An Ultimate Guide to Mongolian Golden Eagle Festival and Hunters
Mongolia hosts a number of special and unique events, including the Golden Eagle Festival, which brings expert eagle hunters to the test, and the Khovsgol Ice Festival, which includes tug-of-war on a frozen lake!
Mongolia is an authentic cultural center and one of the few locations on Earth where these ancient traditions can still be experienced. It is also one of the last surviving nomadic land.
Mongolia's Golden Eagle Festival is one of the most surreal and captivating festivals you'll ever have the opportunity to attend! A Mongolian tradition that brings together the best Mongolian Eagle hunters from all over the country to participate in this annual tradition.
Eagle hunting is an age-old Central Asian tradition that dates back thousands of years. Hunting with eagles is on the verge of extinction in many other parts of the world, but not in Mongolia, where this annual extravaganza can make you feel like a soaring eagle across the Mongolian plains.
The golden eagle festival is a true test of the eagle's ability, the master's concentration, and the unbreakable relationship that the two have formed over many years of hunting together.
What to see at The Golden Eagle Festival?
This enthralling festival takes place in the western part of Mongolia by the Kazakh minority to teach and promote their culture to the next generation and the rest of the world. Local Kazakhs demonstrate their eagle hunting culture and unique traditions. It begins with a procession of well-dressed hunters and continues with authentic competitions of eagle training skills and golden eagle hunting. Small stuffed animals including foxes and hares are caught by specially trained eagles. In addition, some unusual cultural activities and small competitions are held, such as a traditional horseback coin grabbing game and a Uriankhai archery competition. After the festival, you can go to the local theatre to see a folk performance in Ulgii city.
What is the best way to get to the Eagle Hunting Festival?
The festival is held in Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia's westernmost province, near the Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian borders. You can get there using a domestic flight or a 4WD vehicle. Keep in mind that booking the local flight earlier would be an added advantage. Or you can hire a local driver with a car.
What do you eat while on the Eagle festival tour?
Around the festival, there are numerous temporary ger-restaurants serving traditional Kazakh, Mongolian, and western cuisine. Since the temperature will drop to 0 degrees Celsius and the weather is unpredictable, it is preferable to eat in a comfortable and warm environment.
Where to sleep?
The festival is held about 7km far from the Ulgii area, so it is possible to stay in town hotels and tourist ger camps. Alternatively, you should pitch a tent near the festival, but keep in mind that the temperature in the high mountainous region would be cooler.
About The Golden Eagle:
- Golden Eagles (Aquila Chrysacty) are born hunters, with amazing agility, vision, and strong feet with sharp talons.
- It is known as the worlds second-fastest hunting Bird.
- They have a lifespan of 15-20 years on average.
- They will live in a wide variety of climates, from the arctic to the hot desert, and they do not migrate.
- Males weigh 3.6 kilogrammes (8 pounds), while females weigh 5 kilogrammes.
- Wingspans vary from 1.8 metres (6 feet) and nearly 2.5 metres (8 feet)
- They eat mostly small animals including foxes, hares, and rats.
Hunters and eagles have a symbiotic relationship.
It is impossible to imagine Kazakh men without eagles, as eagle hunting has been a practice for over 6000 years. The Kazakhs have many legends and stories about the eagle's strength and eye. For the Kazakh people, the eagle is the most admired animal; when they bring a new eagle into their household, it becomes a part of the family and has its own unique holly area in the home/yurt of its human master.
The Training of the Eagle:
Since the female eagle is stronger and bigger than the male, men carry the female eaglet from her nest for hunting training. After taking it, all of the elders garter it, name it, and perform some welcoming rituals. The eagle must be released back into the wild after 6 or 7 years of hunting. Hunters give whole mutton to eagles when they release them into the wild, and farewell ceremonies must be performed there. This is a very tragic and an emotional moment for both the hunter and the eagle.
The golden eagles will be ready to hunt with their master after being trained during the warm season. The hunting season begins in early October, when the first snowflakes fall, and lasts until March 15th. They don't go hunting in the spring because the preys' mating season begins. During this time, the eagles are fed meat from domestic animals by their human owners. When the summer arrives, the eagles are free to hunt small animals including rats, marmots, and hares.
Why is it Called Golden Eagle Festival?
Eagles come in 60 different species. The Golden Eagle is the most majestic and widely distributed species of eagle among all the species.
In Central Mongolia, the Golden Eagle has been bred and used for hunting for hundreds of years.
Since 1999, the event has been organized and run for all Mongolian Eagle hunters.
At the festival, there are two separate competitions devoted solely to these hunting Eagles.
Conclusion: The Kazakh population is concentrated in the western province of Bayan-Ulgii and Khovd region of western Mongolia. This is where the Golden Eagle Festival got its start.
The huge success of the festivals is credited with increasing knowledge of eagle hunting in Mongolia and abroad, as well as encouraging young Kazakhs to participate. Eagle hunting was added to the UNESCO Representative List of Humanity's Intangible Cultural Heritage in the year 2011 as an excellent example of "living human heritage."