4 - 12
This itinerary has options for you to extend & customise your experience before &/or after your holiday. See Itinerary for details.
During this tour, you will get to experience the unique and world famous Mongolian eagle festival in Sagsai.
The eagle hunting tradition is engrained in the cultural heritage of Central Asia with several Golden Eagle Festivals in Mongolia celebrating this tradition. On this fantastic adventure we will visit a smaller, privately arranged Golden Eagle Festival to avoid the crowds, which can be particularly appealing for photography enthusiasts.
The festival will take place in Sagsai, in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia where many of the population have Kazakh origins. Experience this remote and beautiful region, attend an interview with eagle hunters, and stay with local families in their cosy felt gers to learn about their nomadic way of life.
(Available as a small group tour or tailor-made holiday)
During the communist period in Kazakhstan, many Kazakhs fled to Mongolia and settled in Bayan-Ölgii Province, bringing with them their tradition of hunting with golden eagles. There are an estimated 250 eagle hunters in Bayan-Ölgii, which is located in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia. Their falconry custom involves hunting with golden eagles on horseback, primarily for red and corsac foxes during the cold winter months, when it is easier to see the gold-coloured foxes against the snow.
We will stay with local families in this community and take an amazing round trip adventure riding horses to the Altai Tavan Bogd base camp amongst the National Park’s stupendous mountain peaks in this vast frontier. We will also explore the capital Ulaanbaatar to see its temples, traditional dancing and feast on delicious Mongolian food.
This itinerary has options for you to extend & customise your experience before &/or after your holiday. See below for details.
3 star hotel
After transferring to our hotel (around 60 mins) we will take a tour of the capital, & largest city in Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar (Red Warrior), situated on the Tuul River, on a windswept plateau at an altitude of 1350m. It is a city of contrasts, where modern meets tradition and bustle meets Buddhism.
Included is the incredible Gandantegchinlen Buddhist Monastery (a Tibetan name that translates to 'Great Place of Complete Joy', that houses a 26.5-meter-high golden statue of Avalokiteśvara, a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. It was restored in 1990 and still functions as a monastery. The excellent museum also gives us a great overview of mongol history and the life and conquests of Chingiis Khan.
Tonight we enjoy our first group dinner, and stay in a modern and comfortable 3* hotel excellently located in the heart of the city.
3 star hotel
We take a short national flight to Ulgii (flight included), the capital of the Bayan-Ölgii Aimag (province) of Mongolia, located in the extreme west of the country, bordering the Russia Federation on the West & North, and China on the SW. It is a remote area with high Mountains; the Mongol Altai - Tavan Bogd mountains, whose peoples have a different culture from the Mongols; herding yaks and goats and hunting with trained eagles.
Around 90% of the population here are muslim Kazaks, although there are many ethnic groups also; Khalkh, Durvud, Uriankhai & Tuva.
We will be met at Ulgii airport by local drivers to take us to the local museum to learn more about our magnificent surroundings. This afternoon we visit our first Eagle hunter family to learn about their lifestyle & culture, before returning to our small local hotel in Ulgii.
We set off on a long drive this morning (200km) which can take up to 6 hours, but unlike a journey back home, the travel is part of the adventure.
Breathtaking views, and glimpses into how life is played out in this striking region, will keep you glued to the vehicle windows! We get a feel for the sheer magnitude of the country as we reach our destination; the gates of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park.
Tonight we will stay with local families, their eagles, horses and yaks in their gers (although not all together you will be pleased to know!).
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park affords stunning views of the snowy peaks marking the Mongolian border with Russia, with two large glaciers snaking their way down into an incredible valley, culminating in the milky river that flows out into the wide plains. It is also home to 'President Avoo', one of the nine holiest sites in Mongolia where visitors walk around it three times, throwing small stones onto the pile alongside their own personal offerings.
You can walk up from our ger camp, which takes approximately 4/5 hours, and/or take rides in our support vehicles which will park on the top for lunch amid the stunning scenery before our drive back to camp.
We drive a short distance down the valley to stay with a Kazakh/Mongolian eagle hunter family by a beautiful river. If the snow is not too heavy it may be possible to ride horses today along the plains. There are some great walking spots in the nearby hills also with breathtaking views.
Sagsai, another mountain village in Bayan-Ulgii province, established in 1959, on the high desert steppe, has strong links to Eagle Hunting culture, being the home town of the regions most famous Kazakh eagle hunters.
This morning we drive to Sagsai to pay our respects to another Kazakh eagle hunter family, spending the day and enjoying our evening meal with them. We stay in a traditional ger again this evening.
2 star hotel
Archaelogists trace falconry in Central Asia back to the first or 2nd millennium BC.
Sagsai Golden Eagle Festival is a collaboration between two Tour Operators and local Kazakh eagle hunters eager to show off their prowess. The festival is dedicated to photographers and filmmakers who focus on capturing action and cultural traditions. This morning we head to the Festival opening, where competitors parade, showing off their costumes and hunting techniques.
We will watch how a Kazak Ger (yurt) is assembled and learn about the migration of nomadic families.
The festival is a fantastic example of how tourism can benefit local communities - raising awareness of eagle hunting in Mongolia and abroad, and encouraging the continuation of the hunting traditions. In 2011, eagle hunting was added to the 'UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity' as an example of 'living human heritage'.
We return to Uglii for our accommodation tonight.
2 star hotel
Today is a fantastic day for photographers who will find plenty of opportunities to take photos of the imposing competitors, in their full hunting regalia, their families and of course – the magnificent eagles. When the competitions begin, the eagles chase fox skins, dragged by their owners on horseback, and are judged on their speed and gripping ability.
Other events include Tenge-llu (coin grabbing while riding a horse), the best costume competition, Tug of war (Kokbar) and Kizkhuar, which is a traditional Khazak Couples Game).
The winners of the festival will be announced this afternoon and we will be able to join the festivities and celebrations over dinner before our final night in our hotel in Uglii
3 star hotel
Reluctancly we leave the stark, open wilderness of Bayan-Ulgii to return to Ulaanbaatar via a national flight. The rest of your last day in Mongolia, you can spend at your leisure; we highly recommend exploring the famous Naran Tuul ‘black’ market where original and eclectic products of all descriptions can be found, from traditional Mongolian clothing, carpets, horse riding gear and souvenirs.
This evening we enjoy a traditional music performance before a last reminisce and sharing of memories over our last group dinner in the city.
Fly home taking with you many wonderful memories from Mongolia!
Single rooms are available on a first come, first served basis, however, due to the nature of some of the accommodation we are using on this adventure (staying in gers), there are several nights where single rooms are not possible, so the supplement price reflects this. We will charge on a pro-rata basis if a single room is not available to book for part of the trip where it would have been possible.
Carbon Compensation is not the perfect solution, and it is important to first reduce our carbon emissions as much as we can, yet trees remain an excellent natural technology to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow global warming.
For every client and guide who attends a YellowWood Adventure, we donate £30 to our partner charity WeForest to plant 15 trees to (over) compensate for the carbon footprint of the tour.
We also invite our clients to match this with an optional additional £30 for another 15 trees to be planted to help compensate for the carbon footprint of their international flights.
WeForest run many tree planting and tree maintenance projects such as this seedling nursery in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil and many other projects in other countries including Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania & India.
Click Here to find out more about their amazing projects around the world.
Single rooms are available on a first come, first served basis, however, due to the nature of some of the accommodation we are using on this adventure (staying in yurts), there are 2 nights where single rooms are not possible, so the supplement price reflects this. We will charge on a pro-rata basis if a single room is not available to book for part of the trip where it would have been possible.
We fully believe in, and practice Responsible Tourism, using accommodation run by locals. We put time and effort into building our relationship with them to ensure you have a a great trip. We choose accommodation based on cleanliness, comfort, safety, proximity to our route (to avoid unnecessary extra travel), and a warm client welcome, as well as reliability in their service to us. Some hotels will be basic, and in modern buildings and or in towns. Wherever we can, we will choose smaller more characterful, individual options, but in areas where tourism is still developing, this may not be available.
An aspect of our adventures is to escape the ‘trappings’ of modern Western lifestyles and to experience new things which is exciting and memorable, and reflects the countries we are visiting. This is adventure travel and on occasion the advertised services at a hotel (eg wifi, or hot showers!) may not be functional on our arrival. This tends to occur in the smaller, more remote hotels. Very rarely a hotel lets us down and we are required to find alternative suitable accommodation that might not be our first choice.
The accommodation on this adventure involves both hotel stays and camping in gers/yurts. The list below gives information on our first choice of accommodation for this adventure. Where hotels and refuges are fully booked or unavailable, we will use an alternative of a similar standard, and equally well situated. We will provide you with an accurate list of accommodation, with contact information to leave with relatives, prior to departure on your adventure.
Ulaanbaatar (2 nights): Grand Hill Hotel, Modern 3* hotel in City centre location. Ensuite rooms & Wifi.
Ulgii (3 nights): Makhsum Hotel: small local hotel in the village of Ulgii.
Ger Camping (4 nights): A ‘ger’ or ‘yurt’ is a large felt tent made from sheeps wool, which results in a warm, cosy and waterproof shelter. The centre of the yurt houses a metal wood burner with a chimney for all smoke to escape through the roof.
Yurts house either 2 or 4 simple, but comfortable beds with plenty of extra blankets to pile onto your sleeping bag (please bring a winter season bag), should you feel chilly. If you are travelling with a group of friends then we are happy for friends to share a yurt (4 people), or YellowWood can arrange the rooming for solo travellers to share with others of the same gender.
Facilities vary depending on where we are staying. The ger camps tend to have running water and warm showers available, but when we are staying with families, there are only likely to be outdoor toilet facilities, and not showers or hot water. Please note that there is generally no electricity in the camps, and limited mobile signals, if any.
Unless you have booked a single room (where they are available) and paid the single room supplement for those nights, you will be sharing a twin room with another client (of the same gender).
Supporting you on your holiday will be a minimum of 2 experienced, approachable and knowledgeable guides; one from the UK YellowWood team, and an in-country local guide who will be with us for the duration of the holiday.
This ensures you the perfect balance of information and support on your trip, with your Mongolian guides offering insight into local life and customs, as well as routes during walking/horse riding excursions, whilst your YellowWood guide ensures the smooth running of your adventure.
Your group will be any number from our minimum group size of 4, up to a maximum of 12 clients. This number works really well with the ratio of guides, and ensures an optimal level of service to you during your adventure.
We get clients booking alone, as couples and in small groups of friends. If you have a larger group of friends or family who are interested in having their own customised trip, then please let us know and we can cost it out for you. Our links with in-country travel experts often mean that we can assist you in developing a personalised itinerary.
You are visiting remote and mountainous areas of Mongolia and your itinerary involves some walking over rough terrain and some optional horse riding (see the Itinerary for Day 6 for further details). All walking and riding is undertaken at the natural pace of the group, with regular stops. You will be carrying just a day pack and bottle of water.
To get the most of out of this adventure, you therefore need to be a regular walker and in good physical condition. You do not need to be experienced in trekking, however. Any horse riding will be suitable for beginner riders, and will be supported with guides and horse handlers.
As with all active holidays, the fitter you are, the more you can relax and enjoy the stunning route, and the better you can cope with challenges such as the outside elements. Clients are advised to get into a regular walking pattern before the trip as convenient.
NB: If you have bought new hiking boots for this adventure, this is the right time to wear them in, not on the trip! itself.
Your YellowWood adventure starts at the airport in Ulaanbaatar. We understand that arriving into an unfamiliar airport can be very daunting, so we aim to give you as much information here as possible, to help you prepare.
Flights are not included in the cost of your holiday, and whilst we are happy to help advise you, responsibility for booking the correct flights rests with you. We recommend that you use a comparison tool such as www.momondo.co.uk or www.skyscanner.net when searching for flights. We will send you a Flight Information Sheet with further pointers on which flights to book for your adventure.
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. We also receive notifications direct from the FCDO so we are always aware of the ‘status’ in our destination countries.
Chinggis Khaan International Airport is the main international airport in Mongolia, located 18km SW of the capital, Ulaanbaatar. It is a small, though fully functioning, airport with 2 ‘terminals’ that you may arrive into, at different ends of the same building.
You will be met at the airport by your YellowWood guide and a local driver for transport to central Ulaanbaatar (approx 30 mins)
On arrival you:
Toilets can be found in the arrivals lounge.
On arrival at your city centre hotel, you will be welcomed and have time to settle into your room.
Once the group have all arrived (they may be on a variety of different flights), you will be heading to a local restaurant for lunch and a trip briefing. This will be followed by a very interesting City Tour of Ulaanbaatar to kickstart your holiday!
Holiday insurance is essential for all Yellow Wood Adventures. Unfortunately anyone without insurance is not able to take part in the holiday, so please make sure you arrange cover. We recommend sorting your insurance when you book so that if you have problems during the run up to your holiday, and need to cancel, you are covered, particularly in the light of effects that the pandemic has had on travel.
Prior to the holiday, we will ask you to send us details of your insurer, policy number, 24 hr emergency assistance contact details and the name, address, and telephone numbers of your NOK or persons to be notified in the event of an emergency.
Your insurance needs to cover you for hiking /trekking and horse riding (if you are likely to do this) with the following fairly standard inclusions:
We would also recommend that you have cover for the following optional items:
For information on Mongolia, such as climate, weather, language, social norms, food & drink etc, please have a read of our Country specificinformation.
My recent journey to Mongolia where an eagle festival took place was as perfect a journey as can be wished for: good company, wonderful scenery, long contact with local people and their culture and excellent value for money
Ulaan Bataar is a fairly typical Asian city full of malls and traffic and the main National museum is very good. As soon as you leave the big city behind Mongolia opens out into a land of big skies and tall snow-capped mountains.
The views in the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, right on the border with China & Russia, were jaw-dropping. We had 4 days in shared gers (Mongolian for the felt-covered tents we might call a yurt) which were really quite warm & comfy. The locals were incredibly friendly & welcoming. The hiking was easy but it was at altitude (2,800-3,200 metres) so a reasonable level of fitness is required. We also saw wild eagles and marmots along the way.
Despite the fabulous scenery the highpoint was the Sagsai Eagle Festival which was truly an astonishing event. Held over 2 days there were several different events including eagle calling (where trained eagles fly to their owner) and Tug-O’-Goat (!). All on horseback of course. There were parades and prizes and some folk songs as well. Everybody had a great time – this is a festival for the locals as much as the tourists and the competitors took it very seriously indeed.
Baaska our local guide was wonderful. Full of knowledge and enthusiasm for her country. No question went unanswered and we all had a lot of laughs.
This is a difficult place to be vegetarian. Out in the wilds the locals have little access to vegetables. Noodles with mutton is the staple and the dried cheese is an “interesting cultural experience”.
You must be prepared for some bumpy rides. Outside of the towns there are no paved roads and the tracks can be very rough. Our drivers were amazing; even when the way disappeared in the snow!
The trip was pushed back 3 times due to Covid but YellowWood staff remained helpful and informative throughout. Overall this is a fantastic experience and thoroughly recommended.
All adventures can be tailored as private bespoke trips.
Please contact us for more information:
+44 207 846 0197
Select dates & add any extras or 'Add on' adventures. Complete our Booking Form
Check out our Covid-19 friendly booking conditions & check the box to agree to our Terms & Conditions.
'Make Booking': You will be redirected to secure WorldPay to make your deposit (£300/$400/person) payment (receipted), if booking >56 days before your adventure or full payment if 56 or <56 days before your adventure. Your monies are held securely by the Travel Trust Association.
Your booking will show as 'pending' in your YellowWood online account.
Enter booking information for all guests in your party.
We will be in touch as soon as we are able, to confirm your booking or discuss any availability limitations. Do not book transport/flights until we have emailed you to confirm your booking (receipt of your booking form is not confirmation). We will change the status of your final invoice from 'Pending Approval' to 'Outstanding', when it becomes payable online.
This payment is due 56 days before departure date (we send reminders).
Contact us with any questions about your adventure or booking.
+44 207 846 0197
To help you choose the right adventure for you, we have given each itinerary a grading that relates to the level of Walking / Trekking you will experience during the trip. This grading can be found on the Yellow map on the adventure page of the website.
All of our trips involve a level of general activity so are designed for people who are in good health, enjoy the outdoors, and have a taste for adventure and some level of fitness. As will be clear from our destinations, the climate (and altitude) may be different to that which you are used to, so please take this into consideration when choosing the most suitable holiday.
Please read our Adventure Itinerary & Essential Information for more information and don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to chat through whether you have found a suitable adventure for you.
You need to be in good physical health to enjoy your active holiday, but you don’t need to be an experienced hiker. These itineraries offer a mix of sightseeing and easier walking for around 2-4hrs a day, with the emphasis on sights and cultural experiences.
Walks will be well marked or on defined pathways, and often around sites of interest. The expected amount of descent/ascent will depend on the landscapes of the destination, but will not exceed 400m/day, and will often be much less. Walks are at low altitude (below 3000m).
You will not be required to carry more than a day sack with water and essentials. Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have a pair of comfortable and worn in walking shoes/boots.
You need to have a good level of fitness and be a regular walker for these adventures, with ideally some trekking experience. You can expect to be walking for 3-6 hours per day, not including rest stops, normally on good trail paths but with some uneven surfaces at times.
You will not be required to carry more than a day sack. You may be walking in more challenging temperatures. You will generally be walking at low altitude (below 3000m) but may walk at altitudes up to 4000m. The amount of ascent could be up to 800m in a day but will frequently be less. You may walk on consecutive days.
Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have suitable clothing for this adventure.
You need to have a good level of fitness with previous experience of trekking. Extra training before your trip will ensure that you get the most out of your adventure. Areas will be remote and terrain uneven.
Expect to walk for 5 – 8 hours a day, not including breaks, with some very steep ascents and descents. You will be walking at altitude (over 3000m but not higher than 5000m).
Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have suitable equipment/clothing for this adventure (see the packing list for your adventure).
Please check individual itineraries for details of what you will need to be carrying with you.
Get in touch via our Enquiry form to check our availability, discuss the adventure and check we can meet your needs.
Complete our Enquiry Form; contact details, additional requirements (eg diet or health requirements) & questions you may have. Include as much information as you are able to, so we can help you with the detail you are looking for
Click on 'Send Enquiry' (receipted).
We will be in touch as soon as we are able, to answer your questions and help you plan your adventure.
+44 207 846 0197