly and well organized – ok, maybe they needed to work on their English, but then, they appeared to have mostly visitors from other Asian countries like Korea and Japan. The food was very tasty with wonderful presentation. We spoke with the Mongolian chef who had been trained in Czechoslovakia. She put the fancy restaurant chefs to shame! We met the camp manager and his parents who knew Altay’s parents. They also showed us how to make cheese and yogurt.

After the five day break, we were recharged and refreshed and ready to tackle wild city life again!

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Blogger Bart Ryckbosch said...

Cool. Julie, so nice to let us share in your adventures! I'll come back and read often!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Lora said...

How much does it cost per person to stay at ger camp? I was thinking of bringing my tent and camping right beside one :)

I will be going to Mongolia in early October.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 8:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jules said...

Not sure if they will let you camp next to them. Last year prices were about $25-$35, depending on amenities. I'm sure prices have increased somewhat this year due to the economy and inflation. Also, most camps close in September and it snowed last year as early as September 19 and got pretty cold in October.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 11:37:00 PM  

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