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Eagle Festival and Altai Mountains (15 Days)

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 15 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 20 people
Destination(s): Mongolia  
Specialty Categories: Festival Tours  
Season: September
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 1600 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 1600 Euro (EUR)

In early October each year an Eagle Hunter's festival is held near the village of Sagsai, near Ulgii, in the far west. It was originally started in order to help preserve ancient Kazakh traditions such as archery, camel racing, tug-of-war with a dead goat, and of course hunting with eagles. It is now a fantastic two days where local people show off their skills, meet old friends from throughout Bayan Ulgii province, and dress up in their finest traditional outfits. If you think you've seen some strange and interesting festivals elsewhere, this is sure to impress even the most jaded festival-goer. Before attending the Eagle Festival we will ride into the Altai Mountains as described above.

Everyone dresses up in their best outfits, which are spectacular; even the camels get to wear brightly colored rugs. There is a general air of chaos with no clear line between contestants and the watching crowd - sometimes you end up closer to the action than you might like!

A crowd favorite (amongst the women at least) is the 'race between a man and a woman', in which the woman pursues the man, giving him a good whipping as they gallop across the steppe. The tug-of-war with a dead goat involves two riders holding each end of the goat and trying to pull each other out of the saddle as they gallop randomly about - including into the crowd. Brutal certainly, but a true spectacle, and very fiercely contested. It's quite incredible how far out of the saddle a rider can be pulled without actually falling.

For a real test of horsemanship, riders lean down out of the saddle at speed to pick up small targets off the ground. Very useful when you drop your hat. Archery from horse-back is another ancient skill on display, and evidently very difficult. Genghis Khan would not have been impressed! In the Mongolia of today it is not a skill in great demand (luckily for us). When the riotous crowd of people, horses, camels and eagles gets too much, you can always pop into a ger for a cup of tea and khuurshuur (mutton pancake).

Tour Itinerary:

Days 1 - 3: As for the Altai Mountains trips above.

Days 4 - 10: Ride into the mountains of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park (7-8 days riding).

Day 11: Drive to Sagsai near Ulgii, visiting family along the way.

Days 12 - 13: Eagle festival.

Day 14: Fly back to Ulaanbaatar.

Day 15: Depart Ulaanbaatar. End of the tour.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Transfers to and from the airport/train station (including arrivals before Day 1)
- Transport while in Mongolia, including support vehicle for the duration of the trip, and internal flights
- Accommodation in Ulaanbaatar for two nights (Day 1, and one night upon returning to Ulaanbaatar). If you require extra nights accommodation, we can arrange this for you
- Accommodation outside of Ulaanbaatar
- All meals for the duration of the trip, from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on the final day
- Some wine with meals in the countryside (except when using pack animals)
- Interpreter
- Local horse wranglers/guides
- National Park and border area entrance fees
- The fine company of John, Sam or Jennifer.

Price Excludes:
- International air and train travel
- Mongolian visa
- Personal medical and travel insurance
- Entry fees into tourist attractions in Ulaanbaatar.