Western Mongolia and Altai Eagle Festival
September 6 – 18, 2019
$6975 per person / 6 – 12 people*
Western Mongolia has for much of its history been on the boundary between civilizations—between Chinese-dominated Asian culture to the east and European cultures to the west divided by the Altai mountains and the Tibetan plateau to the south. Large and endangered animals call the region home including snow leopards, the Govi Bear, Argali sheep, ibex, antelope, gazelle, falcons, golden eagles, wolves, foxes, and many more. It is also the most ethnically diverse, mountainous, and scenic region of Mongolia, with thousands of years of history. Western Mongolia is a land of nomadic tribes, horses, snow-covered peaks, endless grasslands, rivers, and Kazakh hospitality. This FIRE-led tour trip covers many of the highlights of Western Mongolia including Tavan Bogd National Park, horse riding and hiking, archeological sites, private ger stays with eagle hunting families and culminates with the awe-inspiring two-day Altai Eagle Festival. If you want more than just a taste of Western Mongolia, this is the trip.
*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 flight between Ölgii and UB.
Day 1 Sept. 6 Arrive in Ulaanbaatar (UB)
Arrive in Ulaanbaarar. You will be met at the Chinggis Kahn 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. 7 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. 8 Tavan Bogd National Park
We will take a 5-hour drive (150 km) to Tavan Bogd National Park where we will meet racehorse trainer/breeder, Auez and his family, staying in nearby private gers. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 4–5 Sept. 9–10 Horse riding and hiking, Hoton and Hurgan Lakes
We will spend two days with Auez’s family. Day hiking in the surrounding mountains will give us great views of Hoton and Hurgan Lakes. A horse riding option will be available for those who want to ride. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 6 Sept 11 Dayan Lake and archeological sites
A full day drive (110 km) to Dayan Lake through Hoton and Hurgan Lakes and the dramatic landscape of snow-capped peaks. We will visit petroglyph complexes and several Turkic Stone Men, Babals, ranging in size from 2 feet to over 6 feet in height and weighing several hundred pounds. In the evening we will arrive at eagle hunter, Shohan’s, family place. We will meet Tabai, Shohan’s father. Tabai is in his mid-seventies and he will tell us about his life experiences during the Soviet time. We will stay in private gers next to the family. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 7–8 Sept 12 Eagle Hunter Family
At Shohan’s house we will get an introduction to eagle hunting, enjoy the routine of daily life and watch Shohan’s last day of training before the Eagle Festival. We will stay in private gers. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 9 Sept 13 Arrive at Eagle Festival site
We will drive with Shohan to Altantsogst and stay in a private ger camp next to the Hovd River. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 10–11 Sept 14–15 Altai Eagle Festival
We will spend two days at the Altai Eagle Festival. Starting with the Opening Ceremony, we will enjoy festival activities including eagle competitions, costume awards, mounted horse games, camel races, archery competitions and more, including traditional music and concerts during lunch times. We will stay in a private ger camp along the Hovd River. Overnight in ger, B,L,D
Day 12 Sept 16 Return to UB
We will travel an hour to the Ölgii airport and fly back to UB. After lunch at a local restaurant we will enjoy a casual walk to Choijen Lama Museum and peruse local cashmere shops. In the evening we will dine at a local Irish Pub and take in some local entertainment. Overnight in hotel, B,L,D
Day 13 Sept 17 Last Day in UB
Enjoy your last day in Mongolia. We will make our way through Sukhbaatar Square to the Museum of Natural History, Zanabazar Fine Art Museum and the Antiques Museum. We will do any remaining shopping and sightseeing. For our final dinner, we will enjoy a traditional Mongolian meal of khorhog at Modern Nomads Restaurant. Overnight in hotel, B,L,D
Day 14 Sept 18 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-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 FIRE since 2004. For several years he volunteered his time to help coordinate FIRE’s distribution trips in Bayan-Ulgii. Kobest 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. 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.
David Edwards first traveled to Mongolia in 1992 and founded FIRE in 1999. His extensive travels and photography expeditions in Bayan-Olgii have given him an in-depth knowledge of the history and geography of the area. His photography essay about the Kazakh eagle hunters of western Mongolia was featured in the September 1999 issue of National Geographic. One image from this essay was featured in National Geographic’s collection of “100 Best Images.”
- Plan to arrive September 6 and depart September 18.
- 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 flight between Ölgii and UB.
- 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 12.
- We require you to have emergency evacuation insurance for your own safety in cases in 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 15, 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.