Price

$5397 AUD per person

Single supplement available on request

Inclusions

  • Return airport transfers
  • 13 nights accommodation
  • 13 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches, 13 Dinners
  • English speaking local certified Guide
  • Bottled water
  • Private transportation
  • Entrance fees
  • Domestic flights Ulaanbaatar/Ulgii/Ulaanbaatar
  • Eagle Festival fee

Exclusions

  • International and domestic flights
  • Visas
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • All services, meals other than those indicated above
  • Personal porters
  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc

Join us and adventure travel photographer and expedition doctor, Andrew Peacock for Mongolia's Eagle festival, or Golden Eagle festival, an annual traditional festival where Kazakh eagle hunters (Burkitshi) celebrate their heritage and compete to catch small animals such as foxes and hares with specially trained golden eagles, showing off the skills both of the birds and their trainers. Prizes are awarded for speed, agility and accuracy, as well as for the best traditional Kazakh dress, and more.

Combine this fascinating festival with trekking through the rocky mountainous terrain as well as Mongolia’s highest peaks and largest glaciers. Mingle with nomads as you learn their way of life and the challenges of living off the land. With Andrew sharing his expert knowledge on wildlife photography, he will run several workshops throughout the itinerary educating you on how to capture moving wildlife as well as improve your camera skills with your own equipment.

Andrew first began to explore the world around him through a camera lens while working as a doctor on voluntary assignments in the mountains of Nepal and India. Now he uses his medical and outdoor adventure skills to find ways to explore new corners of the globe and tell those stories through photography.
As an adventure travel photographer, his intent is to create images that tell stories of human exploration and adventure in areas of natural beauty and wonder. Andrew's
 inspiration comes from the activities, landscapes, wildlife and people of the outdoor world.

Andrew's work has appeared in the Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Outer Edge Magazine, Outdoor Australia, Virtuoso Traveler and Zenfolio Pro Team to name a few. In 2016, Andrew was also a finalist in Australian Geographic's ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year and is also a Ted's Camera's Australia Master. Andrew's wonderful adventure travel photography can be found at http://www.footloosefotography.com/

Andrew Peacock Crooked Compass

Day 1 - Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

Welcome to Mongolia! Upon arrival, you will be met at Chinggis Khaan International Airport and transferred to your hotel in the centre of Ulaanbaatar (which the locals call “UB”), the capital of Mongolia. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure. This evening you will enjoy a welcome dinner where you’ll meet your fellow travellers and your guide will give a briefing on the adventures to come. (D)

Overnight Bayangol Hotel or similar

Day 2 - Petroglyphs of Baga Oigor

Today you’ll take a three-hour flight to Bayan-Olgii Province, where 90% of the population is Muslim Kazakh. Upon arrival in the capital city, Olgii, you will make you way to Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, in a Russian 4×4 van! At 6,300 square kilometres, this spectacular National Park boasts mountainous landscapes, numerous glaciers, freshwater lakes and artefacts from prehistoric civilisations.

Continue your Russian powered drive across desert plains, alongside rugged mountains, then through deep mountain valleys before arriving at Baga Oigor Valley to view one of the largest rock art galleries in Asia. These Petroglyphs date back to the Stone and Bronze ages and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans an area of 15km long and 500m across. Here you will see carvings depicting wild and domestic animals and scenes of human life, including hunting, animal husbandry and religious rituals.

It is here within Baga Oigor Valley that you will set up camp. Spend the rest of the day exploring the rock carvings before returning to camp to enjoy dinner in the great outdoors of western Mongolia! (B,L,D)

Overnight camping in tent

Day 3 - Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

Today you will continue travelling through the national park for another half day. Andrew will run a workshop with you this morning before setting. Along the way you will likely see large white domes dotting the landscape, these are the portable homes of the nomadic Kazakh people, called ‘Ger’, but the population you’ll see most will be herds of sheep and goats, with a few clusters of horses, cattle and camels too.

 

This afternoon, drive back to Ulgii. (approx 240kms by dirt road 7-7.5 hours) You will arrive late evening at around  7pm. Enjoy a traditional Kazakh dinner in the evening. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a local hotel

Day 4 - Eagle Festival

Today is the first day of the Eagle Festival and you will mingle with the locals who have come to celebrate their unique cultural heritage.

Witness Kazakh hunters in all their glory, and see a parade of falconers on horseback, their prized eagles perched on their arms. After the parade, each hunter will demonstrate how well their bird obeys his commands by placing his eagle on a nearby cliff edge and calling it from below. It’s a spectacular sight to see these birds of prey soar down to their owners and alight on their arms.

In the afternoon, watch an exciting race of Amblers, a highly valued type of Mongolian horse known for its quick cantor.

The festival continues into the evening, and you will have the opportunity to attend a local concert where there will be performances of traditional Kazakh songs and dances. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a local hotel

Day 5 - Eagle Festival

This morning after breakfast you will head out for another fascinating day at the Eagle Festival. Today you will witness trained golden eagles display their speed and agility. To test their eagles’ skills, hunters drag a fox skin behind their horse, and the fastest eagle to land on the skin is considered the best hunter.

You will also be offered the opportunity to participate in some traditional Kazakh games, such as aitis, a poetry duel; kyzkuar, a dating game played on horseback; and kokpar, a team sport played on horseback with a goatskin – some of you may know it as ‘goat polo’, the national sport of Afghanistan! (B,L,D)

Overnight in a local hotel

Day 6 - Return to Ulaanbaatar

Today you will bid farewell to your Kazakh hosts and fly back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel, the rest of the day is at your leisure. This evening Andrew will run a second photography workshop. (B,L,D)

Overnight Bayangol Hotel or similar

Day 7 - Dalanzadgad

Following breakfast, today is a full drive day as you make your way to Dalanzadgad which is a 580km drive of approx 10-11 hours and the base for explorations into the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park.. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Dundgobi province. (B,L,D)

Overnight Gobi Oasis 1 Ger Camp

Day 8 - Khongor Sand Dune via Yol Valley and Gurvan Saikhan National Park

In the morning, drive to Yol Valley (approx 45km). Learn about the local wildlife in the Natural History Museum before taking a gentle hike through the valley to discover their habitats. This valley is nestled deep within the hills and is a safe haven to get away from the desert heat. Some areas of the valley are continually sheltered from the hot sun and house huge, blocks of ice that gradually melt away during the summer. It is very wide at the entrance and narrows gradually into a remarkable gorge. You will get to see wild animals such as ibex and wild sheep, and the vulture. You can go horseback or camel riding around the area and go trekking to the gorge. Afternoon, continue to the towering sand dunes of Khongor 180kms 4-5 hours, home to the ‘Singing Sands’. These spectacular dunes got their name from the noise made by the shifting sand in the wind. Feel the breeze in your hair as you ride a camel across the dunes before returning to the ger camp. Isolated from the rest of the country, the Singing Sands are the best kept secret for thousand years in the history of Mongolia. (B,L,D)

Overnight at Gobi Erdene Ger camp

Day 9 - Flaming Cliffs & Khavtsgait Petroglyphs

Drive to Flaming Cliffs which are located 20km from Bulgan country; a lot of Paleontological findings have been discovered here. The place is known as ‘Flaming Cliffs’ and was named by Roy Chapman Andrews, an American explorer who had visited Mongolia in 1922 and over the course of two years he searched throughout the Mongolian Gobi Desert and found dinosaur fossils and dinosaur eggs about 10-15 cm. It was the first discovery of its scale and kind in the world that had been made at the time. In the afternoon we drive to the site of the Khavtsgait Petroglyphs (approx 60km). The Khavtsgait Petroglyphs from theBronze Age (4000-3000 BC) are beautifully carved on many rocks on the top of a sacred mountain. It is easy to find the rock paintings there because they are spread on rocks all around. The area is very rocky and can be slippery to climb, but by carefully following a path up the mountain, you can reach the top to see these beautiful rock paintings. The petroglyphs were carved and painted with motifs consisting of animals, hunting scenes and weapons. They depict various animals related to everyday life of ancient people including deer, bears, wolves and hunters, and wolves with livestock. Other paintings depict more domestic scenes of yaks pulling carts, the wheels and horses flattened sideways like hieroglyphs, and herders on horseback. The engravings vary in size, ranging from two-centimetres to the real life size of horses. After the rest, we will visit a herder family nearby. We will spend some time there getting to know the family members and their casual yet unique daily lifestyle. It is a good chance to see how the family members co-operate together to do their daily even hourly chores such as milking mares, fencing and milking the goats. If you wish, you are welcome to try some mare’s fermented milk and other dairy products. (B,L,D)

Overnight at Mongol Gobi Ger Camp

Day 10 - Temple ruin of Ongi & trekking

Travel to Ongi temple ruins which is approx 140km away. Formerly one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, Ongi monastery was founded in 1660 and consisted of two temple complexes on the North and South banks of the Ong river. The older southern complex consisted of various administrative buildings as well as 11 temples. The northern complex built in the 18th century, consisted of 17 temples-among them one of the largest temples in all Mongolia. The Ongi monastery grounds also 4 Buddhist universities and could accommodate over one thousand monks at a time. During the 1930’s communism spread throughout Mongolia. As part of their ideological campaign and rise to power, communists arrested most monks in Mongolia. In 1939 Ongi monastery was completely destroyed and over 200 monks were killed and many surviving monks were imprisoned or forced to join the communist controlled army.

Other monks escaped an almost certain death by becoming farmers and common workers. The water from the river was re-routed to support a local mine, which were run by the Communist government. When the river dried out, local communities were forced to leave surrounding areas of monastery. With the departure of both monks and locals, Ongi monastery seemed destined to disappear. However, after the democratisation of Mongolia in 1990, three monks returned to Ongi monastery where they had begun their Buddhist education as young children some 60 years prior. These monks started laying new foundations upon the old ruins, with a vision to restore Ongi monastery and revitalise Buddhism in Mongolia. (B,L,D)

Overnight in Secret of Ongi Ger camp

Day 11 - Kharakhorum

Today you will travel approx 260km to Kharakhorum. Visit the largest and first Mongolian Buddhist temple complex of Erdene Zuu. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a local Ger Camp

Day 12 - Khustai Nuruu National Park

Travel to Khustai National Park approx 280km away.  Its 50,620-hectare reserve protects Mongolia’s wild horse, the takhi, and the reserve’s steppe and forest-steppe environment. The Takhi, or Przewalski horse, is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of Central Asia. Once declared extinct in the 1960’s it has now been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia. In addition to the takhi, the reserve is home to populations of maral (Asiatic red deer), steppe gazelle, deer, boar, manul (small wild cat), wolves and lynx (B,L).

Overnight in a local Ger Camp

Day 13 - Ulaanbaatar

Following an early morning breakfast, we are driving back to Ulaanbaatar. The rest of the day is at leisure. (B,L,D)

Overnight Bayangol Hotel or similar

Day 14 - Departure

Today is at leisure until it is time to transfer to the airport for your onward departure. (B)