The Journal | #Fortnums


The Imperial Hamper

~ A Fortnum's Hamper Adventure ~

Western Mongolia


Our famous hampers have been here, there and everywhere: up Everest, across the Sahara, to starving soldiers on the front line and hungry suffragettes under lock and key. But every now and then, they still find a way of surprising us – and turning up in the most unlikely of places.

A group pf explorers from around the world recently went on an expedition to Western Mongolia, on a first foray into one of the most remote and unexplored parts of the planet. And only on their return, when expedition member Niels Jensen emailed our CEO Ewan Venters with a few photos, did we make the happy discovery that their trip had been fuelled, in part, by a Fortnum’s hamper. We sat down for a cup of tea with Niels to talk about their adventure.

Bee's Knees
Christmas Coffee
Imperial
'We chose Western Mongolia for this expedition because of the undoubted uniqueness of the place and the opportunity to forge a new, 180km trekking route into the southern regions of Altai Tavan Bogd, along the border with China. Mongolia was shut off from the world for 70 years under Soviet communism, and the Altai Mountains, being so remote, are still largely un-trampled by foreigners. And these days, it is rare indeed to be able to discover completely unexplored corners of our planet.

'The country is jaw-droppingly beautiful too. Vast and remote, untamed and untameable, especially when the snows arrive a month early, as they did while we were out there. It is a spectacular region of snow-capped peaks, shimmering glacial lakes, huge steppe [plains], amazing wildlife from golden eagles and bearded vultures to wolves, brown bears and snow leopard – and as we discovered, welcoming people too.'
Bee's Knees

On their trek, the team – supplemented by local guides, camp hands, cooks, six Bactrian camels and five Mongolian ponies – met a fabled Kazakh ‘Eagle Hunter’ named Shohan, and his family. There’s are the happy faces you see posing with their newly-acquired Fortnum’s hamper.

'Shohan and his family are nomads and meeting them was an undoubted highlight – I would say that one of the most wonderful things about these sort of adventures is that they give you the opportunity to form friendships, however fleeting, with different peoples and cultures, and that was certainly the case here. The family were all unbelievably warm, welcoming, curious and hospitable.'

So hospitable, that when it came time to leave, Shohan’s five-year-old daughter was left a little gift, in the shape of a Fortnum’s hamper.

'When we packed the hamper, our aim was to fill it with small treats to raise our morale after a long day’s trek. There were salamis and other cured meats, cheese, foie gras, nuts and berries, chocolate, Gentleman’s Relish, some wine, some brandy and some excellent Scottish Malt Whisky.

'When we gave the hamper to Shohan’s daughter, we made sure there was still a lot of chocolate inside.

'When she saw that, her smile was immense, and it’s that kind of moment which made this such a hugely successful adventure – we made those sort of fantastic memories, achieved something, learned plenty and each returned home hungry for even more adventure next year.
Bee's Knees
Imperial
Christmas Coffee

'My opinion is biased, but I think most holidays are now very regulated, predictable and boring; I would always recommend going remote and being bold. Because out there there is no rush, no distraction from anything digital, and it opens your senses up. You absorb everything around you.

'I hope that people seeing the photographs from the expedition might be inspired to explore off the beaten track, think big and just do it – because when you do, it’s an unforgettable experience. And, of course, if you can manage to take a Fortnum’s hamper for the journey, then do - they're just so ready-made for adventure, aren't they?'
All images published with the permission of Niels Jensen and the organisers of this incredible trip, Hong Kong based Whistling Arrow