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Travellers Journal: Making Friends at a Mongolian Ger Camp

For those wondering, a ger is a travelling tent the Mongolian nomads used to use as they drifted across the grasslands hundreds of years ago. Interested in staying in one?

by Devin Kinasz Posted on 29 September 2014

Ever wondered what it would be like to spend a night in a traditional Mongolian ger? We asked a recent traveller to Inner Mongolia to share her experiences, which included dancing, music, and rice wine. Sounds like a good time to us!

Before I left Canada for my adventure in the Mongolian grasslands, my friends and family gave me a cheeky but sympathetic look when I told them I would be spending a night in a ger, which is basically a travelling tent the nomads used to use as they drifted across the grasslands hundreds of years ago.

“You, in a tent with no flush toilets? I hope there’s a wi-fi signal and an outlet for your hairdryer!” they joked.

Horses at the ger camp. Photo by T. Chan.
The grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Photo by T. Chan.

Yes, I will be sleeping in a ger in the Inner Mongolian grasslands in Northern China on a 12-day tour of the country with G Adventures. The tour also included other must-see hotspots like the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors, and the Forbidden City, but my night spent sleeping on the floor in the ger (with no indoor plumbing) is a memory that will last a lifetime and will always bring a smile to my face.

After a 15-hour journey from Beijing, we pulled up at Yin Shan Yan Hua Gers exhausted and a little worried about the rustic multi-coloured tent that would be our home that evening. However, one look over the rolling hills and big open sky and suddenly our worries seem to drift away, just like the clouds.

Yin Shan Yan Hua Gers Camp in Inner Mongolia.

That night was absolutely hilarious and proved to be as authentic an experience you can have in Inner Mongolia. We all gathered in the big ger with three large tables, one for us and two for other groups. We were entertained with local music: throat-singing, keyboards and even a horse-headed fiddle.  The homebrew rice wine was flowing, which certainly added to the festive atmosphere.

We were treated to live performances that night including throat-singing.

All of a sudden, wheeled in on a serving platter, was a massive sheep covered in glaze with a big red ribbon tied around its neck. Some of us were a little shocked, but we knew coming in that we were going to face some interesting culinary choices on this trip. After admiring the feast and cheering for the sheep, it was time to eat. And boy, did that sheep taste delicious!

Boy, did that sheep taste delicious! Photo by T. Chan.

The group next to ours consisted of local Chinese travellers, who wanted to show us that we were very welcome in their country – but the language barrier proved to be more like the Great Wall of China. Nonetheless, they were determined to make an impression; they swung by our table and cheered us with the rice wine and showered us with gifts like scarves and cigarettes, even though none of us smoked. That said, we appreciated the heartwarming gestures.

By the end of the evening – and all of the rice wine – we were all great friends and had bonded despite not being able to communicate through words. As we held hands and danced around the fire under the stars in the Inner Mongolian grasslands, I thought to myself “Wow, I am truly blessed to be having such a unique experience in such a faraway land.”

Dusk at the ger camp. Photo by T. Chan.

Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of departures in Mongolia encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.