Kazakh eagle hunters

Mongolia Eagle Festival: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads

18 days
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Group size:

From Mongolia's vast steppe to the Eagle Festival in the Altai Mountains

Rolling steppe make way to stark desert; small nomadic ger camps pepper this vast land where camels and goats are herded on horseback, fermented mare’s milk is the tipple of choice, sand dunes are known to ‘sing’ and the first intact dinosaur eggs were found. Genghis Khan went forth from here on horseback to conquer the biggest land empire in history and, to this day, Buddhist and Animist traditions mix. We travel through steppe, mountains and the Gobi desert exploring the nature and culture of this fascinating, yet little known country before making our way to the far western reaches to visit the eagle festival, celebrating the fascinating past time of hunting with eagles and the strong connection the Mongolian people have with their animals and land.

This departure of the Eagle Festival tour visits Khustain Nuruu N. P. at the start of the trip.


  • Attend the Eagle Festival in the remote Altai Mountains
  • Explore Mongolia's vast wilderness stepp and Gobi Desert
  • Experience traditional nomadic culture

Key information

  • 5 nights hotels, all en suite and 12 nights ger camp with shared facilities
  • Normally 4 to 16, plus local leader, Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by 4WD, bus and internal flights
  • This deparure visits Khustain Nuruu N. P. at the start of the trip
  • Countries visited: Mongolia

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 15 lunches and 16 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • All internal flights
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation
  • Airport transfers for Land Only passengers
  • Visas
Call for general departures:
056 631 8671
Call for private group trips:
056 631 8671
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Ulaanbaatar.

    The group flight is scheduled to arrive in Ulaanbaatar this morning. The tour starts at our hotel in the city centre. This afternoon/evening there will be a welcome briefing in the hotel, followed by a group welcome dinner. 

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Ulaanbaatar sightseeing.

    We have the whole day to discover Ulaanbaatar. Our sightseeing tour will include a visit to Zaisan Hill where we'll see the memorial painting which honours allied Mongolia and Soviet soldiers who fought in World War II. We'll also visit the Bogd Khaan Winter Palace Museum, which houses one of the largest collections in the country and we'll go on a cashmere factory tour.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Transfer to Khustain Nuruu N.P trek to see wild horses.

    In the morning we head west out of Ulaanbaatar towards Karakorum, making a detour to the KhustainNuruu National Park, 2 hours west of UlaanBaatar. KhustainNuruu is famous for the re-introduction of Mongolia's wild horse. The Takhi Horse or Przewalski's horse was once native to Mongolia and almost became extinct earlier this century, though thanks to the efforts of several Mongolian and international organizations, these magnificent wild horses now roam once again on the steppes of KhustainNuruu National Park. We will visit the Project Information Centre and take a guided hike to see the wild horses before spending our first night in a traditional Mongolian Ger.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Drive to Little Gobi Desert; visit Khogno Khan Mountain; opportunity for bird and wildlife watching.

    After breakfast we continue our journey westwards towards Karakorum along an asphalt road. Today's destination, the Mongol Els or 'Little Gobi Desert' as it is known, is a unique belt of sand dunes in the steppe. Arriving at lunchtime, we check into a nearby ger camp and after lunch head out to explore the surrounding region. It is an incredible sight to witness the Bactrian camels wandering the desert dunes whilst horses graze on the green steppe nearby. We will also visit Mt Khogno Khan, the small temple at its base. This region is also renowned for its birdlife, including steppe eagles. Mt Khogno Khan offers a great spot for bird watching where we will stay for a while before we return to camp in the late afternoon.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Karakorum; visit Erdene Zuu Monastery.

    We start the day with a (90km) transfer to the 13th century capital of the Mongol Empire - Karakorum. Karakorum was established by Ogedei Khan and remained the Mongols power base until Khublai Khan established Beijing as the capital. Here we will visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery (meaning Hundred Treasures), this is the largest Monastery in Mongolia, built in 1586 under the direction of Abtai Khan on the ruins of the ancient capital. Much of the monastery was destroyed during Stalin's purges of the 1930's but an impressive wall with 108 stupas and a number of temples still remain.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Transfer to Arvaikheer via Shankh Monastery and explore the museum.

    We drive on a paved road to Arvaikheer, the capital of Ovorkhangai Aimag and on the northern edge of the Gobi. On the way to Arvaikheer we visit Shankh Monastery, once the home of the great Mongolian theorist Zanabazar. We should arrive at Arvaikheer during the middle of the afternoon and check into our hotel. In the afternoon there will be time to visit the local museum, which contains nature collections, stone figures and Turkic scripts.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Bayan Gobi via Mt Ikh Bogd.

    After an early breakfast we start towards Orog Lake via Bayanteegsoum, a coal-mining centre. Passing over Taats River, the majestic Ikh Bogd Mountain should be visible in the distance, the highest mountain in the Gobi Altai Mountain Range. We stop for a picnic lunch and then skirt the eastern edge of Mt Ikh Bogd, travelling a further 80km southwest to the Gobi Camels Ger Camp where we spend the night.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Explore the region of Bayan Gobi.

    We start our journey southwards with a short drive (2-3 hours) to the Bayan Mountain Range to view petroglyphs (Rock Art), called Bichigt Khad. The rock inscriptions and pictures here date back to 3000 BC; we will see paintings including depictions of ibex, argali and men riding horses. It is possible to see some of these from the vehicles (better so with binoculars) but for those who wish, it is also possible to hike up to the cliffs for closer inspection of these Bronze Age works of art (the main cliff is a steep climb for 50-60m and walking poles are required so we usually visit the smaller cliff, which is more accessible). Our journey then continues through classic Gobi desert scenery of flat stony plains mixed with small rocky outcrops and patches of sand across the Khatan Suudal Steppe. We stop for a picnic lunch on the way, with views of the Bogd Mountain to the north. After lunch we head off to our ger camp in the Kongoriin Els sand dunes and should arrive there in the late afternoon.

    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Visit the singing sand dunes, the largest dunes in Mongolia.

    Today we have a full day to explore the sand dunes and surrounding area. The Khongoriin Els stretch for 200km and reach heights of 300 meters in places. They are known as the 'Singing Dunes' because of the beautiful sound that resonates through the dunes on a windy day. The South Gobi has 100,000 camels, typically used by herders to transport their gers. We will take the opportunity today to visit a camel breeding family and get a glimpse of the way of life of the nomadic herders of these parts.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Travel through rocky plains of Gobi Gurvansaikhan N.P.

    This morning we drive through the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. Gobi Gurvansaikhan means 'Three Beauties of the Gobi' and this range marks the eastern end of the Gobi Altai mountain range. The park's landscape is extremely varied, with rocky and sandy desert plains, precipitous cliffs, ravines, salt pans and oases. We visit a spectacular natural sight of this region - Yolyn Am. Yolyn Am means Vulture's Mouth and is a canyon so deep and narrow that even in the height of summer winter ice can remain on the valley floor. This region is also renowned for the diversity of its wildlife and many endangered species can be found here, including Khulan, Ibex, Argali and Snow Leopard. We explore the canyon before transferring to a nearby ger camp for dinner and overnight.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Hiking around the Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag.

    Today we make a short drive to Bayanzag (70 km) known as the Flaming cliffs and hike amongst colourful sands of red, yellow and orange. Bayanzag is a world-renowned dinosaur fossil exploration site, discovered in the 1920s by Mongolian and American Palaeontologists. We are free to explore the region and may even be lucky enough to spot dinosaur fossils. After a picnic lunch we head to our camp for the afternoon.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Morning flight to Ulaabaatar; afternoon in Terelj National park.

    After breakfast we transfer to the airport for the mid-morning flight to Ulaanbaatar (please note that we may be flying at a different time, possibly even the evening before depending on the airline's changeable schedules). Once back in UB we transfer to the Terelj National Park, here there are lots of things to see and we will spend the day exploring the fascinating rock formations, visiting the meditation temple and strolling through the green meadows carpeted with wild flowers. After lunch at our camp we will make a short trip to visit a local nomadic family to see how they live and hear about the nomadic way of life, here we will also enjoy a tasting experience of homemade dairy products, such as yoghurt, cheese, curds and traditional salty milk tea.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Ulaanbaatar via Genghis Khaan Statue.

    After breakfast we drive to the giant Chinggis Khan Statue, standing at 40 meters tall and made of stainless steel it is quite a sight! Here we have some time to fully explore the statue and surrounding area before making our way back to Ulaanbaatar where we have the option to go and see a live performance of traditional Mongolian song and dance. Performed by the world famous Tumen Ekh dance troupe, we will see throat singers, contortionists and Tsam dancers.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    Fly to Olgii; visit a nomadic Kazakh village.

    In the morning we fly to Olgii in western Mongolia, from where we drive off-road for about an hour to Sagsai village. Here we visit the home of the Kazakh people; there will be plenty to see and do. We spend the day seeing how they go about daily life, taking care of and milking the cows, goats and sheep and we may even get to help process the dairy products. We will also be able to sample their traditional food and taste home-made yak cheese and yogurt. This is a great opportunity to explore the real way of living like a nomadic family and to personally experience their friendliness and hospitality. In the afternoon we return to Olgii and stay overnight at Ger Camp.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 15

    Eagle festival.

    Today we attend the Eagle festival. For the first day of the festival, we will see the competition for the best Kazakh costume, horse racing and archery. In the evening we will see a cultural performance in the local theatre.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 16

    Another day at the Eagle Festival

    Today we have another chance to witness the competitions and events of the Eagle festival. We will be able to see a demonstration from the eagles and their hunters, a camel race and the lively competition of Kukhbar. Kukhbar is essentially a fighting match on horseback where two riders have to fight over a goat skin each trying to claim possession of it. After enjoying the festivities we return to camp for dinner.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 17

    Fly to Ulaanbaatar; free time in the city.

    After breakfast we transfer to the airport for the mid-morning flight to UlaanBaatar, arriving in the nation's capital at midday. We transfer to the hotel and freshen up before a light lunch. This afternoon is free for last minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping around UB - cashmere, leather goods and traditional handicrafts are all good options and the guide will recommend the best places to go for these. Night owls may want to sample the nightlife of UlaanBaatar!
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 18

    End Ulaanbaataar.

    After breakfast the trip ends in Ulaanbaatar.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects. Almost all nationalities, including British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand, require a single entry visa for Mongolia. If you think you may be exempt you must check requirements with your local authorities or your agent. The current cost of a visa for British Citizens is £50 and further information can be found here. American passport holders are offered 30 days visa-free entry to Mongolia on presentation of a valid passport at the time of entry. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.



There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 15 lunches and 16 dinners included.

Traditional Mongolian diets are very meat and dairy heavy. Whilst there will be opportunities to try some of these products such as dry-curd and fermented mare’s milk, the meals provided in the ger camps are generally western meals, at times with an Asian influence. There will normally be some form of soup and salad as well as a main course and desert. Vegetarians are generally well catered for, if you are vegetarian or have other dietary requirements please make sure to inform us in advance. Breakfasts can vary from place to place, some are buffet style whilst others are set, normally cereal, bread and possibly a hot dish will be provided. On some days a pack lunch will be provided, this is often still a proper meal (though without the soup). Water is provided and will generally be from 5L water-containers so make sure to bring a water bottle to decant into. Tea, coffee, soft drinks, beer, vodka and (most of the time) wine are available to buy at the ger camps. There is opportunity to buy snacks in Ulaanbaatar and on a couple other occasions along the way when we drive through towns or villages.




Is this trip for you?

Mongolia is 6.5 times larger than the UK but with a population 21 times smaller. Understandably this means that large tracts of the country do not have much infrastructure. Much of our time is spent in areas where roads are barely tracks through the landscape. On this trip we go further into the wilderness than the average visitor to Mongolia and whilst this allows us to travel through stunning parts of the country, encountering few people other than the odd nomad, it does mean that some days involve long and bumpy drives. These drives are balanced out with some downtime to relax and just take in the incredible surroundings or offer, with the option of going for a walk or even, at times a horse or camel ride. There are some scheduled hikes, looking for wild Takhi horses, visiting the Singing sand dunes, Vulture canyon or the Flaming cliffs, for instance. These are relatively short, no more than one or two hours on mostly flat or undulating terrain. The Flaming Cliffs hike may not be recommended if you have an acute fear of heights and can involve some scrambling, however, it’s possible to still enjoy great views of the cliffs and opt out of the walk. The climate in central Mongolia is generally pleasant in summer when the trip runs. In the Gobi Desert, however, temperatures can get well above 30’C, even approaching 40’C. This is a trip that goes off the ‘tourist trail’ and comes to the encounter of local nomads. It takes us through spectacular and diverse wilderness and gives us an insight into a fascinating country unlike any other.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
056 631 8671
Call for private group trips:
056 631 8671
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


5 nights hotels, all en suite and 12 nights ger camp with shared facilities

We use hotels in Ulaanbaatar and Arvaikheer and ger camps elsewhere. Gers are similar to yurts, generally airy and comfortable with beds and, normally, a central wood-burning stove (though in the summer the stoves are not normally needed). The bathrooms are shared and all have hot water (however due to the remoteness of the camps this can, at times be erratic). Many of the ger camps now have 24hr electricity in the ger itself for charging batteries. If there is no charging facility inside the ger itself then there are charging facilities in the common area (though this may during limited periods of the day only when the generator is turned on). Accommodation at the eagle festival will be four people per ger, for the rest of the camps it will be two people per ger and hotels will be on a twin share basis too. Due to the remoteness of Ulgii, there is a limited choice of accommodation and the ger camps here are more basic than elsewhere. There may also be rare occasions when a single cannot be guaranteed in a particular ger camp.

Call for general departures:
056 631 8671
Call for private group trips:
056 631 8671
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed October 2019
    Jan Flynn

    Wow! What an amazing adventure!

    Mongolia is a stunningly beautiful country. Miles and miles of vast open vistas, dotted with the occasional ger and nomad herds of animals. The Gobi desert was fascinating, including a visit to the place where the first dinosaur eggs were discovered! We visited many interesting and fabulous places, including several beautiful Buddhist temples. Wherever we went, the people were charming and very hospitable. The Eagle Festival was a spectacle I will never forget, with 120 eagle hunters competing to win the honour of being the champion. Dressed in their finest traditional clothing, riding their sturdy horses at speed, they called their massive golden eagles down from the rocky hillside to land on their arm.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The spectacular Eagle Festival The peacefulness of the temples The wildlife throughout the trip Visiting nomad families and finding out more about their way of life The stars at night including the milky way Staying in gers in the middle of nowhere

    What did you think of your group leader?

    MG made the trip a great success. She worked tirelessly to ensure that the trip ran smoothly, her knowledge of her country, it's history and culture, was fantastic.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I would highly recommend this trip. You have to go with an open mind, there are very few tarmac roads, so it's a bumpy ride! But the scenery is spectacular. Packaging for the trip is tricky, the temperature ranged from +28 to -8. So you need everything from shorts to a down jacket and pack lots of layers too.......whilst also trying to pack lightly for the internal flights. Take a good camera and binoculars!

Dates & Prices

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

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Please call one of our experts to discuss your private group requirements on +44 (0)20 8772 3874, or fill out the form below and we will give you a call back.

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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