What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.
The Three Camel Lodge was built by Nomadic Expeditions, a pioneering cultural, educational, and adventure travel company in Mongolia. Nomadic Expeditions has been arranging travel to Mongolia since the country’s democratic transition in 1990 and the true opening of its borders to western visitors. The company is guided by the belief that Mongolia can benefit greatly from the development of an ecologically conscientious approach to tourism and that tourism can be used as a vehicle for wide-ranging sustainable development.
The founder and CEO of Nomadic Expeditions and the Three Camel Lodge is Jalsa Urubshurow, a Kalmyk Mongolian born and raised in a Mongolian-American community in Howell Township, New Jersey. After Mongolia’s peaceful revolution in 1990, the first Prime Minister, His Excellency Dash Byambasuren, personally recruited Mr. Urubshurow to advise the government on expanding accessibility to western travelers. Since 1990, he has made more than thirty trips throughout Mongolia and has been the leading force in promoting tourism to Mongolia from North America and other Western countries. Mr. Urubshurow believes that Mongolia is one of the world’s last unspoiled treasures and is dedicated to the preservation of its natural and cultural wonders. During his travels in Mongolia, he was particularly awestruck by the beauty and vastness of the Gobi desert and he saw the need to protect its endangered wildlife species and rich paleontological sites.
As a carpenter by training, he worked alongside his Nomadic Expeditions’ colleagues-notably H. Tumen, a well-known conservationist from the Gobi-Mongolian architects, and local Gobi herders, government officials, park authorities, and craftsmen to design and build the Three Camel Lodge as Mongolia’s premiere eco-lodge.
The Three Camel Lodge served as an example to local businesses that eco-friendly, community based practices are a better alternative than simple exploitation of local resources with the goal of making as much money as possible in the short-term. We were pioneers in creating community-based events that attracted locals and foreigners alike to the Gobi, such as the 1000 Camel Festival, which has gained popularity internationally, and mini-Naadam festivals that encourage youth participation. In recent years, our model has caught on to other areas of Mongolia and we are happily seeing a collective interest in community-based tourism and enthusiasm to better develop this sector.
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Jalsa Urubshurow was raised in a Mongolian community in New Jersey. Growing up, his parents taught him the beautiful language of his ancestors and captivated his imagination by performing traditional songs and epics about the history and culture of Mongolia. This upbringing instilled in him a deep love and respect for his ancestral homeland. In addition to his work with Nomadic Expedition and the Three Camel Lodge, Mr. Urubshurow is the co-founder and former Chairman of the North America-Mongolia Business Council. During his tenure as chairman, he promoted corporate philanthropy including extensive relief during drought and funding for humanitarian projects.
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The design and development of the Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert was guided by an emphasis on local community values and long-term ecological sustainability. The lodge was built to complement its natural desert surroundings and to utilize renewable energy sources, taking advantage of both solar and wind power. Artisans indigenous to the Gobi crafted the roofs of the buildings in accordance with the canons of traditional Mongolian Buddhist architecture, without using a single nail. Guests stay in authentic, traditional Mongolian felt ger tents. Simple, organic materials were sourced locally to support the rural economy, maintain a natural appearance that blends in, instead of contrasts to, the Gobi landscape, and reduce the need to haul goods over long distances. The lodge is committed to supporting the local economy of the South Gobi, one of poorest regions of Mongolia. We recruit locally and all staff are native Mongolians, purchase organic meats and vegetables from nearby farms, share profits of sales of handmade goods with Gobi artists, and sponsor environmental conservation groups for schools. All staff are extensively trained to promote cultural interaction based on mutual respect and an understanding of cultural differences.