Mongolia is a land of blue sky, huge landscapes, and a vibrant conventional tradition. On our autumn journey with WT, Wild Mongolia, we had the pleasure of witnessing the Golden Eagle Competition (made well-known by the movie “The Eagle Huntress”), and exploring the Gobi Desert, with hikes to historical websites, camel rides, and experiencing the dramatic contrasts of such distinctive landscapes.
The custom of eagle looking thrives within the coronary heart of Mongolia’s wild west. Traditionally, nomadic Kazakhs have relied on golden eagles for looking, catching the eaglets when they’re younger and coaching them to seize small prey. In 1999, the Golden Eagle Competition was based to protect this proud custom. We loved two days watching this superb spectacle alongside Kazakh locals.
This annual Mongolian pageant, which celebrates the Golden Eagle in addition to the hunters’ conventional tradition, is organized by the native Kazakh group and members of the Berkut Affiliation, a community-based conservation group.
The primary attraction of this pageant are the golden eagles, referred to as berkut. The hunters, wearing full regalia and mounted on horseback with their eagles, compete in catching decoys that resemble foxes and hares. Prizes are awarded for accuracy, agility, and velocity. The primary prizes are: Finest Turned Out Eagle and Proprietor, Finest Eagle at Looking Prey, and Finest Eagle at Finding its Proprietor from a Distance.
A proud contestant and his feminine eagle. Feminine eagles are captured and educated by the hunters. They’re heavier and extra aggressive than males and higher suited to taking bigger prey.
Aisholpan, star of “The Eagle Huntress” film, grew to become the primary feminine eagle hunter in 12 generations of her Kazakh household. At 15 years previous, she competed in opposition to 70 grown males and positioned first on this yr’s pageant.
Aisholpan, the 15-year-old lady who took the title of Golden Eagle Competition in 2016, holding her golden eagle.
It’s exceptional the period of time and degree of dedication every eagle hunter pours into their prized eagles. On our method to the pageant someday, our driver stopped to talk with a contestant, and let me pose along with his golden eagle—a particular spotlight for me!
Our ger camp, set alongside the Khovd River, was 30-40 minutes from the grounds of the Golden Eagle Competition. The variety of landscapes throughout Mongolia astounded us, from the steppes and plains to the rivers, and later into the Gobi Desert.
Sundown alongside the Khovd River, close to our Wilderness Journey Ger Camp
Throughout our time within the Gobi, we loved a stunning hike to the Khavtsgait petroglyphs, with its rock artwork on the hilltops.
Our overnights have been at The Three Camel Lodge, which is situated within the southernmost province in Mongolia bordering northern China. It’s a nice house base for exploring the encompassing space by 4WD car and on foot. And it was particularly good to see the camp painted in early morning gentle.
Dawn at Three Camel Lodge, Gobi Desert. This can be a great place for exploring by 4WD car or mountain climbing and enjoyable close to the camp.
We additionally obtained to discover one of many few areas of the Gobi with sand dunes by camel. This was at Moltsog Els.
One in every of our day hikes introduced us to the Yol Valley. The valley is called after the lammergeier, an Outdated World vulture, and is usually known as “Valley of the Vultures” or “Valley of the Eagles”.
We hiked previous an ovoo, a kind of shrine, normally constructed from rocks or wooden. When touring, it’s customized to cease and circle an ovoo 3 times in clockwise route, so as to have a safer journey.
-Pictures and textual content by 15-time WT adventurers Dan & Sandy Ciske, Wild Mongolia