Mongolia tour, hunting with Eagles

“A unique opportunity to live alongside the eagle hunters of western Mongolia, experiencing their traditional way of life – if this isn’t on your bucket list, it should be!”

Highlights

Ulaanbaatar walking tour | Ulaankhuus | Sagsai | Altansogts | Horse trek | Live alongside Eagle Hunters | Homestay in Ulgii | Spring Festival Of Nauryz

Description of Mongolia tour, hunting with Eagles

Join the Kasakh eagle hunters of Western Mongolia to experience their traditional way of life and understand why and how they hunt with eagles. On this 10-day small group tour, you’ll be accompanied by us, Jess and Turuu, the founders of our small Mongolian tour company, as we visit the imposing Altai Mountains that dominate the west of the country, both physically and culturally.

The Altai have been a homeland for the nomadic cultures of Eurasia for thousands of years, including the Kazakhs, Mongolia’s largest ethnic minority group with approximately 150,000 living in the provinces of western Mongolia. Hunting with eagles (‘berkutchi’) is a form of falconry traditionally found throughout the Eurasian Steppe, and it is still practiced here. All the families you will stay with are eagle hunters, who we have built up a relationship with over the years. After spending time with these fascinating people, you will round off your trip with the Nauryz Festival in Ulgii – the Kazakh celebration of the coming of spring – and enjoy a homestay here, too.

This small group adventure provides a refreshing and individual taste of Mongolia. All the images you see here were taken by our guests. This is the Mongolia that you will also experience! We can also offer this trip as a private tailor made holiday, to suit your timings, budget and personal preferences.

We are a very small holiday provider and supporting local life is at the core of our philosophy. It’s also central to each experience we offer. Supporting the rural communities through which we travel, working directly with them and accessing their local knowledge leads to a more personal style of holiday for you. We make sure the itineraries provide variety, are flexible and will help you to get under the skin of this wonderful country, to experience the real local Mongolia.

Our team has been working together in Mongolia for over 11 years now, and consists entirely of Mongolians with just one westerner. We research, design and operate every detail of the holidays we offer, working independently. We don’t follow the typical stereotypes of a tour company either. We have nothing to do with big groups, must-sees or all-inclusive packages.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Check dates

2018: 14 Mar
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Mongolia tour, hunting with Eagles

Environment

Always a tricky one this. We can promise you the world but how do we prove it? Responsible, sustainable or ethical travel - in recent years, it has developed many labels and is now a widely-used selling tool in the tourism industry. But, what does it mean? Although there is no real clear definition, it has to be more than ensuring that we collect all of our rubbish, asking before taking a photograph or being aware of the cultural norms. That’s what we should be automatically doing anyway.

Below are some of the elements of my responsible travel philosophy for our Hunting With Eagles itinerary where we can show real evidence of our practise.

Domestic Flights.

Difficult one this. This itinerary includes two domestic flights which adds significantly to your carbon footprint (which will be big enough having flown to Mongolia!). As part of my company philosophy I support local projects that between them provide greater opportunities and benefits for local communities within Mongolia. At the end of each year I make a financial donation to each project as well as other forms of support throughout the year (see below!). No. It doesn’t help with your carbon footprint but you can book knowing I’m aware of the impact it has and that we’re trying to do something positive about it. Every little helps surely?!

Waste

The disposal of rubbish is a major issue in Mongolia - especially with plastic. As part of my Responsible Travel ethos I pay a local Mongolian NGO (Mongolian Quilting Centre) to make fabric tote bags for our guests which we hand out for free as a welcome pack at the start of each trip. This is a souvenir for our guests but it also helps to support the project and helps us to cut down on the waste we produce. As part of your Hunting With Eagles experience, you will also receive such a tote bag.

Also, you can book knowing that we finance our own three-day rubbish collection in a national park in Mongolia. Arranged through the local community and protected area rangers, we have been arranging this for the previous two years.

Group Size

Unlike a majority of the larger tour companies, where small group travel can mean being in a group of up to 12-18 people, when I say small group travel this is what I mean. Our group size on this trip has been kept small - a maximum of six. This means that experiences during this itinerary become more personal and authentic for you - especially your stay with the Kazakh families such as the Sailaukhan or Baibolat family. We are not an overwhelming presence - on the local communities or the local environment.

Our itineraries and departures

My philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures for each of our itineraries. We also do not concentrate specifically on one area. Our Hunting With Eagles itinerary only has one departure per year and we also travel outside of the main tourist season on this itinerary.

Mongolia is a country of incredibly diverse yet fragile ecosystems. By limiting our presence in certain areas, we help to preserve and protect and help to avoid the area changing environmentally due to repeated and extended exposure to tourism.

Yes we visit areas such as Lake Khovsgol and Gorkhi Terelj where tourism has become more concentrated in Mongolia but we also offer itineraries that stretch to areas that are not necessarily considered ‘highlights’ by other tour companies or the guidebooks such as the community of Bugat on this trip. Wherever we visit, supporting local is at the heart of what we do and at the centre of each experience we offer. By not focusing on one area, it also means that we help to support communities that might not otherwise benefit from the tourism industry.

Our trips also focus on 21st Century Mongolia - yes, you’ll get to experience the traditional way of life but at the same time gain an overview as what it means to be Mongolian in 21st Century Mongolia - the eagles hunter’s you will stay with will have mobile phones. It doesn’t mean their way of life is dying out - just that it’s adapting.

The people we work with are ‘real’ people. Not tourism professionals. You’ll meet people from Ulaanbaatar, you’ll meet herders, you’ll meet Mongolians that live in the provincial centres as well as the smaller town and rural communities. They are all Mongolians. Take time out to meet them.

Community

Cultural Impact

My company is not a ‘world specialist’; we concentrate on the country we know and love – Mongolia. We research, design and operate each itinerary ourselves and do not source our itineraries from other agents.

Supporting local is at the heart of what we do. Part of this philosophy is that we used ger accommodation provided by the Mongolian families such as the Sailaukhan family. However, at no point have we ever rocked up and demanded accommodation. Our relationships with the families we work with are genuine - forged over time and with plenty of tea.

Families offer ger accommodation to help supplement their income. Most are small rural businesses providing extra accommodation. Some accommodation is offered by herders, some is offered by ‘retired’ herders who no longer migrate, some by families that live in small town communities and some by families that own small ger camp businesses. By using this form of accommodation it provides you with a more genuine insight in to the real way of life in Mongolia and it benefits the local communities through which we are travelling.

However, these are real people with real lives to lead and at no point do we ask the families to change their way of life for our/your own benefit or comfort. If they don’t have a shower, neither will you! (Don’t panic!…see below!). We ask our guests to try and embrace (!) and enjoy any differences that they come across in Mongolia. Experiencing the differences is all part of any trip and makes it a more authentic and positive holiday for you and a more respectful and enjoyable experience for the locals as well.

One example of this is our use of the local town shower houses. Very few families have access to running water from a tap. We do as the locals do and use the local town shower houses such as the one in Ulgii. They’re a great way to meet members of the local community but it also means we do not put too much pressure on local resources. In the words of author Jack Weatherford in Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – ‘Compared to the difficulty of daily life for the herders, living permanently in those areas, ours were only the smallest of irritations.’

Photography

We have a photography philosophy that we employ on all our trips. At the back of every ger is the family khoimor – the family altar. Very few families have a camera. Some have cameras on their phones but no way to print off the images and therefore few families have photographs. I have a rule that if you promise a photo then you must send the photo. I make it easy for you - email the image of the photo to me once you get home and I will print if off and will make sure the photos are delivered. Look in the gers of the eagle hunter Janatkhan and you’ll see a great image of him and his eagle that we presented to him last year!

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