Golden Eagle Festival, Landscapes, People, Culture

Update: As of September 10, 2016, this workshop is sold out. Please contact us to be placed on a waiting list, and check our other workshops!

Do you want to travel to a unique land that many will only ever read about in magazines? Do you like to photograph stunning landscapes in amazing light? Do you like to capture people in traditional costumes, or visit working horse farms, maybe even photograph the 1000 year old tradition of eagle falconry on horseback that most people don't know even exists? If you said yes to any of these, this is a photography trip you should consider.

Join us in October of 2017 in Mongolia for all of this and more! In addition to photographing nomadic cultures that have existed for hundreds and thousands of years, you will get to photograph mountain landscapes, mountain lakes, and if the skies co-operate, some of the darkest skies filled with more stars than you have ever seen.

Location:

Mongolia

Tuition:

$8,995

Dates:

October 3–12, 2017

Fitness Level:

Easy

Availability:

Sold Out

Andy and Marc are great leaders, instructors and hosts — you always feel special, where ever in the world you might be — doesn’t matter. They have a special kind attitude which makes their workshops a very personal one. It is like being with friends, who they are now indeed after all!
— Thomas Happe, Arches & Canyonlands '14, Norway '15, Greenland '15

General Itinerary

October 3, 2017: Ulaanbaatar. Plan to arrive in Ulaanbaatar anytime before 4:00 pm on this day. We will meet at a time TBD for introductions followed by dinner. This evening you will have the opportunity to listen to and photograph contortionists, dancers, and performers of traditional music, including the famous Mongolian throat singing.

October 4, 2017: Ulaanbaatar. Monk photo shoot in monastery—Rural Model Shoot. After breakfast, we meet and drive to the Gangden monastery in Ulaanbaator to photograph the monastery and photograph the temple and the monks going about their daily activities. From there we drive to another monastery for a two to three hour private photo shoot with monks in a temple.

We will then take our model that is joining us for the day to the countryside. You will be photographing a young girl in a 13th century Queens dress. She will perform traditional poses with a typical Mongolian landscape as your back drop. After our photo shoot we will head back to Ulaanbaatar, stopping at a cashmere factory to allow you to take advantage of the inexpensive cashmere that is produced in Mongolia.

In the evening return to Hotel in Ulaanbaatar for dinner and overnight at the hotel.

October 5, 2017: Olgii. After breakfast we fly to Mongolia's western-most province—Bayan Olgii. Olgii is home to Kazakh people, who have a rich cultural heritage, music, handicrafts, and traditional Hunting with Golden Eagles. Elevation here is approximately 5000 feet.

On arrival in Olgii, the provincial capital, we will transfer to our hosts for the next few days. En route, we will stop at the local market. Here you will photograph as the locals interact with the vendors while they purchase everything from their meat to their shoes. The photography opportunities are diverse and unique. An area virtually untouched by tourism, but welcoming to westerners.

After our tour of the market we will head to the countryside where we will be staying with a local family in their ger tents. Men in one ger tent, women in the other ger tent.

The night skies in the valley are some of the darkest skies you will see. This is the perfect opportunity to photograph the golden hour as the sun sets and rises over the mountain ranges, and with weather permitting, we’ll shoot the night sky. 

October 6, 2017: Olgii. Today is our own day to watch the Eagle trainers at work before the Eagle Festival. Here you will get up close and personal to witness the special relationship between the trainer and their bird, which is often considered a family member. We will join the hunters on their hunting trips and watch them put their majestic birds into action. Releasing them from the cliffs, catching them on their arms while on horseback, and running on horseback with their eagles prominently positioned on their forearms. We will also have the opportunity to photograph the eagle hunters in an intimate setting for portrait images with the mountains and hills as our backdrop.

These two photo sessions are exclusive, for our group only.

Tonight we will again spend the night with a nomadic Kazakh family to learn more about their culture and traditions. After dark, we have another opportunity to shoot the night sky. 

October 7 - 8, 2017: The Golden Eagle Festival. Eagle trainers will gather to show their skills and their eagle's abilities. The festival will begin with the hunters displaying their traditional Kazakh dress and their eagle’s equipment and ornaments. This is an exciting and authentic event which not only features eagle hunters’ competitions, but also other Kazakh traditional games such as Kokbar (goat carcass polo), Kazak archery, and camel racing. Prizes are given for the best traditional dress, the eagle’s gear and ornaments. Also, the eagles themselves will be marked according to their speed and agility. During the festival, folklore performances will also take place, adding even more cheerfulness to an already fantastic atmosphere.

Your photographic opportunities will include eagles flying from the top of a mountain and landing on eagle hunter’s zrm while on horseback, Eagle hunters riding on horseback with Golden Eagle on their arm, horse racing in the fields and an exciting Kokbar competition.

Lodging for the nights of 7th and 8th is at the Eagles Nest Hotel in Olgii.

October 9, 2017: Olgii - Khovd.  We travel by car to Khovd, the biggest city (population: 35,000) in Western Mongolia. Khovd is at the foot of the Mongolia Altai Mountains and in the valley of the Buyant Gol River. There are sixteen distinct ethnic groups living in Khovd (please don't expect that you’ll meet nomads in their distinctive traditional dresses everywhere... there are some nomads still wearing their traditional costumes but day by day the number is decreasing, sadly): Khalkh, Zakhchin, Torgood, Oeld, Durved, Myangad, Uriankhai,  and Kazakh. During our ride today we will stop to take photos of the mountain ranges, the ferral horses that live in the area, and camels that will be wondering in the valleys.

We will spend the night in a ger camp or local hotel.

October 10, 2017: Khovd - Ulaanbaatar. After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for the flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Today is a time to relax and freshen up after our trip to the western provinces. For those that wish, we can take a trip to the cashmere factory.

Overnight at hotel in Ulaanbaatar. 

October 11, 2017: Hustai National Park. After an early breakfast we will drive to the Hustai National Park. Just 100 km away from the capital, it is the nest of the Mongolian Przewalski horses which can be seen roaming wildly in this beautiful national park. The Przewalski horse was near extinction only 30 years ago, but through a global effort, the horses have started to flourish. This is the only place in the world one can find them in the world, roaming the valleys in small herds. You will have the opportunity to photograph the Przewalski horses, the prairie dogs and, if we are lucky, the Elk that inhabit the park.

Return to Ulaanbaatar and transfer to the hotel.

October 12, 2017: Departure. After breakfast our Mongolian adventure concludes, and we will transfer to the airport for flights home, which can be anytime this day, after 11:00 am.

Travel Details

Travel is to/from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Weather - be prepared for 40s and 50s F during the day, as much as 60. Nights can be colder. Layering is key, an it's important to have outer rainwear. Electrical outlets are 230V Type C/E, examples here. We will have power in all of our hotels and lodgings, except for the two and a half days we are with families in our ger tents. You'll need extra batteries and memory cards to make sure you can get through these days - we'll help and advise! Cell phones and data will will work at all of our locations except again when we are staying with the families in the hills. We will have wifi at all of our hotels.

What’s Included

  • Double occupancy lodging (Single available, just ask)
  • All meals during the workshop
  • All transportation within Mongolia
  • All transfers to and from airports
  • Photographic guiding and instruction from two pros
  • Image reviews, post-processing instruction
  • All permits, entrance fees, tickets
  • Local, English speaking guides

Whats Not Included?

Travel to / from Ulaanbaatar. Travel and trip cancellation insurance. Visa fees, if applicable. Items of a personal nature such as laundry and alcoholic beverages. Tips for local guides. Anything not specifically mentioned as included.

Payment Terms

Your deposit of $3,000 will hold your place in this workshop. The balance of $5,995 is due not later than July 1, 2017. All of our standard terms and conditions apply. Please note that as this workshop is being announced very far in advance, there is a small possibility that pricing could change.

Additional Information

If you want to travel to a unique land that many will only ever read about in magazines, capture people in traditional costumes, and photograph the 1000 year old tradition of eagle falconry on horseback, then this workshop is for you. Don't delay, click the Sign Me Up! button and we'll see you in Mongolia! Got questions?