As I looked at the Ger to Ger handbook, I became a bit nervous about my pending journey into the desert. I paged through the lightning strike section with the extensive “flash to bang” explanation wondering if there was something more statistically relevant about Mongolian lightening that I should know. Next I came across the wild animal section and the snake section reading “they usually aren’t aggressive”. Finally I quickly sped through the tick section assuming that since there were no trees or grass in the desert, I shouldn’t have to worry about ticks…right?
There were many reasons why I chose Ger to Ger:
* They are a pioneer in Mongolian sustainable, culturally responsible tourism.
* 85% of the fees I paid goes directly to rural Mongolian nomadic groups and communities.
* This tourism activity helps increase rural social economic development.
* It was about meeting people and building relationships, not seeing all of the ‘tourist sites’.
* It promotes cultural interaction and furthers the education of the herders by exposing them to other cultures and languages.
* It’s required to go through a cultural ‘orientation’ before sending you out into the ‘real’ Mongolia.
I sat at my orientation with my new travel partners with excitement and a bit of trepidation. Excitement about experiencing the culture and a bit nervous learning about the massive amounts of boiled mutton I would be subjected to over the next 12 days. The route would take us into the Middle Gobi area where we’d go from Ger to Ger via local, traditional means (aka horses, camels, by foot, and by cart) and for the longer hauls we’d have a jeep. We’d eat what the families made for me and we’d pitch our own tent/ger so as to have a small bit of privacy in a land where there’s nowhere to hide.
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