Altai Mountains and Eagle Festival

5.0 (7)
17 days 16 nights
Mongolia
Difficulty
Challenging
Comfort
Basic
Midscale
Weight limit
100 kg / 220 lb

Join the Altai Expedition to explore a remote and breathtaking area in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, surrounded by majestic snow-capped peaks that mark the border with China. This region is usually restricted to foreigners, offering a unique chance for solitude. 

Additionally, experience the annual Eagle Festival during the crisp autumn days, where you can witness the traditional Kazakh eagle hunting practices that have been celebrated since 1999 in Ulgii. This festival, along with several smaller ones that have emerged over the years, showcases the rich cultural traditions of eagle hunting and horsemanship. If you're a seasoned festival-goer, this event is sure to captivate even the most seasoned attendees with its unique and fascinating celebrations.

US$ 3 865
per tourist for 17 days
Departing from
Tov Province, Chinggis Khaan International Airport
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Photo John W.
John W. is the provider of this trip
The provider speaks: English
I am based in New Zealand, and have been travelling to Mongolia, and the wider Central Asian region, since 2000. Over the past 24 years I have built up a wonderful local team who are the heart of our trips. Two of my great passions are horse riding, and travelling off the beaten track. I have the perfect job, combining these two activities and exploring parts of the world that most people don't get to experience. Over the years I have lead horse treks in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Siberia and Ethiopia. Changing geopolitics means some countries open up to tourism, as others close down. We aim to create sustainable livelihoods for local people, to help them weather the changes affecting their traditional ways of living.

The tour guides you'll probably meet as well

Photo Haldi
Haldi
Haldi is our main man, managing the team and guiding trips. He's very much a countryside man (although based in Ulaanbaatar), as familiar with the traditional nomadic life as any herder, and a great horse rider. An all-round fantastic person to travel with.

Tour highlights

Visit the Legendary Eagle Festival
Two days of fascinating events, competitions and games
Incredible Terrains
Travel through a truly unique environment of arid plains, high mountains, alpine meadows, and dense forest
Meet the Locals
Experience the welcoming nomadic culture of Mongolia's Kazakh minority
Ride at the China Border
And enjoy the views of the neighboring country
Camping Under the Stars
We'll sleep in the wilderness
Visit the Capital
You are welcome to see the best of Ulaanbaatar

Route details

Day 1
Arrival

Like all of our treks, the specific path we follow will depend on the weather conditions. We enjoy discovering new trails with the appropriate group of riders. The Trip Plan provided is a sample route that we might take. Consider our treks as flexible and not strictly planned.

Upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar, we will pick you up from the airport or train station and transfer you to your hotel. You have the opportunity to explore this captivating city on your own before we come together for a group dinner and meet your fellow riders.

Day 2
Meet the Horses
Day 3
Camping at a Lake
Day 4
Jalanash Pass
Day 5
Near the Border
Day 6
In the Wilderness
Day 7
Setting a New Camp
Day 8
Horse Trekking Paradise
Day 9
Last Day in the Area
Day 10
Rest Day
Day 11
To the Swan Lake
Day 12
To Yellow Gobi River
Day 13
Prepare for the Festival
Day 14
Eagle Festival: Day 1
Day 15
Eagle Festival: Day 2
Day 16
Ulgii and Ulaanbaatar
Day 17
Departure
Difficulty
Challenging
Tour provider's comments

Time in the saddle: 10 days.

This region is remote and mountainous, featuring rugged terrain that requires a high level of fitness and willingness to face challenges. 

The pace of the trek is slower compared to our other journeys due to the challenging terrain, making it suitable for less experienced riders. However, experienced riders can enjoy some opportunities for faster riding in certain areas.

The main difficulty of this trek lies in the mountainous environment. Weather conditions can change rapidly, potentially bringing snow at any time of year (though it's usually warm and sunny). Those with limited experience in wilderness camping may find it challenging at first, but the experience of riding in such a remote location is highly rewarding.

horse

Accommodation

Comfort
Basic
Midscale
Hotel
2 nights
Tent
11 nights
Camp Site
3 nights

If you require extra accommodation, we can advise.

2 nights
Ulaanbaatar Hotel

Comfortable centrally located hotel, within walking distance of the city center. Private room, where possible.

11 nights
Tents
3 nights
Ger Camp

Tickets to group meeting place

Group meeting place
Tov Province, Chinggis Khaan International Airport
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Weather during the tour

Weather conditions along the route
You will get a weather forecast for this tour’s route based on
  • the forecasts for this season
  • the statistics from previous years’ trips
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Tour conditions

Included

  • English-speaking trip leader;
  • return transfers from the airport/train station (including arrivals before D1)
  • return flights from Ulaanbaatar to Ulgii;
  • transport while in Mongolia, including support vehicle;
  • accommodation;
  • all meals from dinner on D1 to breakfast on D17, including snacks, tea and coffee;
  • local horse wranglers;
  • Festival tickets;
  • National Park and border permits.

Extras

  • flights;
  • visas;
  • travel insurance;
  • tips and personal expenses;
  • excess baggage charges.

Group size

up to 10 tourists

Duration

17 days
16 nights

It's important to know

Personal equipment you need for the tour
  • sleeping bag (essential), and liner;
  • pillow;
  • riding / camping clothes;
  • boots / walking shoes;
  • comfortable trousers
  • shirts / T-shirts;
  • spare shoes / sandals;
  • thermal tops and leggings;
  • jersey / polar fleece / down jacket;
  • raincoat (DO NOT bring a horse-scaring poncho-style plastic coat);
  • light waterproof over-trousers;
  • socks;
  • comfy underwear;
  • swim wear;
  • sun hat (with a string if you expect to be galloping!);
  • beanie / warm hat;
  • gloves (warm ones mainly, but also for riding);
  • towel;
  • toiletries;
  • personal first aid kit;
  • sun block, lip balm;
  • antiseptic ointment;
  • bandages;
  • insect repellent and after-bite cream;
  • head torch;
  • camera;
  • sunglasses;
  • water bottle;
  • dry bags (or plastic bags);
  • pocket knife;
  • spare boot laces;
  • sewing kit;
  • book.
Can I bring my kids along?
What kind of food will be served?
Tell me about your horses
Cancellation of booking

Tour reviews

5.0
Based on 7 reviews
  • L
    louise
    11 Oct, 2023
    about provider
    Thoughtfully planned, secure, and enjoyable. Beyond just a journey, it was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The team, including the guide, wranglers, drivers, and cook, were fantastic. Interacting with the locals during the three visits was a highlight, especially playing with the children. My horse was well-behaved, leading to a safe and enjoyable experience with no falls, plenty of rides, and great weather. I was grateful for the lessons that helped me feel at ease on the horse. Camping in stunning locations was a favorite part of the trip. Having traveled to over 50 countries, this experience ranks among the top three, if not the very best.
    11 Oct, 2023
  • W
    wjen9237
    29 Sep, 2023
    about provider
    Describing this trip as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would be entirely accurate! My sister and I embarked on this adventure with high hopes after reading glowing reviews on TA, and we were delighted to discover that those testimonials were spot on. The professionalism and attentiveness impressed us from start to finish. From the informative program to the patient and thorough responses from John, Jen, and the rest of the team, we felt fully supported every step of the way. While my sister and I both had some horseback riding experience, we were novices when it came to camping. Nevertheless, with a spirit of adventure, we embraced the learning curve and had a blast discovering the ins and outs of camping. The trip delivered on all its promises - magnificent Mongolian horses that became our companions, a warm and friendly local team of wranglers, opportunities to connect with local families, breathtaking landscapes, a sky full of stars, and an epic journey from beginning to end. We were fortunate to share this experience with a fantastic group of fellow travelers and forged friendships that we hope will endure. For future travelers, I recommend packing plenty of layers for the chilly weather on the late September Altai trip, including long johns and thermals. Don't hesitate to request extra blankets and hot water bottles if needed for warmth at night. Make an effort to socialize and bond with your group and the wranglers - we regret not staying up later to enjoy their company more. A special mention goes out to our translator Hamza, our exceptional trip leader Janni (Lansi! Lansi! Lansi!), our patient head wrangler Muikthan, and the entire team. They consistently prioritized our safety and comfort, ensuring that we had a fantastic time throughout the journey.
    29 Sep, 2023
  • N
    NZ86kilo
    22 Sep, 2023
    about provider
    I used to work as a guide in Alaska, Hawaii, and New Zealand. I have experience recognizing a good crew and a great trip leader. Haldee and his crew really made the trip memorable. It was quite challenging, with a wasp attack, flat tires on the vans (common on Mongolian roads), flight delays, lack of showers for 10 days, and managing riders of different skill levels on semi-wild horses. Despite all the challenges, Haldee and his team remained calm and handled everything well. The wrangler crew led by Dondov ensured our safety on the horses, which was no easy task given that they were semi-wild. Dagee and her team cooked amazing food for us, and Bimba was able to fix anything that broke, whether it was a chainsaw or the van's gearbox. They even showed us how to slaughter and cook a sheep purchased from a local family. We had the opportunity to interact with real locals in their ger houses and learn about the local culture from Haldee, who really made the tour special. The only downsides were the rough hotel in UB where we stayed, and the lack of communication due to remote locations with no phone signal. It would have been helpful to have radios for the vans to communicate. Some suggestions for enhancing the experience would be learning how to set up a Ger and witnessing traditional Mongolian wrestling. Overall, despite these minor issues, it was an incredible adventure that I thoroughly enjoyed. From horseback riding through high cliffs and swimming in cold rivers, it was the true adventure I had been seeking.
    22 Sep, 2023

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