Mongolia Eagle Festival holiday

“Experience ger camps, ancient citadels and nomadic lifestyles in the Mongolian desert on a 19 day small group tour over land and by air.”

Highlights

Ulaanbaatar | Khustain Nuruu National Park | Karakorum | Mt Khogno Khan | overnights in small hotels and ger camps | Arvaikheer | Orog Lake | Mt Ikh Bogd | Bayan Mountain Range | Khongoriin Els | Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park | Bayanzag | domestic flight to Olgii | Kazakh Eagle Festival (end of Sept - only one departure date per year) |

Description of Mongolia Eagle Festival holiday

Join a small group of intrepid nomadic travellers as you journey overland and via efficient domestic flights in search of seas of sand, undulating steppe landscapes and cultural traditions that lead all the way back to the time of Genghis Khan and his all-conquering Mongolian Empire.

From nights under the stars in traditional nomadic ger camps to hunting for dinosaur fossils and exploring in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, this two week holiday in Mongolia offers cultural travellers a real treat for all the senses.

Starting in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, you'll make your way west in search of wild takhi horses roaming the steppe of Khustain Nuruu National Park before continuing westwards en-route to the 'singing sands' of the Gobi Desert via the 13th century citadel of Karakorum.

From witnessing monks at prayer in Erdene Zuu Monastery to visiting traditional camel herders in the South Gobi, this 19 day tour provides every chance to find out more about modern-day Mongolian lifestyles as well as the traditions and customs that are still alive to this day.

Timing your visit to catch the annual eagle hunting festival held by the Kazakh people at the end of September invites an opportunity to find out more about the connection between Mongolians, the natural environment and one of the world’s most impressive species of winged predator.

The eagle festival also showcases various other traditional displays of strength, style and dexterity with Kazakh costumes, camel racing, Mongolian archery and Kukhbar competitions – a sort of medieval polo played on horseback – all conjuring an exciting and eye opening experience in the west of Mongolia.

Please note: we only have one eagle festival departure date per year. Group sizes are limited and do fill up fast so please get in touch as soon as possible to reserve your space.

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

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Check dates, prices & availability

Date
Price
Basis
21 Sep 2018
£ 3899
including UK flights
Full
 
20 Sep 2019
£ 4049
including UK flights
8 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 20 Sep 2019 departure
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Mongolia Eagle Festival holiday

Accommodation and Meals:
We spend three nights in a mixture of hotels and nine nights in traditional ger camps. All accommodation is locally owned and run, which has a positive effect on the economy and community by increasing employment alternatives in the area. By spending the majority of the time in simple lodgings, we significantly reduce our carbon footprint for the trip. We also operate on a ‘leave no trace’ basis, which involves disposing of waste at major towns and Ulaanbaatar, rather than leaving rubbish behind. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are used wherever possible where meals are provided. Chefs are often able to produce some delicious Mongolian specialties for clients as well, like ‘Tsuvian’- pasta served with vegetables and strips of meat, or ‘Buuz’- steamed dumplings stuffed with meat.
Local Craft and Culture:
At the beginning of the trip, we visit Shankh Monastery on the way to Arvaikheer. Upon arrival there is time to visit the local museum, which contains nature collections, stone figures and Turkic scripts. Other cultural excursions include a trip to the Bayan Mountain Range to view rock art from 3000 BC, the Karakorum Muesum and the small museum near Vulture Canyon. Any money spent or given here as a donation contributes to the upkeep of these attractions. There is also the option to attend a traditional Mongolian song and dance performed by the world famous Tumen Ekh dance troupe. This includes throat singers, contortionists and Tsam dancers. Handicrafts are available widely in the larger cities and typically include colourful leather boots, embroidered textiles, decorated flagons and carved wooden items. Buying traditional crafts is encouraged as this is a means of supporting the community and, in some cases, of keeping customs alive. However, guides will be careful to point out that some souvenirs on offer can be damaging to the environment or wildlife- like the horns of argil sheep or snow leopard pelts.

Local Interaction:
There are a number of opportunities along the way to meet local nomadic families. These interactions are often impromptu, though gifts of goods which the nomadic families don’t normally have access to (such as treats) are given. These interactions offer the opportunity to learn about the lifestyle of these families, try some of the produce they manufacture themselves such as cheese curd, buttermilk or arak (alcohol made from mare’s milk or camel milk). At other times we visit nomadic families in a more organised fashion in order to ride horses or camels which they keep and herd and use their services as a guide or wrangler. This contributes to their livelihoods.

We attend the Eagle Festival in the far west of Monoglia. This very traditional festival showcases the culture of Kazakh people of Western Mongolia. Amongst the competitions and performances we attend are ‘best Kazakh costume’, archery, horse racing, camel racing, Kukhbar (a traditional game played in various parts of Central Asia, in this case played using an inflated goat-skin, as well as cultural performances and demonstrations of traditional eagle hunting techniques (hunting using eagles). The eagles are trained from when they’re a chick and generally will spend years with their trainer. As they get older, however, they are returned to the wild where they can live the rest of their natural lives in a natural environment. Hunting with eagles has a long tradition in these mountains and can be an important source of food to local families.

Community support, projects and sponsorship:
Our local partners are involved in supporting local communities through Mongolia in a number of ways including supporting local education initiatives and providing essential amenities for underprivileged children and cooperating with small and medium sized enterprises. Specifically they’ve sponsored events such as Youth Investor Reality Show and the 8th Pearl Necklace Initiative. They are also founder and sponsor of the Mazaalai Foundation – protecting the Gobi Bear.

UK office
It all starts at home so we have first worked to reduce our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies in place, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group size
We operate small group tours that have a low impact on the communities we visit and we always ensure our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. This allows us to stay in unique and characterful accommodation that would not have benefitted from tourism due to their limited size. 

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