What is a Ger?
A ger is a traditional Mongolian home and pretty similar to a yurt. The difference between a ger and a yurt is that a ger is the older, traditional style of yurt. The word “ger” actually just means “home” and if it’s easier you can just think of gers as a Mongolian yurt.
Gers have been a distinctive feature of life in Central Asia for over 3,000 years. They were (and still are) the Mongolian houses of nomadic Mongolians and because of this, they’re portable and easy to construct and deconstruct. They’re also made from materials that nomads have easy access to such as sheep wool, camel, yak or horse.
These ger dwellings are round-shaped, white and consists of felt covers, wooden columns, a small round window at the top through which the stove goes through, a wall made from animal hide and some flooring.
Staying in a Mongolian Ger
When you leave Ulaanbaatar, you’ll most likely be staying in a ger since there aren’t a lot of big hotels outside of the city. The ger camps across Mongolia vary greatly. Some are smaller, family-owned camps that have around 4-5 gers, others are larger ones catering for tourism with 35 gers. Some have restaurants, internet and western-style bathrooms, while others have pit toilets and limited facilities.
Your ger camp experience will depend on picking the right ger camp for you. If you’re someone who’s used to backpacking and camping then you’ll love the authentic, family-run ger camps. But, if you’re used to luxury hotels then a luxury ger camp is going to be more your style.
What to Pack for Staying in a Ger Camp
The following items are especially important if you’re staying in one of the more traditional ger camps with limited facilities, but they’ll also be useful if you’re staying in a more luxurious ger camp. You shouldn’t need camping gear since the beds come with sheets and blankets.
Bug spray – so many bugs down by the rivers!
Warm clothes – especially in the winter. Also, at night in summer as it gets surprisingly cool. Mongolia does not have any mountains, large hills, or even trees. The landscape is full of plains and small hills. While this is strikingly beautiful, it also means there is nothing to cut the wind. If you are camping in Mongolia, it is essential to make sure you have proper clothes.
Cool clothes – summers are pretty toasty!
A book (or more).
Battery pack for phones.
Cash – most places in these remote parts of Mongolia won’t be able to take card.