Western Mongolia Foxhunting and Golden Eagle Festival
(This trip is for fox hunters only. You must be a member of a registered Foxhunt or be approved.)
September 25 – October 8, 2019
$7475 per person / 6 – 10 people*
Hunting with eagles is a traditional form of falconry practiced by Kazakh and Kyrgyz people in contemporary Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Bayan-Ölgii, Mongolia. Their falconry custom involves hunting with golden eagles on horseback, and they primarily hunt red and corsac foxes, as well as hares. They hunt during the cold winter months when it is easier to see the gold colored foxes against the snow. Each October, Kazakh eagle hunting customs are displayed at the annual Golden Eagle Festival.
Join us for this exclusive fox hunting trip in Bayan-Ölgii! Starting our journey from Tsambagarav National Park, we will hunt and travel by horseback with eagle hunter, Botei, for six days en route to the Golden Eagle Festival. You will have your own horse and tack for the duration of the trip. This is a unique opportunity to ride, hunt, and stay with a nomadic Kazakh hunting family. There will be riding/hunting options on several days, as well as days where we will be riding up to 30 km (18 miles) to get to our next stay in a ger (yurt) camp. There will also be vehicle support to assist carrying supplies, or in the event you want to take a break from riding on one of the longer travel days. As we approach the festival site (Hunter’s Hill, 5 miles from the town of Ölgii) we will be riding with other eagle hunters on their way to the festival.
Once at the Golden Eagle Festival, we will be camping in private gers along the Hovd River, where all the eagle hunters will be staying, which will give us a unique opportunity to experience the hunters’ last-minute preparations for the festival. Each day we will ride over to Hunter’s Hill on our trusty steeds, enjoying competition that includes skills with eagles, horse racing, camel racing, archery and other equestrian competitions. 2019 will be the 20th anniversary of the festival, which could bring a record number of eagle hunters and special events planned by organizers, including ceremonies, dance performances, a parade in the town square, and other events.
This eagle/fox hunting trip is an adventure, as such you must be prepared for periodic lack of facilities, inclement weather, changes in itinerary, and having a once-in-a-lifetime experience filled with stories to entertain at many a hunt breakfast.
We will also have two full sightseeing and shopping days in Ulaanbaatar at the beginning of the trip and one at the end.
*Price includes all meals, transportation, accommodations, horses and tack, guides, National Park and Eagle Festival entrance fees, host family, wrangler, cook, and driver tips, and flights between Ölgii and UB.
Day 1 Sept 25 Arrive in Ulaanbaatar (UB)
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar. You will be met at the Chinggis Khan International Airport by our staff and transferred to our hotel, located within walking distance of Sukhbaatar Square, museums and shops. We will have dinner at a restaurant near the hotel. Overnight in hotel, Dinner
Day 2 Sept 26 Full day in UB
After breakfast in our hotel, we will spend the morning going to see with the 210-ton steel statue of Chinggis Khan, outside UB. After lunch there, we will return and view the city from above at the Zaisan Memorial, and also visit the Gandan Monestary. In the evening we will watch Tumen Ekh, a cultural performance of Mongolian traditional arts, and enjoy Mediterranean cuisine for our welcome dinner. Overnight in hotel, B,L,D
Day 3 Sept 27 Full day in UB
From our hotel, we will enjoy a casual walk through Sukhbaatar Square to the Museum of Natural History and Zanabazar Fine Art Museum. After lunch at a local restaurant, we will make our way to the Antiques Museum and Choijen Lama Museum. In the evening we will dine at a local Irish Pub. Overnight in hotel, B,L,D
Day 4 Sept 28 Fly to Ölgii, drive to Tsambagarav National Park, afternoon on horses
We’ll catch an early morning flight to Ölgii. After a quick breakfast upon arrival, we will drive 1.5 hours to Tsambagarav National Park. We’ll arrive at our first ger camp and meet local Eagle Hunter, Botei, and his assistant. Here we will get introduced to our riding horses and equipment and have a short ride around the camp in the afternoon. We will have a traditional Kazakh dinner with Botei’s family. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 5 Sept 29 25 km ride to Khipshal Valley
We will spend most of the day in the saddle, riding about 25 km with Botei to his sister’s place in Khipshal Valley. We will stay in private gers there with all meals provided. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 6 Sept 30 All day Eagle / Fox hunting
Following breakfast, we will go out for a day of riding and fox hunting with Botei and his eagle, and will return to our ger camp for dinner. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 7 Oct 1 25-30 km ride to ger camp at Botei’s fall location
After breakfast we’ll ride most of the day to Botei’s fall place and try some hunting along on the way. In the evening we will have dinner in our ger camp. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 8-9 Oct 2-3 Hunting and Golden Eagle Festival prep
Following breakfast, we’ll hunt again, as Botei prepares for the Golden Eagle Festival. We will return to our ger camp for dinner. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 10 Oct 4 25-30 km ride to Festival location with hunting
After breakfast we’ll ride towards Ölgii with Botei and other eagle hunters for the Golden Eagle Festival, trying some hunting on the small hills on the way. We will stay in a private ger camp by the Hovd River, 5 miles east of Ölgii where all the eagle hunters will be staying, so in the evening we’ll experience first-hand, their last-minute preparations for the festival. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 11-12 Oct 5-6 Golden Eagle Festival
We will ride to the festival site with the eagle hunters each day. Starting with the Opening Ceremony, we will enjoy the festival for two days of activities including eagle competitions, costume awards, mounted horse games, camel races, archery competitions and more, including traditional music and concerts during lunch times. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 13 Oct 7 Fly to UB and last day in UB
Early this morning we will travel to the Ölgii airport and fly back to UB. After a rest and shower at our hotel, we will have lunch and then explore the Black Market, perhaps searching for some Mongolian tack and other local items. We will also go to the Gobi Cashmere Factory! This is our chance to do any remaining shopping and sightseeing. For our final trip dinner, we’ll enjoy a traditional Mongolian meal of khorhog at Modern Nomads Restaurant. Overnight in hotel, B,L,D
Day 14 Oct 8 Depart UB
Leave Ulaanbaatar for home. B
Kobesh Travel Co Ltd, established in 2008, is an independent tour company owned and operated by local guide Akhtolkun (Agii) Makhsum. Born and raised in Bayan-Olgii and educated in Kazakhstan, Agii’s goal is to give each one of his travelers a unique and authentic travel experience. Agii has been working with FIRE since 2004. For several years he volunteered his time to help coordinate FIRE’s distribution trips in Bayan-Olgii. Kobesh specializes in working with groups of various sizes and make-ups, including teams of clients from National Geographic, BBC (including work on the new television series “Human Planet”), and ITV.
Mary Williams, FIRE’s Communications Director, is an equestrian with a history of guiding and adventure. She has been a member of Grand Canyon Hounds since its organization in 2004 and currently holds the illustrious position of Honorary Secretary. Her guiding career, spanning several decades, has included work as a climbing guide on Mt. Rainier, and river guiding in Grand Canyon, Idaho, and Nepal. Mongolia is a perfect fit for her love of wild places, new cultures, and equines.
- Plan to arrive September 25 and depart October 8.
- Prices include all in-country expenses: all meals, transportation, accommodations, horses and tack, guides, National Park and Eagle Festival entrance fees, host family, wrangler, cook, and driver tips, and round-trip flight between UB and Ölgii.
- These prices do not include flights to and from Mongolia, alcohol, domestic overweight baggage fees, or insurance.
- The trip will have a minimum of 6 people and a maximum of 10.
- We require to you have emergency evacuation insurance for your own safety in cases of an emergency or need for medical evacuation. We can assist you in purchasing this. Travel insurance is also strongly advised.
- You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel.
- All rooms in Ulaanbaatar are single rooms unless a request is made for a shared room. We will be staying at the Springs Hotel, a short 5-minute walk to Sukhbaatar Square, the center of Ulaanbaatar. Discounts are not provided for shared rooms.
- Lodging outside of UB will be in traditional Kazakh gers (yurts) shared with up to 4 other trip members. These will be gers that are set up specifically for our trip.
- We plan our itineraries to the best of our knowledge, but please know that there may be unexpected changes. We will do our best to inform you and support you, but please be flexible.
- Information about the trip
- A $500 non-refundable deposit is due March 15, 2019;
- Full payment is due May 1, 2019. With your full payment, we require the following documents:
- Copy of passport
- Copy of flight schedule
- Signed liability release
- Proof of emergency travel and evacuation insurance
Please mail payments to: FIRE Projects, PO Box 22187, Flagstaff, AZ 86002, USA.