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Mongolia – Eagle Hunters & Cultures of Western Mongolia Photo Tour 2021

Mongolia – Eagle Hunters & Cultures of Western Mongolia Photo Tour 2021

US$6,550 per person sharing

Spaces Available

Please note that costs for 2021 tours are subject to change (as not all our partner properties and local airlines have released their rates) – should we need to revise costs, we will endeavour to keep fees as close to original cost.

28 Sep 2021 – 7 Oct 2021

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, and we will be enjoying the amazing wild scenery and proud culture of this unique country.

Our Mongolia photography tour is focused on the Bayan Olgii Eagle Festival, where ethnic Kazakh hunters compete with their female Golden Eagles for prizes, awarded for amongst others, accuracy and speed of the eagles as well as the prowess of their handlers. This is a celebration of culture as well, with intricately adorned hunters marching on proud steeds with a background of vast open plains and mountains. However, our cameras will not be trained to these activities alone, and we may be entertained by archery and even the Bushkashi, which is a game played with a goatskin while on horseback!

Why this Photo Tour is for You

Destination Allure

Photograph the annual Golden Eagle Festival – a celebration of the Kazakh culture that focuses on speed, agility and accuracy of the “berkut”; the female Golden Eagle.

Month of Travel

Taking place in the first week of October, our tour is focused on the Bayan Olgii Eagle Festival, where ethnic Kazakh hunters compete with their female Golden Eagles for prizes, awarded for amongst others, accuracy and speed of the eagles as well as the prowess of their handlers. This is a celebration of culture as well, with intricately adorned hunters marching on proud steeds with a background of vast open plains and mountains.

Cultural Experience

Stay with and capture one of the world’s last true remaining traditional nomadic cultures: the Kazakh Eagle Hunters.

Small Group Departures

Travel on this Mongolia photo tour with like-minded individuals for a cultural experience like no other!

Guided experience

Local knowledge of the region and its inhabitants is key to crafting the ultimate photography tour experience. Combined with the photographic expertise of your ORYX Photo Tour Leader, and you are in for an adventure that will further fuel your excitement for photography and the destination.

Samantha Reinders

10 Days
6 Guests + 1 ORYX Leader
  • Destination
  • Departure
  • per person sharing
  • Photographic Highlights
    Expansive landscapes of Mongolia, Kazakh hunters and their Golden Eagles at the Bayan Olgii Eagle Festival, the cultures and people of Western Mongolia
  • Guide

Day 1: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

Today is set aside as our arrival day in Ulaanbaatar (“UB”) for our Mongolia photography tour. A melting pot of cultures and influences, and is a surprising mix of East meets West. Our time in the city will provide for a huge contrast to what we will experience in rural Mongolia!

Day 2: Flight from Ulaanbaatar to Olgii, onward drive to Ulaankhuus

Our Mongolia photography tour commences as we fly to Olgii, the provincial capital of Mongolia’s most western province – Bayan Olgii. From here we transfer out to Ulaankhuus and in this river valley, the Kazakh eagle hunters and their families have their winter pasture.

Day 3: Day spent with Ulaankhuus Kazakh Eagle Hunter family

Our day will be spent with a Kazakh Eagle Hunter family and photographing them and their traditional way of life. We have left the coming days flexible as it depends on the weather and the families own schedule. However, the focus on this photography tour is providing our guests with the opportunity to learn and experience the traditions and culture of the Kazakh eagle hunters.

Day 4 & 5: Drive Ulaankhuus to Sagsai area

This morning on our Mongolia photography tour, we will drive a short distance to Sagsai and for the next two nights we will be staying in the company of a community of Kazakh eagle hunters and their families. Herding is major portion of these people’s lives, and by living with and photographing our interesting hosts, we will gain a fascinating insight into a way of life that is becoming increasingly rare in this day and age.

Day 6: Sagsai to Olgii, attend the Golden Eagle Festival Day 1

Today we will drive from Sagai back to Olgii to attend the annual Golden Eagle Festival.

Day 7: Olgii, attend the Golden Eagle Festival Day 2

The festival is a celebration of the Kazakh culture and although a lot of the focus is on the eagle, the stature and appearance of hunter and horse are also of importance. The festival provides us with a wealth of cultural experience and photographic opportunities as we mix in the company of small-town folk, nomads and the Kazakh hunters that are attracted from far and wide to attend and watch.

Day 8: Olgii

Today on our Mongolia photo tour we have the option to simply relax and explore Olgii Town or continue to Bugat where we can spend the day with the Janatkhan family in the wild landscapes of a remote valley.

Day 9: Flight from Olgii back to Ulaanbaatar

We will return to Ulaanbaatar and use the remainder of our day to either relax at the hotel, or embark an excursion to visit UB’s infamous Black Market, or the National History Museum.

Day 10: Ulaanbaatar and depart

This marks the end of our Mongolia photography tour as we bid farewell to this unique nation and wing our way homeward!
MongoliaTim Coy, United States of America

I had the time of my life in Mongolia with Marius. Western Mongolia is an enchanted place and I am blessed to have been able to experience those people and that landscape. And I never thought I would travel with and work again with anyone as good as Dale Morris but Marius was every bit Dale’s equal. He was a joy to travel with and he taught me reams of good new stuff about photography.

MongoliaShobha Gopinath, Singapore

Mongolia 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.

MongoliaAntoinette Von Grone, Germany

Our trip 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.

MongoliaZiba Sarikhani, United Kingdom

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!

MongoliaSabine Sarikhani, United Kingdom

Mongolia 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 perfect 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!)

MongoliaThom Elkjer, United States of America

The Eagle Hunters Tour from 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. Overal this is an extraordinary, unforgettable value in the photo expedition category.

MongoliaTony & Susan Knowler, Canada

We are home now and trying to get over the jet lag. As for our trip with you – it was fantastic! We loved the home stays with the families. Very cozy and interesting. The drivers and crew were so good and we felt very well fed and taken care of. As for the Eagle festival itself – what an amazing experience! We just loved the different competitions and the whole atmosphere. Having the ger where local celebrities gathered for photos was excellent and we enjoyed that immensely. Just having a place to go to have a little rest every now and then was a comfort too. Sam could not have been more helpful with ideas for shots and ensuring we were not in need of anything. All in all it was a great trip and we would do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks so much for all your help in organizing things!

MongoliaChuck & Nancy Bell, United States of America

We had a fabulous experience in Mongolia! Again, we want to thank the ORYX team and especially Sam Reinders for such an outstanding tour!

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