Mongolia: Nomadic Culture & Outdoor Adventure

Language and Cultural Discovery

Participate in the daily life of a nomadic community and discover the unique landscapes of Mongolia from the Gobi Desert to the grasslands.


July 5, 2018




Community Service


Rugged Travel

Outdoor Activity



Program Description

Start your journey with orientation in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital. There, you’ll expe­rience urban Mongolia, where you will take lessons in throat singing and playing the morin khuur. You will also get to know the city and take Mongolian language lessons. Visit important Buddhist pilgrimage sites and study traditional Mongolian arts. In the mountainous province of Khövsgöl, complete a community service project, such as teaching English to local students or painting a school. You will trek on horseback to the ancient, pristine Lake Khövsgöl, the second-largest freshwater lake in Asia. Witness horsemanship, wrestling, and archery competitions at the Naadam festival, the largest national festival in Mongolia.

The program will take you to Mongolia’s vast grasslands to experi­ence rural life during a homestay with a nomadic family, where you will live in a traditional ger, a round, felt-lined tent. Help your host family tend livestock and learn how to cook traditional meals, prepare various dairy products, and ride on horseback.

Your Experiment will draw to a close at the edge of the Gobi Desert, where you’ll see Buddhist temples and meditation caves and learn about Danzan Ravjaa, known as the Lama of the Gobi, at the important pilgrimage site, Hamriin Hiid. Wrap up your journey as you venture into the desert on camelback and spend the night sleeping in a ger 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.






July 5, 2018 - August 2, 2018 (4 weeks)

Program Fee:


(does not include airfare)
Group Airfare Cost:


Depart/Return City:

Los Angeles


Ulaanbaatar, 4 days


Delgerkhaan*, 5 days

Other Accommodations:

Hotels, camps, and gers

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

  • 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, Bigfork High School
  • 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, Spence School

Pre-departure Documents

Summer 2018

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 2018, our summer international information will be published in a secure page, found in the Parent Portal.

In early spring 2018, the following program-specific documents will be linked to this page:

  • Participant Handbook
  • Parent Handbook
  • Health Guidelines
  • Personal Funds Abroad
  • Accident and Sickness Insurance
  • Packing List

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 2017, 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.