Behind the Scenes on a Mongolian Photography Tour
Mongolia is a vast central Asian country boasting a rich history, with its most notable inhabitant the famous Genghis Khan whose 13th Century empire spread vast distances across Eurasia. Mongolia remains a wild, sparsely inhabited nation – indeed it is the world’s second largest landlocked country, and has one of the lowest population densities of any country on earth, with amazing wild scenery and a proud culture with a unique flair.
Our Mongolia photography tour focuses on an exclusive experience away from the influx of tourists as we stay with and photograph one of the world’s last true remaining traditional nomadic cultures, the Kazakh eagle hunters. It’s a culture tour par excellence that offers a different view on the people in this secluded region and a chance to mingle with a culture not found anywhere else in the world.
Which begs the question: just what have our ORYX guests been up to on this photography tour? Our trip focuses on the opportunities to learn and experience the traditions and culture of the Kazakh eagle hunters, and capture their daily lives. Surrounded by a juxtaposition of vast mountain ranges and outstretched plains, this area of Western Mongolia plays host to a fascinating insight into a way of life that is becoming increasingly rare in this day and age.
We have compiled a collection of some behind the scenes images of our guests out and about in this exotic world, as well as their general feedback about this cultural photo tour.
We look forwarding to seeing what 2018 has in store!
“The Mongolia photo tour with ORYX is an adventure like no other. This trip took us deep into the Kazakh culture in western Mongolia, well beyond the Eagle Hunter Festival that draws most visitors. Before the festival we spent four nights living with eminent eagle hunters and their multigenerational families. We were with them as they took meals, shoed horses, milked cows, and harvested animals from their herds. After sunset photo strolls, we helped drive the goats home for the night. We thus arrived at the event as well-connected insiders. In our private tent we hosted eagle hunters and celebrities including Aisholpan Nurgaiv, star of the documentary ‘The Eagle Huntress.’ The two-day festival itself is beyond description, and not just because of the mesmerizing competitions involving eagles, horses and humans. There is non-stop action everywhere you look. Scores of mounted hunters roam the grounds with enormous birds on their arms. Silk-clad archers display their prowess near vendors selling colorful hand-crafted items at attractive prices. You can hear five languages in five minutes. Best of all, there is nearly no restriction on where and what you can shoot. Leading our tour was Sam Reinders, a seasoned pro shooter who taught us to become better photographers both through instruction and by example; she also was unwavering in her determination to get us into the best position for great shots. The tour staff was marvelous, a true team eager to respond to any request. Travel in Mongolia can be unpredictable, and they always had a backup plan based on local knowledge. They also sparked spontaneous, unforgettable experiences with local residents as we drove through the magnificent countryside. Overall this is an extraordinary, unforgettable value in the photo expedition category.” – Thom Elkjer
“Our Mongolia photography tour was a trip like no other! Although it was tough in many ways, the experience was totally incredible. Watching first-hand the lives of the hardworking nomad families we stayed with and experiencing the unique culture of eagle hunting was truly remarkable. The added poignancy of the death of an eagle, made it emotional even. This trip has made a lasting impression. Team ORYX was a fun lot and what could’ve descended to a week of grumbles and complaints never happened. Everyone got on well with each other. Marius was a fabulous lead – jovial, funny, ever willing to impart his photography skills, he made the trip that much more enjoyable.” – Shobha Gopinath
“Our photo tour was amazing, and Sam and the ground team were just wonderful! Travelling with a pro taught me that I have much to learn and this was a great beginning.” – Antoinette Von Grone
“The Mongolia photo tour was fascinating, a trip which I will always remember with a smile on my face. Lovely group, Sam was just beautiful, tour guides and drives endlessly helpful and kind, I cannot praise everybody enough. We would happily recommend this tour to everybody, who wants great company, interesting people and see a totally different and interesting way of life. Thanks for arranging it so beautiful, you and your team deserve all the recognition! Sam was not just the prefect hostess, but also was extremely patient with us and taking photographs. Hope to go on another trip with your team soon. Keep well and successful (as you deserve!)” – Sabine Sarikhani
“We had an amazing time and can’t quite believe it is all over! Thank you to you and your team for the excellent organisation. Sam was absolutely wonderful!” – Ziba Sarikhani
“I had the time of my life on the Mongolia photography tour! The area of Western Mongolia is an enchanted place and I am blessed to have been able to experience their people and the landscapes.” – Tim Coy