The Great Gobi Desert and Golden Eagle Festival


On this thrilling “back of beyond” journey, we explore two of Mongolia’s wildest realms. In the great Gobi Desert, where our home base is the award-winning Three Camel Lodge, we hike to remarkable petroglyph sites, into the glacier-carved Yol Valley, and sip a sundowner as we watch a blazing sunset at the legendary Flaming Cliffs, where the first dinosaur eggs were found. In Mongolia’s wild west, we witness the extraordinary Golden Eagle Festival captured in the acclaimed film The Eagle Huntress. Kazakh horsemen—and women—compete with their magnificent eagles, releasing them to swoop down from cliffsides. Breathtaking games of kukbar are played at a thundering gallop, and we’ll be welcomed into the gers of Kazakh nomad families.

Itinerary at a Glance

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

After exploring Ulaanbaatar, we fly to the Gobi Desert, the site of some of the most important paleontological discoveries of the 20th century. With overnights at the celebrated Three Camel Lodge, our hikes bring us to rock art sites and into the deep Yol Valley, a national park and habitat of Argali mountain sheep and soaring lammergeiers. We also explore the Flaming Cliffs, where in 1923 Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his team from the American Museum of Natural History found the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen, and we watch the sunset wash across these legendary cliffs.

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Days 7-12
Ulgii / Golden Eagle Festival / Ulaanbaatar

A flight brings us to Ulgii, capital of Mongolia’s far west. Out in the snow-dusted High Altai Mountains, we watch the festival’s opening ceremony, with hunters in traditional dress parading on horseback with their trained golden eagles. During the competitions, we can hike up the hill to watch the birds soar, and one evening, hunters will visit our camp with their fantastic birds. Archery and the thrilling equestrian game of kukbar are part of the festival’s closing ceremony, and our accommodation is a traditional ger camp set up just for us in a beautiful riverside spot. Depart on Day 12 via Ulaanbaatar.

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See the epic festival featured in the acclaimed documentary The Eagle Huntress
Watch Kazakh nomads compete on horseback and hunt with their trained eagles
Meet with local Kazakh families in their gers
Step right into Kazakh life with an option to saddle up and ride with local Kazakh men
Enjoy the beautiful Three Camel Lodge, a celebrated ger camp in the heart of the Gobi
Sip a sundowner as you view the magical sunset at the Gobi’s Flaming Cliffs


Length: 12 days
Cost From: $6995  
Arrive: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Depart: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Lodging: 7 nights ger camps, 4 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Archaeology
Trip Level:

Rugged road travel, walking and light hiking, cultural adventures