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Mongolia With The Golden Eagle Festival


9 days 8 nights

Code MCT166

Category Mongolia Classic Tours

  • Group Size 2-16 persons
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Trip Starts From Ulaanbaatar
  • Trip Ends At Ulaanbaatar
  • Accommodation Hotels and ger camps
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Ulaanbaatar Ulgii Gorkhi Terelj National Park, Mongolia Hustai National Park
Dates & Prices

Overview

The Golden Eagle Festival in remote western Mongolia is probably the largest gathering of eagle hunters with their eagles in the world! The event is even recognized by UNESCO as the World Heritage Cultural Event.

The festival begins first showcasing the hunters and their talented eagles and then continues with various demonstrations of their hunting skills. The eagle displays it's skill by catching the fox skin dragged by a horse and returns to the owner on command.

The festival also features some Kazakh games. One is Tiyn Teru, in which the horse riders show their talent in picking up a coin on the ground. Another interesting game is Kyz Kuar between young man and women, in which the man steals a kiss and runs away, while the woman chases the man and whips him. The horsemen also play tug-of-war over a goat skin while on horseback.

In the evening, there will be Kazakh musical concert and awards are given away to the winners. There are also awards for best dressed man, women and child.

The final event of the festival is the real hunt of a live fox or wolf by the winner eagle!

You will spend the first two days in Ulaanbaatar visiting the local attractions, while recovering from the travel fatigue and jetlag. Then, we fly to Ulgii (2.5 hours), capital of Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia’s westernmost province. We spend three days in Bayan-Ulgii, enjoying the festival and visiting the local families and then take return flight back to Ulaanbaatar.

Our next destination will be Gorkhi Terelj National Park about 50 miles east Ulaanbaatar. The national park is renowned for its unique rock formations, beautiful open fields, mountains, and even some glaciers. We will also take a detour to the famous statue of Chinggis Khan. Next we visit Hustai National Park where will watch the wild horses and other wildlife and birds. The final destination in this trip is Karakoram-the ancient capital of Mongolia where we visit Erdene Zuu Monastery made up of the remains of the former capital. 

Trip date:

04 Oct, 2018.

03 Oct, 2019.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

After clearing immigration and custom, meet your guide and driver at the arrival gate and transfer to the hotel (25 minutes). Take rest to recover travel fatigue. No sightseeing has been scheduled today. If you arrive in time, join the group over dinner. 

Overnight at Ramada Hotel, 4*

Meals : Dinner
Day 02~Sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast at our hotel, your guide and driver will take you for sightseeing of Ulaanbaatar. We begin at Gandan Monastery, the largest and most famous functioning monastery in Mongolia. We might experience the monks in worship, and see the impressive Golden Buddha Statue. Next: Chingis Khan Square (Previously known as Sukhbaatar Square), the central square of Ulaanbaatar. We will also visit the National Museum of Mongolia. The collections cover prehistory, pre-Mongol Empire history, Mongol Empire, Mongolia during Qing rule, ethnography and traditional life, and twentieth-century history. The ethnographic collection has significant displays of the traditional dress of various Mongolian ethnic groups and of snuff bottles.

Next stop is the Chojin Lama Temple complex that consists of four Buddhist temples originally occupied by Choijin Lama Luvsankhaidav, the brother of the ruler Bogd Khan. Chojin Lama was the state oracle at the time. In the afternoon, we drive up the Zaisan memorial hill to get a fantastic view of whole city. In the evening, enjoy Mongolian culture program that includes the unique Mongolia throat singing. 

Overnight Ramada Hotel or similar 4*

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Flight to Ulgii

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in time for flight to Ulgii- the capital of Bayan- Ulgii province in the westernmost part of Mongolia. It's the only Muslim-Kazakh dominated province of the country. It's about 3-hours long flight. 

Upon arrival, you are met and greeted by our local staff. If time permits, we stop in the town to visit the local market, otherwise, we head straight out to the festival ground. Today is the first day of the festival. The festival kicks off as the participants join the parade on horse ride with their eagles. The competition begins with each participant displaying his hunting outfit and accessories. The most elaborate and beautiful clothing and accessories are given the highest points.

In the afternoon, the Golden Eagles will be evaluated for their speed and agility. The evening is for Kazakh concert consisting of traditional songs and dances.

Overnight in a temporary ger camp or a local hotel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Enjoy the festival

Prepare for some exciting activity today! The Golden Eagles will be released from a cliff to attack fox skins that will be dragged by their owner on horseback. The eagles will be judged on their success of grabbing the “fox”, their speed, and “gripping” technique. As the points for the competitions are being tallied, the Kazakhs will compete in their traditional game called “kekbar”- in which they play tug-of-war on horse to grab the goat skin and again, their riding skills, strength and agility will be evailauate. There will be other interesting games such as picking up a coin while on horse, man stealing a kiss of woman and woman chasing and whipping the man and much more!

Late afternoon, the winners of the festival will be announced amidst the award ceremony. In the evening, enjoy a celebration dinner.

Overnight in a temporary ger or a local hotel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Visit the hunter's family

Today, we travel to Sagsai County for about 20 miles where we will visit a Kazakh family in the settlement. We will enjoy their hospitality and learn about their life style. We will learn more in depth about their tradition of training Golden Eagles for hunting.

Afternoon, we travel back to Ulgii town and explore the local attractions.

Overnight at a local hotel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Flight back to Ulaanbaatar and transfer to Gorkhi Terelj National Park

After an early morning breakfast, you are transferred to the airport in Ulgii.

Upon arrival at Ulaanbaatar airport, meet your local guide and driver and proceed for a scenic drive to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. This unforgettable excursion will take you to features such as unique rock formations, scenic valleys, a winding river, and restful groves of trees. Many nomads live in the park itself, where they find lush grazing land for their animals. You will take a tour in the park and visit the notable rocks called "The Turtle rock", and "Monk reading a book". You will visit the Aryabal meditation center located inside the mountains to learn more about Mongolian Buddhism.

You will have time for optional horseback riding (pay on your own).

Overnight at ger camp.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Chinggis Khan Statue |Hustai National Park

After a leisurely morning breakfast, we check out our ger camp and visit the Chinggis Khan Statue complex (20 miles). This is a 130 ft. tall statue of Chinggis Khan on horseback. You can walk to the head of the horse through its chest and neck and enjoy a panoramic view from the top.

The statue complex also has a museum displaying  Bronze Age and Xiongnu archaeological cultures in Mongolia, which show every day utensils, belt buckles, knives, sacred animals, etc. and a second exhibition on the Great Khan period in the 13 and 14th centuries which has ancient tools, goldsmith subjects and some Nestorian crosses and rosaries.

Now, we return to the main road, bypass Ulaanbaatar and head west to Hustai National Park. It is renowned for the successful re-introduction of wild horse. Upon arrival in Hustai, we check in our ger camp. After wash and change, we will take ride through the park. Usually we are able to see the herds of wild horses grazing in the grasslands of the parks and other wild animals.

Overnight in a ger camp.

 

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~ Drive back to Ulaabaatar

After a leisurely morning breakfast, we retrace our drive to Ulaanbaatar. We have a free day today for shopping or optional activities.

Overnight hotel in Ulaanabaatar.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Depart Ulaanbaatar

Extend your trip in Mongolia or depart. You will be transferred to the airport in time for flight to your next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Accommodation in deluxe hotel in Ulaanbaatar (twin standard room double occupancy).
  • Temporary ger camp or hotel in Bayan-Ulgii.
  • Three meals a day.
  • All entrance fees.
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary.
  • Transportation by 4WD vehicle.
  • Domestic airfare Ulaanbaatar-Ulgii-Ulaanbaatar
  • English speaking local tour guide.
  • Daily supply of bottled water.

Trip does not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Items of personal nature, phone, drinks, tips, etc.
  • Optional additional activity cost.
  • Excess baggage charge, airport taxes and fees.
  • Single room supplement.

Trip Difficulty Level

This is an easy to moderate plus graded trip, rated 3 on a scale of 1-5, 1 being easy and 5 difficult. So, all travelers with average health condition can go on this trip but must be prepared for long day drives on bad roads. The trip involves some mild adventures like camel riding, horseback riding etc. We use 4WD vehicles for all transfers and tours.

Although, no extreme adventures are involved, this is also not the trip for luxury and leisure seekers. You should be willing to walk, hike and prepared for long day drives on dirt roads. Outside Ulaanbaatar, roads are unpaved, so they are bumpy and can be dusty as well. Please bring the pollution mask to protect your nose and mouth to avoid inhaling the dust.

Although the trip is physically not challenging, some degree of physical fitness level is expected. The more physically fit you are, the more you will enjoy the trip. If you do not lead an active life, please start soft training 2-3 months prior to the trip. Engage yourself in hiking, jogging, swimming, cycling or aerobics for 25-30 minutes a day. Avoid using elevators or use bicycles instead of car if it's a short ride.

What is it like staying in a Ger Camp?

While cities have modern buildings, more than a half population of the country stays in the traditional ger camps. Once you are away from the city, you will sleep in the gers- the traditional tents of nomadic herders. The gers are made of a latticed wood and covered with felt and canvas layers. The gers are well furnished with colorful wood framed furniture and heated by the wood stove. Dining hall and western style toilet are located in the main building. Hot water may be available only certain hours of the day as they are heated in a tank.
Staying in ger camps gives an experience of the lifestyle of Mongolian nomadic culture.

Transportation:

All ground transportation will be by 4WD vehicles. 

Guides:

Our tours are led by experienced local Guides who are proficient in English and have good knowledge on history, culture and religion of Mongolia. Guides in the different cities can be different persons.

Passport and Visa:

Remaining validity of your passport must be at least 6 months on the last day of the tour. Please, also make sure you are not running out of blank visa pages for entry and departure seals. US citizens don't need visa for Mongolia for up to 30 days. 

Booking and payment schedule

There are only 3-flights a week to Bayan-Ulgii and during the Golden Eagle Festival, there is very high demand. So, if you are thinking about this trip, please, do not wait until the last moment. It's advisable that you book this trip minimum 6 months before.

US$ 300 per person initial deposit is requested along with a completed booking form and a copy of passport. Balance payment is due 90 days prior departure. Balance payment by credit card attracts additional 3.5% fee. Payment made within 90 days before the travel date needs to be made by cashier check. We reserve the right to refuse certain form of payment.

Cancellation

90 days prior departure: US$ 150 (Administrative Fee).
60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
Less than 30 days: 100%.

Travel Protection Plan

While we plan and do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless, there may be chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage etc. that may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far and High trips do not cover any of these expenses or losses and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against these unfavorable conditions.

 

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