Authentic eagle-hunting is only done during the winter months when the snow covers helps the birds spot fleeing prey – it is when the prey animals have thick winter coats which are used to make warm clothing. After the first snow, the hunters ride out in search of game, wandering around in the rugged landscape with their eagles on their arms. They often take young boys with them to help flush out the game.
As soon as an escaping fox or marmot is seen, the hunter sends his eagle into the air in pursuit. The bird then makes sure the target is not going to overpower it before swooping down in one long swift strike, falling onto the spine of the escaping animal. The bird catches the prey and waits for the hunter to finish the animal off. Sometimes the prey animal fights for its life, and the eagle becomes the prey …
While such hunting results in beautiful thick furs to make warm clothing, the hunt is not done for financial gain. Hunters take great pride in owning clever, quick, and brave eagles.
During this traveling adventure, you will get to experience the thrill of the hunt with these Kazakh nomads and their magnificent golden eagles. This hunt will lead you far into the mountainous regions of Bayan-Ulgii where you will witness firsthand a unique tradition which has survived for centuries in this remote corner of Central Asia, all whilst experiencing the unique brand of Kazakh hospitality.
DAY 1: Ulgii
- Catch an early flight to Ulgii from Ulaanbaatar
- Visit the local outdoor market (bazaar) and museum
- Sample local restaurants for lunch and dinner
- Stay in a Bear Valley camp or hotel
DAY 2: Hunting
- Drive to the village of Altantsogts to stay with an eagle-hunter and his family
- Go hunting everyday, riding horseback along with the hunter as he explores the mountains in every direction in search of prey
- Visit with Iris, one of the most famous and experience eagle-hunters in the region
- Iris has been hunting for more than 35 years and now he focuses on passing the craft onto the next generation of hunters
DAY 3: Back to Ulgii
- Drive back to Ulgii through the Khovd River Valley, making stops to investigate ancient deer stones and Turkic stone men (balbals)
- Stay in Bear Valley ger camp outside of Ulgii and enjoy a traditional Kazakh concert and “beshbarmak,” the Kazakh national dish.