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Conde Nast Traveler
Boojum / KLM
PO Box 902
Central Post Office
Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia
Golden Eagle Festival
October 2-9, 2018
Eagle Hunting, one of the most dramatic and primal relationships between man and beast is alive and well in the remote mountains of western Mongolia. Falconry developed in Central Asia and for centuries, Kazakh men have hunted from horseback with trained golden eagles, the largest and most powerful of raptors. Fox, rabbit and even wolf are hunted for their fur and for the challenge they present,pursued across the snowy mountains and steppes.
We offer a ten day long trip to meet the hunters and their birds, follow them on the hunt and learn some of the skills involved in the capture, training and use of the eagles as hunters.The Kazakhs only hunt with their eagles during winter, when the pelts of the rabbits, red fox and wolf are at their most luxuriant. Hunting with eagles is an ancient sport. It reminds us of how close, until recent history, man was with both nature and animals. This tradition, lost in many parts of the world, is enjoying a resurgence of interest among the Kazakhs and has spread to other ethnic groups who once hunted with raptors but lost the knowledge.
Day 1, Arrive Ulaan Baatar. Hotel Overnight.
Day 2, Fly to the capital of the Bayn-Ulgii province, Ulgii. The flight takes about 4 hours. Meet local guide and driver. Drive to Eagle hunter's family. Homestay or ger camp.
Day 3, A day with the Eagle hunter's family to explore the surrounding areas; visit ancient stone monuments. Homestay or ger camp.
Day 4, See Kazakh Eaglehunters' preparation for the Festival and possibly travel with them to the Festival site. Ger camp or hotel.
Day 5-6, After breakfast drive to the festival site. The rodeo of eagle hunting. A fantastic opportunity for photographers and adventurers alike to see these magnificent birds up close. There are approx. 400 eaglehunters in Bayan-Olgiy aimag.Eagle hunters from around regions gather to test their finely trained birds in singular contests of speed and agility in these few days.Eagle hunters from around regions gather to test their finely trained birds in singular contests of speed and agility in these few days. During the festival we also see some Kazakh Traditional Horse Games like "BushKushi"(Try to take out from each other the goat skin on horseback),"Kiss woman on horseback", "Pick up coins from the land on horseback" and others. In the evening we enjoy to have the Kazakh Concert with some traditional songs and music. Overnight in the tourist camp or hotel.
Day 7, Early breakfast. Catch your flight back to UB. In the evening, watch “Tumen Ekh” folk theater perform throat singing, traditional dance, contortion and more. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8, Transfer to the airport for your international departure
Festival Day 1: 10:00 Opening ceremony, introductions, Eagle Hunting history and practice.10:30 Parade of all participants.11:00-13:00 Fox Skin (The real test of a hunter's ability, Eagles must catch a fox skin dragged behind their trainer's horse.)13:00-14:00 Break for lunch14:00-16:00 Fox Skin (The real test of a hunter's ability, Eagles must catch a fox skin dragged behind their trainer's horse.)14:00-16:00 Archery (Same time will be started Western Mongolian Archery Competition. Archery people will shoot from bow to balls and goat skins on horse back.)16:00-17:00 Kyz Kuar (A race between a man and woman on horseback)17:00-18:00 Bushkashi - Tug of war played on horseback with killed goat, common throughout Central Asia18:00-18:30 Tiyn Teru - Riders compete to pick up flags or flowers from the ground during the race19:00 Break for dinner.
Festival Day 2: 10:00-13:00 Eagle Call (Tests hunter's ability to 'call' Eagle to their horse from a distance)13:00-14:00 Break for lunch14:00-15:00 Camel Race 6kms (It is one most funny and interesting game.Camel riders can be women and men.)15:00-16:00 Tiyn Teru - Riders compete to pick up flags or flowers from the ground during the Race16:00-17:00 Bushkashi - Tug of war played on horseback with killed goat, common throughout Central Asia17:00-17:30 Kyz Kuar (A race between a man and woman on horseback)17:30-18:00 Awards and Closing ceremony
Trip cost per person:
2 people $2580 plus $520 round-trip domestic flights
3-5 people $2350 plus $520 round-trip domestic flights
6 or more people $2190 plus $520 round-trip domestic flights
What’s Included: Meals beginning and ending in UB (dinner on arrival day through breakfast on departure day), vehicle/driver, hotel in UB and ger accommodations, homestay, guide/translator, and park/entry fees. Domestic flights are quoted separately. What’s Not Included: Airport taxes, evacuation coverage, gratuities, excess baggage fees, sleeping bag pad rental, and items of personal nature.
Horseback riding add-on in the East Gorkhi Terelj National Park
Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, also called “UB” by visitors. Upon arrivalat the UB airport, you will be met by your guide and driver and transferred to your hotel. Referred to as“The City of Contrasts”, where modern constructions stand beside traditional dwellings and ancientmonasteries, UB is a very rapidly growing city with a population of nearly a million people.Conveniently located in downtown, your hotel is in walking distance of Sukhbaatar Square, museums,theaters, and shops. Depending on an arrival time, enjoy a short city orientation tour before dinner.Overnight in hotel .
Day 2: Depart UB in the morning. Drive to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Meet horses andwranglers. On the horseback trek we cover approximately 20 miles per day and meet our support vehicleeach night at a new campsite. Personal luggage and the accoutrements of "catered camping" aretransported in the support vehicle making for light, fast travel on horseback. Camp out each night withour spacious two-person tents. During each day's ride we'll visit the gers of local herders and have achance to experience nomadic life.
Day 3-5: Ride and camp through the valleys and mountains of Khentii. We will ride and makeway north towards the Khentii Mountains, across the forested ridge into the next valley, theBaruunbayan, where we will again spend another two overnights. The next day we will make a full dayride excursion from our new base camp at Baruunbayan River, to Gunjin Sum, a temple ruin hidden inthe forest. Though we recommend a riding background for this trip, the support vehicle or ox-cartalways has room for anyone who is ready for a break from the saddle. Camp out in tents overnight.
Day 6: Return drive to UB. Overnight in hotel.
The trip cost per person based on minimum 2 people is $1350. The cost includes ger camp, hotel, meals,horses, horse tacks, park/entry fees, camping equipment, and vehicle.
Horseback riding add-on in the West Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
Day 1: Arrive in UB. Transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Fly to Western Mongolia. Head to the ranger's station. Camping.
Day 3: Horseback riding to the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. No vehicle support is allowed inthe park area.
Day 4-5: Riding in the park. Camping.
Day 6: Return to the ranger's station. Camping.
Day 7: Drive to the eagle hunter's family. Join the rest of the group.
The trip cost per person based on minimum 2 people is $1800. The cost includes hotel, meals, horses, horse tacks, pack animals, park/entry fees, camping equipment, and vehicle.
Hunting: 2004 Client Trip Report (David Lee Kirkland)