The Golden Eagle Festival

Held in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia, each year Kazakh hunters from near and far attend the festival with their Golden Eagles, known as Berkut. Together they participate in various rounds of competition that will test their speed, agility, and accuracy. It is truly a spectacle for locals and visitors alike!

The Golden Eagle Festival

Festival Essentials

Where: Bayan-Olgii, Mongolia

When: September 30th – October 1st

What Happens: A marvellous display of eagles and their talents

Remember to Bring: Binoculars, Sunscreen, Comfortable clothing and footwear, flashlight, rain gear (if weather permits), lip balmlots of water, hat

Admission: $40 (not including transport); tours available

Surrounded by an astounding Mongolian mountain range, the Golden Eagle Festival is a fantastic cultural event. Held during the first weekend in October, the Mongolian Eagle Hunter’s Association puts on a show displaying specially trained golden eagles in various competitive events that test their speed, agility, and accuracy.

TravelAllMongolia.com

Eagles and their Trainers – TravelAllMongolia.com

These honoured eagle trainers ride into the festival atop exceptionally groomed horses while wearing traditional regalia. For 6,000 years, eagle hunters have been participating in this culturally significant event along side their companions. These eagles have been trained by the same owner since their inception and have lived in “captivity” for about 40 years. As a result the animal and owner develop a very strong and special bond that is most certainly exhibited during the games.

The awards given at the conclusion of the festival are:

  • Best Turned Out Eagle and Owner
  • Best Eagle at Hunting Prey
  • Best Eagle at Locating its Owner from a Distance

The festival also includes other activities including an opening ceremony, parade, cultural exhibitions, demonstrations, and hand crafts in the centre of town.

The City Of Olgii

Established in the 1840s and officially-founded in 1911, Olgii has been the home to Kazakh people, art, music, and culture for over 200 years. Many Kazakhs migrated to this region due to Communism pressure in Russia and China. Although the city developed much slower than the rest of Mongolia, is has had no less of an impact on Mongolian society and culture. New apartments, shops, hotels, and restaurants have been built over the years to accommodate the influx of visitors to this small yet dynamic region.

The City of Olgii - Horseback Mongolia

The City of Olgii – Horseback Mongolia

It is quite easy to get around the city, as most if not all attractions are within walking distance. There is a rather small airport about 5km from the city center, however most people fly into Ulaanbaatar and take a bus into Olgii. Besides the festival, the city also boasts many museums, gardens, Mosques, and even a theatre.

The language of the town is Kazakn, however many also speak Mongolia and Russian, as well as English among the most educated individuals.

 

Looking to attend this show-stopping event? There are a few airlines that fly into the near by city of Ulaanbaatar as well as Bayan-Olgii. If you want a more detailed and organised experience, Western Mongolia’s Blue Wolf Travel offers an 11-day trip starting at $1545.

 

If you wish to further immerse yourself in the Mongolian culture, check out our Globe Trekker series show Mongolia.

www.pilotguides.com/tv-shows/globe-trekker/series-04/mongolia

Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern for Pilot Productions HQ in London