Veteran leader of luxury ger camping in Mongolia
Tailored journeys with superb horsemen and guides
Recipient of a national award from the Mongolian President
On the boundless grasslands of the Mongolian Steppe, across the timeless reaches of the Gobi Desert and the mighty Altai Mountains, the descendants of Genghis Khan have been pitching their gers for millennia. But today, a new type of camping has arrived in Mongolia, and thanks to the growing access of private airstrips and powerful vehicles and the no-holds-barred vision of Mongolia’s longest-serving guide –
the world’s largest unspoiled grasslands can now be explored in unfettered luxury.
Jan Wigsten first came to Mongolia as the head of a pioneering tour group in 1980. In the nearly four decades since, this intrepid Swede has elevated the art and the reach of glamorous camping – or ‘glamping,’ as the British call it – to unprecedented levels. Borne by sturdy yak and camel caravans, or small trucks, Jan’s collapsible 360° ger camps are renowned for their sumptuous accommodation, innovative chefs, solar-powered amenities, and the erudition and personal care of some of Mongolia’s finest horsemen and guides.
Jan’s mission is to offer his guests a soul-cleansing immersion in what he calls “360 degrees of pristine emptiness.” After leading expeditions to some of the last great wilderness destinations, including the Himalayas, the Amazon and the three Guianas, Jan is always drawn back to Mongolia: “the ultimate place to escape from the modern world.”
Here, against magnificently expansive and elemental landscapes, Jan’s guests can indulge in some truly great adventures: rafting on some of the world’s longest rivers, fly-fishing for record-breaking trout and taimen and following legendary horse trails with the sons of one of Mongolia’s most famous horse-trainers.
After some 40 years in the business, Jan’s expeditions focus on providing a sustainable source of income for his 80-strong Mongolian staff, as well as adhering to the strictest ‘leave no trace’ principles. The high regard in which Jan is held across Mongolia was prominently displayed in October 2012, when he was awarded the Nairamdal (Friendship) Medal by President Elbegdorj, under a presidential decree. During the first-ever state visit to Sweden by a Mongolian delegation.
Today, Jan divides his time between Mongolia and Sweden, where he offers his ecotourism expertise to the Sami reindeer people and local conservation agencies, as well as supporting an export promotion program funded by the Dutch government in East Africa and South America.