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Finding a Guide Service in Mongolia

Submitted by on August 3, 2010 – 12:12 amOne Comment

One of the major things I need to work out for this project is finding the right guide service to go through, so that I can start contacting them regarding the project. I can’t do what I need to do with this project by going with a group, and I wouldn’t want to anyway, as I am most happy as a solo traveler. However, traveling alone through Mongolia can be extremely dangerous due to weather, bandits, difficulty of navigation, and straight up isolation. Thus, I want to hire a guide or series of guides to help me find my way around the country.

This is one of the most important, make-or-break aspects of the planning for TME, and it is also one of the most difficult. There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Often, the best guides and guide services in a third world country are the ones who don’t have an online presence.
  2. I really don’t want to be switching guide constantly over the course of this project, and I would prefer to find guides who can work with me for at least 3-4 weeks at a time, preferably longer.
  3. There seems to be a very wide price range for guide services in Mongolia, which makes it more difficult to know if I’m over- or under-paying for what I need.
  4. I want to find a guide or guide service who will really work with me to make sure I can see and document the things I want to document, rather than just taking me from tourist site to tourist site. The core of this needs to be authenticity, and if I go through a service, I need them to understand that.

I have a Mongolian contact in Ulaanbaatar who has worked as a guide and a cameraman before, but I’m unsure as to how long he would be able to stay with me. Also, he is generally only contactable by snail mail (by which we have been communicating thus far), and let me tell you, having a pen pal in Mongolia takes a lot of patience.

How you can help:

If you have used a guide service in Mongolia in the past, I would love to hear about your experiences, as well as any recommendations or warnings. I have always traveled solo, and so I am also somewhat under-informed when it comes to the logistics of hiring a guide, so if you have any experience with hiring a guide for more than a few days at a time, no matter where it was, I would love any advice you can provide.

[Photos by Michael Chu]

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