What is a yurt anyway? Humans have been camping for eons, and yurt camping is no different. A yurt is a traditional round tent. Historically the homes of nomadic peoples in the Central Asian steppes. Furthermore, the latticework makes up the walls of the tent. This latticework is made out of pieces of wood or bamboo for walls, a door frame, ribs, and a wheel. The roof structure is often self-supporting, but large yurts may have interior posts supporting the crown. Notably, the top of all self-supporting yurts will not fall. The use of a tension band makes this possible. This band opposes the force of the roof. Modern yurts may be less portable as they remain stationary due to their wooden platforms. Additionally, the use of modern materials such as steam-bent wooden framing or metal framing, canvas or tarpaulin, give modern yurts a more contemporary feeling.
A Mongolian Ger
A circular wooden frame carrying a felt cover is the skeleton of a traditional yurt. The fur from flocks of sheep provide the materials for making the felt. The timber for the external structure is only available through trade in the valleys below the steppes.
There are different types of yurts including the Mongolian Ger which has one or more columns to support the crown and straight roof poles. After the frame is standing the felt graces the bare bones of the yurt. Depending on availability, it is also possible to use canvas as extra protection for the felt. The frame is held together with more ropes and ribbons. The structure is kept under compression by the weight of the covers, sometimes supplemented by a heavy weight hung from the center of the roof.
A yurt is designed for the sum of its parts to be easily carried compactly on camels or yaks to be rebuilt on another site. Setting up takes roughly two hours.
The design of the Mongolian Ger developed to integrate with Buddhist culture. The crown of the tent adopted the shape of Dharmachakra. Also, the shapes, colors, and ornaments of the wooden elements—crowns, pillars and poles of the Mongolian yurt are aligned with the artistic style found in many of the Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia. Such yurts are called “uyangiin ger,” literally meaning “home of lyrics” or “home of melodies.”
Enthusiasts in other countries have taken the visual idea of the yurt and have adapted them. Although those structures may be copied from the originals, they often have some different features that adapt them to different climate and use.
Yurt Camping in the USA
In the United States and Canada, yurts product is done from modern materials. They are highly engineered and built for the most extreme weather. Not to mention, building an American Yurt takes days. Finally, once they are built they are not intended to be moved. North American yurts were pioneered by William Coperthwaite in the 1960s. He was inspired to create them by a National Geographic article about Mongolia.
Inside A Yurt
The inside of a yurt is just one large living space with beds positioned left and right of the door. Across from the door, you may find a third bed or a cupboard. Any coffee tables and small stools remain on the other side of the center posts. Between the interior columns is the stove for cooking and heating in the winter. Just left of the entrance door you’ll find a small cabinet with a sink, topped with a water reserve, where you can wash your hands upon entering.
Contrary to the external appearance, the inside of a yurt is very bright! The partial covering of the central circle makes way for the stove pipe allowing natural light inside. The inside of a yurt is beautifully naturally lit by sunlight!
Some more western yurts may offer more comforts as seen here above. Supplied with electricity, air conditioning and a big comfy bed. These are less traditional and more glamping style yurt tents. None the less they offer a particular kind of romance only available from outdoor living! All the comfort of your home in the cozy aesthetics of a yurt!
It is pretty amazing how many places outside of outer Mongolia there are to rent a yurt for yurt camping. It may even be one of the easiest ways to camp with a family full of kids. The yurt is already standing and fully stocked. All you need to do is bring yourself and your food to have the very best summer yurt camping.
Symbolism and Connecting with the Natural World
Camping is good for your health, everyone knows that. The hours upon hours of fresh air, the disconnect from the electronic world reconnects us with the natural rhythm of life. Waking at dawn and sleeping with the moon. Yurt camping gives us the opportunity to bond with yourself, your families and nature. The round form of the yurt amplifies the fact that we are all equal, there is no one better and no one worse.
Everyone is welcome.
Westerners might find it challenging to share one open plan living space. Yet you’ll find in doing so the truth of your hearts becomes exposed. Furthermore, you connect on a deeper level with the people around you. And isn’t that what life is all about anyway? Developing deep connections with the people you love?
Ancient Tradition in a Modern Jacket
Our world seems so far from the wild steppes of outer Mongolia. Yet, yurt camping still pulls us. Families possess only what they need and they connect, love and respect each other through even the harshest of winters. I can see why yurt camping is a thing. It makes sense to me that westerners would long for a simpler life without the hustle and bustle and chaos of the big city.
To be honest, we’d miss city life, that is for sure. However, that is exactly why we have stationary homes made of brick and wood but can still spend a week or two yurt camping in the wild with the people we love the most.
Yurt Camping on YouTube:
So in looking for your next amazing family trip, consider a week yurt camping. Connect to nature, connect with your family and learn about traditional living. Get back to basics today! Life is too short to be so complicated!