Mongolia_Reindeer People 2


Golden Eagle Hunters

In the rugged embrace of western Mongolia, the annual Golden Eagle Festival at the end of September presents ancient traditions against the breathtaking backdrop of the region’s highlands.

Bayan-Ulgii province on the border of Mongolia, China and Russia, boasts towering peaks and awe-inspiring landscapes that leave visitors spellbound. Ulgii city, the capital, is the vibrant cultural hub of the ethnic Kazakh people, offering tantalizing aromas from Turkish restaurants, a rich historical museum and bustling markets where Uighur melodies mingle with Kazakh spices and local artisans display colorful embroidery and handicrafts.

Just 110 kilometers south lies Altai Village, the home of skilled Golden Eagle Masters such as B.Dalaikhan, an eighth generation eagle hunter whose bond with these majestic birds is a testament to years of training and tradition.

Against the majestic Altai mountains, the festival’s opening ceremony is a remarkable sight with eagle hunters parading in splendid attire, their noble eagles perched proudly on their arms. Traditional competitions, including horse races, wrestling and feats of eagle mastery, captivate spectators, while skilled women riders and playful Kiz Kuar horse-chase games add to the excitement.

The festival’s grand finale, marked by a communal dinner, is an open invitation to all those present to immerse themselves in the warmth of Kazakh hospitality. Beyond the competitions, the scenic journey to Bayan-Ulgii offers a fascinating and intimate look into the Kazakh way of life, as well as a breathtaking visual odyssey to the majestic western Mongolian landscape. 

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