The Very Best of Mongolia: Eagle Hunters, Landscapes, Gobi Desert
Join us as we photograph Mongolia’s vast, breathtaking landscapes, live in the Ger tents of the nomad as they have for over a thousand years, 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 Lisa LaPointe and Kevin Pepper, who currently has lead more photo workshops in these areas of Mongolia than anyone else on the planet.
October 8–22, 2019
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.
October 8, 2019: Arrive today in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (ULN Airport Code), and you will be picked up 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.
October 9, 2019: 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 hotel to drop off our luggage.
From there we will head to one of many private photoshoots you will have this week. This photoshoot is of a Kazakh Family in their traditional ger dwelling.After the photoshoot 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.
October 10, 2019: This is a very special day! Our very own private eagle festival. We have worked with the Eagle Hunters and locals to create a special private Eagle festival just for us. 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!
Our accommodations for the next two nights are where you will see yourself living alongside an actual Eagle Hunter family. We will sleep 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 11, 2019: Today we have set up private sessions with a total of five eagle hunters in the foothills of the mountains where we will be staying. You will have 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 over the day.
October 12, 2019: Today we change venues to a beautiful lakeside scene where we have set up private sessions five different hunters in a pristine lakeside setting so you have an intimate photography experience with different landscape backdrops than you had the day before.
Tonight we will stay at a lakeside ger camp where our chefs will cook us more fantastic food. This ger camp has Ger tents, shower facilities, a small sauna and western style toilets (all in separate building from where you are sleeping).
October 13, 2019: Today we wake up and depart deeper into some amazing landscapes very few travelers ever get to see… the mountain scenes are breathtaking, the horses and camels roam freely and the photographic opportunities will be endless. Just when you don’t think it can get any more magical, an oasis will appear in a valley and you will see our accommodations for the night.
You will now have the opportunity to photograph some of the most jaw dropping scenes we have seen in Mongolia and sleep under some of the darkest night skies in remote ger tents that we have erected just for us. Our chefs will be with us to cook some more amazing food, and we will have free access to the valley and animals that wander around in what can only be referred to as some of the best eye candy for the landscape photographer.
At night you can enjoy a private folklore performance that we have set up in our countryside gers before we turn in the for the night. 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 14, 2019: After another breathtaking sunrise photoshoot and a hearty meal we will pack up and further travel towards Kvohd in the early afternoon to catch out flight back to UB. Upon arrival in UB we will head to our hotel and have a dinner in the hotel. Overnight Hotel9 (4-star hotel, ensuite facilities, Wi-Fi).
October 15, 2019: Today we travel to the Ghandan monastery and our group will have the opportunity to have a private photo shoot with a few 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.
After our morning photoshoot we will head back into downtown UB where we will visit the State department store where you will be able to purchase some of the finest cashmere in the world, grab a quick lunch, then head onwards to the Ghengis Khan statue outside of UB. When we arrive we will take a young girl dressed in a 13th Century Queen's dress and photograph her in the landscapes. Afterwards, it’s a special dinner that we have prepared just for you in the belly of the Ghengis Khan statue in the museum. This dinner will be catered by our private chefs. We'll then head back to the hotel and overnight Hotel9.
October 16, 2019: After breakfast, we'll switch transportation to our comfortable Toyota Land Cruisers. In these vehicles there will only be three guests per vehicle to allow for plenty of room for you and your camera bag with no crowding. As we drive to the Gobi Desert there will plenty of photography stops, ending with a photoshoot of horses at sunset not far from our hotel where we will eat dinner. Overnight at hotel in Dalanzadgad (3-star hotel, comfortable rooms with private facilities.
October 17, 2019: This morning we reach the Khongor sand dunes in the late morning. 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 and shower facilities are in a separate building, and are western-style.
October 18, 2019: 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 and showers are in a separate building, and are western-style.
October 19, 2019: 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).
October 20, 2019: 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 Dinner tonight will be a barbecue & a bon fire. (toilet, sink, shower).
October 21, 2019: 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. We'll have a celebration dinner this evening and talk about the amazing adventure just had by all. Overnight at Hotel 9.
October 22, 2019: 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, 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.
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, our private camp in the valley, and in the Gobi Desert, 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.
What To Bring
Please see our What to Bring page now for guidelines on packing. Approximately 90 days before your workshop, you will be sent a PDF with more specific instructions.
- Double occupancy lodging (Single available, just ask)
- All meals and tips during the workshop
- All ground and air transportation during the workshop
- Tips for local guides and drivers
- Photographic guiding and instruction from Kevin and Lisa
- 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. Medical Evacuation Insurance (required). Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended). Anything else specifically not listed as included.
Your deposit of $4,000 will hold your place in this workshop. A second payment of $4,000 is due by January 31, 2019. The balance of $4,995 is due not later than July 1, 2019. 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!