A travel blog about an amazing journey to Mongolia Eagle Festival written by Gary Elsworth with the truly inspiring photographs of Indra Swari W. from their trip with Nomadic Trails.
Our journey to the Eagle Festival took us over every terrain imaginable, including deserts, high mountain ranges and driving through streams, always with the surroundings of spectacular scenery, massive areas that are unique and untouched.
The thing that touched our hearts on such a journey was the friendliness of the locals who were always welcoming, allowing us to use their homes (Yurts) for our meal breaks, where our guide and his team would prepare our food, always surprisingly good considering we had to carry everything we needed for the trip. Their yurts are simple but spacious, containing everything for their day to day lives, having every basic need, table, chairs, cupboards, bed to sleep and wood burning stoves that serve as a heater and cooker and space for decorations and pictures!
Although the Yurts are basic, they are not without modern influences with many having satellite dishes for TV, and even some having telephones. Pretty amazing considering their life is always on the move, following the most favourable pastures for their herds.
The highlight of the trip was to see the local annual Eagle hunting festival. To see this, we travelled far from the city and we were lucky to experience a few nights sleeping in the traditional Yurts. Spacious and surprisingly cosy and warm, thanks to the wood burning stoves which never went out thanks to the efforts of a local who would appear to feed it with more wood whenever it needed it. Coming from a warm tropical country this was a real bonus!
On Festival day we quickly realised how big this event was, with big crowds of excited locals gathered to enjoy the demonstrations of hunting eagles and accompanying celebrations. The skill of the eagle handlers was incredible, not just in their handling of the birds, but their horsemanship too. One of the surprising aspects of this was that some of the eagle handlers were very young, and incredibly confident! It was an incredible and unforgettable experience.
We were truly mesmerised by the breathtaking landscape and unique lifestyle. We have been back to Mongolia to experience the unique culture of the reindeer herder and we are thinking to go back to experience the Gobi dessert.
Our expectation of Mongolia was stunning scenery. We were not prepared for the vastness or variety of scenic views that we experienced. It truly exceeded all of our expectation and was a photographers dream. Whichever direction you pointed your camera you are met with a vista that was hard to do justice to through the lens. As if the scenery was not enough, the opportunity to spend time with and photograph the people and their way of life was just tremendous.
- Photography by Indra Swari W.
- Written by Gary Elsworth
A trip with a smaller but more locally enjoyed Eagle Festival can also be organized in March. Find out more by writing us a quick email at [email protected]