Live in a nomadic pastoral community, spend time in Ulaanbaatar, and visit the Gobi Desert during a high school summer abroad program in Mongolia.
Experience nomadic culture, ancient traditions, and contemporary issues in Mongolia. Participate in the daily life of a nomadic pastoral community and discover how nomadic traditions inform life in urban areas. Visit an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, take lessons in traditional Mongolian arts, and learn how to live in a ger—a round, felt-lined tent. At the famous Naadam festival, the biggest national festival in Mongolia, observe competitions in horsemanship, wrestling, and archery.
During your orientation in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, you’ll experience urban Mongolia, take lessons in throat singing and morin khuur playing, and begin your Mongolian language study. In the mountainous Hovsgol province, complete a community service project such as painting or cleaning a school. Trek on horseback to the ancient, pristine Lake Hovsgol, the second largest freshwater lake in Asia.
Next, the program takes you to Mongolia’s open grasslands to experience rural life during a homestay with a nomadic pastoral herder family. Help your host family tend livestock and learn from them how to cook traditional meals, prepare various dairy products, and ride horseback. Your Mongolia Experiment draws to a close at the edge of the Gobi Desert, where you’ll see Buddhist temples and meditation caves and learn about Danzan Ravjaa, known as the Lama of the Gobi, at the important pilgrimage site Hamryn Hiid. Venture into the desert on camels and spend the night sleeping in a ger under the desert sky.
Orientation in Ulaanbaatar
- Learn about the history and culture of Mongolia
- Get to know other members of your group during activities and discussions
- Learn from local experts about ancient nomadic culture, arts and folk music, religion, history, and Mongolia’s socioeconomic conditions
- Begin your Mongolian language lessons
- Explore diverse neighborhoods and open air markets
- Visit sites of historical and cultural importance, such as Sukhbaatar Square, the National History Museum, Choijin Lama Temple, and the Zaisan Memorial
- Learn to cook buuz (Mongolian steamed dumplings)
- Take lessons in throat singing and morin khuur playing
During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.
Community Service in Hatgal
- Participate in a community service project painting classrooms in a school and teaching English to Mongolian students
During this period, you and your group will stay in a dormitory.
Camping Excursion near Lake Hovsgol
- Climb the crater of an extinct volcano, visit a camp of reindeer herders, and spend a day horse trekking
During this period, you and your group will stay in ger camps.
Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar
- Experience the famous Naadam festival, the biggest national festival in Mongolia
- Observe competitions in horsemanship, wrestling, archery, and other events
During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.
Homestay in Delgerkhaan
- Become fully immersed in the daily life of a Mongolian herder family and nomadic community
- Do activities with your host family
- Explore the open steppe and grasslands with your group
- Help your host family tend livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, and horsesLearn to cook traditional meals, prepare various dairy products, and ride horseback
During this period, you and your group will stay in gers.
Thematic Focus near the Gobi Desert
- Visit Hamryn Hiid, a pilgrimage site for Mongolian and international travelers, and see Buddhist temples, meditation caves, and Wish Mountain
- Learn about the life of Danzan Ravjaa, known as the fifth incarnation of the Gobi Noyons Khutagt lineage
- Ride camels and erect a Mongolian ger
During this period, you and your group will stay in hotels and camps.
Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Ulaanbaatar
- Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program
During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.
About The Experiment
The Experiment in International Living is a nonprofit organization that has been offering immersive experiential learning programs abroad since 1932. Today, The Experiment offers three-, four-, and five-week summer programs for high school students in more than 20 countries around the world.
Programs are designed to equip participants not only with essential cultural skills and, in many cases, language skills, but also with a deeper awareness of and sensitivity to critical global issues shaping the diverse communities and regions we visit. Each year, hundreds of Experimenters come away from their summer abroad with invaluable new skills, connections, awareness, and knowledge that help them to thrive—and lead—in diverse, intercultural environments.
The Experiment is committed to providing participants from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds with access to The Experiment’s immersive cross-cultural programs through its partnerships, scholarships, and other initiatives.
The Experiment places the highest priority on health, safety, and security. Each program follows a comprehensive structure designed to maximize the well-being of all participants while they engage in dynamic cross-cultural experiences. We have implemented specific risk management strategies that include a 24-hour emergency on-call service and regular safety reviews. We hire and train experienced adult group leaders and maintain longstanding partnerships with in-country offices to support each of our programs.
1 Participant ReviewWrite a Review
Mongolia is a place I never thought I would travel to, and it's also a place where I had the single best experience of my life. I was able to travel across one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, from the mountains to the steppe to the Gobi Desert. Along the way, I learned how to ride a horse and a camel, how to knit, how to play a song on the ukulele, how to speak some Mongolian, and how to communicate without language when attempts at using that Mongolian failed miserably. I came back with a broader outlook on the world and a much better sense of independence. My absolute favorite part of the trip was the horse trek from community service to the ger camp we were staying at for the night. Other awesome parts were painting a school alongside Mongolian students, taking an overnight train into the Gobi desert to explore the monasteries and holy sites there, cooking with my host mother, and hiking up to places with the best views I've ever seen. Absolutely loved Mongolia, and I'd highly recommend the trip to anyone looking for an adventure! My group: We came from all across the US, coast to coast. Getting to know the city helped us bond really quickly, and we stayed super close throughout the trip. It was really cool how everybody accepted one another. We couldn't have been more different, and it couldn't have mattered less. The awesome thing about traveling with EIL was that I had the security of group leaders and friends around me without the trip feeling like a teen tour--we had freedom in a way other teen groups wouldn't, like a weeklong homestay spent with just our host families and their herds. We had two group leaders, and both treated us like friends and equals while still keeping us all safe. In-country staff: friendly, helpful, knowledgeable--basically just amazing. They set up language lessons, brought in performers to teach us throat singing and instrument playing, took us sightseeing around the city, helped us buy deels at the market, traveled with us as translators and guides, and gave honest information about the country that you can't find in a tourist guidebook. Two Mongolian high school students traveled with us as well, and they became our best friends for the rest of the trip. It was really cool to learn about what high school was like for them compared to the US, and they helped us a lot when we struggled with the language. Things to keep in mind: If you wanna do EIL Mongolia, you have to be willing to do without running water whenever you leave the city, and that means the bushes will become your toilet and wet wipes will become your shower. It wasn't a problem for anyone in my group, and we all stayed clean and healthy. Also, the diet in Mongolia is highly meat and dairy based, especially during the homestay. Personally, these little difficulties just helped me learn more about self-sufficiency and using only what you need, but it's just stuff to be aware of. Things I wish I'd brought more of: wet wipes, wet wipes, wet wipes. Wet wipes. Also,really do make sure to pack sun protection shirts because a lot of the trip is spent outside. A sturdy pair of shoes is super duper important too. Culturally, long pants are preferred for both boys and girls, so lightweight hiking pants became my go-to thing. Basically, it's not gonna be a fashion show, nobody's going to care what anyone's wearing, and you'll probably get paint or dirt or sweat on everything, so forget about style and focus on function. Also, I highly advise bringing a journal--I love looking back into mine now, and it was a great way to make sure I remember everything years from now. Basically: Come to Mongolia! It was absolutely amazing.