Mongolia Photography Tour Altai Eagle Hunters March 2021

A Kazak Mongolian eagle hunter and his eagle in the Altai near to Bayan Olgii, Mongolia.
A Kazak Mongolian eagle hunter and his eagle
A Kazak Mongolian eagle hunter and his eagle in the Altai

Mongolia Photography Tour Altai & Eagle Hunters | 16 - 26 March 2021

An eleven day photography tour of the stunning landscapes of the Altai including stays with eagle hunters

Join me for a breathtaking photography tour into Mongolia’s Altai landscapes as well as stays with various eagle hunters and an eagle hunter festival (TBC).

This tour is the perfect opportunity for those who are happy to compromise on some luxuries in order to immerse themselves. We take you away from the ‘highlights’ as this means you’ll be shooting in more personal situations and have the time and space to create your own unique imagery - not with a crowd of other photographers getting basically the same image.

We let you decide how little or how much instruction you require throughout the trip. But, we provide the opportunity to have 1:1 interaction whether that be with portraiture, landscape photography, lighting, composition or post-production.

The itinerary through Mongolia’s westernmost province of Bayan Ulgii has been planned to provide you with an array of photographic opportunities. The Kazakhs are Mongolia's largest ethnic group with over 100,000 residing in western Mongolia. A percentage of Kazakhs are eagle hunters - typically hunting with female golden eagles (known as berkuts) as they are stronger and more aggressive.

This adventure provides a great opportunity to document first hand the life of Kazakh eagle hunters as you spend time living alongside the hunters and their families witnessing their daily lives. On this itinerary you will be hosted by some of the region's most experienced and respected hunters and you will learn skills and history from them as well as explore the stark yet beautiful landscapes of Mongolia’s Altai. All of your hosts are Kazakh families that the Mongolian tour operator has personally built up relationships with over the past 13 years. No agents or tour operators are used - we work directly with all the families as this leads to a more personal insight for you as our guest.

***Please note that the schedule is subject to change as details for the eagle festival haven't yet been published.

Itinerary in brief

16 March 2021

Final possible arrival day into Ulaan Baatar and (for those in Ulaan Baatar) a city walking tour (adapted to the time of year). 
  • Accommodation: Khovsgol Lake Hotel, Ulaan Baatar
  • Meals - Lunch and Dinner (alcohol not included)
17 March 2021
 
Domestic flight to Ulgii (provincial capital of Bayan Ulgii Aimag) and then short road transfer to Ulaankhuus
  • Accommodation: Mat on floor of eagle hunters home. Outside long drop toilets. No showers.
  • Meals - Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner (alcohol not included)
18 and 19 March 2021
 
Spend three days living alongside and documenting the way of life of the Kazakh eagle hunter Bashakhan and his family. Includes an option for photographing a training event between the eagle hunter and his eagle. Also an option for a horse trek
  • Accommodation: Mat on floor of eagle hunters home. Outside long drop toilets. No showers.
  • Meals -Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner (alcohol not included)
20 - 21 March 2021 
 
Spend three days living alongside and documenting the way of life of the Kazakh eagle hunter Sailaukhan and his family. Includes an option for photographing a training event between the eagle hunter and his eagle. Also an option for a horse trek
  • Accommodation: Mat on floor of eagle hunters home. Outside long drop toilets. Shower available at the local town shower house in Ulgii
  • Meals -Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner (alcohol not included)
22 - 23 March 2021 
 
Drive to Deluun - a small community at the foothills of the Khokhserkhiin Nuruu National Park with its 3000m plus snow capped mountains. Here the group will experience the Nauryz Eagle Festival (TBC) where eagle hunters from across the region compete in traditional Kazakh horse games as well as competitions designed to test the connection between hunter and eagle. This festival is very popular with the local community providing some great portraiture photography. 
  • Accommodation: Mat on floor of family home. Outside long drop toilets. Shower available at the local town shower house in Ulgii
  • Meals -Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner (alcohol not included)
24 March 2021
 
Return to Ulgii where the group can explore this small town including the panoramic view from the lookout point and the great local market. The evening will be spent at the home of our Kazakh translator celebrating the traditional festival of Nauryz that is celebrated throughout central Asia. Would include a simple Kazakh live music performance.
  • Accommodation: Single en-suite room (where available) at Eagle Dreams Hotel
  • Meals - Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner (alcohol not included)
25 March 2021
Return to Ulaan Baatar by domestic flight.
  • Accommodation: Khovsgol Lake Hotel
  • Meals - Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner (alcohol not included)

Additional information

Where do I meet you?

You will be met at the main airport by myself and the Mongolian team. Let us know if you're arriving earlier than the start of the tour.

Is it cold in Mongolia in March?

Winter in Mongolia can sometimes be susceptible to unforeseen problems which might result in last minute itinerary changes. Things will not happen on a perfect schedule and conditions will be very rugged - you will be required to step outside your circle of comfort. Please base your expectations on this important point.

You will be expected to be flexible and patient and bring with you your willingness to participate and your sense of adventure and humour.

We will provide you with a list of things you will need to bring. In March temperatures can reach well below freezing. You'll need to ensure that you have clothing that will keep you warm from the inevitable cold and wind chill that we will be experiencing during our days out.

Do I need a visa for Mongolia?

A number of countries do require a visa to enter the country. Please check with your country's embassy to see if you need one. If you do then please contact me so that a formal invitation can be arranged that you take to the embassy.

What clothing should I bring?

Merino wool base layers or equivalent. I use Icebreaker 260gsm long sleeve base layers
Fleece mid-layer. I use RAB pull-ons for my next layer.
Fleece extra mid-layer. As an extra security measure I use another RAB mid layer fleece to provide extra warmth.
Down jacket. Make sure you have a well insulated down jacket. Although Mongolia has a dry cold you are well advised to make sure your coat will stop wind chill.

Footwear?

Good, sturdy walking shoes that are waterproof are perfect for the terrain that we'll be working in. In addition I also carry a pair of Meindl Solden Winter Boots that are lined.

What camera kit should I bring?

A wide angle lens (16-35mm) and medium zoom (24-70mm) are the lenses we'll be using the most. A longer zoom (70-300) will be useful to cover most compositional eventualities that we may need to isolate. It's likely the most used lens will be in the 24-70mm range as a super wide angle can create the pancake effect on the mountainous landscape, so make sure this focal length is covered. 

Do I need a computer?

Although not essential, its a great idea to bring a laptop computer with you so you can discuss imagery with myself.  

What computer support do you give?

I try and make a point of helping those that need it in digital photography. If inclement weather or tiredness takes hold it can really help to have a computer session to assess our progress.

How do I pay?

It's easy! Just use the Paypal buttons below to checkout. The balance will be due 4 weeks before the start of the tour/ workshop. You can always decide to pay the full amount up front too if you wish.


Eagle Hunter Festival - Mar 2021



Price
4895€ / deposit of 250€

Date
16 - 26 March 2021

Duration
11 days

Location
Altai, Mongolia

Included

Khovsgol Lake Hotel in Ulaan Baatar
Mat on the floor of eagle hunter's home
All meals where stated (excluding alcohol)
Transport during the tour
Tuition from Julian Elliott

Excluded
Flights to Mongolia
Internal flight to the Altai region (approx cost 250€)
Visa fees if required
Meals not mentioned
Insurance

Max Group Number
5

Fitness Level
Low to Medium