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Mongolian Culture

Mongolian nomads' homes, clothes, weapons, and way of life are impossible to imagine without Mongolia's unique crafts, patterns, and embroidery. A special aesthetic has developed from the common things used in the everyday life of nomads over thousands of years. 

The beginning of the decorative arts in Mongolia dates back to pre-Bronze Age, with cave paintings. These can be found throughout Mongolia, but the highest concentration of cave paintings are in the mountains of western Mongolia, in the provinces of Hovd and Bayan Olgii.

The Bronze Age saw the development of molten metal and zooform art. An example are the "deer stones" one can find dotting the Mongolian countryside: stone slabs with simplified, stylized deer carved in relief. Fortunetelling conglomerations of animal figures and animal body parts characterized the art of the Hunnu and Bronze Age people who lived in Mongolian territory.

These peoples also decorated various cloth with embroidery, developed applique, and stitched felt art. Hunnu goldsmithing technology developed rapidly, and since their time, coin design has been paid special attention by the people of this area. The Hunnu also developed pottery techniques, such as creating vases by hand or by a turning method with a lock up mechanism. The Syanbi people made fur clothes and traveling bags with perforated embroidery, and their women wore tall headgear.
The Uhuani peoples' leaders were also their expert artisans: they were able to make bows and arrows, weapons, embroidery, woven items, and processed leather. During the Tureg Age, people created silver plates, golden jugs with floral motifs, and linear animal figures. 

The Uighur people were an influential group who lived in the 8th century. They made gold earrings, horses' bits for the first time decorated by continuous ornament, and vases with wave motifs. People of the Khyatan state (911-1115) capably developed all kinds of craft and embroidery art because they viewed art and culture to be as important as politics and government. They elected wise leaders who were equally skilled in the making of weapons, saddle, bow and arrow, etc. Many stone masons lived in this century. Also during this time, a process of firing pottery in green, yellow, and black porcelain and enamel was developed.
            During the time of Chinggis Khaan, traditional craft and embroidery art were enriched with influences from foreign cultures. Applique art was dedicated to Buddha and reached a classical degree of development. This art was an extension of the early folk embroidery in the countryside. To decorate the royal palace, exaggerated, stylized forms of animals on felt and silk were ornately embroidered. In the largest cities of Great Mongolia were many beautiful palaces decorated by such crafts and embroidery. 
The 19th and 20th centuries made up an energetic period of development of craft and decoration. At the end of the 19th century, popular craftspeople, embroiderers, and artists gathered to create Ganjuur and Danjuur, two books of about 300 volumes, and Duinhor's Loilon. Tsam dance, a Buddhist religious dance, flourished in the time leading up to Communism, and many fine examples of the elaborate constumes used in the dances can be found in the Fine Art Museum and Choijin Lama's Museum. Mongolian paintings, sculpture, embroidery, felt art, leather art, bookmaking, Buddhist prints, and bone, wood, and fossil amber craft work developed powerfully in this time.
            Mongolians revolted to gain independence from China and the Manchurians in 1911, and decided to renew the old monasteries and stations. The People's Republic of Mongolia was established in 1924 with the help of the Soviets, and in 1926, by unofficial census, there were 255 crafts people for silver, 297 for metal, and 85 for embroidery in Mongolia. Soon after, religion was banned in Mongolia and many monasteries and their inhabitants were destroyed. Mongolian crafts survived, though, with a new focus on supporting and promoting the Communist state. Starting intensively in the 1930s, craft art essentially separated from the herding life style and became an independent section of Mongolian art.
            Today one can find Mongolian patterns decorating everything from ancient Mongolia jewelry to Soviet-style apartment buildings. There are 7000 different kinds of Mongolian patterns. Ancient patterns include "Sulden (emblem) khee" very widely used in Mongolia, and 'Galan (fire) khee." This is a very important pattern today because Mongolians honor Fire. Many Mongolian patterns symbolize the wishes and aims of Mongolians.

Mongolian Games
Popular board games are chess and checkers. The chess figures are noyon (noble) = king, bers (cp. bars "tiger") = queen, temee (camel) = bishop,mori (horse) = knight, tereg (cart) = castle, khüü (boy) = pawn.
The rules used today are the same as in European chessDominoes are also played widespread.
Indigenous card games existed in the 19th century but are now lost. One of the popular card games that is played is Muushig.
Sheep anklebones, or Shagai, are used in a number of different games, as dice, or as token.
"Rock, Paper, Scissors"- and Morra-like games are also played.
 Wood knots and disentanglement  puzzles have traditionally been popular.
The Mongolian children were also known to have played an ice-like game on frozen rivers that is similar to curling.
Traditional Costume

Culture of  Mongolian national costumes is one of preciuos share of Mongolians to the world civilization. This culture was created during thousand of years in high mountains of central Asia together with genesis of Mongolians and research works proof that common appearance of the national costumes was formatted in the second century with strength of Huns empire.

The Deel
The main garment is the deel, a long, one-piece gown made from wool or silk. Most Mongolians have several different deels, appropriate for different seasons, as well as a more decorative deel for special occasions. Winter deels are often lined with sheep skin. The deel has a high collar, is often brightly colored, is worn with a multipurpose sash, and is worn by men and women year-round. Some men’s Deel have “nudarga” or a large trimming attached to the end of sleeves that can be overturned.

The fabrics used in Mongolian clothing such as silk, brocade, satin and velour reveal a connection of the Mongolian culture with other oriental cultures. Due to harsh nature, the lining for the winter dress consists of sheepskin, goatskin, or fur of wolves, lynxes, foxes, and sables. 

Patterns, trimmings and colors of Mongolian dress have a lot of symbolism. They symbolizes the human qualities essential for living in the steppes such as simplicity, strength, prosperity, longevity, happiness and family values or represent Nature: sun or moon. 

You will find below definitions and meanings of different garments and patterns that will help you browse through the collection in an informed way.  
The conditions of climate excert influence on the kind of dress, the costumes for the seasons of the year. In summer the Mongols wear a light coat or frock, the "Terleg" (deel - summer coat), in spring, autumn and winter a wadded coat (row cotton), the "Khovontei Deel", or a lambskin coat, the "Khurgan Dotortoi Deel", in winter they wear a sheepskin dress reminding of a fur coat, the "Tsagaan Nekhii Deel".

The deel reflects the age of the wearer. The costumes of elderly people are, as a rule, modest and plain. The female dress shows differences between the attire of the girls and that of married women. The latter is decorated and adorned more splendidly with ornaments and jewellery. The design of the garments, the combination of colours as well as the decorative ornaments speak of an old tradition.

The Mongols wear the coat with the oblique border, the "Tashuu Engertei Deel", and the coat with the rectangular border, the "Durvuljin Engertei Deel". The materials from which the dresses were sewn were either produced by the people themselves, such as "leather, wool, and fur", or dresses have been made from silk, cotton, wool, and brocades and were richly decorated with jewellery and ornaments of gold, silver, corals, pearls, and precious stones.

Ethnic groups are differentiated by the color, decoration, and shape of their deel. Every ethnic groups has its own headdress (i.g. the "Toortsog", "Yuden", and "Zharantai"), hence there are many different kinds of caps and boots. The master (male or female) was able to glue, quilt, and stuff with wadding; he knew the symbolism of the ornaments used on the dresses, the symbolism of the colours and their combination.

The Khantaaz

The khantaaz is a shorter traditional jacket, often made of silk, which is also buttoned to the side, and usually worn over the deel.
It is usually worn outside of Deel. Is is usually made of thick warm fabrics. Khantaaz also has beautiful decorative trimmings. 

The Gutal
The gutul is a high boot made from thick leather and sometimes decorated ornately. They are easy to put on - both the left and right boot are the same shape. There exist many explanations for the curled, upturned toe, but the most likely one is religious - the upturned end touches less earth and therefore theoretically kills fewer bugs, in accordance with Buddhist teachings about the non-taking of life.

Janjin is a men’s hat with a pointed peak, symbolizing prosperity and happiness, which rests on a dome-shaped base and is directed upward toward the sky. 

Toortsog is a round cap that is usually worn by women during a warm season. 

Lovuuz is a winter hat cut as two rectangular shapes sewn together with an opening at the back that is tied with little ribbons. It is trimmed of fox skin or other animals skin. 

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1. What are the passport and visa requirements for Mongolia?

All travelers require a valid passport in order to visit Mongolia. Your passport must remain valid for at least 6 months after the last day of your visit. Please be sure your passport has been signed and has adequate space remaining for entry and exit stamps.
U.S citizens do not require a visa to enter Mongolia. However if your transit time in China exceeds 24 hours, it is imperative that you obtain a double- entry Chinese visa in advance. For most other nationalities including Canadian and European, DO require a visa to enter Mongolia.
Please contact us for more information or you may also check with U.S Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or the closest consulate before departure to see if any special requirements apply to your case.

2. Do I require any vaccinations prior to traveling?

Wild Nature Travel is not qualified to provide any medical advice and we highly recommend that you consult your personal physician to determine your particular needs.
According to the Center for Disease Control, no immunizations are required for entry in to Mongolia from the United States or for reentry into United States for Mongolia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Tetanus/ Diphtheria and polio inoculations be up to date for all international travel and that you consider an immunization against Hepatitis A and rabies.
If you are arriving in Mongolia via China, please note that China requires that you have a yellow fever vaccination if you are entering the country from, or have recently been in certain countries in Africa and South America. An International Certificate of Vaccination must be validated b the center that administers the vaccine and carried with you on your trip.
Please plan ahead as some inoculations must be given in sequence and the entire immunization process could take as long as eight weeks.

3. What is the best time to visit Mongolia?

Mongolia has a relatively cool climate with short, mild summers and long severe winters lasting from November through April. Average temperatures are as follows:
Early May to Mid May: 35-65 degrees Fahrenheit
Late May to Early August: 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit
Mid August to Early September: 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit
Mid-September to Early October: 30-70 degrees Fahrenheit

4. What kind of clothing and shoes do you recommend for packing?

Since temperatures in Mongolia can vary widely during the day, it is best to carry casual clothing that can be layered. Dress is informal and jeans or similar attire is appropriate. For those traveling to the mountain regions, particularly in spring and autumn, warm hats and gloves are recommended as well as a jacket appropriate for cold and windy conditions. You should bring a waterproof jacket or other rain gear such as a poncho or an umbrella. A broad brimmed hat is useful for sun protection.
Proper footwear is essential; be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots. Rubber Beach sandals will prove useful when using the bath and toilets at the ger camps. You may also wish to bring something that can be used as a cover-up while using centralized facilities.
Due to International airlines imposing baggage weight restrictions, we suggest you plan your wardrobe around items that can serve several purposes.

5. Can you accommodate my dietary restrictions?

We can accommodate those with special dietary needs, such as vegetarian or low-fat diets. However food choices may not be as plentiful or flavorful as you are used to. Please let us know in advance if you have any special dietary needs.

6. What kind of food is served during the tours?

Staying true to Mongolian traditional cuisine – meals are typically meat based and include noodles, rice and/or breads. Most meals are likely to include potatoes, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers or tomatoes. Fruit may be available but is typically canned. Breakfast usually includes eggs, sausages, toast, tea and instant tea/coffee. Lunch is the main meal of the day and includes salad, a bowl of soup and meat with rice and potatoes. Dinner usually consists of a salad and meat with rice or noodles and vegetables.

7. Is bottled water available during the tour?

Yes, bottled and boiled water is available in all places you will visit as part of our tour.

8. I suffer from motion sickness. Are these tours suitable for me?

Mongolia being a vast country, certain itineraries might necessitate drives on unpaved and bumpy roads. The roads can also be dusty and you may find a scarf or handkerchief helpful. If you think you may be prone to motion sickness, please bring your own medication to alleviate possible discomfort.

9. What should I do in case of a medical emergency?

Pack ample supply of basic health and first-aid needs, including any prescription drugs and vitamins. Medical facilities are available in Mongolia, however since standards and methods of treatments are not the same as ours, the prospect of illness or hospitalization should not be taken lightly. If you have a serious medical problem or a medical condition that might be adversely affected by strenuous travel, please contact us so we may provide more precise information. The Wild Nature Travel strongly recommends the purchase of a comprehensive travel and medical insurance including medical evacuation coverage.

10.  Are your tours suitable for all age groups?

Mongolia has something to offer to everyone. We have trips that cater to families with kids as young as 3 years old and there is no upper age limit for most of our tours. More important than age, our tours are designed for those who share our enthusiasm for discovering out-of –the-ordinary destinations.

11. I cannot ride a horse? Can I still join your tours?

For most of our tours, the horse riding adventure is completely optional and if you choose to ride it is suitable for beginners. The treks normally last for an average of about 1-3 hours. However, certain tours such as the Steppe Ride????? on Horseback and Horse trek to Hagiin Har Lake require some prior experience in horse riding.

12. What are Gers?

Gers are traditional dome-like felt tents made by latticed wood walls covered by felt and canvas and supported by poles. This is the traditional home of the herdsmen who must move with their animals and therefore need an easily transportable dwelling that will withstand harsh winters. Ger camps offer an authentic experience of Mongolian culture and provide the unique opportunity to visit areas which otherwise lack visitor accommodations.

13. How is the accommodation in a traditional Ger camp?

Cozy, quaint and homelike, the gers consist of single/ twin comfortable mattresses on elevated wooden frames. Clean sheets, pillows and blankets are provided. The gers are heated by wood stoves with a chimney through a hole in the center of the roof.

14.  Are there attached bathrooms?

Normally not- the most Ger camps offer western style shower and toilet facilities in their central building.

15. Is hot water available throughout the day?

Hot water is available only at certain times during the day; your Mongolian guide will let you know when to expect hot water so you can plan when to shower.

16. Are toiletries provided?

No, toiletries are not provided at traditional Ger camps. You will need to bring your own soap and washcloth for your stay. Towels provided in each ger are small; you may therefore prefer to bring a larger towel of your own.

17. Are there electrical outlets in Gers? Is electricity available throughout the day?

Although there is electricity available at ger camps, it is often turned off during the daylight hours and during the middle of the night in order to conserve energy. Please be sure to bring a flashlight for those occasions when electricity is turned off and you need a light source.

18. Are there ATM’s available throughout the country?

ATM machines are not widely available in remote areas. Your best option would be to withdraw cash in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar prior to commencement of your tour. There are ATM machines available at the main branch of the Trade & Developmen Bank and State Department Store.  If you plan on using an ATM facility, please contact your bank prior to arrival to ensure there are no international restrictions.

19. How can I exchange currency?

US Dollars are accepted in most places along with Mongolian currency, the togrog. Mongolian currency can be readily obtained from hotels as well as major banks. It is advisable to carry the majority of your money in cash, preferably large and smaller denominations (tens, twenties and fifties). You should also bring a selection of ones and fives ($20 in ones and $50 in fives) for purchasing small souvenirs. Please ensure that all bills are relatively new and in good condition. Old, faded or ripped bills will not be accepted, nor will fifties and hundreds that are not the new issue.

20.  Are there restrooms/ bathroom facilities available during our daily excursions?

During many of your daily excursions in the countryside there will not be any bathroom facilities available. Bring small packs of tissue or towelettes for any “wilderness rest stops”. We ask that you carry your used tissues in a personal ziplock bag that can be disposed of at the ger camp or the capital city.

21.  Is there a luggage limit?

Domestic airlines in Mongolia have strict luggage limitations of 33-44 lb check in bags and 11 lb for carry on. So, plan to carry on small duffel bag for the excursions in the countryside and a backpack. You can leave your luggage at the hotel.

Trip Payment Schedule
At time of reservation: 30% of payment 
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Trip Cancellation Schedule
More than 8 weeks – 15% of the tour fare
Less than 8 weeks – 30% of the tour fare
Less than 6 days – 100% of the tour fare

Children Discount
For children of a family (0 – 3 years old) is 75% free of charge
For children of a family (4 – 12 years old) is 50% free of charge 

Discount Condition
More attractive prices for groups of 12 and more people!
1 free space for every 16 PAX
If you travel with us 2+ times you can get 10% off.