Three Camel Lodge was born from our vision to create the country’s most inspiring and sustainable eco-lodge. Using ancient Buddhist temple construction methods, the unique property was painstakingly built to reflect traditional Mongolian culture, respect our pristine surroundings, and serve as an active community resource—all while providing a truly unparalleled guest experience.
We follow the three pillars of sustainable tourism at Three Camel Lodge and within our community: Environmental Stewardship, Natural and Cultural Preservation, and Community Empowerment.
Our unwavering commitment is guided by the United Nations Development Programme’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and each guest stay directly supports efforts to conserve our natural resources, protect our cultural traditions and improve the quality of life for Gobi residents.
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.
– We are proud to be the first lodge in Mongolia to successfully eliminate all single-use plastic water bottles, and we provide our guests with a stylish reusable metal bottle that can be refilled throughout the property at our purified water stations. Every day, we pursue our goal of becoming completely plastic-free.
– In a region without formal recycling systems, we have developed our own comprehensive management program that diverts lodge waste from landfills – including paper, bottles and cans, and organic matter, which we compost onsite for re-use in our organic greenhouse.
– Nearly 100% of the lodge lighting, including all the lighting in our guest gers, is solar-powered, and we use only LED lights.
– We actively reduce our carbon footprint by sourcing over 50% of our lodge supplies, services and ingredients within 50 miles – supplemented by organic produce grown in our onsite greenhouse
When tourism in Mongolia 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.
– From the beginning, we have remained deeply integrated with our Gobi community and continue to serve as a valuable resource in the region. Our onsite well provides water each day for thousands of animals belonging to nomadic herders; we also provide animal feed and grass during harsh winters. We sponsor English classes and sports teams in a nearby school, and in 2018 we brought a team of optometrists to give eye exams to community members, resulting in the distribution of over 1,000 eyeglasses.
– Providing full-time employment and professional capacity building to local community members is fundamental to our company’s sustainability mission, and we are proud to employ a 100% Mongolian staff. By creating jobs in a remote region with limited opportunities, and investing in our employees through ongoing training, English lessons, and trips abroad to learn about global best practices, we strive to empower community members to become both hospitality professionals and stewards of their Gobi home. We currently employ 20+ staff year-round, in contrast to most Mongolian lodges, which only hire for the three-month tourism season.
– We believe in the power of upward mobility opportunities and have a strong record in hiring, training and empowering our employees – women in particular – to achieve leadership roles within the company. Most of our department managers are women and many have worked their way up from entry-level positions, including our Head Chef, who started as a dishwasher seven years ago.
– In order to support sustainable community supply chains and help grow the local economy, our purchasing and contracting policies favor local families, small Gobi businesses, and artisans selling locally-crafted goods. We also pay our taxes to the local province rather than the national government, which funds local development where it is most needed.
– We are proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers like you to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination.
If you save just a few kilos of space in your suitcase and take supplies for the projects we support in need, you’ll make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families. Please click here to see what supplies are needed for our project/projects.
When tourism works to successfully protect Mongolia’s natural and cultural heritage, it also invests in safeguarding this legacy for future generations.
– Past and present live as one in the Gobi, which is why we are committed to protecting the region’s priceless dinosaur fossils from illegal extraction in nearby paleontological sites, while supporting scientific inquiry. Forming a first-of-its-kind cooperative agreement with other local stakeholders and national park authorities, Three Camel Lodge serves as a base for research within the Gobi and regularly hosts international experts, including at the 4th annual Symposium on Asian Dinosaurs that was held onsite in 2019. The lodge also supports scientific excursions in the region to help further the field of Mongolian paleontology, and among other successes, one such excursion led to the discovery of a previously unknown species of ankylosaur – which was subsequently named Zaraapelta nomadis in 2014 in honor of our sister tour company, Nomadic Expeditions. Additionally, we actively support educational school programs that empower local students to become future stewards of the Gobi’s natural heritage, including a scholarship program in honor of a leading Mongolian paleontologist.
– Since 2008, we have proudly supported local students studying traditional Mongolian music and dance at the Gobi’s Hanhongor School, and we regularly share their talents with our guests through private lodge performances. In addition to donating supplies and musical instruments to the school, in 2018 we sent ten students and two teachers to Ankara, Turkey to perform at the International Children’s Music Festival and share Mongolia’s cultural heritage on a global stage. In partnership with the Arts Council of Mongolia, we also launched a scholarship program in 2019 to fully sponsor five talented local students who wish to continue studying music and performing arts at the university level.
– Rising from the arid steppe that stretches to the horizon in all directions, Three Camel Lodge was built to honor Mongolia’s nomadic heritage and reflect the Gobi’s distinct sense of place through traditional architecture and design, relying on local materials and guided by environmentally-friendly practices. The roof of the main lodge was built according to ancient Buddhist construction techniques, without nails, and our country’s cultural legacy is on full display throughout the property, from traditional horse head fiddles, artful tapestries and preserved onsite petroglyphs to our felt-covered guest gers decorated with traditional hand-carved furniture and intricately painted ceilings. Guests can shop for local artisan handicrafts in our gift shop and appreciate the Gobi way of life while watching herds of animals drinking from our outdoor watering hole, accompanied by their nomadic owners.
One of the newest sustainability initiatives we are most proud of is helping to launch and sustain the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project—a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help preserve the Bankhar, a unique mastiff breed native to the Mongolian Steppe.
Bankhar dogs have traditionally performed a critical role—safeguarding the livestock of Mongolian herding families from predator species such as snow leopards and wolves. The Bankhar Dog Project breeds, trains and places Bankhar dogs with qualified herder host families. The presence of the dogs serves to ward off these threats, thus reducing the use of shooting, trapping or poison—protecting not only herds and endangered species but also a traditional way of life.
Three Camel Lodge’s founder, Jalsa Urubshurow, has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Bruce Elfstrom, director of the nonprofit.
“I’ve known Bruce and his work for over a decade,” says Jalsa Urubshurow, “and what he is doing to reintroduce the breed and protect snow leopards is nothing short of heroic. Three Camel Lodge has been longtime supporters, but in 2015 we got involved firsthand knowledge when we adopted Barbus.”
The male Barbus has since been joined by female Ganuba, and their first litter was gifted to local nomadic herding families in Spring of 2021.
The Bankhar Dog Project has been steadily reintroducing the breed since 2011. The dog was nearly lost forever during 70 years of Communist occupation. Because the naturally strong and brave Bankhar was seen as a powerful cultural symbol, Russian forces purposely sought to eradicate the animal. Only a few scattered pockets of the breed survived.