Nadam Festival Yurt Accommodation at Gegentala
Q: Thanks for answering my question about the Nadam Festival and grasslands. I would like to go to Gengalata grassland for the main festival but will be with a big group that don't like doing tours so we would like to arrange our own accommodation. Is it possible to book Yurt accommodation at the Gengalata grasslands or does this need to be through a tour company? I can't find any information online. If you have any recommendations that would be great. Thanks again!
If you do not want to go on a packaged trip, you may try to arrange your own tour. It may not be easy, though, as your destination is out there on the grassland, so there aren't whole lot accommodation options, etc., and it is during the Naadam festival. We're not aware of online booking of accommodation at Gegentala. The main service provider at Gegentala is the Gegentala Grassland Tourist Center (Gegentala Caoyuan Luyou Zhongxin). You may see if you could reach them by phone at 0474-5448000, 5448088, 5208888, or 16831500-1115. Gegental is located in Siwangzi Qi (Four Prince County), which in turn is part of Wulanchabu Shi (Wulanchabu Prefectural City). The Gegentala Tourist Center maintains about 350 yurts, 150 of them "upgrade" (nicer) and 200 of them more traditional. Actually none of them are completely traditional, but you get the idea. Depending on the tent your choose, each unit may accommodate 2 to 6 people, and the cost range is roughly ¥400-150. Altogether the Center can accommodate 1,500-2,500 visitors a night.
If you cannot work something out directly with Gegentala Tourist Center, you may see if you can have a travel agency to arrange transportation and accommodation for your but do not go on their tours. You pay a smaller fee for their booking service but not for the guided tour. That way you get assistance in booking but still have your freedom and flexibility.
Actually, if you do have a big group, you may be in a position to negotiate with some tour agency or such people to put their service at your bidding. You can hire an interpreter/guide and a driver along with a vehicle for the duration when your group moves around. Ask them to arrange accommodation for you and tell them where you want to go and and what you want to do at a given time. Since you have a group, the cost for such exclusive service, once shared, may not be all that great. Of course, to do this, you need to know what you're getting into, what prices to bargain for, whom to work with, etc. If you have some local friends, they may help you find some trustworthy people who want to get your business.
Gegentala is about 125 km outside Hohhot, a trip of two hours or so, by highway. It is relatively close to your base if you're going from Hohhot.