This is an unparalleled off-the-path cultural adventure that highlights the social, cultural and geographic diversity and wealth that Mongolia possesses! Hidden in valleys beyond the snow-capped western mountain ranges are kazakh families that still to this day carry-on the ancient socio-cultural and traditional practices of their ancestors. Kazakh men continue the training of Eagles from an early age for both sport and hunting practices, while the elderly women pass-on the ancient traditional arts & crafts, such as the age old embroidery skills to their daughters. Kazakh Gers a well-known for their elaborate & decorative nomadic dwellings furnished with beautiful wall-hangings which adds to the warmth of the family’s environment. In these truly special geographic environs, you will greatly enjoy learning all the elements that makes up their unique and very traditional lifestyle.
Community Fee: $291 USD for 8 days/ 7 nights
Additional In-Country Travel Expenses
Taxi fare between airport and guest house (2 ways - 2 to 4 persons): $8.7 USD
UB to Bayan Olgii Bus: $51USD
Optional (UB to Bayan Olgii Airplane - Round Trip): $452USD
Rural jeep to first ger and pickup (2-4paxs): $242 USD
Note: Jeep cost can be divided by number of persons
Booking & travel orientation w/ handbook: $25 USD
Day One - Authentic Turkish Dinner and Overnight in Bayan Olgii: Whether by air or by land, the arrival to Bayan Olgii is stunning, surrounded by mountains the town has a flowing river bending through it bringing it an element of uniqueness to other villages throughout Mongolia. Upon arrival, our local facilitator will welcome you for reception dinner at the local Turkish restaurant after check-in at local hotel (5 kilometers from the airport). After delightful evening dinner, you will retire for the night - Bayan Olgii hotels are generally equipped with hot showers and good basic facilities, this is great opportunity to refresh yourself before your start your cultural adventure.
Day Two - Overland Travel across Stunning Mountain Landscapes to the remotely located Kazakh Family; well-known Eagle Trainer (D): Enjoy the hot morning shower and last hot western breakfast if you wish! Soon afterwards, the rural driver will pick you up from hotel and you will begin your unforgettable 160 kilometer journey across some most picturesque mountain landscapes to Mr. Aralbai’s family. Along the way, you will see a monument called “Hasbaatar” on the top of the hill - Mr. Hasbaatar was an army officer with great military capabilities during the people’s revolution. In the summer of 1941, he successfully led his soldiers and fought bravely against the larger White Russian forces for 42 days at Tolbo Lake. The monument was dedicated to all soldiers who died defending the country. In addition, you will continue your overland travel along the scenic bank of Huvd River which is home to amazing rock formations as well as two stone statues known as “Zagtiin Am” and “Tsagaan Khoshoot” which was formed some 1,300 years ago.
This late afternoon you will have an enjoyable time with your Kazakh family over dinner - who knows maybe even get an opportunity to take some photos with the eagle at sunset (best light for stylistic photography). No worries, Mr. Aralbai will teach you how to hold the eagle with the “biyalai” or “glove” and even show you how to feed it as well as taking on and off the eagle’s hood that covers the eyes and head.
Day Three - Horseback Riding via Picturesque Mountain Valleys to the next Nomadic Family and learn more about Kazakh Ger Decorations (B, L,D): After breakfast, you will start your 10 kilometer horseback ride to Mr. Arginbai’s family across a diverse range of picturesque mountain valley landscapes and rocks formations. Upon arrival at Mr. Arginbai’s family, you will be served a Kazakh lunch and hot traditional tea. Afterwards, Mrs. Seouillinkhan will show you how to make traditional sewing decorations for Kazakh Gers. In the evening, you will have an enjoyable dinner with the family and learn how play a Kazakh traditional game called “Kumalaz” before you retire in your tent for the evening.
Day Four - Short Mountain Trek to Reach a Scenic Panoramic View of the Region: After breakfast, you will begin your 5 kilometer trek to next family via truly unforgettably beautiful panoramic views of the local terrain. Upon arrival, our family will welcome you a much deserved hot nomadic lunch and tea before Mr. Ahalbayl shows you how to play the Kazakh traditional musical instrument called the ‘Dombra’ and performs some traditional songs for you. In the evening, you will enjoy having a dinner with family members before retiring for the night in your cozy tent.
Day Five - Horseback Riding and Kazakh Card Games (B, L,D): After breakfast, you will start you 10 kilometer horseback trek to Mr. Yrmahan’s family to which the family will serve you a nomadic lunch and traditional tea. Today you can take it easy and feel free to play the traditional cards with family members before an enjoyable dinner - which is always a brilliant time to get to know the families as you will all eat together and most likely from the same Big Dish before retiring to your tent.
Day Six - Horseback Riding and Evening of Local Folk Songs (B, L,D): Today is a wonderful cultural opportunity so just after your breakfast, you will continue your 10 kilometer journey by horseback to the next family. Upon arrival in the afternoon at Mr. Berdibulat’s family, they will prepare and welcome you Kazakh lunch and hot tea. After a good local meal, Mrs. Janerke will show you how to make “Termei” using traditional Kazakh sewing tools as well as take you through the process of how to make a Kazakh dairy product. Later that evening, Mr. Bertibulat may perform a little folk song called “Kara Olei” while you are being served a dinner.
Day Seven - Return to Olgii Town and Visit the Local Highlights (B): After breakfast, you will start you 160 kilometers overland jeep journey back to Bayan Olgii. Along the way, you will have a chance to pull out your camera and have a great day taking shots of “Bayan Nuur” Lake and some other small lakes. Upon arrival to Olgii Town, you will check into your hotel and have plenty of time in the afternoon to visit the local museum, the local mosque which was built in 1992, Kazakh Handicraft Cooperative where you can learn the process of making embroideries (bags, wall hanging, items for eagles, Kazakh silver belt, hats and other garments). On this day feel free to bring a little extra cash to purchase souvenirs from the handicraft shop as well as anything else you would like to get from the local shops before returning to your hotel for the evening.
Day Eight - Depart Back to Ulaanbaatar: In the morning, our driver will take you to the bus station or airport before you part your ways and say farewell to one another.
All traditional Kazakh breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
Visiting the number of Kazakh families according to itinerary
Horse riding according to itinerary
Cultural activities at families (learn how to sew the Termei, play the traditional game and listen to the folk songs etc)
Reception dinner at the Turkish restaurant
Two overnights at hotel
Local museum fee
All traditional Kazakh breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
Horse riding with an Eagle according to itinerary
Cultural actvities at families
English speaking guide
Reception dinner and lunch at the Turkish restaurant
Two overnights at guest house
Visiting Kazakh craft shop
Local museum fee
Camping equipments /sleeping bag, mattress and tent/
Transportation costs which stated in additional expenses
Orientation lesson fee
Mongolian Cultural Travel Tips & Information
Horseback Riding in Mongolia
Mongolia's Gobi Desert Camels
Mongolians and horses have historically co-exist since the early times and It’s impossible to imagine Mongolians without horses. There are many horse related folk legends, stories about horses, epic literature and songs written about horses. Mongolians prohibit the cursing of horses, beating horses and whipping of horses on their heads and chests. Mongolia’s horse culture according to their traditions teaches to show to respect to the horse during its life and honorifically place the horse’s head on an Ovoo or other sacred place to show their respect to the nobility of their horse’s life. The head of a horse is often decorated with white stones or horse dung. Heads of especially fast racing horses are usually wrapped in a blue scarf. The Mongolian traditional horse head fiddle further glorifies the station of the horse by its artistic design and traditional sounds. The culture of the Mongolian horse even spreads to embroidery, handicraft, wooden carving, metal and silver crafts – Mongolia’s respect of the horse can be found everywhere throughout the country.
The world’s rare two-humped Mongolian Bactrian Camel is considered to be the tolerant and noble animal among five animals (horse, cow, sheep, goat and camel) and is sand colored herbivores mainly found in the Gobi Desert region of Mongolia. Mongolia leads the number of Bactrian camels in the world and Mongolian camels were domesticated in olden days and are traditionally used as nomadic transport. When Mongolian camels are used for nomadic transportation their noses are pegged and they are outfitted with a leading rein, halter, saddle, saddle cloth and stairs. Mongolian camels weight is between 400-800kg and camel meat is low in fat and lean. Mongolian camel milk is a staple food for Gobi Desert nomads and is more rich in fat and protein than cow’s milk. A female camel produces about 3 to 4 liters of milk a day; camel milk can readily be made into airag (fermented beverage), hoormog (yogurt diluted with milk) and dried curds. Mongolian camel wool is produced as a natural insulation against the cold and easily sheds in the heat. Mongolian camel wool has unique characteristics of silky softness and strength.
Riding Mongolian Camels
Mongolian nomads say that it’s much closer to the sun from the top of the tallest animal of desert - so while you are riding a Mongolian camel you will always have a panoramic view of the Gobi Desert. Generally, Mongolia’s camel guides are Mongolian nomads that are born and live in the Gobi Desert. Mongolians often start to ride camels at a very early age and have plenty of experience to share with you about how to saddle, groom and command to lay down a camel to mount and dismount. During your camel trek, you can help the Mongolian nomad by looking after your camel; learn how to groom it, saddle and unsaddle it as well as bring water and feed it. Kind attention between the camel and the rider always contributes towards establishing a close. Almost any traveler can ride a camel (in reasonable physical condition) and learn how to control it quickly – though its highly recommended to review the camel riding tips that can be found in the Ger to Ger Travelers’ Handbook. Its good to apply your knowledge and practice on a camel with a Mongolian nomad around their Ger (traditional dwelling) before starting a long trek. A camel trek could cover between 5 to 25kms a day between nomadic families or even for a short roundtrip for sightseeing.