Nomadic Lifestyle Unveiled: A Journey into Mongolia’s Traditional Culture


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.

Sunset over Mongolian grasslands
Sunset over Mongolian grasslands


A Nomadic Life

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

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.

A rider in traditional clothing with a golden eagle
A rider in traditional clothing with a golden eagle

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.

The Reindeer Tribes of Mongolia

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.

A traditional Reindeer Tribe yurt
A traditional Reindeer Tribe yurt

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.

The Naadam Festival

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.

Women's archery competition at the Naadam Festival
Women’s archery competition at the Naadam Festival

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.