The Kazakhs of the province of Bayan Olgii still live in the respect of their ancestral traditions. Kazakhs are famous for their ability to hunt small preys (foxes, wolves,...) thanks to their golden eagles. Attend the Golden eagles festival, in which more than 60 Kazakh falconers take part with their splendid eagles, then go hunting with a falconer.
itinerary.day 1Arrival in Ulan Bator and visit of the city
Arrival at the airport, meeting with our driver. Transfer to your hotel, settling in, and rest.
Appointment at 12 o'clock at your hotel with your guide. He will take you in the restaurant of your choice.
Let's immerse ourselves in the heart of the Mongolian history, in the wonderful National History Museum. Three floors of a rich, glorious, violent and noble past, from prehistory to Soviet period, including the creation of the great Mongolian Empire by Genghis Khan.
At 18 o' clock, Mongolian traditional show at Tumen Ekh: folkloric dances, contortion, and of course khoomi, the overtone singing.
itinerary.day 2Flight to the Mongolian Far West
Ulan Bator - Khovd
We leave the hectic Mongolian capital to embark on our inner flight to Khovd.
Khovd was an important commercial centre located North of the silk road, that had forged links with Russia and China. In 1763, the Manchu administration made build the fortress of Sangiin Kherem. 3-metres (9,84 feet) high and 2-metres (6,56 feet) wide walls enclosed the city that covered an area of 4 hectares. Today, the province of Khovd houses 18 Mongolian ethnic groups.
Visit of the local market.
Walk on the banks of Lake Khar Us, Southeast of the city.
itinerary.day 3 - 5Trekking in Tsambagarav mounts
Khovd - Tsambagarav mounts
We drive until Tavan Belchir Mount, whose name means "the five pastures". The mount is located North from Tsambagarav mounts, whose snow-covered peaks culminate at 4195 metres (2,61 miles) above the sea level. Many minorities live in this area, such as Uriankhai and Kazakhs.
- 4, 5
From Tavan Belchir, we start a 2-days trek in the valleys of Tsambagarav National Park. We'll meet Kazakh and Uriankhai nomads (Mongolian ethnies living in West of the country). We'll meet a Kazakh falconer who will show us his eagle.
From Northwest of Tsambagarav mountains, we go closer to the snow-covered summits. View on the glacier.
itinerary.day 6 - 7Eagles Festival
Tsambagarav mounts - Olgii
Stop on the banks of lake Tolbo.
We arrive in the capital of province that is the most Westerly in the place of the world that is the farthest from the oceans. Olgii is located at 1636 km (1,02 mile) from Ulan-Bator, at 1710 metres (1,06 mile) above the sea level. Principally Kazakhs live there and its atmosphere is very influenced by Central Asia : many signs written in Arabic, mosques and their cupolas pricked up to the sky.
Visit of Olgii Museum that shows an exhibition about the fauna and flora of the area. We discover the Kazakh culture, notably with traditional costumes and with a Kazakh yurt built in the museum.
Each year, falconers living in the area get together on the occasion of the Eagles Festival that symbolizes the opening of the shooting season, where everyone can come with its eagle-hunter and show its skill. Preys are foxes, rabbits, or small wolves. Skill tournaments are held all day long, but also bushkashi trials, over the course of which Kazakh horsemen compete to catch the corpse of a sheep. The first one who catches it must bring it behind a predefined line, while the other ones try to snatch it from him.
You'll attend this trial all day long.
itinerary.day 8 - 11Hunting with a falconer and its golden eagle
Olgii - Sagsai
You'll attend the second day of the Eagles Festival. The trials come one after another before the presentation of the prizes.
At the end of the day, we follow a falconer to his home, in the village of Sagsai, where we spend the night.
- 9, 10, 11
We go with our host during three days for a shooting party. On horseback, we follow the falconer in the neighbouring mountains. Once upright, the falconer removes the mask from its eagle and the eagle scans the horizon with its sharp eyes… If it can see a prey (rabbit, fox, wolf), it lets out a small cry to tell its master it saw something ; so the latter releases the animal that goes swooping on its prey.
For this ancestral hunting technique, patience is queen, because the animal does not catch game each time, but seeing this proud animal united with man in this hundreds of years-old practice is indisputably the key moment of any travel in Central Asia.
itinerary.day 12 - 13Return flight to Ulan Bator
Olgii - Ulan Bator
We arrive in Olgii and embark on our plane to fly back to Ulan-Bator.
Arrival in town and transfer to your hotel where you can rest a few moments.
Rest of the day free. With our guide, you can go and shop in the centre of the city.
There are not flights between Ulan Bator and Olgii every day, so this day serves as buffer and can be held now, at the end of the tour, or at the beginning. We may also spend this day in Altai instead of Ulan Bator.
Visit of Gandantegchinlen Monastery. In the morning, lamas get together to pray. They will answer your questions at the Mongolian Buddhist Centre.
Visit of the Bogd Khan Winter Palace.