Mongolia: Nomadic Culture & Outdoor Adventure

Language and Cultural Discovery

Experience the great outdoors of Mongolia’s majestic grasslands and ancient waters while living with a nomadic community. Ride horses through green hills and see the Gobi Desert from camelback.

Language

Community Service

Certificate

Rugged Travel

Outdoor Activity

Homestay

Campground

DEPARTURE

July 1, 2019

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Program Description

Experience urban Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital city, to begin learning about local culture and take basic Mongolian language lessons. Take in the incredible views as you trek on horseback to the ancient, pristine Lake Khövsgöl, the second largest freshwater lake in Asia.

Travel to the vast grasslands, where nearly 40% of Mongolians live a nomadic lifestyle, and stay with a local family in a traditional ger, a round, felt-lined tent. Help your host family tend livestock and learn how to cook traditional meals and prepare various dairy products. Embrace the wide-open landscapes as you gallop through the hills on horseback. Horses are celebrated in the country’s culture and outnumber people thirteen to one.

In the mountainous province of Khövsgöl, complete a community service project, such as teaching English to local students or painting a school. Experience traditional music performances and take a huumii (throat singing) class. You will also study traditional Mongolian arts and witness horsemanship, wrestling, and archery competitions at the Naadam festival, the largest national festival in Mongolia.

Your Experiment concludes at the edge of the Gobi Desert, where you’ll see Buddhist temples, meditation caves, and pilgrimage sites. Wrap up your journey as you venture into the Gobi on camelback and spend the night sleeping under the desert sky.

At the conclusion of this program, each participant will earn a community service certificate noting the number of hours of community service completed.

 

PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

Prerequisite:

None

Dates:

July 1, 2019 - July 30, 2019

Program Fee:

$5,620.00

(does not include airfare)
Group Airfare Cost:

TBD

Depart/Return City:

Los Angeles

Orientation:

Ulaanbaatar, 4 days

Homestay:

Delgerkhaan*, 5 days

Other Accommodations:

Hotels, camps, and gers

Sample Itinerary

  •  
    Days 1-3

    Orientation in Ulaanbaatar

    • Learn about the history, arts, and culture of Mongolia through local experts and site visits
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities
    • Begin your Mongolian language learning with language classes
    • Visit open air markets
    • Take lessons in traditional instruments and throat singing.

    During the orientation period, you and your group will stay at a centrally located hotel. 

  •  
    Days 4-11

     Culture and Community Service

    • Stay in the village of Hatgal by Lake Huvsgul
    • Trek on horse and camp out under the stars
    • Participate in Naadam, also called “nomad Olympics,” one of the most important festivals in Mongolian culture

    During this period, you and your group will camp and stay at a local school dormitory.

  •  
    Days 12-20

    Homestay in Delgerkhaan Soum

    • After a quick overnight in Ulaanbaatar for laundry and homestay preparation, you will begin your nomadic homestay experience
    • Participate in activities with your host family
    • Help care for your family’s animals such as goats, cattle, sheep, and horses
    • Learn to cook traditional meals and prepare local dairy products
    • Enjoy the peaceful, nomadic life of the Mongolian grasslands

    During this period, you will stay in the ger of a family.

  •  
    Days 21-24

    Excursion to East Gobi

    • After another overnight in Ulaanbaatar for laundry and packing, you will take a train to the edge of the Gobi dessert.
    • Visit Buddhist temples and the Mountain of Wish
    • Learn about local traditions and Buddhist culture
    • Take a camel ride or take a turn erecting a Mongolia Ger
  •  
    Days 25-26

    Reflection and Wrap-up in Ulaanbaatar

    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program
    • Enjoy a farewell dinner with your group
  •  
    Day 27

    Departure

    Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • Mila Dunbar-Irwin

    Mila Dunbar-Irwin grew up in northern New Jersey with a love for travel and a passion for wide open spaces, exploration, education, and science. She graduated in 2008 from Yale University with a BA in ecology and headed west to spend the next few years teaching outdoor environmental education, leading backcountry trips for high school students, managing organic farms, and working on wildlife research projects. In 2011, she returned to school at University of California, Davis, where she is completing an MSc in ecology.

    Mila has traveled all over the world, beginning in 2006 with a solo trip to Central America. She spent a semester in Botswana with SIT Study Abroad in 2008 and then spent two months working on a research project in South Africa. She has also traveled to South America, England, Western Europe, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, as well as all over the US and Mexico. Mila is passionate about environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, and forward-thinking development and loves to do anything outside in her off time, particularly if it involves good friends and her dog, Finn.

  • Emily Wheeler

    A Vermont native, Emily Wheeler graduated from Middlebury College in 2007 with a BA in sociology/anthropology and a minor in environmental studies. From 2007 to 2011, she worked for a variety of schools and youth development programs in Vermont, Boston, and California. In 2013, she completed her MEd in community education at Goddard College. She then spent a year in Hawai‘i, working at a horticulture therapy program for adolescents and young adults.

    Emily first spent significant time abroad as a student with SIT Study Abroad in Mongolia, where she returned in summer 2014 to lead The Experiment’s Mongolia program. Besides her love for adventure and sharing in new cultures, Emily is passionate about organic agriculture and cooking, sustainability, and community development. Emily is now the director of Admissions at The Woolman Semester School, a high school program focused on social justice and sustainability, located in the Sierra Foothills of California.

Student Voices

  • Mongolia is a very beautiful country. On the first day of orientation in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, we were told that Mongolia is known as the land of the blue sky. The sky in Mongolia is the bluest and biggest sky you could ever see. At night when you weren’t in a soum center or city, you could see the Milky Way. There were animal everywhere (which was amazing.) The openness, of the people and landscape, mixed with the natural world and way of life made Mongolia one of the most freeing places mentally and physically.

    --Raechel
  • A few of my favorite moments from the trip were when we as a group reflected and questioned what we had learned or experienced. Theres a special comfort knowing that wherever you go in the world, the unity & friendships you share with other people (wether you speak the same language or not) is remembered.

    --Angelika
  • I expanded my views of the world and how even people living in the same country can have different ideas, habits, and beliefs based of of where they live and what they have access to. We got to ride horses, stay in gers (yurts), ride camels, visit monasteries, help out at a school, and learn the language. I also made 15 new life long friends.

    --Katie
  • Mongolia is an amazing country with beautiful scenery, interesting history and the kindest people. Some highlights was going to the capital, working with students, going to the Gobi desert, and the homestay.

    --Rosie
  • I really like my host family.… I loved helping out around the ger whenever it was needed and experiencing a different culture hands on and without any distractions. My relationship with my family was pretty strong, especially with my siblings. They all made me really feel like another kid in the family. I learned that I take everything, even the simple things like a toilet, for granted back home. It takes a lot of work to get things done at the homestay. I had to lug water up from the river, and I have a greater appreciation for my own home and everything my parents provide me. But they make it work, they have a system for everything, and it’s nice to sometimes have a pattern every day.

    --Shelby
  • In the Gobi Desert, we walked for hours with no particular destination and discussed our lives while watching the sunset. Coming from the busy and hectic New York City, I had seen nothing as calm and open like the Gobi. I lost of track of time, just looking out into the blue sky and neverending desert. At night, the group went outside and lay under the countless stars. We pointed out constellations and wished upon occasional shooting stars, laughing and telling each other to be quiet and linking arms so we could look at the beautiful sky in silence but know there was someone right next to us in the dark and vast desert. Painting the walls of a school in Sainshand, a small town on the edge of the Gobi, was a very rewarding community service experience. The children at the school were very welcoming, and we all tried to communicate with one another by playing games, reading books, and attempting to learn a Mongolian dance. Knowing that we were painting the schools for the kids and that it would put a smile on their warm faces was very gratifying.

    --Mitsuki

Pre-departure Documents

Summer 2019

Congratulations on your upcoming Experiment summer on the Mongolia: Nomadic Culture & Outdoor Adventure program. Visit our pre-departure page for information about our expectations, communications, and travel planning. In early 2019, our summer international information will be published in a secure page, found in the Parent Portal.

In early spring, the following program-specific documents will be linked to this page:

Many questions can be answered by reviewing these materials, but please do not hesitate to contact us if further information is required. To submit or update your domestic travel and emergency contact information, please login in to the Parent Portal.

Important Passport and Medical Information

If you do not yet have a passport, or if you have not applied for one, you should do so immediately.

If you have not had a physical with your doctor since June 2018, make an appointment as quickly as possible, as your health form must be filled out based on a current physical.

Please bookmark this web page for easy use in the future.