The Great Gobi Desert and Golden Eagle Festival

Overview

On this thrilling “back of beyond” journey, we’ll have incredible cultural adventures in Mongolia’s wild west, where we’ll witness the Golden Eagle Festival, captured in the acclaimed film The Eagle Huntress. We’ll watch as Kazakh horsemen (and women) compete in hunting with their magnificent eagles, releasing them to swoop down from cliffsides, and see breathtaking kukbar games played at a thundering gallop. We’ll also be welcomed into the gers (yurts) of Kazakh nomad families. In the Gobi Desert, the celebrated Three Camel Lodge is our home as we hike to remarkable petroglyph sites and into the glacier-carved Yol Valley, and sip sundowners as we watch a blazing sunset at the Flaming Cliffs (the first dinosaur eggs were found here!).

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-6
Ulaanbaatar / Gobi Desert / Flaming Cliffs / Three Camel Lodge

In the capital of Ulaanbaatar, our visits include fascinating Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia, as well as the National History Museum, with its displays of age-old artifacts. We fly to the Gobi Desert, with overnights at the charming Three Camel Lodge. Out in this remote land, we walk in the golden Moltsog Els dunes and have an opportunity to ride a two-humped Bactrian camel. Our hikes bring us to rock art sites and into the habitat of argali mountain sheep and soaring lammergeiers. Some of the most important paleontological discoveries of the 20th century were made in the Gobi, and we’ll explore the Flaming Cliffs, where in 1923, Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his team from the American Museum of Natural History found dinosaur eggs and transformed our understanding of these prehistoric giants.

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Days 7-12
Ulgii / Golden Eagle Festival / Ulaanbaatar

A flight brings us to Ulgii in Mongolia’s far west. This is the land of the Kazakhs, the traditional nomadic herders of Central Asia, who migrated here from western China in the 19th century and have preserved much of their ancient heritage. Out in the High Altai, we’ll witness the wildly colorful Golden Eagle Festival with Kazakh hunters and their trained golden eagles. We’ll be front and center as Kazakh men parade on horseback dressed in their traditional hunting finery, accompanied by their magnificent golden eagles—it’s an unforgettable sight! Kazakh families arrive from villages far away to enjoy the pageantry, and during competitions, awards are given to hunters with the most elaborate dress and to eagles that have demonstrated the most skill and agility. Archery and the fast-paced equestrian game of kukbar are part of the festival’s closing ceremony, and it’s a thrill to watch. Our accommodation is a comfortable ger camp. Depart on Day 12 via Ulaanbaatar.

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Highlights

Highlights

Enjoy Three Camel Lodge, a beautiful ger camp in a stunning Gobi setting
Sundowners and a magical sunset at the Gobi’s Flaming Cliffs
See the festival featured in the documentary The Eagle Huntress
Watch Kazakh nomads compete on horseback with their trained eagles
Meet local Kazakh families in their gers

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $7595  
Arrive: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Depart: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Lodging: 6 nights ger camps, 5 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches and 2 dinners (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Archaeology
Trip Level:

Rugged road travel, walking and light hiking, cultural adventures

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