Every year, over 100 hunter Kazakhs, who train Golden Eagles for hunting, gather around in a valley of Altai Mountains and celebrate the Golden Eagle Festival. There’s no age and gender restriction and both men and women compete. Passed down to generations, the skill of hunting with eagles was only preserved among the Mongolian Kazakh community in Mongolia. Thanks to the festival in the past 15 years, this unique tradition is coming back. This trip is one of the best examples of sustainable tourism supporting the local community.

Our journey begins in the Gobi Desert, a diverse ecosystem of Mongolia where high mountains, dry basins and grasslands all co-exist together. Spend two full days at the Gobi’s tallest sand dunes, the magnificent Hongoryn Els for various photo opportunities. Next, fly over the high mountains to the western most part of Mongolia, to participate in the annual Golden Eagle Festival . For two days, experienced hunters will compete with their eagles to test the eagles’ agility and hunting skills. Enjoy spending a private time with hunters for a close up interaction with the hunters and their raptor birds.

Brief Daily Itinerary

Day 1. Sep 27. Ulaanbaatar

Upon arrival, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. Built as a ger capital over 350 years ago, the modern day Ulaanbaatar is surrounded by white ger districts around it. After resting in your hotel room, we will enjoy a brief city tour including of Zaisan Hill where you can get a magnificent bird’s eye view of the city.

In the evening, enjoy a traditional Mongolian performance featuring the “throat” or khoomii singing which also features dancer girls with colorful traditional Mongolian clothes. We will then enjoy a welcome dinner at a fine local restaurant. Later, we will go and Overnight at hotel. (Hotel Ulaanbaatar or similar; B, L, D)

Day 2. Sep 28. Ulaanbaatar / Gobi Desert

In the morning, meet your guide and begin driving south to the Gobi desert. On this journey, you will witness the northern Mongolian grassland ecosystem transforming to that of the Gobi ecosystem gradually. En route, stop at Mandalgobi town for a road lunch. We will continue driving and will arrive at our ger camp located at the heart of the Gobi in the evening. Check-in to your ger and enjoy dinner. Overnight in gers. (Approx. 8 hours driving; B, L, D)

Day 3. Sep 29. Gobi / Khongoryn Els dunes

After breakfast, begin driving to the Khongoryn Els dunes, Gobi’s largest of the dunes. Here, we will enjoy climbing the tallest dune and visiting a camel herder family to sample ride Bactrian camels. Overnight at a tourist class ger camp. (Approx. 3 hours driving; Ger Camp; B, L, D)

Day 4. Sep 30. Khongoryn Els dunes

Spend one full day for various photography sessions including for the endemic Saxual tree forest, the incredible landscape and Mongolia’s two humped camels and friendly Mongolian herders. Overnight in gers. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

Day 5. Oct 1. Havtsgait Petroglyphs / Flaming Cliffs

In the morning, drive to the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park and visit Havtsgait Petroglyphs site, where hundreds of pre-historic rock drawings are found on a mountain top. Next, drive to the ger camp and enjoy lunch.

In the late afternoon, drive to the Flaming Cliffs, a red cliff stretching about 3 km in wide, where hundreds of dinosaur fossils have been found. Paleontological expeditions from many countries, including from U.S, Poland, Japan and Russia have worked here in the last 80 years. Each year rain and wind reveals yet more fossils and every summer new discoveries are made. We will equip ourselves with brushes and small cleaning materials and look for rare fossils hidden in the cliffs. Enjoy a sunset dinner at this majestic place before returning back to our ger camp. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

Day 6. Oct 2. Gobi Desert / Ulaanbaatar

In the morning, begin driving back to Ulaanbaatar, enjoying a picnic lunch along the way. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Remainder of the day is independent. Overnight in gers. (Hotel Ulaanbaatar or similar; B, L, D)

Day 7. Oct 3. Ulaanbaatar / Ulgii / Shar Lake

Today, we will fly to Ulgii, the capital of Bayan-Ulgii aimag, home to Kazakhs and many other minority groups. Though Kazakhs’ pastoralnomadic lifestyle is similar to that of the Mongolians, these nomads are predominantly Moslem. Explore the city and visit its’ market with a chance to purchase renowned Kazakh hand made art crafts including a rug. Then, if time permits, visit a local museum, which displays excellent cultural and natural showcases.

In the afternoon, make a short drive towards crystal-clear Shar Lake, located north of Tolbo Lake, which mirrors the dramatic Khunguin Mountain peaks. This saline lake attracts water birds such as swans and gulls and is home to over 8 types of fish. Spend the day trekking along the eastern shore of the lake and exploring the area.

In the evening retreat to Hovd River on the eastern part of the city.There is an excellent chance to do evening fishing for trout. Overnight in gers. (Rustic Ger Camp; B, L, D).

Day 8. Oct 4. Photo Session with Eagle Hunters

Begin the day with a private photo session with few eagle hunters at our camp site. When time permits, there will also be an opportunity to ride horses along with an eagle hunter.

Then, drive southwest to visit traditional Kazakh families to observe how eagles are trained. While we are in Bayan-Ulgii, we will visit families, representatives of minority groups present in the area. Kazakh women are renowned for their handcraft and tapestry and Kazakh men train Golden Eagles for hunting, an age-old tradition kept essentially in Mongolia. Eagles are caught from wild and used for hunting for over 10 years before they are released back into the wilderness. Kazakhs are happy to show you how eagles are trained and they offer you food and shelter, like any other nomadic families in the country. We will also visit Uriankhai family renowned for their archery skill which was an important part of Chinggis Khan’s army.

Visiting a Kazakh family is one of the highlights of our trip. Each ger is decorated with tapestries woven by Kazakh women and each tapestry is decorated with unique patterns designed by the family. Overnight in gers. (Rustic Camp; B, L, D)

Day 9 – 10. Oct 5 – 6. The Golden Eagle Festival

For two days, attend the magnificent Golden Eagle Festival. The festival begins with a march of eagle hunters coming into the central field and showcasing their hunter eagles to the public. Eagle skills are then tested by releasing them from a cliff top to time how fast she can land on their owners’ arms when called. Attend also a traditional tug of war game called kukbar , which is competed on a horse back. One of the highlights of the festival will be the archery contest by ethnic Uriankhai people, who will compete by their skills by traditional Mongolian arrow and bow which have retained the same design and force since the 13th century. In the evenings, enjoy a traditional Kazakh meals followed by a beautiful Kazakh singers performing for us on the last evening. Overnight in gers. (Rustic ger camp; B, L, D)

Day 11. Oct 7. Ulgii / Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, drive back to Ulgii for your return flight to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival, spend the rest of the afternoon for shopping and individual sightseeing. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (Hotel Ulaanbaatar or similar; B, L, D)

Day 12. Oct 8. Sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar

Today, explore some of the city’s best-known museums and historical sites. Begin with the visit to Gandan, Mongolia’s largest Buddhist Monastery. Visit the temple of Megjid Janraisag, where a 60 feet tall Buddha stands. Reconstructed in early 90s, the statue stands as the symbol of Mongolia’s revival of religious freedom after the communist regime that fell over. The temple itself used to be the largest building in Ulaanbaatar early 1900s. Also, visit the main temples where monks chant Buddha’s sutra’s on daily basis.

Then, visit the National History museum which showcases Mongolia’s best collection of traditional tools, art crafts and other exhibits presenting different periods of Mongolia’s history. Among the museum highlights is the collection of traditional costumes of different tribes, hall of the 13th century Mongolia and section which showcases a typical Mongolian ger and various nomadic tools. Also, visit the Zanabazar’s Fine Arts museum with excellent collection of Mongolia’s arts including golden Buddha statues of 17th century and some of the best preserved tankas in the world.

In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at one of the finest restaurants in town. Overnight at hotel. (Hotel Ulaanbaatar or similar; B, L, D)

Day 13. Oct 9. Departure

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for departure. (B)

Trip Highlights:

  • Travel south to Mongolia’s Gobi Deserts and photograph its the largest sand dunes, Hongoryn Els, at sunrise and sun set.
  • Visit traditional nomadic families and enjoy close-up photo sessions with their family
  • Travel to western Mongolia and participate in the annual Golden Eagle Festival
  • Enjoy meeting local kazakh hunters with their eagles and enjoy private photo sessions
  • Observe the games as eagles compete with their skill and speed for two days
  • Enjoy private meeting opportunities with well known Mongolian artists and community leaders to learn more about Mongolia’s life and culture.

About the Festival:

The Golden Eagle Festival is arranged during the first week of October every year in the most western – and most remote – province of Mongolia, Bayan-Ulgii. This province is home to ethnic Kazakh nomads who train Golden Eagles for hunting. For two days, Kazakhs compete to show off whose eagle is the most skilled at catching prey, following the command of their owners. Other authentic games are enjoyed by the Kazakhs such as kukbar (tug of war on horseback), archery and horse racing. Hunters put on their best costumes while decorating their eagles with the traditional “eagle costumes”. The Eagle Festival is one of the best opportunities to catch a glimpse into the area’s unique culture, which is different to other parts of Mongolia. The CEO of Mongolia Quest, Badral Yondon was one of the founding members when the Golden Eagle Festival was established over 17 years ago.


Trip Date:

Sep 27 – Oct 6, 2024


2 travelers:

$3,860 per person; standard twin occupancy

3-5 travelers:

$3,640 per person; standard twin occupancy

6-9 travelers:

$3,400 per person; standard twin occupancy

10 and more travelers:

$3,250 per person; standard twin occupancy

UB-Ulgii round-trip airfare:

$480 per person

Single supplement:

$550 per person

Battery charging and weight allowance etc…

At each ger camp stay in the countryside, there will be a generator provided in the evenings at our camp so an electricity will be available to charge batteries. Mongolia’s domestic flight regulation restricts total allowed weight per person per flight to 15 kg total, including your carry on. We will be doing group check-ins for each flight in order to use the maximum weight allowance of our group. The extra weight charge goes at about $2.5 per kg.


bayngol room

Hotel Bayangol

Located centrally in Ulaanbaatar, Bayangol Hotel offers comfortable accommodations with easy access to the city’s attractions. Accommodations at Bayangol Hotel cater to every need, from cozy standard rooms to luxurious suites, ensuring a comfortable stay for all guests.

mongolia ger yurt lake

Accommodation at the fesitival

Throughout our stay in the countryside, we will be staying in gers. During the Eagle Festival portion, we will stay at a rustic, traditional Kazakh gers with field amenites provided.  They are basic but is warm and practical.

Land Transportation:

Land transportation is provided by Toyota Land Cruiser jeeps seating  3 passangers per vehicle. Some roads can be bumby and hard but our drivers are some of the most experienced and reliable in the country.