Mongolian Kazakhs have been preserving their culture for centuries and one of the most fascinating traditions they still practise include the Eagle Training and Eagle Hunting. The Golden Eagle Festival is a must-see event in Mongolia. It is a festival that not only demonstrates the culture of the Kazakhs to the world, but it also promotes their heritage to their next generations.
Golden Eagles (Aquila Chrysacty) are born for hunting; they have incredible speed, great eyesight, and powerful feet with sharp claws. The Eagles wear a specially made hood to keep them calm. It is removed when they scan large areas of the Mongolian steppes. The Eagles can spot even the slightest twitch from a great distance. The Kazakh Mongols train and hunt with their eagles on a horseback.
The main festival held in October is organized by the Mongolian Eagle Hunters’ Association and attracts a huge number of tourists and photographers. Bayan-Ulgii province is located 1600 km from the capital city Ulaanbaatar and a domestic flight is the preferred way of transport. 2019 was the 20th anniversary of the October Golden Eagle Festival and over 80 Eagle hunters participated.
The Eagle Festival is celebrated for two days and starts with a fascinating opening parade of traditionally-dressed Eagle hunters riding horses and holding their eagles on their right arm. Many of the Eagle hunters arrive from very far away, traveling with their eagles on horseback.
The festival is held near Ulgii town, therefore, the best accommodation option is to stay in the town hotels and tourist ger camps. Alternatively, you can stay in the guesthouses and family-ran. Staying with a Kazakh family is available both in the town and in the countryside.