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This unique and exciting journey introduces travellers to the traditional culture of the Kazakh nomads at the sensational Golden Eagle Festival after experiencing the spectacular Gobi Desert.


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Join us in the Gobi desert, home of an array of extraordinary birdlife, elusive mammals and the legendary fossil beds before travelling to the mountains of western Mongolia for the annual Golden Eagle Festival on this unique and exciting adventure. Experience the canyons and sand dunes of the Gobi, explore the Flaming Cliffs and Yol Valley, two of the desert’s most scenic and fascinating destinations, as well as the towering sand dunes at Hongoryn Els. Stay in unique luxury at the renowned Three Camel Lodge close to the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. Continue to the wild scenery and traditional cultures of the Altai Mountains, where Kazakh nomads celebrate their magnificent hunting eagles in a thrilling two-day festival.

This is a journey for adventurous travellers who love to experience unique and authentic cultures and want to combine an unforgettable desert experience with the opportunity to witness the Kazakh’s ancestral tradition of hunting with golden eagles.

Our Product Development Manager, Janet Ruby experienced this fabulous tour in October 2018. Read more about her journey here.

Images courtesy of Stephen Jones

How itUnfolds

DAY DAY 1: ULAANBAATAR

Arrival day in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
Upon arrival at the airport you will be welcomed by your Epicurious Travel representative and transferred to your hotel.

DAY DAY 2: ULAANBAATAR

Begin the day with a visit to Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. Woven through Mongolia’s nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan Buddhist tradition in which ancient shamanist practices are still evident.

Also see the recently renovated Chenrezi and Kalachakra Temples, as well as the magnificent statue of Migjid Janraisig, “the lord who looks in every direction.”

After visiting the temples, drive through downtown Ulaanbaatar to the National History Museum for an excellent overview of Mongolia’s history and culture.

Following lunch, visit the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum. Named in honour of Zanabazar, the renowned 17th century artist and politician, who was also the first Buddhist leader of Mongolia, the museum contains one of the best collections of Buddhist art and artifacts in the world, including some of Zanabazar’s original works.

DAY DAY 3: ULAANBAATAR TO GOBI | YOL VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

In the morning, transfer to the airport for a flight to the Gobi (1.5 hours). Contrary to the sameness that the word ‘desert’ suggests, the Gobi is a fascinating and diverse region and includes sites of some of the most important paleontological discoveries of the 20th century. The Gobi is also home to some of the Northern Hemisphere’s most rare and elusive mammals.

Upon arrival drive to the Yol Valley National Park (40 minutes). Located in the northern part of the Gobi in the foothills of the Altai Mountains, this surprisingly green valley was carved by an ancient river.

Continue on to the luxurious Three Camel Lodge, a ger camp located near Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. After lunch visit Moltsog Els, one of the few regions of the Gobi covered by sand dunes. Explore the sand dunes on foot or atop a Bactrian camel.

DAY DAY 4: HAVSGAIT PETROGLYPHS

After breakfast you will be driven to the Havsgait petroglyph site and hike to the home of hundreds of stone carvings from the Bronze Age. After lunch, visit a local family for a display of nomadic culture, including the making of dairy products, daily chores of tending animals and work around the ger.

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure.

DAY DAY 5: MOLTSOG ELS | FLAMING CLIFFS

Begin the day with a drive to Moltsog Els, one of the few regions of the Gobi covered by sand dunes, before returning to the Three Camel Lodge for lunch. Late in the afternoon, visit the legendary Flaming Cliffs, named for the orange glow of the rock at sunset.

Return to the Three Camel Lodge in the evening.

DAY DAY 6: GOBI TO ULAANBAATAR

Transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Ulaanbaatar (1.5 hours) before an afternoon at leisure. This evening you will gather for a performance featuring traditional Mongolian dancers and khoomi throat singers, followed by dinner at a fine local restaurant.

DAY DAY 7: ULGII

Your morning flight (3.5 hours) takes you to Ulgii, capital of Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia’s westernmost province. Ninety percent of the population of Bayan-Ulgii is Kazakh, Mongolia’s largest ethnic minority. Whilst there, you'll see the crystal-clear Tolbo Lake which mirrors the dramatic Khunguin Mountains.

There is the opportunity to visit a traditional Muslim burial tomb, a walled compound built from adobe and stone, and for an optional visit to an Uriankhai family, famous for their archery skills. If time permits, you will also visit a Kazakh eagle hunter’s family with the chance to view local crafts.

DAY DAY 8: COMPETITION | OPENING CEREMONY

Today marks the beginning of the Golden Eagle Festival and the official opening ceremony. The competition begins with each Kazakh hunter displaying his hunting outfit and accessories, the most elaborate and beautiful of which receive the highest points. In the afternoon the golden eagles will be evaluated for their speed and agility. The eagles will be released from a cliff while their owners stand below, signaling for them to land upon their arms as they do while hunting.

After dinner, attend a special performance of traditional Kazakh dance, song and music organised in honour of the competitors.

DAY DAY 9: COMPETITION | AWARDS CEREMONY

During today’s competition the golden eagles will be released from a cliff to attack fox skins dragged by their owners on horseback. There will also be horse races and displays of various traditional Kazakh horseback games.

In the late afternoon, the winners of the festival will be announced at the awards ceremony. Enjoy a celebratory dinner in the evening.

DAY DAY 10: BAYAN-ULGII TO ULAANBAATAR

This morning you will transfer to the airport for your return flight to Ulaanbaatar (2.5 hours). In the afternoon visit Bogd Khan Winter Palace museum, home of Mongolia’s last theocrat, Bogd Jabzan Damba Hutagt VIII.

Dinner is your choice tonight.

DAY DAY 11: GORKHI-TERELJ NATIONAL PARK

After breakfast drive to nearby Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Comprised of the southern Khentii mountain range, this mountain, forest and steppe region serves as a habitat for a variety of bird and plant life.

Following your explorations, return to Ulaanbaatar and en route stop to visit the Chinggis Khaan Equestrian Statue. The massive statue is made of 250 tons of gleaming stainless steel and is truly extraordinary.

Tonight you can reflect on your fabulous adventure with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY DAY 12: DEPARTURE

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for departure.

Interested in thisJourney?

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