Our purpose: Enriching Lives. Protecting Places.
Through sustainable tourism, we aim to enrich the lives of not only our travelers but also the lives of local community members where we operate and of the people we employ.
Mongolia is undeniably one of the most unique and rewarding travel destinations on earth. Whether exploring the fossil-rich Flaming Cliffs of the Gobi Desert during your stay at Three Camel Lodge, experiencing nomadic culture firsthand at a traditional naadam festival, or witnessing the centuries-old practice of Kazakh falconry on full display at the annual Golden Eagle Festival, your journey here will not leave you unchanged. Likewise, from the very beginning our mission has been to create meaningful travel experiences that enrich the lives of our guests while also bringing tangible benefits to the places and people we visit. As sustainable tourism pioneers in Mongolia, we ensure that all our trips respect the environment and preserve the country’s priceless natural and cultural heritage while supporting local communities through a high-value, low-volume tourism model.
This commitment to responsible travel began as the country’s borders opened to independent travelers in the early 1990s. Our CEO, Jalsa Urubshurow, founded Nomadic Expeditions as a way to showcase Mongolia’s diverse and fascinating character in a manner that would bring tangible economic and social benefits to its citizens, and we have since become the national benchmark for sustainable tourism. Guided by the United Nations Development Programme’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we continuously strive to enrich local lives, protect the places we visit, and spread best practices throughout the country while providing once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. By hiring and training local Mongolians, we are proud to create employment opportunities that offer a sustainable alternative to extractive industries such as mining, while also offering our guests a truly authentic look into the country’s enigmatic soul.
When traveling with Nomadic Expeditions, you can be assured that your unforgettable vacation is contributing directly to our efforts to building a more sustainable future for Mongolia and its communities. The following are some examples of how we implement the three pillars of sustainable tourism on our trips.
Environmentally-friendly practices – ‘going green’ – is a globally-recognized concept that encourages innovative and sustainable practices that reduce, reuse and recycle, including energy, water, waste, and carbon.
- Our award-winning Three Camel Lodge in the Gobi Desert was built using traditional Buddhist construction methods fused with rigorous modern environmental standards to ensure the lowest impact possible, including comprehensive recycling and a waste management training program for staff and local students. We were the first Mongolian lodge to successfully eliminate all single-use plastic water bottles in 2015, which were then removed from all tours in 2018 and replaced with our signature reusable metal bottles. Additionally, lodge lighting is almost entirely generated by solar power and we further reduce our carbon footprint by sourcing over half of our supplies from local Gobi purveyors, complemented by an onsite greenhouse where organic produce is grown.
- There is nothing like waking up in an endless expanse of pure Mongolian wilderness, which is made possible by our low-impact guest camps in Karakorum and Ulgii that are set up in the spring and taken down in the fall to allow for natural rejuvenation. Likewise, we erect comfortable boutique camps for the Golden Eagle Festival weekend and then dismantle them following this same ‘leave no trace’ policy.
- Providing environmental education and eco-friendly travel tips for our guests before they arrive in Mongolia and throughout their trips is a cornerstone of our company’s commitment to upholding and spreading best practices. We also empower all staff to become stewardship ambassadors through comprehensive employee training including on single-use plastics, waste management, carbon reduction, responsible sourcing practices, and organic agriculture.
- As of 2020 we are proud to have achieved 100% renewable solar energy to power our USA headquarters.
Natural and Cultural Preservation
When tourism works to successfully protect the natural and cultural heritage of the places we visit, it also invests in safeguarding this legacy for future generations.
- In the depths of Mongolia’s harsh winters, agile snow leopards prowl the country’s icy mountains in record numbers. Home to one of the highest concentrations of this iconic endangered species, we proudly partner with the World Wildlife Fund to support their snow leopard conservation initiatives, from hosting scientific research trips to direct support for WWF Mongolia. In 2014, we served as the executive producer and operator for James McEachen and Joe Rohde’s inspiring conservation film, Land of the Leopard, and our ongoing illegal trap collection program, “Cooking for Conservation,” exchanges steel poacher traps collected by villagers in rural regions for a complete set of highly-prized cooking pots; resulting in over 100 traps collected to date.
- Falconry is a cultural tradition dating back centuries in Mongolia to the reign of Genghis Khan, and the practice is still upheld today during the annual Golden Eagle Festival in the westernmost Bayan-Ölgii province. In our continuous pursuit to protect Mongolia’s venerable heritage, in 2020 we formed a new partnership with the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia and the Peregrine Fund to create and fund a five-year field research project to drive golden eagle conservation using globally-recognized citizen science techniques.
- For over two decades we have collaborated with the Arts Council of Mongolia to support local projects and raise awareness of Mongolia’s distinct cultural art forms both nationally and around the world. In 2018, we sent a group of student musicians from the Gobi Desert to perform using their traditional Mongolian instruments at the International Children’s Music Festival in Ankara, Turkey, and our most recent program with the Arts Council grants five scholarships to local graduates who wish to continue studying performing arts at the university level. In addition to regularly hosting talented Mongolian performance groups at Three Camel Lodge and our low-impact camps in Karakorum and Ulgii, we have also sponsored the production of professional marketing material for ensembles to help promote and preserve Mongolia’s national heritage.
When tourism directly benefits local people by contributing to their economic and social well-being, they also become active partners in protecting nature, alleviating poverty and celebrating cultural diversity.
- Nomadic Expeditions has played a key role in promoting Mongolia as a world-class travel destination since its founding in 1992, and by pioneering sustainable luxury tourism within the country, we have also created alternative employment opportunities for local communities outside of the unsustainable national mining industry – empowering residents to prosper and benefit directly from travel.
- We are proud that 100% of our in-country staff are local citizens across our destinations. To ensure that each one of our staff meets our high professional standards, we offer a comprehensive capacity building program that has trained an impressive number of tour guides, cooks, drivers, housekeepers, servers, reservation specialists and travel managers since our founding, translating into hundreds of full-time, sustainable livelihoods and careers in the travel and hospitality industry.
- Sustainable sourcing practices are a cornerstone of our commitment to empowering communities across Mongolia. At Three Camel Lodge, and throughout our trips, we source goods and services as locally as possible from like-minded artisans, farmers, service providers, and independent companies to ensure that residents and economies are being supported and strengthened by tourism. Likewise, for our trips outside of Mongolia, we work exclusively with locally-owned operators and properties that are also committed to protecting their natural and cultural heritage, and who share our sustainability vision.
Nomadic Expeditions believes in the transformative power of thinking globally and acting locally, which is why our work in Mongolia reflects the change we wish to see in the world at large. In addition to our own extensive sustainability initiatives, we also support a diverse array of organizations around the globe that are working to safeguard the planet’s heritage and uplift its communities, further demonstrating our commitment to building a healthier, more prosperous home for all.
We are proud to support the following organizations, among others, through direct monetary and in-kind donations:
Captain Planet Foundation
With a mission to “work collaboratively to engage and empower young people to be problem solvers for the planet”, the CPF enables youth to become environmental stewards through its four main programs: educational small grant opportunities that have benefited over 1.6 million children globally, sustainable school garden programs, threatened and endangered species protection, and the development of active leadership skills.
Children’s Tumor Foundation
A special cause close to our founder Jalsa’s heart, this foundation works to end Neurofibromatosis by expanding knowledge through scientific research and advanced care for those afflicted with NF.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
The worldwide leader in researching for a cure for cystic fibrosis, this foundation also funds drug development and seeks to provide specialized care for the CF community.
Since 1904, the Explorers Club has become a professional multidisciplinary society dedicated to supporting ongoing field research and education in the sciences in order to preserve and encourage our innate desire as humans to explore our planet.
The Peregrine Fund
Dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey around the globe, this organization employs a strategy aimed at conservation, engagement, and capacity outcomes that protect raptor populations and their ecosystems while educating and enriching the lives of surrounding communities.
International Campaign for Tibet
Over the past three decades, this organization has become the largest support group for Tibetans working peacefully towards democracy, human rights, and the preservation of the country’s ancient national heritage – guided by the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with the support of elected leaders and citizens around the globe.