Eagle Hunter family adventure Altai Mountains - Western Mongolia

The fabled eagle hunters of western Mongolia have captured the imagination of travellers for years. To this day, the close relationship between man and raptor seems to touch a deep desire in many of us for a closer connection with nature. Their nomadic home range, in the large glacial valleys and snowy peaks of the Altai mountains, also remains one of the last untouched frontiers of Asia.

For close to eight years now, we have developed a strong personal relationship with one family in particular. Headed by the warmhearted Tabai, the nomadic eagle hunter family set up their gers (yurts) every summer by a river, at the intersection of two beautiful valleys, whose snow-capped upper reaches are equally spectacular and wild; home to wolves, ibex and snow leopard.

Watch that beak!
At the heart of this Family adventure will be an opportunity to live alongside the eagle hunters, immerse yourselves in their way of Life, and explore the amazing surroundings.
Exploring the altai.

Opportunities abound for scenic horse rides (you can even participate in the daily round up of the family's livestock), exploratory guided day hikes, gathering wild herbs, and exploring the ancient deer stone and petroglyph sites that are dotted throughout these valleys. Families who choose to visit in Autumn will also witness authentic daily training sessions as the eagle hunters prepare their eagle for the winter hunts.

If you are so inclined, there is also the (voluntary) challenge of climbing one of the non-technical 3000m+ peaks nearby, all of which offer stupendous views over the Altai and beyond.

What a view!

But that is not all.

After a few days spent living alongside the eagle hunters, you will drive to a second location, to wild camp for a night in tents in an absolutely gorgeous spot (great for hiking), before transferring to your final, and arguably most beautiful (to be honest it is my favourite location in the whole region), ger camp alongside an amicable family of horse trainers. Once again there is wonderful hiking and horse-riding to be enjoyed here, and Auez's horses, in particular, are well-suited for novice riders.

Possibly our favourite location for private groups
iN SHORT, For an adventurous Family, THERe is plenty tO SEE AND DO, and THE local kAZAKH hOSPITALITY IS gENUINELY heartwarming.

At each of the two main locations (interspersed by one night's wild camping), we will set up private gers alongside both families for sleeping and dining. Typically, each warm and traditionally decorated ger can comfortably sleep three people each (in good beds with clean linen). We will also provide clean, private facilities for both showering and using the toilet. At all times, you will also have a private guide, a driver and vehicle, a camp assistant and a cook to prepare meals

It is also possible to set up two joining gers - one for the parents and one for the kids.

A local Community Sayat (or eagle hunt).
iN jULY, You would typically also experience Local weddings and festivals (which usually include wrestling, horse RACING AND DANCING), WHILE IN late August and September, community eagle hunts (or Sayats) may also be seen.

For us to design the specific details for any trip, we would need confirmation on the exact dates that you will be available, as well as the specific number of people in your family group. As a rough guide, June, July and August are the best months for families to visit the region.

Your own comfortable and custom-assembled gers
So what Does a Provisional day to day plan look like?
  1. Fly directly to Ulan Bator (IATA: ULN). You will be met our local guide Ogie, and transferred to your hotel. She can then accompany you to our favourite restaurant for dinner and drinks.­
  2. Catch the morning flight to Ulgii.­ You will be met by our local guide before driving for 5 to 6 hours through spectacular scenery to your first ger camp located alongside the family of eagle hunters.
  3. Spend the day hiking, exploring, riding and experiencing the local way of life.
  4. A second full day spent alongside the eagle hunter family. Again there are myriad opportunities for various activities. In late August, you can also ride (or drive) out to witness an eagle hunting demonstration.
  5. Drive for three hours, past two ancient petroglyph sites, to a beautiful side valley, where you will spend one night camping by a river. Here, we will set up a dining tent and build a campfire for you to enjoy. A toilet and shower tent will also be provided. During the afternoon, you can explore the stunning head of the valley on a beautiful day hike.
  6. Drive for four hours, past two spectacular lakes to your final ger camp alongside the family of horse trainers. This location is just beautiful to explore.
  7. Spend the day riding, hiking and exploring the surroundings. In July, this area should also have a number of summertime festivals taking place.
  8. After lunch you will set off on the spectacular 4 hour drive back to Black Lake where you will stay for a final night in gers alongside a family of nomads.
  9. Drive for three hours back to Ulgii where you will overnight in our good friend's comfortable new hotel and enjoy dinner, drinks and traditional Kazakh music and dance.­
  10. Catch the morning flight back to Ulan Bator. Once again you will be met by Ogie and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, you can visit the Chojin Lama Temple, before enjoying dinner on the terrace of a lovely restaurant nearby.
  11. Transfer to the airport and catch your flight home
So what's The nitty gritty?
Well this is the area in question - the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia.

Each custom trip typically starts and finishes in Ulan Bator (IATA: ULN) where there are daily direct flights for example from/to Hong Kong and Beijing.

The cost of a family trip, to be provisionally will depend on the specific number of people in the group, the exact number of days, how many private sleeping gers will be required, and the standard of accommodation in Ulan Bator etc.

A family adventure in June 2018
Whistling Arrow: Experts in Unique Asia Adventures


All photos by Adrian Bottomley