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Mongolia Eagle Hunters

Mongolia Holidays

A place where the nomadic lifestyle is still very much alive. Dotted throughout this vast country and its dramatic scenery are beautiful glimpses of local culture – particularly, the Naadam Festival and the Kazakh eagle hunters.

With just over two million inhabitants, Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world and the sense of space is epic.

Freed from its Soviet chains traditions are strong with Buddhism slowly reasserting itself, as is the nomadic lifestyle so alien to the socialist model. Even in Ulaanbaatar half the population still live in gers, the traditional circular Mongolian tent.

Inner Mongolia Great Gray Owl
Mongolia

What to expect on your Mongolian holiday

Expect remote and wild panoramic scenery ranging from lush grassy steppes to craggy desert, rolling sand dunes and soaring mountains. There are few internal flights so moving around the country is either done overland using 4×4 vehicles or via one of the few internal flights. Distances are great so expect long journeys. The further west you travel, the more remote Mongolia becomes as you approach the Altai Mountains and the border with China.

Over 70% of the Mongolian population remain nomadic and travelling across the flat open steppe you will still encounter isolated family ger (yurt) encampments whose occupants will inevitably offer you hospitality. To experience the true essence of the country, spend time travelling by the traditional mode of horseback, camel or yak. The wiry little thirteen-hand ponies will seem a little small, but their stamina is legendary – they carried Genghis Khan across Asia.

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Jalman Meadows Gorkhi Terelj
Jalman Meadows, Mongolia
Kazakh herder with his livestock
Mongolia
Nomads' yurts and mountains, Mongolia
Mongolia

Ger Camping

A holiday to remote Mongolia used to mean staying in basic accommodation but this is no longer the case. There is now the opportunity to stay in small, private ger camps in unspoilt landscapes with modern comforts such as ensuite bathrooms, private chef, excellent guides and a support team. Ger camps can be set up in the most remote and magical locations which can range from a riverside setting to rugged desert landscape or endless grassy steppe, far from any day-trippers. They are then dismantled, leaving no evidence of their existence, ensuring these beautiful landscapes remain untarnished. Some camps work with local communities enhancing what is a truly Mongolian experience.

Naadam festival Women's Mongolian archery competition
Archery, Naadam Festival
Eagle Hunter with his golden eagle in Bayan Olgii, West Mongolia
Golden eagle hunter
Kazah Eagle Hunter, Altai Mountains, Mongolia, JW
Kazah Eagle Hunter, Altai Mountains

Mongolian Festivals

There are two well known festivals in Mongolia, both of which offer a fascinating and authentic insight into Mongolian culture.

Naadam Festival: Travel in July when people from all over the country flock to watch and participate in the festivities. Men and women compete in the three national sports of wrestling, archery and horse racing.

Golden Eagle Festival: In September Eagle Hunters gather in the mountainous Altai region of the country to compete with their magnificent raptors, showcasing the speed, agility and accuracy of their birds.

Explore Mongolia

  • Ulaanbaatar
  • Hustai National Park
  • Hovsgol
  • Ikh Nart
  • Karakorum
  • Gobi Desert
  • Altai Mountains

Experiences

A selection of activities and experiences you could consider including in your holiday to Mongolia.

Meet a Nomadic Family

Stay in a traditional ger, spending time with a nomadic family.

Bird Watching

Discover Mongolia’s rich birdlife, including passerines, water birds and of course raptors.

Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag

Visit the Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag, where the American expedition of the 1950’s uncovered a great haul of dinosaur remains.

Track Snow Leopards

Join researchers in the wild Altai Mountains in search of the elusive snow leopard.

Winter Lake Adventure

Wrap up warm for a winter adventure when the lake is frozen, for ice fishing or sledging.

Kazakh Eagle Hunters

See the Kazakh Eagle Hunters in all their finery.

Gandan Monastery

Visit Gandan Monastery just outside of Ulaanbaatar – the largest Buddhist monastery in Mongolia.

Wildlife in the Altai

Search the mountain landscapes for wildlife including snow leopard, saiga antelope, pallas cat and argali sheep.

Hustai National Park

Explore Hustai National Park where Przewalski horses, once close to extinction, now run wild.

Self-Drive Karakorum

Drive overland via Karakorum, the ancient walled city which was once the capital of the Mongolian Empire.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Craven

Paul, our Mongolian expert, joined Steppes Travel in 1994 and has visited Mongolia numerous times. His most recent adventure was with his son when they experienced a yak trek, staying in yurts as they travelled, as well as visiting a nature reserve where they found eagles and argali sheep.
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  • 1 855 2037885

Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list. I also seek adventure; exploring the deep blue or hiking a peak often winning favour. Although it’s my time horse herding in Mongolia that I regularly want to relive.
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Paul Craven designed a really good itinerary in Mongolia, taking in the Eagle Festival, for a sole traveller at relatively short notice. My guide was a bird watching expert so I saw lots of birds and animals as I had hoped - he was an excellent guide and travelling companion making the trip really special.

Mongolia

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Three Camel Lodge £££££

  • Mongolia
  • Tented Camps
  • Wilderness

Arriving at Three Camel Lodge you are met by a line of broad, smiling young Mongolian faces. They don’t need warning – they can see your vehicle from miles and miles away, with nothing else to clutter up the uninterrupted view apart from a few sheep, yaks and ponies. The forty-individual handmade gers are large and comfortable, featuring traditional furniture, a wood-burning stove, camel hair blankets for additional warmth and artwork from around the country. Each ger has an ensuite, with a shower and there are round-the-clock solar-powered lighting and bed lamps for reading.

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Jalman Meadows Ger Camp £££££

  • Mongolia
  • Tented Camps
  • Wilderness

Jalman Meadows ger camp is an authentic low impact camp offering comfortable ger accommodation as well as separate library, dining and shower gers. The valleys surrounding the camp serve as winter grazing areas for the local nomads and the grasslands burst with the colour of wildflowers in the summer. Hiking, horse-riding, rafting and kayaking are amongst the activities on offer and the camp provides the opportunity to experience the wildlife, culture and landscapes of Mongolia.

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HS Khaan Resort £££££

  • Mongolia
  • Tented Camps
  • Wilderness

Located midway between Ulaanbaatar and Hustai National Park, HS Khaan Resort is a luxury ger camp. The 26 individual cottages are housed in traditional, circular canvas ger structures, but with all the interior comforts of a hotel room. Comfortable beds with mosquito nets, ensuites with porcelain bathtubs and all with panoramic views over the open steppe. Facilities include a choice of restaurants and a terrace area that makes the most of the far-reaching views.

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Frequently asked questions about Mongolia

What is the food like in Mongolia?

Mongolia is not a gastronomic destination and the staple cuisine is largely based around meat and milk with limited availability of vegetables or spices for local people. As a western traveller in Mongolia, you will be served a good range of western foods often including noodles, rice and pasta plus imported vegetables and fruit. Local delicacies that are certainly worth trying include mutton dumplings, noodle soups and the local tipple known as airag which is fermented mares milk.

What wildlife might I see on a holiday to Mongolia?

With such vast landscapes, it can be hard to see the wildlife in Mongolia, but it is there! In Hustai National Park, around a two-hour drive from Ulaanbaatar, there are wild Przewalski horses which were once close to extinction. Throughout Mongolia, there is the chance to see small mammals such as marmot, gerbil, squirrel and Mongolian fox. Herds of Siberian ibex, deer and gazelle as well as the worlds largest wild sheep, the argali. Birdlife is extremely varied with many migratory and indigenous species including passerines, water birds and many raptors. Pallas cat is notoriously shy and hard to spot as is snow leopard which frequents the far western Altai Mountains.

When is the best time to travel to Mongolia?

The season for travel to Mongolia is very short with reliable weather only from mid-June through to September. During high season from June to August the climate should be warm and dry, possibly with some thunderstorms and a higher chance of rain in August. It is also possible to travel in May and September although the weather is more changeable and some of the traditional camps may be closed.

Do I need a visa for travel to Mongolia?

British passport holders do need a visa for travel to Mongolia. Proof of travel insurance, as well as your accommodation or itinerary in Mongolia, is needed along with the completed visa application and your passport. Once obtained the visa is valid for up to 30 days within six months from the date of issue.

How long is the flight to Mongolia from the UK?

Flights from the UK to Ulaanbaatar operate with Aeroflot via Moscow which takes approximately 10 hours or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul which takes approximately 14 hours.

What should I pack for travelling around Mongolia?

The time of year that you are visiting will determine the day and night time temperatures during your trip, but generally in Mongolia you can expect summer temperatures to be around 20 degrees centigrade in the mountains and dropping to around freezing or a little above at night. It can reach around 30 degrees centigrade in Ulaanbaatar during the summer and in the Gobi desert temperatures can reach 35 degrees centigrade or higher.

However, please note that particularly for women, dress can be a sensitive area. While most clothing is acceptable please bear in mind that you may feel more comfortable if you refrain from wearing short shorts or tight clothing, particularly in rural areas.

When are the main festivals of Mongolia?

Mongolia has fewer festivals compared to its neighbouring countries. February – Tsagaan Sar – the New Year.
July – Nadaam – This is Mongolia’s most well-known festival. It is known as the eriyn gurvan naadam, after the three ‘manly sports’ of horse-racing, archery and wrestling. It takes place every year between 11-13 July in Ulaanbaatar. Naadam Festivals also take place throughout the month of July across the countryside.

What is the international dialling code for Mongolia?

976

What is the time zone in Mongolia?

Mongolia is eight hours ahead of GMT. In the western provinces of Bayan-Ölgii, Uvs and Khovd, Mongolia is seven hours of GMT.

How long are the flights to Mongolia from the UK?

Approximate travel from London to Ulaanbaatar is nine hours via Moscow.

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