The Mongolian ger (pronounced ‘gaire’) is the traditional felt tent of the nomadic herder. Made of a latticed wood structure covered with layers of felt and canvas, each ger is heated by a wood stove and furnished with beautifully painted wood framed beds. The first recorded description of the ger, also known as the Turkish yurt, came nearly 2,500 years ago from Herodotus, the renowned ‘Father of History’ (the title first conferred on him by Cicero), in the first and fourth books of his acclaimed work The Histories. Herodotus described the Scythian race (approx. 600 B.C. to 300 A.D.), which lived a nomadic horseback existence, in and around the Central Asian region near the Black and Caspian seas. Prior to this no other written evidence has been compiled, though the recent discovery of a Bronze Age rock etching in Siberia may place the history of the ger even earlier (Prehistoric Cartography in Asia, Page 5).

Marco Polo recorded its extensive use between 1274 and 1291 A.D. during his stay within the Mongolian Empire. Founded by the legendary Chinggis Khaan (better known to Westerners as Genghis), who ruled from 1206-1227 A.D., the empire remains the largest contiguous empire in human history. Genghis Khan’s legendary ger, rumored to have been mounted on a wheeled cart pulled by 22 oxen, was guarded at all times by his forces.

The word ger is Mongolian and literally means “home,” just as the Turkish term “yurt” can mean “homeland” and/or “dormitory.” All gers have a roof constructed of straight poles attached to a circular crown, making the roof gently slope downward as it continues out from the center. Traditionally, gers are extremely mobile and can be set up in a very short amount of time—they can be assembled or dismantled in as little as 30 minutes. 

A native Mongolian explains:

“The materials used are wood, felt, and ropes made of animal hair. The wall frame (khana) consists of crisscrossed lattices tied together, expanded, and attached to the doorframe to create the circular body on top of which the rafters (uni) are notched. The other ends of the rafters meet at the roof ring (toono), which is buttressed by the two poles that form the center of the ger. The roof ring has openings through which sunlight enters the ger and revolves around the inner wall. The seasonal and daily patterns of shifting light angles create a sundial that the Mongols use to schedule their daily activities. The structure is then covered with felt, which is a great insulator…and waterproofed.”

Today’s gers, much like the gers of the past, provide an authentic and memorable taste of Mongolian culture and allow you to visit areas which otherwise lack ordinary traveler accommodations. The Three Camel Lodge’s accommodations are an upscale take on the classic, taking cues from the modern need for convenience and comfort and combining them with traditional architecture. Of the hundreds of travelers we have accommodated in Mongolia over the years, virtually all have found ger living to be surprisingly comfortable, and this brief tactile connection to the Mongolian people provides an authentic and memorable opportunity.

Your nights at Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia’s premier eco-lodge and expedition camp, will be filled with uninterrupted starlight and your days with the flat expanse of the breathtaking Gobi. Thirty Five of Mongolia’s most luxurious and authentic accommodations face south with an incredible view of the never-ending Land of Blue Sky.