The Altai Mountains

At Mongolia's western reaches lies a wilder and more unpredictable landscape dominated by the craggy peaks of the Altai Mountain range.

Here you can drive or ride for miles without seeing a soul but you will never be far from a large lake or a snow-capped peak. Bayan-Olgii, the western-most aimag (state or province), is home to the Kazakh nomads who hunt every winter using Golden Eagles.

These magnificent creatures are caught and trained when their hunting instinct has begun to develop. Capable of bringing down animals as large as Oryx, they are treated with great respect by their Kazakh masters and at the age of fifteen are released back into the wild to retire. The Kazakhs themselves dress differently from Mongolians in thick black belted overcoats and brightly coloured silk and fox fur hats.

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