Posted by Selena Travel / 09 03, 2017
“Nomads on horses” is what comes to mind of many upon hearing the word “Mongolia”. Indeed, nomadic culture is engrained into every part of Mongolian lifestyle and culture. Mongolians have been nomads for thousands of years, sustaining their life on Central Asian plateau by relying on their domesticated livestock. The main five domesticated livestocks are: horse, camel, sheep, goat and cow, although yaks are kept in some areas of Northern Mongolia. From early on, due to shortage of food and everything else in general, frugality and resourcefulness were greatly valued and emphasized in nomadic life; everything had multiple uses, and same goes for all the livestock. Livestocks are used for not only food, but also for transportation and a resource for raw materials such as wool, cashmere, and leather. These raw materials are in return used to make clothes, shoes, and most importantly, the Gers (yurts). In short, before the technological boom and era of plenty, nomadic lifestyle was completely self-sustaining. In the mountainous northern part of the country, usually sheep, goat and horses are kept in addition to yaks while in the southern part, especially in the Gobi desert, camels are mostly kept as they are capable of going on without water for many days. Typically, a household keeps enough livestock to sustain the whole family, therefore fertile pastureland is critical for the nomads, hence the seasonal migration to find better pastureland during each season.
Today, about 30% of the country`s population is still leading nomadic lifestyle all over the country, and as there are not many truly nomadic cultures left on earth, Mongolia has become an unique destination to visit for many tourists. Subsequently, in the last two decades, Mongolian government has been working hard to encourage tourism with main attraction being nomadic lifestyle.
When traveling to Mongolia, one can experience nomadic culture in many ways. Most of the Mongolian tours offer a short visit or two to real families in the countryside which gives a good chance to learn and witness their hospitality. However, if one is up for in-depth and authentic experience, then staying with a family for several days, engaging in their daily chores, eating and sleeping like the nomads, is the best way to do it. While staying with your host family, you will learn to ride horses, milk the cows, cook Mongolian food and much more.
If you are planning to travel to Mongolia, check out our authentic and experiential Mongolian tours with nomads on our website: