Synopsis: Living in gers in the Mongolian wilderness is a unique experience. Ranjan Shrestha spent seven joyful days in the Genghis Khan Retreat, enjoying all the activities surrounded by spectacular landscapes.
Mongolia has two giant neighbors, Russia to the north and China in the south. With very little arable land, the country consists mostly of grassy slopes know as steppes. To the north and west lie the mountains and the south is covered by the barren Gobi Desert. Ulaanbaatar is the capital and the largest city in the country. But it’s the wilderness that attracts visitors.
Ranjan Shrestha of Curves & Colors was invited with a group of entrepreneurs through Entrepreneurs’ Organization, EO for short. The Entrepreneurs' Organization is a global business network of 14,000+ leading entrepreneurs from 60 countries and divided into 193 chapters. It was founded way back in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs. The goal of EO is to enable business owners to learn from each other, which they believe will lead to greater business success and thus an enriched personal life. Their target group is ‘like-minded entrepreneurs focused on business growth’.
It was a paid trip and Ranjan feels it was well worth it. “Our destination was the Genghis Khan Retreat which falls within a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” he says. Built on the gentle slopes of the steppes it overlooks the Orkhon River’s crystal clear waters with nearby mountains covered in forests. The area has a remarkable history with ancient tombs dating back to the Neolithic period (3000-2000 BC) and a strategically placed Menhir by people belonging to an ancient culture in the past.
The retreat has an interesting history that ties it with Nepal. The camp when it was established was meant to be a private family summer retreat in the spectacular location embracing the wilderness. The purpose of the retreat was not just for relaxation but to combine adventure and equestrian sports. Christopher Giercke whose wife Enkhe grew up in the Orkhon Valley, their friend Jim Edwards (founder of Tiger Tops in Chitwan National Park, Nepal), his son Kristjan Edwards, Dr. Celia Temple, Deirdre Livingston and Col. Raj Kalaan began the camp together. Edwards also established Elephant Polo in Nepal.
Mongolia being famous for horse riding, the retreat has about a hundred horses for riding and playing polo. They also maintain the Mongolian tradition by keeping sheep, goats and yaks. Accommodation is in the form of large gers which combine tradition with luxury and the guests are provided with cashmere blankets and added warmth comes from wood-burning stoves. All gers come with private lavatories. The resort is proud of their bathing gers which are equipped with traditional Japanese wooden bathtubs, which they say are probably one of the few places in the wilderness of high Asia where you can have a hot bubble bath.
Nepali guests are often surprised to learn that the chef is a Sherpa. Mingma Sherpa is known for his excellent Mongolian dumplings and Italian pasta dishes. Dinners are not dull affairs as a pianist entertains with lively melodies. The ambience is enhanced by candlelight and some good house wine gets the guests into a good mood. “The food was excellent and we really enjoyed eating Mingma’s cooking. The pianist was a local guy and was good,” says Shrestha.
One of the major activities the guests take part in is polo. Polo is played in the Genghis Khan Polo Retreat, established in 1998, where guests are taught how to play. Ranjan had never played polo and was thrilled to learn. Besides playing polo they also went horse riding in the steppes. “There were so many activities to engage in. We went rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, hiking and tried archery as well; a whole lot of fun,” recalls Ranjan. “We also went to watch Mongolian style wrestling out in the open,” he adds.
Riding in the open unrestricted steppes gives the riders freedom to go where they want, up the hills, across the shallow river and down the plains. There is no private property around, just open steppes. Guests are accompanied by the retreat’s riders to ensure safety and that the horse matches the rider’s ability. One of the major events that take place at the polo retreat is the tournament known as Genghis Khan Polo Cup for which players from around the world arrive to take part. They play alongside the Mongolian players who are naturally adept at riding horses.
Guests heading home after their adventure in the steppes feel it is an experience like no other in the world. “It’s a unique experience and really enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. There were so many activities and the retreat was really lovely, with spectacular views!” says Ranjan.
“Our destination was the Genghis Khan Retreat which falls within a UNESCO World Heritage Site,”
“There were so many activities to engage in. We went rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, hiking and tried archery as well; a whole lot of fun,”