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 (No Airfare)
- Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
- Tuition – $5995 2 spaces!
Golden Eagle Festival Workshop Details
September 27, 2018 to October 6, 2018
Workshop Daily Schedule
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Tour Does Not Include: 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.
Equipment and Gear
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.
Ready to go to Mongolia?
The word bucket list has taken a whole life of it’s own and get’s attached to just about anyplace someone would like to go someday. The Mongolian Golden Eagle Festival is the reason that term exists. This is an exotic, rarely travelled magical destination and one you should not miss!
Cross this one off of your bucket list before it even got there, You Will Be Amazed! Go ahead and click the Registration button!
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I just want to say thank you! Your Baby Animal Photography Workshop is one of the very best I have ever attended. I learned so much from you that even after the first day my pictures were already much improved. Your sense of humor is much appreciated, and never gets in the way of your professionalism. You are such a good teacher, and your enthusiasm for the beautiful animals we photographed is contagious.
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Almost impossible to explain to others how great this workshop is – you just have to go experience it!
Thank you for such an amazing experience on the best workshop I’ve attended! Thanks for helping me get some exciting photos and I’ll be back in the winter!
I thought the workshop was a complete success and I can’t thank you enough for being the caring, thoughtful person you are, who kept everything light and full of humor. You ran a wonderful workshop and you are a good man Gunga Din!
I enjoyed being a part of this workshop, it was great shooting with you. I look forward to working with you again!
I can’t begin to tell you how much I LOVED the opportunity to photograph those beautiful animals. Each session was thrilling and I’m really looking forward to the January workshop.
This workshop exceeded my expectations in every regard. Jeff makes the entire experience exciting, educational and fun. He always is there to help. I can hardly wait for my next adventure with Jeff.
Thanks, Jeff. We had a fabulous time, and managed to get some great images out of the thousands we shot.
If you feel that your photographic technique needs help, consider going with Jeff. He will help you with your technique and also will give you pointers about what makes a good picture. I can still hear him say “ears!”. If you want to know why, sign up with him. Plus he knows all the very good restaurants around there. After a light lunch, the nice dinners with our fellow attendees were welcome.