The Very Best of Mongolia: Eagle Hunters, Landscapes, Gobi Desert
UPDATE: As of December 24, 2017, this workshop is sold out. We have space available on our October 2019 Mongolia workshop!
Join us as we photograph Mongolia’s vast, breathtaking landscapes, live in the Ger tents of the nomad, and hear the cry of a soaring golden eagle during our private eagle hunter sessions as they perform the ancient art of eagle falconry. Together, we will also journey deep into the heart of the Gobi desert and spend time with Bactrian camel herders in some of the longest-stretching sand dunes in the world. Shoot the uncountable number of stars in the night sky over your gear tent. Top it off with some of the oldest Buddhist temples and ruins, abundant wildlife and legendary Mongolian hospitality, and you come up with a recipe for a thrilling workshop in one of the most inviting and beautiful countries in the world, Mongolia.
This workshop is chock-full of customizations that we have created just for you: private festivals, traditional musicians and singers to perform for us and allow us to photograph them in their traditional dress. We have hired personal chefs to cook our meals, and temporary ger camps will be set up deep in the back country of Mongolian landscapes not many people ever the chance to see. You will photograph nomadic families herding their horses through the areas we have hand-picked for maximum photography impact,and also enjoy a private photoshoot with monks in a temple that will be closed off just for us. We will live with nomadic eagle hunters, to experience the real nomadic culture of Mongolia, and you will have the photography and tour guidance from Kevin Pepper, who currently has lead more photo workshops in these areas of Mongolia than anyone else on the planet.
September 18–October 2, 2018
Itinerary and General Information
While we don't expect it, we have learned to expect the unexpected! This itinerary is subject to change, but we intend to keep as close to it as possible. Also, not listed in the itinerary are the many image reviews, critique, and post-processing sessions that we'll have over the two weeks. We schedule them when time and facilities best allow.
September 18, 2018: Arrive today in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (ULN Airport Code), and you will be picked up by us at the airport and transferred to our hotel in downtown "UB" by our drivers, who will be holding a Muench Workshops sign with your name on it. The workshop begins at 6:00 PM with a group meeting in the lobby of our hotel, and then we will go for a group dinner at 7:00 PM at our favorite restaurant in UB, Silk Road. We'll discuss the workshop and get to know each other better. Overnight Hotel9.
September 19, 2018: Today we travel to the Ghandan monastery and our group will have the opportunity to have a private photo shoot with some of the monks. We will have the opportunity photographing two monks for one hour in one of the temples at the Ghandan Monastery that will be closed off to the public for our exclusive use. We will then have a private tour and discussion on the history of the location of the monastery and religion as it exists in Mongolia.
In the afternoon, to exercise your shutter fingers, you will have the opportunity to photograph ten men on horseback that mock a historical battle from the Ghengis Khan era. We'll be back in UB for dinner, and overnight Hotel9.
September 20, 2018: We leave after an early breakfast and head south toward the Gobi Desert. We travel first class in very comfortable Toyota Minivans, with only three guests per minivan. You'll be able to stretch out, relax, enjoy the scenery or doze off. The drive this day is 5-6 hours on paved roads with a lunch stop and several photo stops on the way. Overnight at our hotel in Dalanzadgad.
September 21, 2018: After breakfast, we'll switch transportation to our comfortable Toyota Land Cruisers, again, only three guests per vehicle to allow for plenty of room for you and your camera bag with no crowding. Today we reach the Khongor sand dunes in the early afternoon. The Khongor sand dunes are the largest and most beautiful of the Mongolian sand dunes stretching for some 170km in length. At the Khongor Oasis area the dunes reach a height of about 200 meters and locals call them “The Singing Dunes”. Upon arrival we will check into our Ger camp. Then we will visit the camel herder’s family to discuss tonight and tomorrow's private photoshoots of Bactrian Camels and camel herders in traditional Mongolian dress. Overnight at Ger camp. Heated Gers, comfy beds. Electricity for charging is in the main building. Toilet facilities are in a separate building, and are western-style. Showers are in another separate building.
September 22, 2018: Today we are at the Khongor sand dunes taking photos of the dunes and camel herders. It is a full day of photo shooting. We'll have amazing exclusive access to the camel herders and their camels at sunrise and sunset, walking and riding on the dunes, for dramatic photographs. These are some of the longest-ranging sand dunes we have ever seen. After our sunset shoot and visit with the camel herder family, we'll take the very short drive back to our Ger camp and have dinner and download images. Overnight at Ger camp. Heated Gers, comfy beds. Electricity for charging is in the main building. Toilet facilities are in a separate building, and are western-style. Showers are in another separate building.
September 23, 2018: After a morning photoshoot at the sand dunes we depart the Khongor sand dunes and drive towards the Gobi's Flaming Cliffs. Once we arrive we will have a sunset photoshoot at the famous Flaming Cliffs of the Gobi desert. Overnight at Dream Gobi Ger Camp. Amazing food, comfortable electrified Ger tents with en-suite facilities (toilet, sink, shower).
September 24, 2018: Up early and return to have a sunrise photoshoot at flaming cliffs. In the afternoon we will have a variety of photo ops including horses being herded (running through the dust!), and some sporting events that we have set up just for our group. Overnight at Dream Gobi Ger Camp. Amazing food, comfortable electrified Ger tents with en-suite facilities (toilet, sink, shower).
September 25, 2018: Today we depart after breakfast and do our reverse drive back to UB. We're in Land Cruisers for the first part, and then once we reach the paved road, we switch to Toyota Minivans and you can stretch out in "First Class" and enjoy a nice nap. We reach UB by late afternoon, and check-in to our hotel and have dinner. Overnight at Hotel 9.
September 26, 2018: We're up very early so we can fly commercial to Ulgii on a 6:00 AM flight. No worries about airline luggage allowances, we've taken care of that! Once we arrive in Ulgii we will visit and photograph at the local outdoor market. Afterwards, we'll grab a coffee in Ulgii near town center, discuss the events of the coming days and continue to our host Eagle Hunter family. When we arrive at our host family you will have the opportunity to photograph one eagle hunter late in the afternoon for portrait style photography inside the ger and outside in the amazing landscapes in this area. Our accommodations for these three days are in heated Ger tents. Men in one Ger, women in another Ger. Comfortable beds, and plenty of space. Toilet facilities are camp-style, a ground-toilet with a small tent around it (see photo below). Electricity for charging is by generator, and is in the main dining Ger tent, as needed. Amazing meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner cooked by our private chefs.
September 27-28, 2018: For the next two days we have set up private sessions with a total of five eagle hunters in the foothills of the mountains so you have an an intimate photography experience of how the eagle hunters have supplied food and fur for their families for over one thousand years. At sunrise and sunset we will have five eagle hunters on horseback with their golden eagles, and we have a variety of photo shoots and portrait sessions planned.
September 28, 2018: This is a special day that we have arranged for the group. Inspired by Aisholpan, "The Eagle Huntress", there are a number of up and coming young eagle hunter stars. Today, we'll have a unique and private opportunity to photograph "the next generation" with their eagle hunter fathers, as they work with their eagles on horseback with dramatic mountain landscapes as our backdrop. There will be numerous photo shoots and portrait opportunities throughout the day.
On the night of the 28th we will gather with our host family family for a fun celebration. Its our opportunity to thank them for hosting us at their home.
September 29, 2018: This is yet another special day! We have worked with the Eagle Hunters and locals to create a special private Eagle festival for you. The activities that you will witness and photograph are events where eagle hunter and golden eagle show how they have perfected their eagle hunting skills. You will also witness wild horse riding, kockbar, and other local events that show off the prowess of horse rider and horse. At the festival we will also have our own private ger tent erected where the eagle hunters can come and relax that only you have access to. Being in the tent will give you the opportunity to photograph some of the 30–40 eagle hunters in an indoor portrait situation. Make no mistake, while this is a private eagle festival, the competition is fierce, real, and intense!
After the festival, we'll head back to Ulgii, where our private chefs will prepare dinner for us. Overnight the Eagles Nest Hotel. Accommodations are hotel-basic, but there is a bed and private bathroom with shower, and Wi-Fi.
September 30, 2018: Get ready to experience the Mongolian landscape as we have a beautiful drive for some spectacular landscape images in the Altai Mountain range. We drive from Ulgii towards Kvohd and photograph the landscapes and roaming animals along the way. We'll travel in Land Cruisers, 3 guests to a vehicle with plenty of room for you and your camera. Let the Mongolian countryside unfold before you as we drive through, stopping along the way to shoot wild horses and camels with gorgeous backdrops.
Our destination today is our private Ger camp that we will have created just for us in a spectacular valley. We will arrive at our camp in the afternoon and you will have the opportunity to photograph this amazing valley in the golden hour that night, and the next morning. There will not be another soul around for hundreds of miles. Our accommodations for this night are in heated Ger tents. Men in one Ger, women in another Ger. Comfortable beds, and plenty of space. Toilet facilities are camp-style, a ground-toilet with a small tent around it (see photo below). Electricity for charging is by generator, and is in the main dining Ger tent, as needed. Amazing meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner cooked by our private chefs.
October 1, 2018: After our golden hour photoshoot and a hearty breakfast we drive further to Kvohd, where we'll catch our commercial flight back to Ulaanbaatar in the late afternoon. Don't worry about luggage allowance, we've taken care of that! We'll have a final group dinner and reflect on an amazing two weeks in beautiful Mongolia!
October 2, 2018: After breakfast our Mongolian photo workshop concludes, and we will transfer you to the airport by car or minivan for flights home, which can be anytime this day.
Physical Requirements and notes on accommodations, food, and transportation during the workshop
Physical: There is not much hiking on this workshop, though you should be fit enough to walk a mile on level ground with your photo pack. During our time with the eagle hunters, the walks are usually less than 100 meters from the vehicle. In the Gobi, some of the shoots will require you to climb up or down short sand dunes, and you might walk on heavy sand for a little while. Optionally, you can climb some of the largest dunes on earth! Expect long days with early mornings up for sunrise. There are downtimes every day where you can rest, relax, or nap. Evenings are usually not too late, unless we are shooting the night sky.
Accommodations: They are noted throughout the itinerary. 4-star hotel in UB. Private Ger tents with outside toilet facilities in the Gobi, followed by Private Ger Tents with en-suite facilities. Shared Ger tents out at the eagle family (with camp-style toilet facilities and no shower). 2-star hotel (it's the only hotel!) with en-suite facilities in Olgii. Shared Ger tents on our one night between Olgii and Kovhd (camp style toilets).
Food: 4- and 5-star restaurants in Ulaanbaatar, with a choice of local and internationally-known foods. In the Gobi, we'll eat foods you know and understand, but cooked in the Mongolian way. At the eagle family, we have our own private chefs, and they will cook food you know and like in the traditional Mongolian ways. Beef, chicken, lamb, pastas, vegetables are all featured. We can accommodate food allergies and special dietary requirements throughout the workshop in all locations, no problem.
Transportation: We have two commercial in-country flights aboard Fokker twin-propeller aircraft. Most camera bags will fit in the overhead bins, but roller bags will not fit and must be checked. We have paid for extra weight allowances for your camera gear. When driving, we are in comfortable new minivans, with three guests to a van, plenty of room to stretch out. When off road and when out at the eagle families, we are in Toyota Land Cruisers, again 3 guests to a vehicle with plenty of room for you and your gear. The roads can range from extremely bumpy dirt tracks to smooth paved highways.
- Double occupancy lodging (Single available, just ask)
- All meals, ground and air transportation during the workshop
- All tips for local guides and drivers
- Photographic guiding and instruction from Kevin Pepper
- English speaking local guide throughout the workshop
- Fun, inspiration, amazing images, and a great time!
What’s Not Included?
Air travel to/from Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, passport and visa fees (if applicable), items of a personal nature such as laundry, alcoholic beverages. Travel Medical and Medical Evacuation Insurance (required), Trip Cancelation Insurance (your option). Anything else specifically not listed as included.
Your deposit of $4,995 will hold your place in this workshop. A second payment of $4,000 is due by February 1, 2018. The balance of $3,000 is due not later than June 1, 2018. All of our standard terms and conditions apply.
Are you ready to experience ancient cultures in the exotic land of Mongolia? This workshop is limited to a small group so don't delay, click the "Sign Me Up!" button and we'll see you in Mongolia!