What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.
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 who was born and raised in the United States. 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 Mongolian tourism in North America and other Western countries. Mr. Urubshurow believes that Mongolia is one of the world’s last unspoiled natural 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 saw the need to protect its endangered wildlife species and rich paleontological sites. A carpenter by training, Mr. Urubshurow worked alongside his Nomadic Expeditions colleagues as well as local Gobi herders, government officials, park authorities, and craftsmen, to design and build the Three Camel Lodge as Mongolia’s premiere eco-lodge. The lodge has served as an example to local businesses that eco-friendly, community based practices are a better alternative to simply exploiting local resources with the goal of making as much money as possible in the short-term. We are pioneers in creating community-based events that attract 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 in other areas of Mongolia and we are happy to see a growing collective interest in community-based tourism and enthusiasm in better developing this sector.
Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.
Jalsa Urubshurow was born and raised in a Mongolian-American community in Howell Township, 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, an upbringing that instilled in him a deep love and respect for his ancestral homeland. In addition to his work with Nomadic Expeditions 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 droughts afflicting Mongolia and funding for humanitarian projects.
Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.
The stay and tours based out of the Three Camel Lodge offer unique and engaging opportunities that take travelers well off the tourist path to experience authentic Mongolian culture in ways that are sustainable and contribute to the local Gobi community. Below are some examples of the unique experiences a traveler can enjoy while staying at the Three Camel Lodge:
-We offer opportunities to visit families that herd and live nearby. The lodge shares its well with local herders and the nomads often bring in their animals to water there. Guests often share experiences with the nomads in their homes (gers) and see first hand the local customs of the Gobi. We also promote educational exchange between trip participants and local people through the use of photographs from travelers’ homes and informal conversations about subjects such as daily routines, life's pleasures and hardships, and family life in the hope of bilaterally increasing the knowledge of our hosts and guests.
-The lodge often hosts academic experts in fields such as paleontology, ornithology, botany, and conservation. As a result, during their stay at the lodge travelers have unique opportunities to attend lectures on the Gobi’s natural history, wildlife, and flora and learn about conservation work in the region.
-Travelers often visit several nonprofit projects during their stay, such as tree planting programs. Our goal is to increase awareness about various provincial and private educational projects related to nature conservancy and wildlife protection in the Gobi.
The lodge seeks to preserve and protect local traditions and customs which are on the brink of extinction, and conceived and helped to organize the "1000 Camel Festival” as part of the effort to balance the preservation of Mongolia's past traditions with the conservation of nature. All proceeds from the festival’s ticket sales, paid for by visiting travelers, go to local organizations that are involved in the protection of the camels
What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?
We have an extensive network of partnerships in the community, ranging from individual nomadic herding families, small businesses, and cooperatives, to schools and non-profit organizations. We seek to expand this network into other regions of Mongolia so that rural communities there can be inspired to commit to sustainable practices that intertwine improving peoples livelihoods with environmental stewardship, and also inform us of how to better serve our lodge community.
Internationally, we seek to continue to grow our reputation among foreign travelers, museums, nonprofit organizations, and universities so that we can not only build our financial base but also acquire knowledge and resources for how we can improve our work.