Responsible travel in Mongolia
Home of one of the last surviving nomadic cultures, yet facing industrialisation and urbanisation, Mongolia exemplifies the fine balance we must tread as agent and traveller in this vast and breath-taking country.
Mongolia, the ‘land of the blue sky’, the infamous eagle hunters, of wrestlers and herders, with vast tracts of still-undiscovered wilderness holds natural appeal to travellers who want to push travel boundaries. It attracts the wilderness seekers.
But the very thing that draws us is also under threat. The issues are broad and complex but at its simplest lie between the burgeoning economy and the impact of climate change. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation on the one hand and the increasing intensity of the ‘Dzuds’ in one of the coldest climates in the world are placing untold pressures on traditional herding culture. The city can promise additional income. It can also bring another kind of poverty.
The tourist dollar can play a part in preserving the traditional ways of life by effectively ‘subsiding’ nomadic culture with some extra income to help take families through the tough winters. Equally, the tourist dollar can jeopardise herding culture by supplanting it. This is the fine line we travel.
As with all our destinations, our mission in Mongolia is to ensure we always find the triple win. Our journeys set out to make a positive difference to the lives of our guests, hosts and team.
We are committed to providing access, without jeopardising a way of life. How can this exchange benefit both traveller and host, and how do we minimise impact?
In addition to this, we initiate and carefully select existing projects we think will make a tangible difference to the people and environment in Mongolia. Have a read of some of our projects below.
Since 2007 we have been working with nomadic families to introduce, train and support ways in which they can supplement their incomes from tourism.
Not wanting to ruin any surprises, but guests of ours in Mongolia are gifted a pair of felt slippers made in a workshop for blind people needing a source of income.
The Midwifery Project began in Mongolia and has now been extended to Myanmar too. We are extremely proud of the very real difference we have been able to make to women in rural communities. We have purchased a number of sonic aids and assisted Maaike Carter and Frances Barnsley in their on-going midwifery project in Mongolia. Their workshops set out to enable Mongolian midwives to develop the skills that have an essential role in reducing maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.
GOBI OASIS - TREE PLANTING
We supported Gobi Oasis over seven years. We assisted Byamba financially in the planting and maintaining of thousands of saplings in the Gobi desert, thus slowing desertification and giving rural employment in Mandalgobi.
Planting Saksaul trees in areas of desert and semi-desert in order to protect the soil from erosion, provide diverse habitats for animals, fodder for livestock and firewood for people.
These trees are particularly effective against erosion because they send out horizontal roots addition to the vertical roots which reach water deep underground.
Our Mongolian team collected books to be donated to Bayandelger village school. We continue to be involved in the village.
CREATIVE SUMMER CAMP FOR DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN
Having visited Mongolia on a family holiday arranged by Panoramic Journeys, student Eloise Acland was inspired to return and make a difference. Panoramic Journeys are supporting her inspired camp project outside of UB by funding the cook, catering and video cassettes for the project.
We have supported the refurbishment of a kindergarten playground in Bayan-Olgii in Western Mongolia.
KHATGAL SCHOOL DORMITORY INSULATION
We funded the insulation of the dormitories in Khatgal School in Muron Province, Northern Mongolia.
We have raised funds for the Cambridge Mongolian Development Appeal which is particularly important to nomads who have suffered from the terrible “Dzud’s” in recent years.
ITGEL FOUNDATION & TSAATAN COMMUNITY VISITORS CENTRE (TCVC)
Whenever we visit the Darkhad valley in Northern Mongolia - we work closely with the Itgel Foundation and TCVC to make sure that our visit is beneficial for the local community. We have also fund raised for these projects.
We funded the establishment of a nursery garden in Central Mongolia. The idea being to supply the Monastery camp with fresh produce, encourage local people to plant their own vegetables and earn extra income for local families in the long term.
WILD CAMEL FOUNDATION
Panoramic Journeys has raised funds to donate to the Wild Camel Foundation. We are also involved in providing the logistics when donors or media want to visit this remote project site.
The Mongolian Quilting Centre was established by a Mongolian woman, Selenge Tserendash, in 2003. This project aims to improve the livelihood of women in suburban and rural communities. The Centre runs workshops for women to make patchwork quilts thereby giving them a means to generate their own incomes. We purchase water bottle containers for all of our guests made in their workshops.
We encourage our guides, drivers and guests to collect litter as and when they can. Many hands can make light work when a group attacks the litter for instance at an ovoo. The biggest impact is when locals witness us doing this activity and think again before dropping litter.
TUMEN TEMEE CAMEL PROJECT, OMNOGOBI
The Tumen Temee Association was founded to support Mongolia’s decreasing camel population. The project promotes sustainable ways in which camel-herders can earn an income. The Sustainable Projects Fund has sponsored of the Thousand Camels Festival over the years.