Experience Western Mongolia & Golden Eagle Festival
Experience the best that Western Mongolia has to offer: a living nomadic culture, staying overnight in a ger, and incredibly vast landscapes. On our Experience Western Mongolia & Golden Eagle Festival trip you’ll visit the Kazakh minority community, learn about their way of life and stay overnight in a ger. You’ll also witness the stark desolation of the Mongolian landscape on remote roads and day hikes. At the Golden Eagle Festival, we’ll watch with fascination how these hunters use their birds for this ancient tradition.
Why We Love this Tour
The Golden Eagle Festival is only held twice per year and you don’t want to miss this. Combine this with our Mongolian Gobi Trip for an unforgettable journey.
- Day 1Arrival to Ulaanbaatar and City TourArrive in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Transfer to hotel. After lunch, we will visit Gandantegchinlen Monastery and the National Museum of Mongolia (or the Chinggis Khaan Museum). We'll enjoy a traditional art performance and welcome dinner in the evening.
Accommodation: Ulaanbaatar City at Hotel Nine or Equivalent
**If you are joining us from the Experience Mongolian Gobi Tour, you will have a rest day or free time to explore Ulaanbaatar on your own.
- Day 2Flight to Bayan-UlgiiMeet for transfer to Ulaanbaatar airport for a morning flight (2.5 hours) to Ulgii, capital of Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia’s westernmost province. If time permits, we will visit Ulgii town to explore the local market. Ulgii (or Ölgii) sits at an altitude of about 1,700 meters (5,600 ft), nested in the spectacular Altai Mountains, and has a population of about 29,000. It is the largest town in the area. It is the center of the predominantly Kazakh region of Mongolia. Our local staff will greet and welcome you at the airport. Visit to the local ethnic museum.
Accommodation: Local hotel in Ulgii
- Day 3Eagle Hunter Family ExperienceToday we'll be staying near an Eagle hunter family in a community ger. Here we'll chat with them and experience their daily life. Kazakh gers are slightly larger than Mongolian gers and are decorated with brightly colored rugs. We will enjoy their hospitality and friendliness and learn more in-depth about their culture, specifically how Kazakh men train their eagles for hunting purposes. In the evening, we will taste traditionally prepared “bisparmak”, a real Kazakh dish prepared for respected guests.
Accommodation: Community ger. Tonight we'll be staying together (separated by gender) in a large ger (yurt), so single accommodation cannot be provided here. The community ger is a simple mobile Kazakh ger with beds and stoves. It is certainly not fancy but gives us a great opportunity to see how nomadic people live. A shower tent can be provided tonight, but most people will opt to go without a shower because of the cold weather.
- Day 4Private Eagle Hunting Experience with FamilyToday we'll travel to the nearest mountain and will have a private eagle hunting experience. The hunters will show us eagle calls and will drag the animal skin on the ground and will show off the skills of their eagles. This afternoon we can dress up in traditional Kazakh clothing and hold the eagles for pictures!
Accommodation: Community ger for the second night
- Day 5Hiking at Khatuu ValleyToday we'll travel to Khatuu. This is a gorgeous valley to hike and if you're fit enough, you can climb up to the top. Others can shorten the hike. Here we can explore petroglyphs and have lunch outside or can visit a nearby family of herders and have lunch with them. The lunch will be prepared by our cook. We will return to Ulgii town for our accommodation.
Accommodation: Makhsum Hotel in Ulgii
***The hike will take about 3 hours unless you go all the way to the top (total elevation gain to the top 300 meters). Anyone who does not want to climb up can wait at the bottom or can continue hiking, then meet the van at the end of the valley.
- Day 6Golden Eagle FestivalIn the morning we'll enjoy the opening ceremony of the Golden Eagle Festival as the participants join the parade on horses with their eagles. The competition begins with each Kazakh 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. In the evening we'll watch a Kazakh concert consisting of traditional songs and dances.
Accommodation: Makhsum Hotel in Ulgii
- Day 7Golden Eagle FestivalPrepare for some exciting action 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”- passing goat skin which tests one’s horse-riding skills, strength, and agility. In the late afternoon, the winners of the festival will be announced at the awards ceremony. In the evening, we'll enjoy a celebration dinner.
Accommodation: Makhsum Hotel in Ulgii
- Day 8Flight back to UlaanbaatarAfter breakfast, we will visit the local market and then transfer to the local airport for our flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and transfer to our hotel. We'll relax the rest of the day or explore Ulaanbaatar on your own.
Accommodation: Hotel Nine or Equivalent in Ulaanbaatar
- Day 9Departure from MongoliaTransfer to airport after breakfast and departure home.
Packing List for Experience Western Mongolia trip (recommended)
- Weather in Mongolia in autumn can be warm during the day and below freezing at night. Pack layer clothing.
- Comfortable shoes/hiking boots for walking/hiking
- Cash (new, clean Euros or USD printed after 2006)
- ATM cards, credit cards (only useable/accepted in the cities)
- Headlamp and/or flashlight (and spare batteries)
- Money belt
- Gifts from home like photos, stickers, postcards, children’s books, and souvenir pins for the Nomad family
- Please note that the temperatures can become chilly in the evening, and even colder in the higher elevation. Days may be sunny and warm but at night during this time of year, it may go below freezing and has been known to snow.
- We advise arriving at least one day before the tour.
- For the current weather conditions in Ulaanbaatar, visit: http://www.bbc.com/weather/2028462
The accommodation will range from the centrally-located Hotel Nine (or equivalent) for two nights in Ulaanbaatar to two nights in a community ger in the countryside to four nights in a local hotel in Ulgii (Makhsum Hotel).
About Community ger: The community ger is a simple mobile Kazakh ger with beds and stoves. We’ll be divided by gender and no private accommodation is available here. It is certainly not fancy but gives us a great first-hand opportunity to see how nomadic people live. A shower tent can be provided tonight, but most people will opt to go without a shower because of the cold weather.
***A note about single supplement: There will not be single accommodation available during the community ger nights. Travelers will be separated by gender and stay together in the ger.
The transportation during this trip will be by bus/minibus in the city and by 4WD Russian minivan in the countryside. There are two domestic flights. Be prepared for a rugged ride. Many roads are unpaved in Mongolia and Russian 4WD minivans are not known for their comfort. Hang on for the adventure of a lifetime.
Our trip provider: This exclusive Unquote Travel tour is brought to you in conjunction with local tour provider: Tour Mongolia. Tour Mongolia has been a local tour leader in Mongolia since 2001. We chose to work with them due to their experience connecting travelers with local Mongolian culture, their focus on adventure travel, and their continued dedication to Responsible Tourism. Hope you’ll let us show you the real Mongolia!
Cancellations and Refunds
If you must cancel your reservation for a tour and/or its extension, we will refund your payment, less the following fees per tour and/or extension:
|Days Prior to Trip Start Date||Trip Cancellation Fee Per Person|
|31 – 60 days||50% of trip price|
|0-30 days||100% of trip price|
Payment in full is due 90 days before trip start date.
About Your Guide
In addition to our local Mongolian guide, Unquote Travel co-founder Paige Conner Totaro will join us on this trip as group leader. In 2013, she took a year-long family trip around the world and soon after established Unquote Travel. She has long had a fascination with the landscape and nomadic cultures of Mongolia as well as the Golden Eagle Festival Mongolia.