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Everything about The Golden Eagle Festival Mongolia

Introduction Eagle festival in Mongolia

In the expansive steppes of Mongolia, an event as majestic as the landscape itself takes place every year—The Golden Eagle Festival. Rooted in a centuries-old tradition, this festival brings together Kazakh eagle hunters, or "Berkutchi," from various parts of Mongolia and beyond. It celebrates not only the remarkable skill of golden eagles but also the incredible bond between these birds and their handlers. For travelers and cultural enthusiasts, this is a lifetime experience that encapsulates the essence of Mongolian nomadic culture.

The Backdrop of Mongolian Eagle festival

The Golden Eagle Festival predominantly occurs in the Bayan-Ölgii province, which is located in the far west of Mongolia. This region is home to the highest mountains in Mongolia, including the Altai Mountains, and provides the perfect backdrop for this celebration. It's an area where Kazakh culture is strong, and the practice of hunting with golden eagles has been passed down through generations.

The Heart of the Festival: The Golden Eagles in Mongolia

The stars of the festival are, without a doubt, the golden eagles. These birds of prey have a wingspan that can exceed 2 meters (over 6 feet) and possess astonishing speed and agility. The relationship between the eagle and the hunter is a remarkable blend of mutual respect and necessity. Trained to respond to their handler's signals, the eagles showcase their incredible hunting skills during various competitions.

The Eagle Hunters: The Berkutchi

Being a Berkutchi is a role of immense respect and responsibility. The hunters, often dressed in traditional garments made of fur and leather, share an almost telepathic relationship with their eagles. They capture the young eagles from the nest and train them, nurturing a bond that becomes as much about companionship as it is about hunting. The eagles are often treated as members of the family, and this unique relationship becomes the highlight of the festival.

Events and Competitions during Eagle festival

The festival usually spans over two days and involves a series of competitions designed to showcase the skills of both the eagles and their handlers. Some of the main events include:

  • Hunting Skills: The eagles are released from a cliff and are timed on how quickly they respond to their handler's signal and swoop down to capture a lure or small animal.

  • Timed Races: The Berkutchi race on horseback with their eagles, demonstrating incredible synchronization and agility.

  • Accuracy and Agility Tests: Here, the eagles are tasked with performing complex maneuvers to capture small targets.

Cultural Significance of Mongolian Eagle festival

Beyond the spectacles and competitions, the festival is a vibrant display of Kazakh culture and tradition. Visitors have the chance to see traditional Kazakh dances, listen to folk music, and partake in local cuisine. It is an embodiment of a lifestyle that has been preserved for centuries, co-existing harmoniously with nature.

  • Best Time to Visit: The festival usually takes place in October, but dates can vary. It's wise to check and plan in advance.

  • Accommodations: Lodging options are limited, so booking ahead is recommended.

  • Clothing: Dress warmly. The region is known for its cold temperatures, even during the day.

  • Camera Gear: Don't forget your camera. Whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur, the festival offers breathtaking shots you won’t want to miss.

The Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia offers a fascinating glimpse into a unique lifestyle that remains relatively untouched by modernization. For those seeking an experience that transcends typical tourist attractions, witnessing the bond between the golden eagles and their handlers amid the dramatic landscapes of Mongolia is something that lingers in the memory long after you've left the steppes.

We offer you Mongolia's Golden Eagle Festival Tour

Day 1: Set Out for Ulgii and Get Acquainted with Eagle Masters

Flight to western Mongolia

Kick off your adventure by jetting off to the remote corners of Western Mongolia, specifically to Ulgii City. From there, we will journey 60 km to visit a family of skilled eagle hunters. Here, you'll have the chance to experience their nomadic way of life and traditional hunting methods. Be amazed by the profound connection between the hunters and their majestic eagles.

Overnight Stay: At an Eagle Hunter's Residence (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)

Day 2: Inauguration of the Golden Eagle Festival

Eagle hunters on the horses
Preparation for the Eagle Hunting Festival

Begin your morning with a scenic drive to the festival site. Participate in the grand opening ceremony alongside 40 other eagle hunters. Immerse yourself in the cultural richness through local culinary delights and artistic performances.

Overnight Stay: Ger Camp Accommodations (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)

Day 3: Plunge into the Heart of the Golden Eagle Festival

Tourist tried to lift up the Eagle
Tourist tried to lift up the Eagle

Spend the day engrossed in various festival activities that spotlight extraordinary eagle-hunting abilities. Engage in an array of traditional games and activities. Pause the excitement for a delightful picnic lunch amidst the breathtaking natural scenery. Cap off your day by taking part in a traditional Kazakh ritual that delves into the artistry of eagle hunting.

Overnight Stay: Local Hotel (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)

Day 4: Revisit the Family of Eagle Hunters

Nomadic Eagle Hunter in Mongolia
Nomadic Eagle Hunter in Mongolia

After breakfast, we'll return to the residence of the eagle-hunting family. Explore further into their nomadic life, the complexities of eagle hunting, and their symbiotic relationship with nature. Don’t miss out on capturing some remarkable snapshots of eagles and their trainers. As the sun sets, partake in a traditional Mongolian dinner while having meaningful conversations.

Overnight Stay: At an Eagle Hunter's Residence (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)

Day 5: Bid Adieu and Fly Back to Ulaanbaatar

Fly back to Ulaanbaatar city
Fly back to Ulaanbaatar city

Following an early breakfast, we'll shuttle you to the airport for an 8:30 am flight back to Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital. Once there, we'll check into the luxurious Chinggis Khan Hotel. Spend your afternoon shopping in local bazaars and exploring cultural highlights such as the Choijin Lama Museum and Bogd Khaan Palace. Don’t forget to visit the Gobi cashmere factory for high-quality mementos. Recharge in the evening as you gear up for the next phase of your Mongolian journey.

Overnight Stay: 4-Star Hotel (Meals: Breakfast and Lunch)

Package Details

Destination: Western Mongolia Key Experiences: Altai Tavan Bogd Exploration, Horseback and Camel Riding, Hiking Adventures, Culinary Discoveries, Interaction with a Nomadic Eagle-Hunting Family, Exploration of Untouched Landscapes Duration: 5 Days, 4 Nights Type of Travel: Adventure-Infused Experience Total Package Price: 2 pax - 1575 $ per person

What's Covered

  • Airport Transfers: Arrival and departure logistics.

  • Domestic Flights: Round-trip in-country flights.

  • Expert Guidance: English-speaking guide throughout.

  • Lodgings: Stays in ger camps and with nomadic families.

  • Meals: As listed in the itinerary.

  • Transportation: All-terrain 4WD van for countryside travel.

  • Entrance Costs: Fees to parks and sites.

  • Riding Experiences: Horse and camel rides.

  • Sightseeing: As described in the itinerary.

  • Water Provision: 1.5 liters of drinking water per person.

  • Camping Equipment: All required gear.

What's Extra

  • Ulaanbaatar Accommodations: Not included.

  • Additional Charges: Hotel extras like phone bills, bar tabs, and laundry.

  • Insurance: No travel or medical coverage.

  • Visa Fees: Separate cost.

  • Beverages: Alcohol is not provided.

  • Personal Expenditures: Such as international calls, internet, laundry, and personal shopping.

  • Gratuities: Tips for guides and drivers.

  • International Transit: Not included.

  • Airport Fees: Any extra charges for baggage or taxes.

  • Unforeseen Expenditures: Any costs due to unpredictable events.

  • Additional Services: Extras not specified in the itinerary.

Suggested Packing Essentials

  • This list serves as a guide; customize as per your requirements. Detailed travel guide available.

  • Carry: Backpack with a waterproof cover.

  • Illumination: Headlamp or flashlight and backup batteries.

  • Medication: Personal prescriptions.

  • Footwear: Waterproof hiking boots.

  • Apparel: Weatherproof jacket and pants, fleece or woolen jacket, comfortable clothing, and undergarments.

  • Sun Care: Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

  • Leisure Footwear: Sandals.

  • Insect Protection: Bug repellent.

  • Miscellaneous: Waterproof pouches, binoculars or camera, watch, money belt, insurance confirmation, emergency contact info.

  • Now you’re well-equipped for an extraordinary venture into the mesmerizing world of Mongolia's eagle hunting culture!

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Related Frequent Asking Questions about Mongolian Eagle Festival- FAQ

Where is the eagle festival in Mongolia?

The Golden Eagle Festival is primarily held in Bayan-Ölgii province in Western Mongolia, in and around the province's capital, Ulgii City.

What is the Mongolia eagle tradition?

The eagle tradition in Mongolia is deeply rooted in the Kazakh community that primarily resides in the western part of the country. For centuries, eagle hunters, also known as "Berkutchi," have trained golden eagles to hunt small animals like rabbits and foxes. This practice is not just about hunting but is an art form that represents a unique bond between the hunter and the eagle. The tradition is passed down from generation to generation and is considered an important aspect of Mongolian cultural heritage.

What is the festival in Mongolia in 2024?

However, the Golden Eagle Festival usually takes place annually, typically in October. Additionally, Mongolia celebrates other annual festivals like Naadam, which usually occurs in July and consists of horse racing, archery, and wrestling competitions.

Where is the Golden Eagle Festival?

The Golden Eagle Festival is mainly celebrated in Bayan-Ölgii province, situated in Western Mongolia.

What happens at Mongolia's biggest festival?

If by "Mongolia's biggest festival" you are referring to Naadam, it is primarily a sports festival featuring the "Three Manly Games": horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Opening ceremonies include elaborate performances of Mongolian music, dance, and cultural displays. Naadam is not just a display of athletic prowess but also a celebration of Mongolian culture and heritage.

What is Mongolia's largest festival?

Naadam is considered Mongolia's largest and most celebrated festival. It has historical roots and is widely celebrated across the country. It even has the status of a public holiday, and festivities can go on for several days.

Why do Mongolians cover eagles' eyes?

Eagles' eyes are often covered with a hood to keep them calm and focused. The absence of visual stimuli helps reduce stress and distractions for the bird, making it easier for the eagle hunters to handle and transport them. Once the hood is removed, the eagle becomes immediately alert, allowing for a more focused hunting or training session.

Did Genghis Khan use eagles?

There is no definitive historical evidence to suggest that Genghis Khan specifically used eagles in his military campaigns. While the Mongols were known for their horsemanship and archery, the use of eagles is a tradition more commonly associated with the Kazakh people of Western Mongolia, rather than the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan led.

Why do Mongolians use eagles?

Eagle hunting is a traditional practice primarily among the Kazakh community in Western Mongolia. The eagles are used for hunting small game such as hares and foxes, especially in winter when it's harder to track and catch these animals. The practice is also deeply symbolic, representing the strong bond between the eagle and the hunter, as well as the skills and traditions passed down through generations. It's a significant part of the cultural heritage and a means of subsistence for some families.

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