Olgiy Eagle Hunting Festival
Olgiy Eagle Hunting Festival Reviews
Oct 01, 2005
The best single thing we did in our year travelling the world was to join a tour to go to a Kazakh Eagle Hunting Festival in the Olgiy province of western Mongolia.
This was a two week tour, in which we spent some time seeing the sights of Ulaan Baatar, did a horse riding trip in Terelj National Park, and spent around one week in Olgiy province where we did some camping, visited local families (including one where we got to hold an eagle), and spent two days at the Eagle Festival itself
We booked a tour with Nomads Tours, which is based in Ulaan Baatar. Compared to the cost of the rest of our year away, the cost of this tour was astronomical, and I fully expected to regret having spent so much of our budget for the whole year on a two week tour. We'd also moved our dates to coincide with this tour, so it was a pretty central part of our planning. Luckily I didn't have anything to worry about.
The festival consisted of two days of displays of eagle hunting techniques, along with archery and several other traditional sports. My personal favourite was a tug-o-war game played with a goat's carcass.
The tour wasn't the best organised; I think it was the first time that the company had run this particular tour. Having said that, we joined what we thought was going to be a group tour, but no-one else must have signed up because in the end it was just the two of us, with a staff of five to look after us. We got looked after extremely well: all our meals cooked, or taken out to nice restaurants; guided round everywhere, so that we never had language problems (this wasn't a guided tour in the true sense, though - I don't like guided tours). We spent a couple of really run evenings sitting in the camper van drinking vodka with our drivers and guide.
If you like wide open spaces and experiencing different cultures then I would really recommend considering a trip to Mongolia. It's like no other place I've been. A lot of the people are still truly nomadic, with a very different way of life to us. You can book this trip through at least a couple of different companies, and I'm sure that there are other equally amazing things to do in Mongolia. If you want to save money then it pays to book trips after you've arrived in Mongolia; there is still a good range of options available. It would be difficult to get to the eagle festival like that, although we did meet a guy who'd managed to do it by hitching across the country!
Part of the Round the World: 2005-2006 (St Petersburg to Hong Kong) travel blog
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