Eagle Hunting with the Kazaks
Kazakh Tribes in the Mountains of Western Mongolia:
Hunting with Eagles, Riding like Ancient Heroes
They ride horses as if they were centaurs – one being, moving perfectly. They use immense eagles to hunt. They wear elaborate hats and parkas of rabbit and fox fur, and their faces are rugged and beautiful. They are nomads who live in round felt gers (“yurts”) heated with wood. Their traditional meats are lamb and horse.
Legends tell us about fierce tribes who rode across Central Asia and hunted with eagles perched on their arms. Kazakhs are the tribes of the Altai mountains in central Asia, where China, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia come together. Those in western Mongolia came from Russia in the 1800’s, and they still live in traditional ways.
Our newest trip takes us to stay with these tribes. We step back 250 years, riding Mongolian horses, living in gers with families, hunting in the mountains and watching the amazing horsemanship competitions at a festival. Both men and women are brilliant riders; the children start riding as toddlers.
We start in Ulaan Baatar, where we learn about traditional Mongolian culture and history in the Bogd Khan Palace museum and the Dashchollin monastery. We shop for hand-knit sweaters, camel hair slippers, fur caps and mittens, and yarns.
We fly west to the city of Ulgii (elevation 5600 feet) where we visit the markets and meet the Kazakh people. While most Mongolians are Buddhists, the Kazakhs are Muslims, and Ulgii has a large mosque. We drive west in 4 by 4 jeeps, up into the Altai mountains.
Along the way we see the endless plains of Mongolia. Herds of horses run free here, their long manes and tails blowing in the wind. The Mongolians love their animals, so the horses’ coats gleam, and they are well-fed and muscular.
The Altai mountains are high mountains with snow-capped peaks (15,000 feet), high passes, glaciers, alpine lakes, and wide meadows. The Kazakhs live in isolated gers. Yaks and dzos, which are a cross between yaks and cattle, graze the high fields. We stop to admire petroglyph images of hunting, battle, myths, and sacred art.
Our ger camp is set up close to the ger of a hunter’s family so that we can experience local hospitality and the nomads’ way of life. They’ll show us how they train the immense Golden Eagles for hunting. They favor females over males because the females are more aggressive and bigger, sometimes weighing 15 pounds.
We’ll eat a big, western-style breakfast, have a brief riding lesson and ride into the mountains. The eagles go after foxes, rabbits, wildcats and wolves. We will see
Kazakh traditions while we watch the hunting and savor the astonishing views in the high mountains.
We return to Ulgii, stopping along the way to visit a local shaman and throat singer. We spend two days visiting the Eagle Festival, where hunters come from as far away as 140 miles to compete. Men, women and children compete in horse races, tugs of war with goat skins, competitions to grab coins from the ground while staying on horseback, and camel races on two-humped Bactrian camels.
Breathtaking views, gorgeous animals, friendly people with amazing hunting and riding skills who are ready to share their rich traditions from centuries ago – This is trip happens once in a lifetime. Join us!
Day 1 - Arrival
Get picked up from Ulaanbaatar airport and get transferred to hotel. Spend the evening getting some rest and dealing with jetlag.
Day 2 - City Tour
Tour the city, visit Bogd khaan palace museum, Dashchoilin monastery, Sukhbaatar’s main square. Have lunch according to time allowance and shopping at State department store.
Day 3 - Fly Heading to Altai Mountains
We arrive to Ulgii city and get transferred to the hotel. We'll visit the local town museum which is the best museum among the Western provinces. Then we'll have time to explore exciting places among the city such as the town center, black market etc.
Day 4 - Heading to Eagle Hunter
In the far western corner of Mongolia lie the Altai Mountains, a stunningly beautiful region of snow capped peaks, immense glaciers and large alpine lakes. We will start our trip heading West in 4x4 jeeps. On the way you'll have the splendor of seeing the remote mountain country as we cross big passes. Along the way we'll stop and marvel at some petroglyphs, a recently uncovered site in the remote terrain featuring more than 10 thousand images of hunting and combat scenes, mythological figures and symbolic sacred art. By the end of the day we will get to our Ger camp which we'll set up close to an eagle hunters house. (Ger is the Mongolian word for nomad tents)
Day 5 - Activities at our Campsite
After breakfast, we'll visit the eagle hunter’s family and experience the local hospitality and the nomadic way of life. Our guide will give us a brief overview about the Kazakh culture and about eagle hunting. Then the Eagle hunter will show us how he trains his eagle. Training an eagle usually takes at least 6 months. With the help of our guide you will get to learn and understand the start of eagle hunting.
Arrive in UB.
After lunch our local crew will saddle up our horses and we'll get taught brief riding instructions. Then we'll saddle up on our Mongolian horses and we'll take a leisurely 2 hour horse tour.
Day 6 - 7 - Eagle Hunting
It is going to be a really exciting 2 days. After a big western style breakfast we're going to saddle up on our horses and go hunting. Mongolian Kazakhs use female eagles for hunting, as they are far bigger than the males and more aggressive. These eagles are trained to hunt foxes, wolves, rabbit and wildcat. Each day we will venture into the surrounding wilderness with eagle hunters on horseback hunting mostly fox and learning the skills and customs of the Mongolian Kazakhs as we tour and explore the stunning local Mongolian landscape.
Day 8 - Driving back to Ulgii
We will be driving today as we head to Ulgii town, on the way we'll stop at a local shaman throat singer and visit a historical site where we'll see a stone man which dates back to the 5th century. We'll arrive at our hotel and unpack and settle in as we prepare for our next adventure.
Day 9 - Eagle festival
Day 10 - Eagle festival
Day 11 - Today, we'll transfer to Ulgii airport. It takes approximately 3 hours to get to UB. Once we arrive, we'll be transferred to Hotel and have some time to settle in.
Day 12 - Get transferred to Ulaanbaatar airport to catch your flight to home.
September 27 - October 8
12 Days / 11 Nights
|Lodging & Accomadations|
This trip consists of a variety of accomadations or various days. Please read the itiniery for more detail and specifics.
Easy / Moderate
This trip is rated easy / moderate. It involves light hiking each day and horseback riding.
|Services Included||Services Excluded|
- Campsite Overview
- Stone Statue
- Kazak Eagle Hunters
- Riding on Camel
- Milking the Goats
- Kazak Tour
- Mongolian Scenery
- Eagle Festival