Travel with the Reindeer Tribes of Mongolia

I have a very exciting trip coming up! I am going to Mongolia with Crooked Compass, one of the Shark Tank companies because I said I would go and host a team of small businesses. It’s one thing to say you’re off to remote Mongolia, it’s another to actually go and to be honest, I am beginning to get a little bit nervous about it.

Apart from the fact that I’m going to be horseback for 7 hours to get to the Reindeer Tribe where we will spend 9 nights immersed in the culture of the Reindeer Tribes of Mongolia living alongside and learning their culture. There is a lot of preparation taking place and my thoughts are swirling around. I’m thinking ‘what’s it going to be like sleeping on the ground’, ‘how cold is it going to be’, ‘what should I be packing to wear’, ‘will I survive being disconnected from the internet’ — my mind is beginning to race. Not to mention the fact that I won’t be in or in contact with my kids, my business — especially during EOFY — I won’t be in touch with anyone at all. Thank goodness I’m going away with my beautiful husband. As you can see, there is so much preparation going on over here at Camp Simson…

On top of all the what-ifs there is also loads of practical things to get sorted. The visas, the injections, packing for several climates, but also money — I’m not even sure what currency they use in Mongolia? I have lots to figure out in not much time.

One thing people often don’t expect of me is that I’m actually such a homebody. I know that surprises a lot of people because when I was younger I travelled the world. I backpacked South America, Trans-Siberia, all over the world. Travel was a huge part of my life. But something has definitely shifted in my life and now I just love being at home.

The other thing I am scared about is the impact we will potentially have on these remote communities — especially with all the talk about over-tourism… It makes me think back to 1985 when I went to Machu Picchu. Back then there were only about 3 people climbing up per day and now, 30 years later, visitor numbers are capped at 2500 climbers daily. I truly wonder what impact these tourism operations have on the environment.

The irony is that of course (and especially for us Australians) we all want to travel, see the world, experience different cultures and have a memorable experience the footprint we will be leaving in Mongolia is definitely at the back of my mind. But the Crooked Compass tours that Lisa Pagotto runs make sure that each tour visits one tribe and that’s it. One tribe per tour, then they move on to another family for the next tour and so on.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is the gifts we will be taking. But what gift do you give that will not impact their societies? My husband and I have talked about taking magnifying glasses or little readers for eyesight or perhaps a kite for the children? We are thinking about gifts that won’t affect their tribe culturally or forever change them. I am very aware of our footprint and it’s making me nervous — I don’t want to be a bad traveller.

As I watch Lisa’s social posts of the incredible trips she organises to extremely remote or left of centre destinations, I’m so amazed and excited but it really does makes the world we live in feel much smaller. In reality though, is the world a better place if we are one — these are the big questions I’m pondering…

I’m pondering, and wondering, how am I going to go in Mongolia being physically and emotionally uncomfortable. This trip is not going to be a walk in the park and I want to be mentally prepared for it — prepared for the culture change, being offline, and drinking unpasteurised Reindeer milk…

I may appear like this businessperson who has everything together — but I am so not! This is an area where I am completely out of my comfort zone. I am the woman of experience, I’ve done everything! I speak in front of audiences of 5000 and don’t even get a single butterfly in my stomach and yet this, I am nervous about. How does that work?


Also published on Medium.

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