Mongolia’s Golden Eagle Festival with Palani Mohan
12 Days | Ulaanbaatar – Ölgii – Ulaanbaatar – South Gobi Desert – Ulaanbaatar
One of the last travel frontiers, Mongolia is vast, remote and strikingly beautiful. Nomads still eke out a living on the steppe as they have for centuries passing down from generation to generation age-old practices of horsemanship, herding, and hunting. On this rare visit, we spend two days at the thrilling Golden Eagle Festival in the far west of the country where Kazakh horsemen demonstrate their skills with the prized golden eagle in fierce competition. You’ll be honoured by the Mongol hospitality, bed down in a traditional ger, marvel at Buddhist monasteries and explore some of the wildest landscapes on the planet. Your host has photographed and documented in detail the Golden Eagle hunters and is both an invaluable cultural attaché as well as an expert photographic instructor throughout your journey.
• An intimate group size of no more than 18 guests
• One-on-one interaction with your Guest Host
• Accommodation in a traditional Mongolian ger
• Sand dunes and ancient petroglyphs
• Hike through rugged canyons and gorges, ride a Bactrian camel
• See populations of the wild Mongolian horse in its natural habitat
• Two days of spectacular celebrations and events at the Golden Eagle Festival
• A private encounter with a Golden Eagle hunter
Day 1: Arrive Ulaanbaatar. Arrive into the Mongolian capital where
you are met and transferred to the hotel. Remainder of the day at leisure. Shangri-La Hotel (Deluxe Room)
Day 2: Ulaanbaatar. This morning join your host, Palani, and fellow travellers for a briefing on the coming adventure. Palani will share his experiences of the time he spent with the golden eagle hunters and the inspirational photographs he was able to capture. This afternoon a guided tour of the capital includes Sukhbaatar square in the centre of town which honours Mongolia’s 1921 revolutionary hero and Gandan monastery, one of Mongolia’s most important, which was founded in 1809 and houses an impressive library of important Buddhist literature. A welcome dinner is planned this evening (B,L,D). Shangri-La Hotel (Deluxe Room)
Day 3: Ulaanbaatar – Ölgii. Early morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Ölgii in the far west of the country. The town is predominantly Kazakh and more closely resembles Muslim-influenced Central Asia than Buddhist Mongolia. The main reason for your visit to the Bayan-Ölgii province is for the important Golden Eagle Festival which is celebrated here each year. One of the oldest, most revered and spectacular celebrations of Mongolia’s Kazakh people, this is a tradition of hunting with specially trained eagles which is passed down from generation to generation. The festival brings together the best hunters and their eagles in an impressive display of showmanship testing speed, agility and accuracy. The festival starts with a variety of spectacular displays. Watch Kazakh hunters riding in traditional dark coats and scarlet hats with the golden eagles perched on their arms demonstrating the skills they have acquired since childhood. Dance performances and various Kazakh equestrian challenges are also held (B,L,D). Ger (Shared Facilities)
Day 4: Ölgii. Spend a second day at the festival with many more thrilling events. See one of the winning golden eagles on a live fox or wolf cub hunt, horse racing and a tug of war on horseback (B,L,D). Ger (Shared Facilities) Day 5: Ölgii. A unique experience today when you meet some of the hunters with their eagles. You’ll be able to converse with them, through your guide, and capture some extraordinary photographs. Lunch today is beside the river and you’ll have the afternoon at leisure before dinner and entertainment with a local family (B,L,D). Ger (Shared Facilities) Day 6: Ölgii – Ulaanbaatar. Return by air to Ulaanbaatar. Remaining time at leisure (B,L). Shangri-La Hotel (Deluxe Room) Day 7: Ulaanbaatar – Khustain Nuruu National Park – Ulaanbaatar. Today is a full day excursion to Khustain Nuruu National Park, southwest of the capital, where photographic opportunities abound. The 50,620-hectare reserve protects Mongolia’s wild horse, the
Day 5: Ölgii. A unique experience today when you meet some of the hunters with their eagles. You’ll be able to converse with them, through your guide, and capture some extraordinary photographs. Lunch today is beside the river and you’ll have the afternoon at leisure before dinner and entertainment with a local family (B,L,D). Ger (Shared Facilities)
Day 6: Ölgii – Ulaanbaatar. Return by air to Ulaanbaatar. Remaining time at leisure (B,L). Shangri-La Hotel (Deluxe Room)
Day 7: Ulaanbaatar – Khustain Nuruu National Park – Ulaanbaatar. Today is a full day excursion to Khustain Nuruu National Park, southwest of the capital, where photographic opportunities abound. The 50,620-hectare reserve protects Mongolia’s wild horse, the takhi, and the reserve’s steppe and forest-steppe environment. The Takhi, or Przewalski horse, is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of Central Asia. Once declared extinct in the 1960’s it has now been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia. In addition to the takhi, the reserve is home to populations of maral (Asiatic red deer), steppe gazelle, deer, boar, manul (small wild cat), wolves and lynx (B,L). Shangri-La Hotel (Deluxe Room) Day 8: Ulaanbaatar – South Gobi Desert. Transfer to the airport for the flight south to Dalanzadgad,
Day 8: Ulaanbaatar – South Gobi Desert. Transfer to the airport for the flight south to Dalanzadgad, provincial capital of the South Gobi. You are met and driven northwest to the lush Yol Valley (also known as Eagle Canyon) in the foothills of the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains. Hike into the valley with its dramatic rocky cliffs and narrow canyons and keep an eye out for the indigenous lammergeiers (bearded vulture). Continue to the Three Camels Lodge, your unique Mongolian ger accommodation for the next three nights. (B,L,D). Three Camels Lodge (Deluxe Ger)
Day 9: South Gobi Desert. This morning you are driven into the Moltsog Els sand dunes where you’ll explore the area on Bactrian camels. An excellent opportunity to meet the local camel breeder families and gain an insight into their way of life. The remaining afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D). Three Camels Lodge (Ger)
Day 10: South Gobi Desert. A morning hike to Havsgait Valley where views are breathtaking. See the site of ancient rock petroglyphs left by early settlers of the Gobi. Return to camp for lunch and watch an historic documentary on palaeontologist Roy Chapman Andrews who in 1923 discovered the first fossilised dinosaur eggs in an area he named the Flaming Cliffs. Head out to the Flaming Cliffs for sundowners in this extraordinary desert landscape (B,L,D). Three Camels Lodge (Ger)
Day 11: South Gobi Desert – Ulaanbaatar. After breakfast transfer to the airport for the return flight to Ulaanbaatar and your hotel. This afternoon is at leisure. A farewell dinner with entertainment is planned this evening. (B,D). Shangri-La Hotel (Deluxe Room) Day 12: Depart Ulaanbaatar.Farewell Mongolia with a transfer to the airport for your departure flight (B).
Dates & Pricing
5 – 16 October 2017
Twin Share Per Person: $12,995
Single Supplement: $2,995
Allow us to provide you with a competitive international airfare for this journey.
ABOUT PALANI MOHAN
Indian born, Australian raised, and now living in Hong Kong, Palani Mohan is an award-winning freelance photographer and published author. He has produced five books and photographic essays and his work is part of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Exhibited widely around the globe, his images have been shown at the prestigious Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France. He has travelled to Mongolia four times and his book, ‘Hunting With Eagles: In The Realm of the Mongolian Kazakhs’ is a rare and invaluable record of a vanishing culture.