Spectacular Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia
The Golden Eagle Festival is the definition of a bucket list photography destination!
Overview Golden Eagle Festival
Are you looking for a photography experience in a unique land that many will only ever read about in magazines? How about a virtually unknown event celebrating Golden Eagles? I’d like to share this unique and full-on bucket list tour with you; it’s the amazing 1000-year-old tradition of eagle falconry in Mongolia. AMAZING doesn’t come close to describing this ancient world, and it’s people and culture. In addition to the festival; we will capture people in traditional costumes, visit a working horse farm, and spend time in the mountains photographing and learning about the ancient tradition of hunting with Golden Eagles that continues today. If you are drooling and or just answered yes, then you should sign up, this is a photography trip you’ll love!
Mongolia – Golden Eagle Festival Highlights
- Attending the Annual Golden Eagle festival
- Mongolian Cultural Visits
- 10 Days and 11 Night
- All Inclusive (Airfare to Mongolia Excluded)
- Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Arrive Ulaanbaatar October 2, 2018
Depart Ulaanbaaar – October 12, 2018
October 2, 2018 – Day 1
Arrival in Ulaanbaatar and transfer to hotel. The group will gather in the evening for a meet and greet and a briefing on the sites we are about to experience.
At night, we will visit a small local theater. Here we will see contortionists, Mongolian musical bands and Throat singers.
October 3, 2018 – Day 2
We meet at 9 am and head to the Monastery in Ulaanbaatar to spend some time photographing the monks in a private photo shoot around prayer time.
From here we will then spend some time with Mongolian women dressed in traditional wedding dresses out in a natural country setting. Our model will be positioned in a traditional setting and present us with a unique opportunity to photograph something most people will not witness.
En route to photograph our model, we will visit the Giant Genghis statue. This 46m figure which is the biggest equestrian statue in the world. We then continue back to Ulaanbaatar from here and in the evening, return to Hotel in Ulaanbaatar for dinner and overnight at the hotel.
October 4, 2018 – Day 3
After breakfast fly to Mongolia’s westernmost province – Bayan Olgii. Olgii is home to Kazakh people, who have a rich cultural heritage, music, handicrafts and traditional Hunting with Golden Eagles. On arrival in Olgii, the provincial capital, visit the local museum, which provides insight into the diverse ethnic groups in the region. Next, visit the local Mosque and market. Spend the night with an Eagle trainer’s family.
October 5, 2018 – Day 4
Today is the day to watch the Eagle trainers at work: to witness the special relationship between the trainer and their bird, which is often considered a family member. Join the hunters on their hunting trips and watch them pamper their birds. Spend the night with a nomadic Kazakh family to learn more about their culture and traditions.
On the nights of the 29th and 30th, we will be staying in the home of a local family; it’s the only way to get access to the eagle trainers and their birds. These nights will be the real definition of roughing it at least by Western standards. We will sleep in the ger or yurt with all or most of them men in one and the women in another. There will not be running water, and the toilet facilities will be less accommodating than festival “outhouses” at home. This immersion in their culture will help give you a better understanding of their way of life, and that will naturally translate to much more intimate and appealing photography.
October 6, 2018 – Day 5
Eagle trainers will gather to show their skills and their eagle’s abilities. The festival will begin with the hunters displaying their traditional Kazakh dress and their eagle’s equipment and ornaments. The festival is an exciting and authentic event which features eagle hunters’ competitions, but also other Kazakh traditional games such as Kokbar (goat carcass polo), Kazak archery, etc.
The festival participants compete for prizes, including best traditional dress, the eagle’s gear, and ornaments. Also, the eagles themselves will be judged according to their speed and agility. During the festival, folklore performances will take place adding, even more, cheerfulness to an already fantastic atmosphere.
October 7, 2018 – Day 6
Travel by car to Khovd, the biggest city (population: 35,000) in Western Mongolia. Khovd is at the foot of the Mongolia Altai Mountains and in the valley of the Buyant Gol River. Sixteen distinct ethnic groups are living in Khovd: Khalkh, Zakhchin, Torgood, Oeld, Durved, Myangad, Uriankhai, Monchog and Kazakh. Visit local villages and spend the night in a ger.
October 8, 2018 – Day 7
Transfer to the airport for the flight back to Ulaanbataar. Upon our arrival in Ulaanbataar, we will stop by the Cashmire factory to give you the chance to buy some clothes for the people back home.
October 9-10, 2018 – Days 8 & 9
After an early breakfast drive to the Hustai National Park. Just 100 km away from the capital, it is the nest of the Mongolian Przewalski horses which can be seen roaming wildly in this beautiful national park.
From there we will head to our ger camp near the beautiful Elsen Tasarkhai Sand Dunes. After dinner, you will be taken to the Sand Dunes for your chance to photograph the sun as it descends over the dunes.
Elsen Tasarkhai is one of the most picturesque places of Mongolia and is part of the 80 km long Mongol Els Sand Dunes. This place is a beautiful combination of beautiful sand dunes, majestic granite mountains, green grassy land, a bright, fresh spring and a tiny lake. Indeed, here you can enjoy seeing the combination of The Gobi and Khangai Natural Zones.
October 11, 2018 – Day 10
Together we will visit the Elsen Tasarkhai Sand Dunes and Erdene Khamba Temple in picturesque Khugnu Khan Mountain Return to Ulaanbaatar and transfer to the hotel on the night of day 10. Farewell dinner.
October 12, 2018 – Day 11
Transfer to the airport for the flight home as required (standard check out time 12 pm).
- Transfers on arrival and departure
- English speaking guide at all times
- All lodging: Twin share in Hotel-9 in Ulaanbaatar; triple/quadruple in Ger camp/local hotel and shared Ger (men in 1 Ger and women in 1 Ger) at Kazakh nomadic family Gerts
- All meals as mentioned in the itinerary
- 4×4 Russian vehicles in Western Mongolia, comfortable minivan/minibus in and around Ulaanbaatar
- Photography session with Monks at Gandan Monastery
- Park Entrance Fees
- Sightseeing as per itinerary (traditional folk concert in Ulaanbaatar included)
- Ulaanbaatar – Olgii – Ulaanbaatar flight tickets + Tax (15kg free luggage), Ulaanbaatar – Moren – Ulaanbaatar flight tickets + Tax (15kg free luggage)
- 1L of drinking water per day per person
- International air/train + tax
- Travel insurance, medical insurance
- Fee for Visa
- Drinks, additional services, camera fees, personal expenses, items of a personal nature
- Gratuity to local guides
You will want to bring multiple lenses for the various situations we will encounter. This includes a long zoom lens that will have the equivalence of 400mm. A mid zoom covering 70-200mm, a wide angle of about 16-35mm, a portrait lens like a 24-70 or your favorite fast prime lens.
Bring a sturdy tripod as well as a remote trigger release for landscapes and low light photography.
You can expect temps in the 60s during the day with perhaps 40s in the desert at night.
It’s almost impossible to list everything that you’ll need, so just get in touch, and we can talk about what you have and what you might need.
US Citizens Traveling To Mongolia*
Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned date of departure from Mongolia.
Blank Passport Pages
One page required.
Not required for stays of fewer than 90 days.
None required, please consult with your physician if you have any health concerns or questions.
Travelling to Mongolia
Chinggis Khaan International Airport (ULN) in Ulaanbaatar is the destination airport for our trip to Mongolia.
You will be picked up at the airport and driven to the groups hotel. You should plan to arrive before 3PM on October 2 and you plan departures anytime on October 12.
There are two ways to travel to Mongolia from North America that are easy to navigate, via Beijing, China and via Seoul, South Korea.
Both airports have connecting flights to Mongolia. Air China has a direct flight from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar and Mongolian Air (MIAT) has a direct flight from Seoul to Ulaanbaatar.
Making connections in Beijing
When you fly from North America, you will only be issued one ticket to get you to Beijing. You have to go to a ticketing counter before security to obtain your second ticket from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar. If you have two to four hours your luggage will be checked through, and you only have to get your second ticket.
If your layover in Beijing is longer than four hours you will need to go through customs in the line that says 72-hour visa and get that stamp on your passport, then retrieve your luggage and check in for your net flight at the appropriate counter on the departures level.
It sounds complicated, but its quite easy and we can walk you through more details when you are booking your flights.
Making Connections in Seoul
If you fly through South Korea, they have the same policies, but you don’t need to obtain a visa, you just have to retrieve your luggage for longer layovers and check into your flight three hours before departure.
Both airports have hotels in them. So for longer layovers, you don’t have to leave the airport if you don’t want to.
Mongolia Travel Tips
When booking flights, please do not cut your connections too short. We suggest at least 2 to 3 hours between flights to make it through security if your bags are checked all the way through to Mongolia. Especially in Beijing.
Kevin has done this route for the past five years and has mentioned that there can be delays on flights leaving Mongolia because of high winds and also said that there are frequent late arrivals into China and South Korea when you are flying from North America. Kevin always leaves 4 hours going through Beijing and 3 hours going through South Korea.
We might also suggest you arrive a day early to help you get over the jet lag before the trip. The extra night will cost you about $100 USD with breakfast, and we will arrange that you can pay the hotel directly. Alternatively, you can book your additional nights on Expedia with Hotel9 direct. Just make sure you inform us on how you want to do that.
Arriving in Mongolia
When you arrive in Ulaanbaatar, you don’t need a VISA if you are an American or Canadian citizen with an American or Canadian passport. You just need to fill out the customs declaration form and go through customs and retrieve your luggage.
Grab a cart to put your luggage on, and when you walk out into the arrivals terminal, our local representative/driver will be waiting with a sign that says, Jeff Wendorff Photography.
Your driver will take you to his car or van and drive you to Hotel9. The drive is approximately 30 minutes. Once you arrive at the hotel the diver will also show you the way to the third-floor reception area and introduce you to the girl at the check-in counter. She will give you a room card, and the porter will be there to take your luggage up to your room for you. Easy peasy!
The food is good at the restaurant on the 3rd floor and is open from 7:30 am till 10 pm.
Travel Information Required
Please make sure that you send Jeff and Kevin the following information before the trip.
- Your flight information
- Your date of birth
- Your passport issuing country
- Your home country
- Your passport number
- Your dietary requirements
- Any medical issues we should be aware of
- Emergency numbers back at home.Lodging & Transportation
I always use trip insurance for my travels. It’s so much easier and with so many more benefits when you compare it with your insurance. I’ve found the costs to be reasonable given the benefits. I use Travel Guard when I travel and even though; I’ve not had a claim they were helpful and easy to deal with on the phone.
*Information for US citizens travel to Mongolia was obtained from the US Department of State and was valid as of October, 2017. If you are traveling to Mongolia from another country, please check with your embassy to check the travel requirements for your country.
Complete the “Reserve Your Space” form on the right of this page. On a mobile device it may be at the end, but it’s a big green box, you can’t miss it.
I will get an email which will provide me with your request including the payment details. I will confirm space availability and then send you an invoice from your preferred payment method for the deposit. Once I receive the deposit your space is confirmed.
When I receive payment I will follow up with another confirmation email and receipt.
About 30 days before departure, you will get a welcome kit with the nuts and bolts of what to expect. Of course, feel free to email me or call me and we can talk about it as much as you like!
There is a 2.5% convenience fee to pay your balance by credit cards. There are no fees with any of the listed payment methods for your deposit.
This 11-day tour is $5995 per person sharing. If you are a solo traveler, I will do everything I can to assist you in finding a suitable person to share your lodging. If we cannot find a person for you to share accommodations, the single supplement is $600. A single would give you private accommodations where possible. There are no single occupancy options during the visit to the Mongolian family gert.
A non-refundable $1000 deposit is required to reserve space in the photo tour. The balance will be due May 27, 2018.