About your guides

Agii 2020

Kobesh Travel

Kobesh Travel is an independent tour company owned and operated by local guide Akhtolkun (Agii) Makhsum.  Born and raised in Bayan-Ulgii and educated in Kazakhstan, Agii’s goal is to give each one of his travelers a unique and authentic travel experience. Agii has been working with and supporting FIRE since 2004. Kobesh Travel specializes in providing the most comfortable, personable and professional trips possible in western Mongolia. Some of their repeat  clients include National Geographic, BBC, and ITV.

Kobesh Travel guides, drivers, and cooks are highly skilled and adept at meeting the needs of Western travelers. They will become a big part of the trip.

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Mary Williams

Mary Williams, FIRE’s Communications Director, is an equestrian with a history of guiding and adventure. Her guiding career, spanning several decades, has included work as a climbing guide on Mt. Rainier, and river guiding in Grand Canyon, Idaho, and Nepal. She has been a member of Grand Canyon Hounds since its began in 2004 and currently holds the position of Honorary Secretary. She has been leading FIRE’s trips in Mongolia since 2019.

About FIRE

FIRE (Flagstaff International Relief Effort) is a non-profit organization (501c.3), NGO (non-government organization) based in Flagstaff, AZ, with a branch office in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. FIRE began its work in the devastated post-Soviet economy of Mongolia in 1999 on the foundation of “placing aid directly in the hands of the people.” We continually evolve, meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing world. FIRE’s working relationships with all stakeholders — government and civil organizations and individuals — maximize efficiency and impact, creating replicable programs with innovative solutions.

“Foxhunting Mongolia” is a program of FIRE. FIRE and its founders have worked with the Kazakh eagle hunters of Western Mongolia since 1992. This program not only supports our office in Mongolia with the proceeds, making our programming possible, it also supports generational, remote, herder families and helps maintain an endangered way of life. All proceeds from "Foxhunting Mongolia" stay in Mongolia, supporting FIRE’s award-winning public health programming.

Between 1999 and 2009, FIRE’s basic aid and medical distribution program reached 15 of Mongolia’s 21 provinces with ten 40-foot sea containers of supplies and aid from Flagstaff to Ulaanbaatar. In 2009, FIRE shifted its focus to sustainable, long-term public health programs, specifically liver health, through partnerships with the National Institutes of Health and Rotary International on hepatitis research and prevention. In 2016, FIRE was recognized by the World Health Organization and the European Association for the Study of the Liver as one of five “Innovative Hepatitis Screening Projects” worldwide.

In 2017 FIRE’s screening work was featured in The Economist Intelligence Unit as an example of best practices for HCV screening initiatives, and FIRE’s Executive Director was also named one of 18 Hepatitis C Change Makers and one of 6 Hepatitis C Change Maker Honorees by The Economist Intelligence Unit. FIRE’s Hepatitis Free Mongolia and specifically the Hepatitis Coordinator role pioneered by FIRE in rural Mongolia has been featured by the World Hepatitis Alliance several times since 2021.

Since 2017, FIRE has led Hepatitis Free Mongolia, currently in its second phase.  Phase 1 was the first project in Mongolia to provide comprehensive liver screening at every clinic in an entire province. Phase 2’s goal is to eliminate hepatitis C completely in Sukhbaatar province by July 2023. Phase 3 is in development for Khovd Province.

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