Mongolia’s Golden Eagle Festival

Nomadic Traditions and the Great Gobi Desert

Overview

On this thrilling “back of beyond” journey, we witness the Golden Eagle Festival, the cultural event captured in the acclaimed film The Eagle Huntress. We’ll watch as Kazakh equestrians compete in hunting with their magnificent eagles, releasing them to swoop down from cliffsides. Festival activities also include breathtaking kukbar horseback games played at a thundering gallop. In the Gobi Desert, the Three Camel Lodge is our home as we hike to petroglyph sites and into the glacier-carved Yol Valley, and we’ll sip sundowners at the famed Flaming Cliffs fossil site, where the first dinosaur eggs were found.

Itinerary at a Glance

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

In Ulaanbaatar, our visits include fascinating Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. We fly to the Gobi Desert, where our hikes from the charming Three Camel Lodge bring us to rock art sites and into the habitat of argali mountain sheep and soaring lammergeiers. We also have the opportunity to climb golden sand dunes and ride a magnificent two-humped Bactrian camel, a species native to Mongolia and China. We’ll explore the Flaming Cliffs, rich in dinosaur fossils, and watch the sunset paint the cliffs ochre and red.

Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Day 11 (1 night)
Three Camel Lodge
The Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Days 3 to 5 (3 nights)
Days 7-12
Ulgii / Golden Eagle Festival / Ulaanbaatar

A flight brings us to Ulgii in Mongolia’s far west, land of the Kazakhs, the traditional nomadic herders of Central Asia. Here in the High Altai, we’ll join in the annual Golden Eagle Festival of Kazakh hunters and their trained golden eagles. We’ll be front and center as the local Kazakhs parade on horseback dressed in their hunting finery, accompanied by their golden eagles. 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—it’s an unforgettable sight! Our accommodation is a comfortable ger camp. Depart on Day 12 via Ulaanbaatar.

Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Day 11 (1 night)
Mongolian Ger Camps
Mongolia
Days 8 to 10 (3 nights)

Highlights

Highlights

See eagle hunters and huntresses parading with huge golden eagles
Watch Kazakh nomads compete on horseback
Enjoy Three Camel Lodge, a beautiful ger camp in a stunning Gobi setting
Watch the magical sunset at the Gobi’s Flaming Cliffs
Meet traditional Kazakh families in their gers
Walk in the Moltsog Els dunes, ride a two-humped Bactrian camel

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $7895  
Arrive: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Depart: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Lodging: 6 nights ger camps, 5 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches and 2 dinners as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Archaeology
Trip Level:

Rugged road travel, walking and light hiking, cultural adventures

Other Trips You Might be Interested in: