The world really is the best classroom. Bringing children on your family vacations allows them to grow in unexpected leaps and bounds. Becoming engaged one-on-one with Mongolia’s unique people, landscape, and traditions allows kids to experience history in the flesh, geography beneath their boots, and culture everywhere they look.
Mongolia is a mesmerizing country with unforgettable sites in every corner. The thriving capital of Ulaanbaatar with its cultural centers, the famed steppes and mountains and dunes of the Gobi Desert, the “dark blue pearl” of Hövsgöl Lake, the towering Altai mountain range, and all of the adventure in between.
A journey to Mongolia as a family reveals something for everyone. Yet expect to see the brightest light in the eyes of your children, as they experience so much that you simply can’t discover “back home.” Here are five benefits you can expect from bringing the family to explore Mongolia.
Exciting Their Imagination
The physical exploration to be done in Mongolia—from trekking with camels, to sleeping in a remote ger camp—unlocks the adventurous spirit in kids. The more cultural visits—to the Natural History Museum in Ulaanbaatar, and learning to cook traditional Mongolian foods—likewise piques their curiosity. Kids often will want to see more of the world, and to pursue the pastimes they’ve tried on vacation once they return home. Apologies if you have trouble finding a camel in your neighborhood.
Classroom learning and trips to the zoo can only teach a kid so much before their eyes glaze over. Yet when they come face to face with ancient petroglyphs on a high rock face… When they scour layers of cretaceous rock and find fossils on the surface… When they scale a towering sand dune and can see nothing but its undulating contours as far as the horizon… When they peer up at the Milky Way a clear as day seeming to just hang there in the expanse of space…
Kids quite often say that sleeping in a ger (yurt) was their favorite part of visiting the Gobi Desert. Stepping into a traditional nomadic ger opens a door literally. Yet metaphorically a door is opened by visiting. Upon entering the Gobi Desert, you will come to a solitary orange wood door. This is a spiritual greeting to you, welcoming you. The door is the first part put up when a ger is built. The strongest tent structure in the world, gers date back some 3,000 years and are made of latticed wood layered with felt and canvas. Sleeping in a ger connects kids with the same habit of living known by Chenngis Khan—and the nighttime view through the ceiling oculus of millions of luminous stars—that’s impressive too.
Seeing the World Anew
One of the activities available in the Gobi is riding on horseback to visit a nomadic family. Being able to meet another family, see how another culture lives, and reflect back upon their own norms—it teaches kids that we as people may look or act a little different, but we are all the same—with the same core needs and concerns. Children tend to come away from visiting a nomadic family with a more informed sense of where and who they are in the world.
Bringing the Family Together
Whether you’re riding camels over a sea of dunes, learning nomadic archery, or watching a traditional dance performance—creating these shared memories lets you bond with every experience. The authentic adventures in Mongolia bring you not only up close with nature and exotic animals—you will become closer to each other too.