In-Depth Mongolia: In the Footsteps of Eagle Hunters and Nomads
In-Depth Mongolia: In the Footsteps of Eagle Hunters and Nomads

Trip Synopsis:
Mongolia is a land of untamed natural beauty, vast open spaces, a proud and welcoming people, and one of the last bastions of nomadic horse culture left on the planet. Although it is the size of western Europe, Mongolia has a population of less than 3 million people with 45% of the population residing in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Thus, Mongolia has the distinction of being the least population dense country in the world (less than 5 people per square mile). Today’s Mongolia is a complex mix of the exotic and traditional coupled with the modern. Across the grand landscapes, influences ranging from the old days of Ghenghis Khan and the mongol hordes to the later interactions with China, Tibet, Russia and most recently, western nations can be seen in virtually all aspects of everyday living. However, once outside the hustle and bustle of the capital of Ulaanbataar, one is transported almost immediately back in time to a place where nomadic life is centered around the traditional family ger (yurt) and the tending to one’s animals, all amidst the natural grandeur of endless steppes and numerous mountainscapes. Quite simply, wild Mongolia is a place that rejuvenates the spirit of independence and adventure.
               
In depth MongoliaIt is in the rural countryside and mountains of Mongolia, far from the distractions of the capital city, among the traditional nomads and eagle hunters that we will focus our explorations. Close contact and extensive immersion into traditional Mongolian culture is the goal of this unique photography oriented trip.

Our accommodations will include staying with a mix of local families, at frontier hotels, in traditional ger camps as well as at our own private camping areas. Traveling in this fashion will help ensure we are exposed to a wide and varied world of authentic and captivating photographic opportunities. Considerable time and effort has been put forth in establishing close relationships with local families. This will allow for unique insider access rather than settling for many of the common tourist trips that seem content with viewing Mongolia and its people from a distance.

Of critical importance, we have timed this unique trip to coincide with the annual Sagsai Eagle Hunting Festival. Nestled away in the far northwest corner of Mongolia, near the borders of China, Russia and Khazakstan, we will spend five full days in the wild and remote landscapes of the Altai, learning about and photographing the traditions and culture of the Kazakh eagle hunters and local nomads. Kazakhs are the largest minority group in Mongolia.

In depth MongoliaOn two of these days, we will spend our time at the Sagsai Eagle Festival. The festival is a celebration of  Kazakh and Mongolian culture and focuses on the speed, agility and accuracy of the ‘berkut’ (the female Golden Eagle) along with a variety of other uniquely Mongolian skill-based competitions. The events are truly exciting to witness and the festival provides you with a wealth of cultural experiences as you mix in with the company of small town folk, nomads and the Kazakh hunters. Having two full days at the festival to take in the rich diversity of photographic subject matter means we can enjoy the day’s events in a relaxed and no pressure pace. If one misses a specific photo opp, chances are you will be able to capture or experiment with new images the following day. We are free to roam, and explore the day’s photo opportunities and for those inclined, encouraged by our expedition leader to get up close and personal with the various traditional events taking place right at ground level. This is where the action images take place and not for the faint of heart but certainly puts you in a position to get some heart pounding exciting imagery.

At a Glance:

Dates: Sept 10th-24th including 2 travel days.
Cost: $7900. A deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot.
Trip Leader: Scott Davis
Group Size: Small Group Size of only 6 participants not including leader. Having a small group size will help ensure maximum photographic opportunities within a small intimate setting.
Number of Days: 14 days total including estimated travel time.

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