Are you looking for a unique travel experience like no other? If you’re tired of visiting the cities that are always loud and busy, perhaps it’s time to get off the beaten track. One of East Asia’s often misunderstood countries is Mongolia, and it offers a cultural experience you’ll never forget.
From eagle hunting displays to experiencing the nomadic lifestyle of the Reindeer Tribes, many life-changing experiences are just waiting to be discovered in Mongolia. Let’s take a look at some of the fascinating things you can see and do in the stunning and diverse Mongolia.
Mongolia is known for its sweeping grasslands and desert plains. This picturesque landscape forms the backdrop of nomadic Mongolian culture. While the country has its fair share of bustling cities too, experiencing the nomadic lifestyle is a cultural experience not to be missed in Mongolia.
Traditional ger stays or tourism established ger camps can be found across the countryside, with many communities still maintaining a nomadic way of life. Upon visiting Mongolia, you’ll have the opportunity to stay in various ger camps depending on the experience you choose.
For example, while exploring the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, you can spend time living with a nomadic family. This authentic experience lets you see what life is like for these ultra-resilient nomadic tribes that have stood the test of time in often harsh environments. Our guides are with you the whole time to assist with translation, but this is a chance to really get involved in the lifestyle, helping local nomadic Mongols collect water, care for animals and prepare traditional cuisine.
Experiencing nomadic life is perspective-shifting for most people, and it’s the perfect way to understand more about Mongolian traditions that date back centuries.
The Golden Eagle Festival is a drawcard to Mongolia, but it’s far from ordinary. Eagle hunting dates back centuries, and countless experienced hunters still perfect the craft today. Most eagle festivals begin with a horse race followed by a parade where hunters on horseback show off their traditional Kazakh dress. Prizes are even awarded for the most elaborate and beautiful adornments, but the other stars of the show aren’t left out for too long.
Eagle hunters place their eagles on a nearby cliff edge before calling them to perch on their arms below. This, however, is just part of the festival. The real action begins with a traditional eagle hunting display, where hunters on horseback drag a fox skin behind them. The fastest bird to land on the skin is considered the best hunter.
With colourful dress, traditional food and music, not to mention the spectacular eagle hunting displays, eagle festivals are a must-see when you travel Mongolia. You’ll even witness some other Kazakh games, such as aytis, which is a poetry duel and also kyz kuu, a unique dating game on horseback.
We’ve already touched on the nomadic lifestyle of Mongolian people. However, one group is perhaps even lesser-known than Mongolian nomads. The Tsaachin tribe resides mostly in northern Mongolia, and although their numbers have dwindled with time, several tribesmen and women still maintain a truly nomadic lifestyle.
Rather than living in gers, which are the usual form of nomadic housing, the Tsaachin live in teepees. They share a deep connection to the reindeer they raise, hence their more commonly known name, The Reindeer Tribes.
Reindeers provide the Tsaachin with milk for cheese, antlers for carving and medicine, and meat. However, they have also begun hunting and foraging as a means of survival. The harsh landscapes they live and move in are unforgiving, but the Tsaachin culture is also rich in shamanism, rituals and spiritual healing.
If you’d like to experience life amongst the Reindeer Tribes, contact Crooked Compass today. We provide supplemental income for the tribes and cultural exchange for travellers like no other.
While we’re on the topic of festivals, Mongolia is home to a cultural event that occurs every year in June, known as the Naadam Festival. This event focuses on three traditional sports – archery, wrestling and horse racing. Nadaam celebrates all aspects of Mongolian culture, not just these famed sporting events.
Unique, colourful costumes combine traditional rituals for a breathtaking event, highlighting the country’s rich cultural heritage. You’ll witness traditional dances and music, including the famous Khoomei singing, and you’ll see the accuracy of local archers first-hand.
Best of all, locals and visitors are welcome and encouraged to participate. So, if you want to get involved in the celebrations, you can be more than just an onlooker.
If you’d like an authentic Mongolian experience where you can experience nomadic life, explore picturesque national parks, grasslands and deserts and immerse yourself wholly in Mongolian culture, we have tours for you. Our relationships with nomadic clans and our vast experience in the country give you an unforgettable travel experience that’s truly like no other. Contact the team at Crooked Compass today, or check out our range of Mongolian cultural tours.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.