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Sagsai Eagle Festival

Introduction

The Kazakhs are an ethnic minority in Mongolia, but the majority in Bayan-Ölgii province. Most of the ancient Kazakh traditions survives here, outside the actual territory of Kazakhstan. These hardy Turkic speaking people are Sunni Muslim nomads and they hunt foxes and other small mammals with domestic Golden Eagles. Only the females, as they are heavier than male eagles. The Sagsai eagle festival marks the start of the eagle hunting season, which is throughout the winter in the surrounding Altai Mountains. Hunting with eagles is an ancient art, dating back some 6000 years. The traditions have been revived over the past two decades following the democratization in Mongolia. Now such festivals are held in March, September and October in various communities.

Trip Details

Itinerary
Tour dates
Prices
Practicalities
Gallery

1/WEDNESDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER—ARRIVAL IN ULAANBAATAR

Arrival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Transfer to your hotel. Sight-seeing in the city. Tour briefing before dinner.

2/THURSDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER—ARRIVAL IN BAYAN-ÖLGII

Likely, in the early morning we will transfer to the airport and fly 3½ hours to Ölgii or Khovd. Both towns are small, being capitals in their respective provinces, where we can visit the local natural history museum. Khovd was a town already during Manchurian times, prior to 1910 and it has several ethnic minorities with mongolians being the majority. Khovd has both mosques and Buddhist temples. Ölgii is younger and though mostly comprised of Kazakh people, Tuva and Uriankhai minorities also live here. If we land in Khovd, there will be a nice drive of four hours in the midst of Altai Mountains, the Hökh Serkhiin Nuruu and Tsambagarav Uul National Parks. Once we arrive we will check-in at Eagle’s Nest Hotel and spend the rest of the day sight-seeing.

3/FRIDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER—EXCURSION

Exploration of the surrounding countryside and Ölgii village. We will visit a mosque, a bazaar, and a local museum.

4/SATURDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER—OPENING CEREMONY

The Eagle festival starts this day near the village of Sagsai. It is a spectacle of eagles being released from the hills, hunting for a fox skin and so on. You will also be able to watch the traditional horse game “Bouzkhasi”, which is tug-of-war with a goat carcass on a horseback.

5/SUNDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER—EAGLE FESTIVAL

Enjoy another full day at the festival. You will see eagles fly to their owners hand to catch the moving objects or prey while flying. Today there will also be a camel race. In the evening, you will attend a concert presented by a traditional Kazakh group and enjoy a farewell dinner.

6/MONDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER—TO ULAANBAATAR

Transfer to Ölgii airport and fly back to Ulaanbaatar (3½ hours).

7/TUESDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER—ULAANBAATAR

A.m. Visit to Gandan Lamasery, center for the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia. Next we will stop at Sukhbaatar Square, where the Parliament building is located as well as the statues of Sukhbaatar and Genghis Khan. We will spend the rest of the day by visiting the National Museum of Mongolia.

8/WEDNESDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER—DEPARTURE

Transfer to the airport for the international flight out.

DATES EX ULAANBAATAR:

11 September – 18 September 2019.

PRICE EX ULAANBAATAR:

2 – 12 members: USD 2400 per person

Single supplement (7n): USD 280

TRANSPORT:
This tour is supported by a jeep or minibus depending on the number of travelers.

ACCOMMODATION:
For early bookings there will be space at the only new small hotel sporting ten rooms with attached facilities. If the flight schedules are unfavourable, we will stay in a small two-star hotel in Hovd.

OPERATIONS:
Domestic flight days and times are confirmed latest in April. It means you may fly to any of Ölgii, Hovd or Ulaangom airports.

STAFF:
An English-speaking Mongolian guide will accompany you at all times. Other language guides such as Russian, French, German, Italian, Korean etc. available at additional cost, upon request.

MEALS:
Our cook will prepare the meals. We pride ourselves in having excellent cooks adept at both western and Mongolian cooking on our trips. There is no problem accommodating vegetarians on our trips.

INCLUDES:
Guide. All meals outside the Ulaanbaatar. Breakfast every day in Ulaanbaatar. Domestic flight. All transfers.

EXCLUDES:
Beverages, lunch and dinner in Ulaanbaatar. Air or train tickets in and out of Mongolia.