Western Mongolia, Foxhunting and Golden Eagle Festival*

September 23 – October 6, 2020

$6,900 per person / 5 – 8 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 typically during the cold winter months when the foxes coats are thickest and it is easier to see them against the snow. Each October, Kazakh eagle hunting customs are displayed at the annual Golden Eagle Festival.

Join us for this exclusive foxhunting trip in Bayan-Ölgii! Starting our journey from Tsambagarav National Park, we will hunt and travel by horseback with an eagle hunter for seven 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. We will be hunting on most 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, in which case we may be doing a little racing (see video below). There will also be a support vehicle nearby carrying our lunch, extra clothing and supplies, or in the event you want to take a break from riding on one of the longer travel days. On the day we ride to the festival site (5 miles from the town of Ölgii) we may end up riding with other eagle hunters and maybe even some camels, also on their way.

Once at the Golden Eagle Festival we will be camping in private gers along the Hovd River, not far from the festival site. Each day we will enjoy watching competition that includes skills with eagles, horse racing, camel racing, archery and other equestrian competitions. There are many many handicraft and food vendors set up and opportunities for purchasing all types of Kazakh made fur wear, so save room in your luggage!

This eagle/foxhunting 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 one full sightseeing and shopping day in Ulaanbaatar at the beginning of the trip and a half day at the end.

*This trip is for foxhunters only. You must be a member of a registered Foxhunt or be approved.

Please email us or call 928-779-2288 for more information or to sign up for the trip!

Day 1         Sept 23          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, the Blue Sky Hotel and Tower, located in the center of UB, directly across from Sukhbaatar Square and within walking distance to most sites in UB. Depending on what time you arrive, you may be able to spend some time on a walking tour of central Ulaanbaater, Sukhbaatar Square, the iconic State Department Store, and checking out some shopping, sightseeing and museums along the way. We will have dinner at a restaurant near the hotel.
Overnight in hotel, Dinner

Day 2         Sept 24          Full day in UB
After breakfast we will walk (or drive by van) 1 ½ miles to Gandan Monastery where we will tour the grounds and temples which provide insight into Buddhist life and practices in Mongolia. From here we go see the Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum which houses 12 exhibition galleries, covering the arts from ancient civilizations up to the beginning of the 20th Century. The exhibition hall regularly hosts the works of contemporary artists. Lunch will be at a nearby restaurant, followed by a few afternoon options including additional museums, shopping – especially the exquisite cashmere and wool, touring around central UB, or free time. In the early evening we will take a short walk to the performance theatre of the Tumen Ekh ensemble. The ensemble performs the ancient arts of Mongolia including long song, Khoomi (throat singing), contortionist, morin khuur (the horse head fiddle), Tsam dances and more. Following the performance we will dine at a nearby restaurant.
Overnight in hotel, B,L,D

Day 3         Sept 25        Fly to Ölgii, drive to Tsambagarav National Park
We’ll catch an early morning 2-hour flight to Ölgii. After a quick breakfast upon arrival, we will meet our guide/translator, and driver(s) and drive 1.5 hours to Tsambagarav National Park where we will arrive at our first ger camp and meet our local eagle hunter who we will be with throughout our time in Bayan-Olgii, along with the rest of our support team. We will get introduced to our riding horses and equipment and, if time, have a short ride around the camp in the afternoon. Our cook(s) will prepare dinner and we will dine in our kitchen ger.
Overnight in hotel, B,L,D

Day 4         Sept 26        All day ride in Tsambagarav National Park
We will spend most of the day in the saddle, riding about 20 miles around the National Park over varying terrain at all speeds (walk, trot, canter, and race!). This will give us a chance to not only ride over spectacular country, but get used to our personal horses. Our van carries any supplies we need and meets us with our lunch. We will return to our gers and family for dinner.
Overnight in ger, B,L,D

Day 5         Sept 27        All day Eagle / Fox hunting
Following breakfast, we will go out for a day of riding and foxhunting with our eagle hunter, eagle, and guide. Our van and driver will meet us for lunch. We will return to our gers and family for dinner.
Overnight in ger, B,L,D

Day 6         Sept 28        25 km ride and hunt
We will spend most of the day in the saddle with our eagle hunter and guide, riding about 25 km to another location. Our van and driver will meet us for lunch. We will stay in private gers at a new camp with our eagle hunter and staff.
Overnight in ger, B,L,D

Day 7         Sept 29             All day Eagle / Fox hunting
Following breakfast, we will go out for a full day of riding and foxhunting with our hunter and guide, and will return to our ger camp for dinner.
Overnight in ger, B,L,D

Day 8         Sept 30          25-30 km ride and hunt
After breakfast we’ll ride most of the day to our eagle hunter’s fall place and try some hunting along on the way. In the evening we will have dinner and spend the night in our new camp.
Overnight in ger, B,L,D

Day 9         Oct 1          Hunting and Golden Eagle Festival prep
Today we will enjoy our camp along the Hovd River, fishing, hiking, and taking in the nomadic lifestyle vibe, along with a half-day trail ride through and around the area while our hunter prepares for the Golden Eagle Festival. We will return to our ger camp for dinner.
Overnight in ger, B,L,D

Day 10       Oct 2              25-30 km ride to Festival location with hunting
After breakfast we’ll ride to the Golden Eagle Festival site near Olgii, hunting on the small hills and possibly joining with other eagle hunters and festival goers along the way. We will stay in a private ger camp by the Hovd River, not far from the festival site.
Overnight in ger, B,L,D

Day 11       Oct 3          Golden Eagle Festival
Two days will be spent enjoying the Golden Eagle Festival where local Kazakhs show their eagle hunting culture and their unique traditions. Starting with the opening parade, the first day of competition includes the eagle calling, along with some mounted horse games and other events. There is a plethora of local food and handicraft vendors to check out. You can climb up to the top of the hill where the eagle hunters are releasing the birds for the competition, or if interested, take a camel ride. Needless to say, there is a lot to see, do, and photograph here. We will return to our ger camp by the river for dinner.
Overnight in ger, B,L,D

Day 12       Oct 4          Golden Eagle Festival
The second day of the festival features a competition of the eagle catching the prey, mounted horse games, and may include camel races and archery competitions too. We will have a private ger available both days to sit in for lunch and there will be tea and snacks available throughout the day. We will be treated to some live traditional music during lunch on this second day. Following the festival on Sunday, we will drive to Olgii and dine and stay the night at the Makhsum Hotel.
Overnight in hotel, B,L,D 

Day 13       Oct 5            Return to UB
With possibly an early morning wake-up, we will drive to the Ölgii airport and fly back to UB. After lunch at the Blue Sky Hotel, there will be opportunities for checking out the Black Market, perusing the cashmere shops in the city center, catching a few more museums, or just relaxing and taking in your last afternoon in Ulaanbaatar. We will have our final dinner as a group at a fabulous nearby restaurant.
Overnight in hotel, B,L,D

Day 14       Oct 6             Depart UB
Leave Ulaanbaatar for home.
B, fly home

Kobesh Travel
Kobesh Travel is an independent tour company owned and operated by local guide Akhtolkun (Agii) Makhsum.  Born and raised in Bayan-Ulgii 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 and supporting FIRE since 2004. Kobesh Travel specializes in providing the most comfortable, personable and professional trips possible in western Mongolia. Some of their repeat  clients include National Geographic, BBC, and ITV.

Kobesh Travel guides, drivers, and cooks are highly skilled and adept at meeting the needs of Western travelers. They will become a big part of the trip.

Mary Williams

Mary Williams, FIRE’s Communications Director, is an equestrian with a history of guiding and adventure. 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. She has been a member of Grand Canyon Hounds since its began in 2004 and currently holds the position of Honorary Secretary. She has been leading FIRE’s trips in Mongolia since 2019.

  • Plan to arrive September 23 and depart October 6 to and from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (airport code ULN).
  • The trip will have a minimum of 5 people and a maximum of 8.
  • Prices include Mongolian and US guides and all in-country expenses: three meals a day, all transportation within Mongolia including airport transfers and domestic flights, all accommodations, horses and tack, entrance fees and permits.
  • These prices do not include flights to and from Mongolia, domestic overweight baggage fees, insurance, alcohol or other personal items.
  • 4 nights at Blue Sky Hotel and Tower in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, 1 night in Makshum Hotel in Oglii City, 8 nights in beautiful, hand-made Kazakh gers (yurts) in Bayan-Olgii set up just for our trip each night.
  • All hotel rooms in UB and Olgii City are double occupancy unless an upgrade is made for a single room.
  • Gers (yurt) in Bayan-Olgii will have 2 to 4 people per ger.
  • We require you to have emergency evacuation insurance for your own safety and well being.
  • Travel Insurance is strongly advised. FIRE is unable to provide refunds for canceled trip unless FIRE cancels the trip due to a lack of sign ups. FIRE can assist you in finding both kinds of insurance.
  • Additional hotel nights in UB are available. Let us know if you plan to extend your 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.
  • Please read our Trip Key Information for additional details.
  • A $1,000 non-refundable deposit is due January 15, 2020;
  • Full payment is due April 1, 2020.  With your full payment, we require the following documents:
    • Copy of passport
    • Copy of flight schedule to and from Mongolia
    • Copy of emergency evacuation insurance
    • Signed liability release
  • Payments can be mailed check to: FIRE Projects, PO Box 22187, Flagstaff, AZ 86002.
  • Please contact by email or call 928-779-2288 to pay by credit card.