Day 1, September 29Arrive in Mongolia through Chinggis Khaan international airport and transfer to your hotel. After an orientation meeting, a welcome dinner follows.(Overnight Shangri-La Hotel, D)
Day 2, September 30
UlaanbaatarToday is a day to recuperate from our long flight. After a good sleep and breakfast, we will spend the day exploring Mongolia’s capital. We will begin the morning with a private blessing from a Buddhist monk at Gandan, Mongolia’s largest monastery. The 90-fot statue of Buddha stands in this temple. This statue is significant to Mongols as it represents Mongolia’s independence and democracy after the country’s democratic transition in 1990. The original statue was destroyed by the Soviets in the 1930s. Next we will visit the National History Museum. This museum offers an excellent introduction to Mongolia’s rich history.After lunch, we can relax in our lovely hotel or enjoy local shopping before we meet for dinner. In the evening if we aren’t too tired, we will enjoy traditional Mongolian music and dance featuring Khoomii or “throat” singing.(Overnight Shangri-La Hotel, B, L, D)
Day 2, September 30
Day 3, October 1
Bayan UlgiiToday, we fly to Bayan Ulgii, a province in the far west of Mongolia and home to Kazakhs and other ethnic groups. Though Kazakhs’ pastoral-nomadic lifestyle is similar to that of the Mongolians, these nomads are predominantly Moslem. Upon arrival, transfer to the banks of Hovd river not far from Ulgii city. Check into your private camp.(Overnight in Private Ger Camp, B, L, D)
Day 4 - 5, October 2 - 3
Golden Eagle FestivalWe are now in the beautiful Altai Mountains. Each year, just as the winter hunting season is starting, Kazakh eagle hunters from near and far attend the festival with their Golden Eagles, known as Berkut. Dressed in full eagle regalia and mounted proudly on their decorated horses, the hunters compete to show off their skill and training of their eagles to hopefully win the honor of being the best eagle hunter. Eagle hunting has been practiced in Central Asia for a thousand years. Unlike many other fading cultural practices in the world, the Kazakhs have kept eagle hunting as an important part of their culture and traditions. The Golden Eagle Festival not only tests the bird’s courage and the hunter’s skill, but also the special bond between the hunter and the eagle.The festival begins with a parade of proud eagle hunters showcasing their eagles to the public. After this parade, the festival begins. In the evenings, we will enjoy a traditional Kazakh meal followed by beautiful Kazakh singers performing on the last evening.(Overnight Private Ger Camp, B,L,D).
Day 4 - 5, October 2 - 3
Day 6-7, October 4 - 5
Eagle Hunter photographyWith the Golden Eagle Festival coming to an end, we will continue our Mongolian adventure by spending time on our own with eagle hunters in their villages. Today we drive to a small village of Sagsai soum to spend time with a young and proud eagle hunter and his family. This hunter will show us his unique riding skills thus allowing us wonderful photography opportunities in a gorgeous landscape. We will visit some local families and learn about Kazakh culture and tapestry making.(Overnight in Ger, B, L, D)
Day 8 - 10, October 6 - 8
Altai Soum, Eagle Hunter PhotographyWe will drive further west to the village of Altai soum. Here we will spend the following days riding on horseback with eagle hunters. We will go hunting with them and be able to photograph them in their mountainous landscape. We will include a trip to the northern entry of the Yolt Valley – one of the scenic areas where parts of the “Eagle Huntress” movie were filmed.(Overnight Private Homestay, B,L,D)
Day 8 - 10, October 6 - 8
Day 11, October 9
UlgiiAfter breakfast, we drive back to Ulgii. We will have a packed lunch with us so that we can stop along the way to photograph the beautiful landscape. When we arrive in Ulgii, we can visit a local flea market.(Overnight local hotel, B,L,D)
Day 12, October 10
UlaanbaatarThis morning after breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our return flight to Ulaanbaatar. We will arrive at the hotel in the afternoon, where we are on our own for lunch and have a free afternoon to relax or shop. Farewell dinner.(Overnight Shangri-La Hotel, B,D)
Day 12, October 10
Day 13, October 11
DepartureAfter breakfast or depending on our outbound flight, we will transfer to the airport for our international flight home. We will take home with us many unique and fascinating experiences from this historically and culturally rich country. We won’t forget the people and their beautiful smiles. We send you home with these as permanent memories.
- Accommodations in hotels based on double occupancy
- Private gers and Bell tent camps while traveling in the countryside
- Private Chef
- Domestic flights as indicated in the itinerary
- Land transportation using Toyota Land Cruisers seating 3 passengers each
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure at each destination
- All entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary
- Horseback riding (Golden Eagle Festival, Eagle hunting)
- Bottled water
- Photography fees / special photography shoot opportunities
- Wild Focus Expeditions Trip Leaders
- Local English speaking Mongolian Guide
- Local Kazakh Interpreter / Guide
- International Airfare
- Any expenses of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry
- Alcoholic beverages
- Meals as indicated on itinerary
- Tip and gratuities to drivers and national guide
- Travel Insurance (strongly recommended – https://wildfocusexpeditions.com/travel-insurance/)
- Excess baggage fees
Participants on this trip should be fit and capable of hiking up steep mountain trails that are rocky and uneven (if they opt to do so). The hikes won’t last longer than an hour as we will only be hiking for the views and photographic opportunities of the mountainous vistas. We will take our time, and our guide and drivers will be available to carry camera gear and/or daypack.
We can opt to ride Mongolian horses with Kazakh eagle hunters. You do not need to be an experienced rider. We will be able to attend the Golden Eagle Festival on horseback with the eagle hunters. We will also be walking the horses to accompany the eagle hunters as they hunt in the mountains. If you do not feel comfortable on horseback, a Mongolian wrangler or an eagle hunter can lead you on your horse allowing you to be hands free. You can then sit back, enjoy and even take photographs as you ride. For the more experienced riders, you will absolutely be able to show off your equestrian skills while in Mongolia. Please let your Wild Focus Trip Leaders know in advance that you would like to ride alone with the eagle hunters. The hunters will be thrilled! These activities are optional only. If you opt out of riding, you can meander through the Kazakh village to observe the Kazakh daily lifestyle and spend time with these beautiful and friendly people. Our guide will accompany you.
Mongolia’s tourist infrastructure is far from being developed. Do not expect western standards while on this trip. You can be assured that you will be one of very few people who have travelled to Mongolia. Tourism is just now burgeoning and so you will benefit in many ways to be among the first to travel here. Mongolians are extremely friendly and they welcome foreigners. They are proud of their country, their history and are happy to share their culture with you.
The accommodations in the Mongolian countryside are very basic (but comfortable) due to the remote locations that we will visit and will be the equivalent of luxury camping (similar to an African safari). We will either be staying in gers (yurt is the Turkish word) or we will be staying in a private Homestay – a house where the eagle hunter and his family stay during the winter. Gers are portable, round tents covered with felt. They are used by the nomadic groups throughout the steppes of Mongolia. In either accommodation, there is no indoor plumbing, indoor toilet or shower. The toilets are outside and we will have them prepared for us prior to our arrival to make them as comfortable and convenient as possible. We will accommodate our clients’ needs and can answer any specific questions via email.
The hotels in the countryside are also very basic but in general, very clean. On occasion, you may be able to get a shower with hot water. Please know that this is a very special trip. You are going to be among the first to have the most unique experiences while spending time with the descendants of the great warrior and leader, Chinggis Khaan.
We will have a private chef accompany us throughout the trip. Our chef will fly in foods and ingredients to prepare meals of our choice and liking. We will be able to accommodate any special dietary needs. Trying and eating local foods will only be by request of our trip participants.
For our participants who have an appreciation for beautiful landscapes, animals, traditional culture, history, possess a sense of humor, flexibility and spirit of adventure, your expedition to Mongolia will be a trip of a lifetime for you and will be remembered always. Traveling in Mongolia cannot be compared with any other country. The few creature comforts that are temporarily missing from this trip will be long forgotten after the trip is over. When we arrive back to our luxury hotel in Ulaanbaatar, you will be in awe of the things you have seen and experienced over the past few weeks. The land of Chinggis Khaan and his proud people will be with you forever. We look forward to seeing you in Mongolia.