There are some points to note when traveling in western Mongolia. Transport between western Mongolia and Ulaanbaator is mainly by plane - so flights are often very full. No long-distance buses travel from Ulaanbaator to western Mongolia. The only form of travel around western Mongolia is by jeep, it is easy to see all the sights by jeep. Western Mongolia is on a different time zone than Ulaanbaator - one hour earlier than the rest of the country.
Day 1: Mongolia. Arrival to Ulaanbaatar and transfer to hotel. Depending on time of arrival, you may have a short city sightseeing tour. Evening welcome dinner. Overnight in hotel.
Day 2: Bayan-Ulgii province. After breakfast we fly to Mongolia's western-most province of Bayan Ulgii, which is mostly inhabited by Kazakh people. The Kazakh have brought with them their rich cultural heritage, music, handicrafts and the ancient tradition of hunting with Golden Eagles. We will land at Ulgii, the provincial capital, where we will visit the local museum, which provides an insight into the diverse ethnic groups, the history, and the flora and fauna of the region. Time permitting, we may visit the local mosque and market. Overnight in a ger camp.
Day 3: Golden Eagle Festival. After breakfast today we participate in the first day of the Golden Eagle Festival. About 80 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. Lunch. Dinner and overnight in ger camp.
Day 4: Golden Eagle Festival. After breakfast the second day of the festival includes competitions and presentations of the special relationship between the trainer and his bird of prey, which is often considered a family member. You will be able to experience a number of Kazakh traditions on first-hand. Mingle with the hunters, watch them pampering their birds and cheer for the competitors against the backdrop of the high Altai mountains. Lunch. Dinner and overnight in a ger camp.
Day 5: Eagle Trainer's family. After breakfast we leave festival and travel towards the Hovd River, stopping for lunch on the shores of Bayanuur Lake. By early afternoon we will reach the house of Aralbai, one of the province’s most well-known eagle trainers. Lunch. You will learn from him about the ancient tradition of training and hunting with golden eagles. In the evening you will join the family in their ger, and enjoy the traditional music and dancing of the Kazakh. Dinner and overnight in tourist camp.
Day 6: Eagle Trainer's Family - Ulgii. After breakfast today we will ride with Aralbai to the nearby mountains, to watch him in a training session with one of his eagles. After enjoying a traditional lunch at his home, we will head towards Ulgii town, arriving in the early evening. At day’s end you can enjoy a hot shower at the local baths, which are very comfortable and well supplied with hot water. Overnight in a ger camp.
Day 7: Ulgii - Ulaanbaatar - Terelj National Park. After breakfast, in the morning we will visit the local bazaar in Ulgii, time permitting, and then catch the first available flight to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival, we drive to Terelj national park, about 90 minutes out of the city. Overnight in a ger camp.
Day 8: Terelj National Park. After breakfast the park consists of amazing rock formations, beautiful valleys, the great Terelj River, and many wooded areas. Lunch. Many nomads live in the area. You will visit nomadic families and will learn from them about their unique way of life. After lunch we have an optional horseback ride across the mountains to the Terelj River and back to camp. Dinner and overnight in ger camp.
Day 9: Terelj National Park. After breakfast we return to Ulaanbaatar where we begin the day with a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian might need, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers. Lunch. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Day 10: Departure. After breakfast transfer to the airport for your departing flight.
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