British Executive Service Overseas (BESO)
consultant worked with OTMT to
develop the business plan
“The World of Cycling”
Mongolian book is published
"Wildcat Adventures" MTB trips
Russian Kamaz 6 x 6 bus brought
to Mongolia for transporting
large groups of tourists
Yamaha motorbike tour
Bulgan mountain bike trail
Girl Guides centenary challenge
New KTM motorbikes failure
Garage / workshop built
“The Brooke" horse riding
New KTM 450EXC "Factory" Edition bikes
BMW Thailand Club moto trip
Suspension Service Workshop
American astronaut completed
"Master Rally" Trail
"Cathay Pacific" pilots Middle Gobi
Phone: + 976 95145291 (GMT +8)
20 The Meer
Phone: + 44 116 2402625 (GMT +0)
We are a completely independent travel tour operator in Mongolia, not an agent or representative of any other company. In addition we have the best and most enthusiastic team who work efficiently together to create the best experience.
© 1998 - 2020 "Off The Map Tours" - All Rights Reserved. Company Registration Number: 6145086
Company name "Off The Map Tours" chosen after brain storming session with a group of English friends who visited Mongolia in 1995.
Based on the skills, experience and interests of the company’s founding members, a company was set up to operate tours in Mongolia which would give visitors an experience different to what other travel companies were offering: a personal and reliable service.
Logo designed by D. Battumur featuring black and white camels against the sunset. Battumur's earlier work includes the well known logo for "Mongolian" Airlines National Flag Carrier, MIAT.
'Off The Map Tours' - logo drawn by hand, including the letter font which is an "old English" typography writing style.
"JR" Leisure Group Ltd of Leicester were instrumental in the start up of the business. Generous advice and support given by Dave, Tina and Colin in providing high quality outdoor equipment. Find out more: https://www.jrleisure.co.uk/
The 3-man colour-coded alloy-poled "Vango" Storm 300 tents from "JR" Leisure still in use up to and beyond 2020, providing comfortable weather-proof accommodation for campers in the Mongolian wilderness.
Business registered as a Limited Liabilty Company in Mongolia (OTMT LLC No: 6145086)
"Business Link" course in Leicester, UK, February 1998 for training in creating business plan; initial contacts made.
Original advert placed in the UK Sunday "Observer" newspaper, partnering with "Barfield" Travel & Tours Agricultural Travel Bureau - fully bonded ABTA 42709 and ATOL 2230. The description still holds true today: "Mongolia is one of the world's few remaining wilderness destinations and it is still possible to see no one else whilst travelling in the countryside."
The first 1998 tour brochure: an illustrated day by day itinerary was hand drawn, then scanned and as many copies as were required were printed out using a ribbon printer.
Several stages involved in brochure production; text written on a type writer, meaning any errors cannot be corrected (have to start again).
The typewriter had no "font size" option, just a single letter size, but it did the job.
Travel consultant Mary Stephens from London posted to Ulaanbaatar by UK organisation 'British Executive Service Overseas' (BESO) to work with OTMT to create a feasible business plan.
Agreements made with several UK travel companies including "Himalayan Kingdoms", "Regent Holidays", "Wildcat Adventures" and "Discover Adventure" for OTMT to be their ground operator in Mongolia.
ꜝUnfortunately some travel companies did not see the vision:
ꭙ - "Exodus" said our tours needed to be “cheaper and more esoteric”.
ꭙ - "Travelbag" decided that Mongolia is "too boring".
ꭙ - "KE" Adventure's managing director Tim Greening took our newly researched "Gobi Desert And Khangai Mountain Bike Route" and gave it to another Mongolian tour company who quoted USD 50 cheaper. “Business is business”, he said on the phone. Later KE sent this letter:
Website www.mongolia.co.uk launched in summer 1999 hosted by "Virgin FreeSpace" server. Making a website - even using the World Wide Web - was a completely new thing. Aaron of "WildTalk" learned html language and helped create the website.
The Yahoo search engine dominated, together with Netscape, AOL, HotBot, AltaVista and Ask Jeeves. No one had heard of Google. Sample of one page of our 2000 website:
Organised two charity challenges for "Macmillan" Cancer which raised over £100,000 for cancer support.
OTMT charted an AN-24 airplane from MIAT to transport participants to start point of the mountain biking challenge in the Gobi Desert.
Meals were cooked on three traditional Mongolian stoves, fuelled with wood which had to be transported.
The riders on these very remote charity challenges were a brave and hardy group commited to the cause. For some it was their first overseas trip and many had never camped in tents before.
The first 5 kilometers leading from Bayankhongor airport were the only black-topped section of the 400 kilometer ride, the rest all off-road.
These early visitors were the first to travel the route over the Khangai mountains by mountain bike. They witnessed a country unspoiled by modern interventions.
After 4 days riding they arrived at the highest point: "Khul Sayan" pass, which marks the border between the Gobi Desert and Arkhangai province in Central Mongolia.
This was the first season of OTMT as a tour company and only the fourth tour ever done, but it was pulled off successfully.
Snow at the beginning of September was unexpected, but everyone smiled and carried on.
The particpants of the Macmillan challenges were all so brave and cheerful. Fortunately the snow melted by mid-morning and by afternoon everyone was in T-shirts again.
A nomadic family nearby the camp welcomed the 35 foreigners into their home (a ger) and offered tea and dried curds to all.
The group certainly accomplished something to be proud of !
Everyone triumphant ! It had been a challenge for the organizers as much as for the riders.
Thanks to Jonathan Bryan of "Discover Adventure" who put his faith in OTMT and brought these "Macmillan" fundraisers to Mongolia for this historic adventure.
Lake "Khovsgol" region in Northern Mongolia is known in guidebooks as being “the Mongolian Switzerland”.
A past client who had been on the "Macmillan" bicycle challenge in 2000, returned to Mongolia with friends to do a horse trek in the mountains west of Lake Khovsgol.
This was also a chance to do a reccie for future hikes, horse treks and mountain bike routes in the Khovsgol region. The overland journey there from Ulaanbaatar took 3 days and 2 nights, with poor maps, no sat nav and terrible road conditions.
The Reindeer Trek" in Khovsgol was named after the nomadic community of reindeer herders who live in the region near the border with Siberia.
The Khovsgol tour was a success, with clients particularly enjoying arriving at their first ger camp by motorboat.
The trips for UK travel company Himalayan Kingdoms usually started in Beijing, where the group would then travel to Mongolia on the infamous Trans Siberian railway.
It is always an exciting journey, especially at the border when the train is lifted up in the air, one carriage at a time, to change the bogeys.
After spending time hiking in Mongolia the Himalayan Kingdoms groups would fly on to Moscow for the final leg of their tour, also arranged by OTMT.
Late summer 2002 a group of cyclists from Italy pioneered a new route in the Orkhon valley, the region in central Mongolia where all early Empires located their capital.
OTMT founder Ts. Darjaa a distinguished teacher, is known for being the coach of the Mongolian Olympic cycling team and founder of the "Mongolian Cycling Federation". Here he discusses his book research with American friend, Mr. Frank Reidy.
“The World of Cycling” is published as Mr. Frank Reidy generously sponsored the publishing.
Scottish company "Wildcat Adventures" enjoyed the "Gobi Desert and Khangai Mountain Bike Trip".
OTMT became a member of "PATA" (Pacific Asia Travel Association): Member no. 557422, membership 2004 - 2009.
The "Anthony Nolan" charity accomplished a 200 km horse trek across Mongolia to raise money for the UK leukaemia charity.
The horses were provided by nomadic families living in the Kharkhorin area of Ovorkhangai province.
There was one Mongolian horseman for every 5 horses, and the local families used the money earned to buy Russian style horse saddles which would increase their opportunities for future work in the tourist industry in Kharkhorin.
An English couple had seen the description of a trek in Western Mongolia in the book "World's 100 Best Trails" and wanted to do it. There was only a simple narrative to follow, including the name of the village at the start point and a few landmarks such as river confluences and mountain passes.
A camel was hired to carry the luggage, but it became weak on Day 2 so a replacement had to be found in the middle of nowhere. A local herder along the way took over with his camels; it turned out he had been the guide for the author of the book. What a coincidence!
The trek led to Mount Kharkhiraa and Mount Turgen, and down the wild and beautiful "Yamaat" valley.
After 8 days hiking the trek finished at a mining village inhabited by Kazakh people. This certainly is one of the best treks in the world.
The Steamboat Mountain School of Colorado, USA (formerly known as Whiteman School) sent a group of students to Mongolia for an educational trip. They stayed at a school in Khovsgol where their programme included language components, homestay, service, cultural training, interaction and adventure. The objective was to teach them how to handle rugged terrain, simple lodging and food, and physical and mental challenges.
The Kamaz expedition bus is known for it's great off-road capability and for looking cool of course. In 2005 mid- winter a Kamaz 6x6 expedition bus was brought from Copenhagen, Denmark across Russia to reach the Mongolian border at Tsagaan Nuur – Tashanta in mid-January.
Having been stuck at the Finland-Russia border for 2 weeks at new year because border officials were on vacation, the rest of the journey took 10 days, driving continuosly day and night at minus -55°C.
OTMT has high standards for reliability, safety and comfort. Tour support vehicles are best suited to Mongolia's difficuilt terrain and there is no better vehicle than the KAMAZ 43114 "Polar Bear"watch?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRUNMMYl_Lk
Working with Chinese Goverment organization "CYTS" a short tour in Beijing was arranged as well as train tickets Beijing - Ulaanbaatar.
The Great Wall of China is an appropriate start for a tour that includes both China and Mongolia.
The first section of the Trans Siberian Railway is from Beijing northwards to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.
The tourists experienced Mongolia's beautiful scenery and fascinating culture.
More charity challenges were organised, this time for the NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society).
The cycling challenge route went over the Khangai mountains in central Mongolia and finished in Kharkhorin.
The particpants were far from being typical cycling tourists and they worked really hard, first to raise sponsorship money and then to complete the challenge.
The last night was spent camping by the Orkhon river where local musicians walked over the mountain with their instruments to create a magical evening for the guests.
They played an entire concert of traditional music, including throat singing and contortionist displays.
The plan: to start operating Mongolia's very first motorcycle tours. Following extensive research, "Yamaha" WR250F motorcycles were chosen and shipped from the UK to Mongolia for use next summer.
A large group of "Girl Guides" rode on horseback through the Orkhon valley as their charity fund raising challenge . There were 56 horses in total: 45 with "Girl Guide" riders, 6 Mongolian horsemen and 5 spare horses.
For the local horsemen who live in a money-less economy, this opportunity to earn money by renting out their riding horses is great good fortune.
As with all new ventures, the first motorcycle tour was certainly challenging for everyone.
One rider did not follow the guidelines from the tour brief and ended up dropping a bike in the middle of a storm flood, which caused a lot of damage to the brand new machine.
This was the first lesson in renting motorbikes: people do not care if the bike is not their own.
Some riders do not wonder about the effort involved in getting the Yamaha motorcycles to Mongolia and operating such wilderness tours.
It is quite hard for the kitchen truck to keep up with the motorbikes. The cook is under constant pressure to work faster, but Mongolians are naturally unfazed and she can feed the entire group freshly prepared meals throughout the trip.
Doctor N. Taravaa , is always invaluable. He perfectly realigned a broken tibia at the site of an accident before the rider was taken to hospital.
Bulgan mountain bike tour in Northern Mongolia is a new route.
This route had been researched, designed and tested especifically for MTB trips.
It's completely off the tourist trail, but there are quite a few villages and nomadic families in this region of Mongolia.
"Solar Eclipse" Tour. On 1st August 2008 there was a total eclipse of the sun. The path for maximum viewing went through Bayan-Ulgii in North West Mongolia. A trek was organized in Western Mongolia, followed by a short drive to "Sagsai" village which had the best view in the whole world of this rare event.
One of the tourists was a Professor in Astronomy from the Texas Observatory, USA, and he gave a fantastic live lesson about the eclipse.
On the day before and after the solar eclipse, domestic airlines cancelled all flights to Western Mongolia. It took 3 days/2 nights to drive the 1750 kilometers back to Ulaanbaatar. The tourists enjoyed an extended party in the back of the Kamaz!
German representative of OTMT, Dr. Marion Wizotski, published the first edition of her German language travel guide book "MONGOLEI" in January 2008. It involved a lot of research and travel within Mongolia. The third and most recent edition was published in April 2018.
Gobi Desert reccie trip: a reconnaisance mission to the Gobi Desert led to an increased choice of overland tours by jeep and motorcycle. Most tour companies fly from Ulaanbaatar to the Gobi, but going over land has many advantages: amazing scenery and a remote experience where you are unlikely to meet other tourists. It gives people an understanding of how vast Mongolia is.
Introducing our two Dodge 50 (RENAULT) ex-British-army utility trucks, brought to Mongolia for use as support vehicles:
Swapped "Yamaha WR250F" motorbikes for "KTMs" because competitor companies in Mongolia had followed our lead and bought Yamahas to do motorbike tours. It is important to keep one step ahead.
To distinguish OTMT from the rest, the motorcycles were changed to 2010 KTM 450 EXC motorbikes (blue to orange).
"The Brooke" charity (healthy working animals for the world's poorest communities) completed a horse riding charity challenge.
See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGVvuM4hh4Q
There was a great family adventure tour with 8 children and their parents in central Mongolia.
They bathed in hot mineral springs, climbed rocks...
...rode horses and camels and did some hiking.
Austrian KTM rider and journalist, Joe Pilcher, rode with his wife from Germany and a group of friends joined him for the Mongolia section of his epic ride.
2010 tour calendar almost entirely consisted of motorbike tours.
UK charity “Help For Heroes” take on a charity challenge horse trek.
"Help For Heroes" is a charity supporting British servicemen and women who have been injured in the line of duty. It is an honour to continuously be involved with such organisations.
This challenging horse trek in Central Mongolia raised a large amount of money.
The new 2010 model KTM 450 EXC's experienced mechanical failure. The automatic hydraulic timing chain tensioner on the 2009/2010 KTM 450 EXC bikes becomes stuck in one position resulting in damage to the whole engine.
There were engine seizures on several bikes, necessitating very expensive replacement of the cam shafts, piston, cylinder head, valve, timing chain and connecting rods crank on these machines.
The change to "Rock Oil" 100% fully synthetic off-road engine oil and the "Dirt Tricks" tensioner did the trick. No more engine failures !
After the summer tourist season was finished, materials were purchased from China and brought to Ulaanbaatar to build a garage. A fully equipped workshop was set up for the mechanics to carry out in-house maintenance.
The garage is used to store the support vehicles and motorbikes, and is also a good place to protect staff from extreme Mongolian weather conditions whilst they are working.
Another "Help For Heroes" fund raising horse trek was very successful and the group created some good video footage of “raising the flag” (Help for Heroes) in the manner of Genghis Khan’s warriors.
It was decided to stick with KTM despite the issues with 2010 bikes. The older models were exchanged for 2012 KTM 450 EXCs.
“Tenere Viaggi” Italian mountain bike tour. A large group of cycling enthusiasts from Italy came to experience the northern Mongolia “Bulgan” MTB tour.
They expected to see a Naadam festival in the countryside, but Mongolian officials were not confident in predicting the date more than 2 days in advance.
Finally the Italians witnessed a fantastically colourful festival in Erdenet town.
Trek in Western Mongolia to Mount Kharkhiraa
This very remote trek is supported by pack camels carrying the luggage and camping gear. Two days involved hiking and camping in snow, which was unexpected in mid-August.
The steep descent into Yamaatiin valley is spectacular and simply cannot be captured in a photograph. The local guides sing to the camels to coax them gently down the mountain path.
"KIDULT" Mototrail from Chile to the birthplace of Genghis Khan: a group of riders from Chile rode to Dadal, the place where Genghis Khan was born in 1162.
One of the riders had been told by a Chilean Shaman priest that he had been a warrior in Genghis Khan’s army in a previous life. This guy rode a horse magnificently and fitted right in with the Mongolians, so probably the Shaman was right.
Bradt Travel Guide "MONGOLIA". The third edition printed in 2014. OTMT has helped author Jane Blunden with her travel guide since it was first published in 2004, providing photos and local information.
New KTM 450 EXC "Factory Edition" Motorbikes.
The motorbikes were upgraded to limited edition performance bikes, starting with the rare "Factory Edition".
A group of BMW Club members from Thailand rode to the Gobi Desert in early June.
They were shocked and amazed to find themselves riding in an unexpected Gobi Desert snowstorm.;
Some of them had not seen snow before and had to warm themselves up on the Defender engine. They were a really fun group who enjoyed a wild adventure in Mongolia.
A suspension servicing workshop was made in the garage.
Two staff attended a workshop in Italy organised by The Andreani Group, motorcycle suspension specialists.
It is now possible to adjust and maintain the company KTM suspensions as well as providing a service to the Mongolian motorcycle community.
The "White Lake" motorbike route is improved to provide more off-road sections.
After a quick reccie of the route beforehand, the off-road sections were increased by an extra 20% which everyone preferred.
The group were delighted and it turned out to be a brilliant trip, with the improved route being successfully incorporated. Particpant Mr.Deelip Menezez published a complete and insightful blog of the trip. See here: http://deelipmenezes.com/mongolia-by-motorcycle
A group of riders from the United Kingdom, including Adrian Newey, "Red Bull " British F1 engineer, completed the "Gobi Desert" Motorcycle Tour
They were accompanied by film maker Leander Ward of "Wayfarer Media" who made a short film as a memory of their trip.
See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtgJ_OXwIJI
Norwegian hiking trip to Gobi and Arkhangai: a group of fit Norwegians created their own itinerary which included reaching the peak of the highest sand dunes at Khongoryn Els and climbing the dramatic granite rocks of Khogno Khan mountain.
Master Rally off-road motorcycle tour included an American astronaut, Mr. William "Bill" Oefelein
The "Master Rally" tour is the most remote motorcycle trail and is based on the route taken by the 2014 Mongolian Master Rally competition event.
The Master Rally tour route is way off the regular tourist trail in Central "Tov" Province, Ovorkhangai and Middle Gobi.
"Cathay Pacific" pilots riding the Middle Gobi motorbike tour were fascinated to see Mongolia at ground level, having previously only seen it from the sky.
The Mongolian wilderness, about as far from the everyday life of an airline pilot as one can get.
The "Cathay Pacific" pilots in Middle Gobi:
Motorcycle riders from the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, including owner of the "Tashi" Group and Bhutan Airlines, came to Mongolia and rode to the birthplace of Genghis Khan.
The Bhutanese wanted to see the land from where their ancestors had originated; Mongolia features in many of their traditional songs.
This Royal rider and his excellent companions were a lot of fun, despite the weather.
The bikes are now KTM 450 EXC 6-Days 2018 model "France Edition".
No other motorbike rental company is offering such top of the range bikes for their riders.
A different ger camp by the "Chuluut" river gorge on the White Lake tour was discovered.
Some of these beautiful ger camps in amazing locations just do not promote themselves enough !
On the Eastern Mongolia tour an inexperienced young rider crashed into the bike in front of him whilst riding too close and not paying attention.
It is important that riders are honest about their own assessment of their riding ability before they sign up.
'Expedition Life' is the brain child of Canadian explorer and ‘activity activist’ Jamie Clarke. He and his son, Khobe Clarke, set out on an adventure to motorbike across Mongolia - (what some may call “an Instagrammable trip of a lifetime”) - but disconnected from their devices in the hopes of re-connecting with the wilds of the planet and with each other.
Read more about their adventures on BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50830944
New 2019 KTM 450 EXC 6-Days model "Chile Edition" motorbikes.
Covid-19 hits the travel industry hard. This is difficult for Mongolia in particular due to the short tourist season June - September. We will be pushing through and hope to see you in 2021!
Improved new KTM 450 EXC 6-Days 2020 model "Portugal Edition" to be saved for the next season.