The ger is an icon of Mongolia. No trip to Mongolia is truly complete without a stay in a traditional ger. The key highlights of our trip to Mongolia were the time spent in two Mongolia ger camps – Sweet Gobi Geolodge and Terelj Star Resort.
A Ger (which means home in Mongolian) is a traditional tent accommodation that has been in use for centuries. It is a round structure of canvas or felt covers, wooden columns, a small door and a round window at the top. The shape of gers allows for a spacious interior which can be quickly and efficiently heated and cooled. A ger is easily assembled and disassembled and portable.
There are many Mongolian familes who still live in gers today. So homestay with a nomadic family is possible for the ultimate authentic ger experience. For most tourists, ger camps designed for visitors will be the more sensible option as they will have additional facilities such as dining areas and toilets.
Getting to Sweet Gobi Geolodge
Sweet Gobi Geolodge is located in the geographical centre of Mongolia, near the sand dunes of Elsen Tasarhai. Unless you can afford a private aircraft, the only way to get there is by road. It is about 100 km from Karakorum which means a road trip of approximately 2 hours. From Ulaanbaatar, the distance is about 260 km.
We set off from Karakorum on the trusty UAZ van (see our earlier post Ulaanbaatar to Karakorum – a Mongolia travel log 2). The scenery on the way was dramatic.
We stopped for lunch in one of the gers of a Mongolian family. It was a simple lunch of vegetable and beef fried rice with salted milk tea.
One Night in Sweet Gobi
Sweet Gobi Geolodge is one of the eco Mongolia ger camps of the brand “Out of Nowhere”. It is a back-to-basics environmental friendly concept camp with no electricity or running water. There are dry toilets (no flushing water) that have a wooden toilet seat, a bucket of sawdust and sand.
The ger for a single person is 215,000 Mongolian tugrik (about S$110) per night. A ger for a couple is about S$130 and one for 3 persons is about S$165.
There is large ger in the middle of the camp for meals. They serve local and western cuisine as well as a range of beers and wines. It is also the only place in the camp where phones and other electrical devices can be recharged.
The accommodation gers are well appointed. Ours had a king size bed with comfortable mattresses. It was heated by a coal-burning stove.
There is a small wash basin behind a screen. There is no shower facilities. A bamboo basket, looking like large dim sum basket, will be brought to the ger twice a day. Inside the basket are large hot towels for an effective, therapeutic and environmentally freindly way of cleaning the body. The camp has a special “Hair Ger” which provides a personal head massage and hair-washing service.
Sweet Gobi Geolodge offers great views of the Mongolian steppes, sand dunes of Elsen Tasarhai and the Khogno Khan mountains. The sunset sky was spectacular. The stay in one the gers in Sweet Gobi was certainly an interesting Mongolia ger camp experience.
Terelj National Park
Terelj National Park is located about 60 kilometres East of Ulaanbattar. It is a mountainous area with fascinating rock formations and pine covered hills. One of the famous rock formations is the “Turtle Rock”.
Many rivers flow through the park, notably the Tuul, the Terelj and the Baruunbayan Rivers. The park has meadows carpeted with edelweiss and a variety of other wild flowers. Many species of birds as well as elks and bears can be found in the park. Attractions include the Khagiin Khar Lake, a 20m deep glacial lake, and Yestii Hot Water Springs.
Most of the park is undeveloped. A small portion of the park has been developed for tourism. There are ger camps, restaurants, souvenir shops, and facilities for activities such as rafting, camel & horse riding, hiking and mountain biking.
Terelj National Park was featured in The Amazing Race 10.
Terelj Star Resort
Terelj Star Resort is a luxury Mongolia ger camp in Terelj National Park. It has all the facilities and services of a typical resort hotel. There is a golf course right next to the resort.
There are various types of gers available in the camp. The most basic ones cost about US$80 (approximately S$110) per night. Each ger can accommodate up to 3 persons. The price includes breakfast.
A deluxe ger, which has bathroom and modern toilet facilities inside the ger, cost about US$115 (approximately S$150) per night. The ger is very nicely appointed and has all the usual amenities that can be found in a good city hotel. There are even USB charging ports.
The common facilities are large and spacious. The dining ger can accommodate big groups. There is a good range of food on the menu, with a variety of Western and Asian cuisines. The staff are friendly and helpful. Most of them speak English well.
Terelj Star Resort offers ger experience with modern comfort in the middle of a picturesque valley at an affordable price. We will happily stay in Terelj Star Resort again.
Mongolia ger camp is worth the experience
Staying in a Mongolian ger is definitely one of the most unique and interesting parts of our recent trip to Mongolia. There are many ger camps with various levels of comfort and amenities and different levels of affordability. It should not be too difficult for a visitor to book an appropriate one. Staying in a Mongolia ger camp is worth the experience.
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog