As background; we are fun-loving, easy-going, mid-30’s married couple, very well-travelled (60+ countries on 6 continents), and love to rough-it camping in the wilderness. We travel for new adventures and to learn about history, culture, food, language, and experience the daily struggles and aspirations of the local people. Unfortunately Jalman Meadows failed on most counts to deliver this experience we were looking for. There was a very unwelcome feeling for the entire 3days/3nights that we were there mostly due to the extremely unfriendly and stoic staff.
The setting of the camp is beautiful, but essentially in a pungent cow pasture in the middle of nowhere. The other guests were friendly, however the camp isn’t really set up for gathering together anywhere. The serenity and quiet was great, but got boring after many days and nights with very little to do. We felt a bit like prisoners trapped out in the wilderness, without any control. We were hoping for a glimpse into the nomadic Mongolian life, to hear stories about the history, to hear the music, to learn about the food and to meet the people. We expected adventures in the remote Mongolian wilderness, wildlife viewing, and a relaxing nature experience. Unfortunately Jalman Meadows was disappointing on many counts. Our ger was comfortable and clean, the food was overall good, and we enjoyed the yak cart rafting (really a buffalo). However, this camp could do much to improve the guest experience.
The camp host was the only staff member that said anything to us the entire time. He speaks English well, but we hypothesize that he was just a temporary fill-in camp manager / host, as he was unfriendly, unhelpful, and not knowledgeable in this position. The other staff members went about their daily duties without any interaction or hospitality… until our departure when they all appeared to sing us a goodbye song - seemingly to solicit gratuity. There is understandably a language barrier… but as guests at a “luxury wilderness camp” we expected basic service and friendliness from the staff who are supposed to be there to take care of us.
• After traveling across the world to Mongolia, a 3+ hour drive from UB… we arrived at the camp and were shown to our Ger. There was a helpful information book in the ger, however we would have appreciated an introduction to the camp (i.e. when meals are served, activities available and how to request them, where things are at camp…). We eventually figured this out, but noticed the same confusion when other guests arrived on subsequent days.
• Our double bed ger was comfortable, clean, warm and very quiet. However, we spent the majority of our time in our ger, as the common areas of the camp are poor.
o The library ger has a squelching power inverter that runs all the time. There are lots of guide books left by previous visitors, but not much else to read.
o The main dining ger usually had the doors closed and locked except during meals. The staff frequently hung around in the kitchen at the back of the dining ger, and seemed bothered with any request that interrupted them
o There is an outdoor dining enclosure, but we were never offered to eat there. Instead every meal was inside a windowless tent without being able to enjoy the scenery.
o There is an outdoor firepit with seating around it… but it didn’t look like it had been used in a while
o The few activities available were difficult to arrange. There was only one bike at the camp… but the camp host was repairing it / using it for the time we were there.
• On the 1st morning, we requested to go horseback riding in the afternoon. We were told that they could arrange for a local rancher the next morning. We agreed, and the next morning prepared to go riding in the beautiful weather. We waiting around all day while clouds built up, and finally were ready to go riding in the late afternoon just as the skies opened up. We got absolutely soaked on the ride through the rain on horses that literally farted with every step they took. It was a truly unpleasant experience that we couldn’t wait to be over. When we returned to camp drenched, we had to go find the girl to light our ger fire… while the camp host laughed at us and asked “how was the ride?”
• We asked for suggestions on where to go for a nice hike, where the trails/roads are, what we could see, and the response was “You can go that way, that way, that way or that way”
• Meals were quite awkward… all of the guests sat themselves at individual tables and we served ourselves drinks. Then we would wait for the camp host to bring out a mystery soup, followed by mystery meat dish. The food was overall good, but we had no idea what we were eating the whole time.
• On the day prior to our departure, we wanted to confirm our transfer back to UB to catch a 7PM flight. We were the only guests departing that day; but were given the options of leaving sometime in the late afternoon on the daily transfer (he didn’t know when), or to pay $80 for a private transfer. So we paid the $80 to leave after lunch time, and the driver of the old Russian bus didn’t say a single word to us for the 4 hour bouncy drive in complete silence.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Jalman Meadows is located on the Upper Tuul River, which meanders gently through the vast meadows of wildflowers and through the lush hills that holds larch forests and birch. It is silent and peaceful here, except for the buzzes of grasshoppers and the singing of the birds. The time seems to stand still in this remote place. At Jalman Meadows, Nomadic Journeys operates this wilderness ger camp in a 360 degree landscape. The ger camp is seasonal in the summers, and is fully collapsible. It may be relocated leaving no more impact on the area than a herdsmen family would. It has 14 double occupancy gers and triples may be accommodated in these. There are also 2 family size gers, with one double bed and two singles. The gers have fire stoves, wooden floors and are beautifully decorated in traditional nomadic style with hand-crafted furnishings. Showers are provided in two separate gers. The shower ger has a fire stove, why it is warm and cozy. It is five-star camping at its best. Activities offered at camp are horseback riding, rafting, hiking, bird watching, kayaking, river side ger sauna and mountain biking. ... more less