From Gobi to the Golden Eagle Festival

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    The Golden Eagle Festival was co-founded by Mongolia Quest’s CEO Badral Yondon over 19 years ago. Every year, over 70 Kazakh hunters, who train Golden Eagles for hunting, gather in a valley of the Altai Mountains to celebrate the Golden Eagle Festival. There’s no age and gender restriction and in fact, the winner of the 2014 festival was a 13-year-old girl who was taught to hunt with her eagles by her grandfather. Passed down through the generations, the skill of hunting with eagles was only preserved among the Mongolian Kazakh community in Mongolia.  Thanks to this 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 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 raptors.

    Brief Daily Itinerary

    Day 1, Sep 24. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

    Arrive in Ulaanbaatar. Meet your guide and the group in the afternoon in the hotel lobby. Enjoy a short city tour followed by a welcome dinner at a fine local restaurant with your Mongolia Quest guide providing trip briefing.

    Day 2, Sep 25. Ulaanbaatar / Gobi Desert

    In the morning, meet your guide and begin driving south to the Gobi desert. On the way, we will stop for a lunch at the Mandalgobi city. stay overnight in a ger camp

    Day 3, Sep 26. Gobi Desert / Hongoryn Els

    After breakfast, we will begin drive to the Hongoryn Elsm Gobi’s largest of the sand dunes. Overnight in gers

    Day 4, Sep 27. Gobi Desert / Hongoryn Els

    Spend one full day at the Hongoryn Els for the various photography sessions. Overnight in gers.

    Day 5, Sep 28. Havtsgait Petroglyphs / Flaming Cliffs

    In the morning, drive to the Havtsgait Petroglyphs, an amazing site of ancient rock drawing gallery located on a mountain top. In the afternoon, explore the Flaming Cliffs and photograph as sun sets over. Overnight in gers.

    Days 6, Sep 29. Gobi Desert / Ulaanbaatar

    In the morning, we will fly back to UB. Free afternoon. Enjoy dinner at another fine local restaurant.

    Days 7, Sep 30. Ulaanbaatar / Ulgii / Shar Lake

    This morning, we fly over the rugged mountains of western Mongolia to the Bayan-Ulgii province, home of the local Kazakh, Uriankhai and Tuvan ethnic groups. In the afternoon, make a short drive towards crystal Shar Lake. In the evening retreat to Hovd river. Overnight in gers

    Day 8, Oct 1. Photo session with Eagle Hunters

    Begin the day with a private with few Eagle Hunters at our camp site. 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. We also visit Uriankhia family renowned for their archery skill which was an important part of Chinggis Khan’s army. Overnight in gers

    Days 9, Oct 2. The Golden Eagle Festival

    The annual Golden Eagle Festival begins today. Observe the openning ceremony followed by various games to test the eagles. Eagles are released from the high cliffs to test how fast they come to their masters when called upon from a distance. The festival will be full of other ethnic contests such as thug-of-war type but with horses as well as ethnic uriankhai archery contest.

    Day 10, Oct 3. Eagle Festival Continues

    Spend another full day at the festival ground. Eagles will be released from the cliffs again to test their skills in attacking and grabbing moving objets while they are in flight. In the evening, enjoy a private Kazakh performance followed by a big traditional feast. Overnight in gers.

    Days 11, Oct 4. Ulgii / Ulaanbaatar

    In the morning, we will fly back to Ulaanbaatar. Time to rest and relax at the hotel. In the evening, enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant.

    Days 12, Oct 5. Sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar

    We will visit some of UB’s best museums and shops today. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Mongolian performance followed by our farewell dinner.

    Day 13, Oct 6. Departure

    Transfer to the airport for departure.

    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 24 – Oct 6, 2023


    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.


    Ulaanbaatar hotel

    Hotel Ulaanbaatar

    Hotel Ulaanbaatar is conveniently located in downtown Ulaanbaatar and is a well established accommodation with its 20th century characte-ristics and friendly staff. All major attractions of UB are located within walking distance from the hotel.

    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.