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“Travel Gobi Mongolia”
Review of Gobi Desert

Gobi Desert
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All-Inclusive Private Day Tour to Harbin Volga...
Ranked #14 of 111 things to do in Mongolia
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed November 8, 2014

For our trip to the Gobi Desert the very first thing we were interested in was finding a tour that was both knowledgeable and manageable in price. Travel Gobi Mongolia was one of the first ones we came across on Google that offered a number of different options of varying lengths.

When contacting the tour company, Ganzo who seems to be the main manager of tours gave a very prompt reply about the possibilities of the tours. Due to time constraints we ended up choosing a 6 day tour. Since we were visiting outside of the tourist season, rather than staying in Tourist Camps we spent a night in an extra ger belonging to a nomadic family. Food costs were not included with this arrangement, but came up to about $3-4 per meal with each of the families we stayed at. If you are a backpacker who does not mind missing the comforts tourist gers like showers, then this arrangement is great. We visited a number of families who welcomed us in and shared their food with us, and were provided with blankets and pillows in every ger we stayed at.

Our guide, Zoogi, was absolutely great. He spoke English very well, acting as both a translator for us between the families but also as a tour guide for most of the monuments and museums we went to. He was especially open about a number of Mongolian traditions and would share so much knowledge with us over food. He was also an amazing driver since most of the roads were basically trails in the dirt with absolutely no signs whatsoever. We would've been so hopelessly lost without him. He was an amazingly fun tour guide.

Another thing that was beneficial is that we had some difficulties paying all the cash money up front for the tour, which we could arrange to be paid at the end. Zoogi stayed with us until we boarded our plane back to Ulaanbaatar in Dalanzadgad.

The only negatives that I would mention is that sometimes the schedule of the tour was unclear, we seemed to go about it mostly on a day by day basis. Occasionally when we were at a place we would stay over for the night, we would be dropped and left on our own until the next morning, but this was generally at the end of the day after we have completed much of our sightseeing. I don't know how much the pricing of the tour compared to other companies, since we learned that many hostels offer their own separate tours you can book through them, but I think for the trip and experience we had in the Gobi, what we spent was well worth it.

Date of experience: October 2014
14  Thank maybethestars
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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46 - 50 of 135 reviews

Reviewed October 30, 2014 via mobile

This was a last minute destination as a friend has suggested going to look for snow leopards. We decided not to rough it out and it turn out to be one of my best holidays.

Dispite the weather turning to winter, we were very comfortable as the lodges had heating and our guide arrange for the host to like the fires in the morning.

Our guide was a local herds girl who started riding horses at 3yrs old and got a scholarship to University in Hawaii. So her English was very good.

We had 2 Land Cruisers for the 3 of us and accomodation was much better than we had been warn to expect. Three Camel Lodge is excellent. The drivers were locals and the vast driving terrain was really pleasurable as it was very smooth competent driving. And they even showed us dinosaur bones!

The scenery was pure awesome.

We did the camel rides in the Gobi, horse riding to the glaciers, stayed by the Gobi, climb the dunes and ate and drank with the locals.

Our guide Uka seem to connect very well with the local drivers so we had extra bonus of visiting farmers and discoveries. She definetly make the trip more fun with her entusiasm and passion.

I definetly will go back again and ask Uka(pronouce Okca email : uka_mgl7@yahoo.com) to arrange it.

Lots of wildlife , beautiful scenery and great photo opportunity.

Was just here last week of September and it seems the lodges close in winter as the pipes freeze.

10  Thank 1roadboss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 28, 2014

We did a 7 day tour from UB, with 4 days or so in the Gobi Desert.

We went to the flaming cliffs, singing sand dunes and eagle valley (or Bayanzag, Khongoryn Els and Yolyn Am). Each one is different, and all spectacular. We also did a horse/pony ride in Yolyn Am and a camel ride at Khongoryn Els.

We stayed in family gers along the way, food was included and whilst we were told it would be basic, it was plentiful and very good - we didn't go hungry and came home with most of the packs of noodles we left with. There were opportunities to stock up on water, soft drink and other snacks along the way as well.

Our driver was also out guide, no doubt part of the 'budget' experience we chose. Generally our days were spent driving in the morning, and activities in the afternoon. Some of the days we arrived earlier in the day, and had a few hours where we were left to amuse ourselves, wasn't too much of an issue as there were landscapes to explore.

The gers didn't have heating in the Gobi, I didn't find it too cold though. The gers tended to include a blanket and small pillow of sorts, but you needed to provide your own blanket. We also had mattresses at each location, of varying hardness, but we spoke to some people who did not have the luxury of a mattress so I won't complain about the lumpiness or hardness.

Overall I enjoyed the experience in the Gobi. The tour delivered on what we asked, it was a private budget tour because we wanted to experience the local way of life and I am happy we chose this.
On the tour itself, we went with Travel Gobi Mongolia (which I would give 3 stars, but I don't want that to impact on how I rate the Gobi Desert itself).
The car required some mechanical attention on day 2, our guide/driver managed this, while we were watching from within a diner/cafe. Once fixed, the car (land cruiser) was comfortable and we didn't have any issues. The food was good, we weren't hungry and it was included in the tour.
Ganzo very prompt to return emails, the driver called to let me know he was on the way to the hostel in the morning (good sign) and a pickup at the UB airport took us to our hostel at the end. There were some breakdowns in communication, with the tour schedule changing and basically the first day of the tour was dropped out, which was disappointing - we didn't know this until the driver told us our destination for the day. Our driver/guide was more driver than guide, we had a similar experience where he spent most of the time talking among friends/families, and he spent most of the time talking on his mobile when we were driving which wasn't very engaging. There wasn't much interaction with us, but then we weren't looking for heaps, but we did feel like he was just transporting us from one spot to the next. One night he didn't return to the camp, we woke to find no car and no driver, nice thing to wake up to. After a couple of hours (we were fed breakfast which was nice) he appeared. He also dropped us off at the ger in Dalanzadgad on the last night and then said he was heading back to UB but had made arrangements for a friend to take us to the airport the next morning....shame our flight was postponed and the poor lady we were staying with didn't speak english and had to call her sister to pass the message on to me. She was lovely, but we felt bad imposing on her for another day.

There were a few other small issues, but I can't complain that our budget tour meant we were well fed, had a bed each night and took us to the landmarks we wanted to go to. I'm not sure if the standard tours provide significant differences other than more comfortable beds/lodging, and if the guides provide more information or interest in their customers
But thats the tour experience, the landmarks within the Gobi were amazing.

Date of experience: September 2014
7  Thank Julie N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 9, 2014 via mobile

I am writing this here as there is not an option to review tour companies and it's an obvious place to start when looking for tours to the Gobi.

The score of average is for the tour company not the Gobi desert which is a great experience.

Let me start with the reasons why we booked a tour with Ganzo at Travel Gobi Mongolia (TGM). We had only planned to spend 7 days in Mongolia while passing through on the Trans Siberian and given our time was limited I wanted to have a tour booked before we left the UK rather than spend time in Ulaan Baatar trying to piece something together. TGM's website was very informative if a little busy. Ganzo was the first person to respond to us and answered our questions promptly. Although, we did find him a little pushy when it came to paying!

We are backpacking for six months so we were keen to keep the cost down. Looking at the prices of other tour companies, advertised online, TGM's price seemed competitive.

We booked the South Gobi 4D3N budget (backpacker) arrangement. The standard arrangement where you stay in tourist camps rather than with herder families is not available towards the end of September when the main tourist season closes.

We booked our flights between Ulaan Baatar and Dalanzadgad independently with Hunnu Air as this worked out cheaper compared to what TGM were charging. The flight was on time and a very pleasant trip.

We visited Bayan Zag (Flaming Cliffs), the Khongor Sands and Yol Am Valley over the three days. A highlight for us was Khongor Sands, a difficult climb up the dunes but so worth it when you get to the top for sunset. We also just enjoyed travelling across the vast plains (or steppe) with nothing in site. The camel ride at the Khongor Sands was a fun experience but two hours is too long (see if you can bargain for a shorter and cheaper ride).
With this package a horse ride through Yol Am valley is included. This is a bit of a catch 22, the ponies (not horses) don't look very well cared for and are left all day with their front legs tied together but by riding the ponies you are giving money to a family who needs it. We chose not to ride and to walk instead, no mention was made of the money to pay for the pony ride and I'm sure our guide happily pocketed it.

On the backpacker arrangement, you stay with herder families in their traditional gers (yurts). They cook lunch and dinner for you and you pay for this separately (arranged through your guide). We took oats for breakfast and were given a flask of boiling water. The experience is rustic but interesting. There are no showers and the toilet is a little tin shack with hole in the ground.

With regards to meals. If you are vegetarian, or fussy and not prepared to take your own cooking equipment and food then the backpacker arrangement is not suitable for you. The food is basic and mostly consists of gristly meat (mutton, goat or horse) and noodles/dumplings.

The positives of our trip with TGM:
• Our transfer between U.B. And the airport was on time both leaving and arriving.
• Our guide and driver were waiting when we arrived in Dalanzadgad.
• Everything seemed to run quite smoothly.
• We always had a ger to ourselves unlike other tour groups who sometimes shared with the family or driver.
• Our driver was pleasant and very helpful.

The negatives
• While our guide was pleasant and her English was basic but understandable, she was not very knowledgeable. She spent a lot of time gossiping with the families and we felt like we were in the way.
• As mentioned above, food is not included in the backpacker arrangement and your guide organises meals with the families. You pay for this separately. The guide and driver should pay for their own food. This worked out to be quite expensive and we felt that we were paying for all the guide and driver's meals as well. Eg. Bowl of noodle soup cost us 9,000 tugriks / c. $5 US which is double what you'd expect to pay (hence the guide insisted we pay her directly and we guess we paid double to cover her and the driver)
• The cost of this package is not comparable to other backpacker groups doing similar trips. We chatted to a few other backpackers we met en route who were paying half of what we did, doing the same thing and had food included!

We finished the tour pleased we'd experienced genuine Gobi desert but feeling like we'd been ripped off. So a few tips.

• If you do book the same trip, make sure you insist on a fixed price for meals in advance (around 4000 and 6000 Tugriks per meal) with Ganzo, not the local guide.
• If you're not interested in riding any of the animals, negotiate with Ganzo to have this charge taken off your fee.
• If you have time (a spare day) in UB organise the trip from there. In September it is reasonably quiet and tours are available. Plus you'll meet other people happy to share the trip and make it cheaper. The average price other backpackers we spoke to were paying was between $55 and $88 per day depending on the length of the trip with meals included. Sun Path, Zaya's hostel and Mongolia Sun? were some of the companies we came across. Most hostels arrange tours.

Lastly take warm clothes and a good sleeping bag. We weren't provided with blankets but fortunately had our own sleeping bags. If you're a coffee drinker, take your own coffee. Buy lots of water in Dalanzadgad before you head out and take wet wipes!

16  Thank RJessie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 13, 2014

Mongolia! Not for the faint of heart!...experienced travelers only!...beautiful with wide open spaces...mountains...nomads...yaks...rain deer..double hump camels!...we spent 14 days touring lake khousgal ...mount khogno khan..ulan batar..gobi desert...lake khousgal was just gorgeous! At night u felt like reaching out and touching the stars!...be sure to take horse back ride side of lake...the gers were fabulous! Never slept better...shared bathrooms..they were clean and great! ( (they almost are done with new cabins with attached bath rooms)... Mt khogno khan...the scenery was just beautiful..everything about this place we loved it!.. There were 10 in our group and 10 more from other places ..all of us had gate1 travel company who put together this trip...the experience of all the travelers on this tour made this trip the most enjoyable!..our guide Gamba was very accommodating and good natured!
Now for the gobi desert...very vast...seemed like the scenery never changed...long rides in the vehicles...very hard on the body...the nights made up for it...gorgeous sunrises and sun sets..attached bathrooms with gers...great food!... Very we'll mannered Mongolians..gentle and sweet..then off to sand dunes...long ride in vans...stayed at erdene camp for the night..newly constructed cabins..very nice!... Watch out for the beds though!.. They were hard!.. Camel ride lasted about an hour...everyone in my group enjoyed except me:(... A little hard on my bottom...next day we were back at dream gobi camp! Amazing place...all in all I have to say we had a great time!.. All my friends made this to be a wonderful experience!.. Gate1 did a great job! Our guide was the best! Our group average age was around 60-65.. They were amazing companions...no one complained!..If you are planning on this trip..my advice is do it a little earlier in 50s..it's easier on the body:). ..

Date of experience: September 2014
6  Thank Ranik2670
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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