Mongolia is one steppe beyond – a place where myth and reality collide. On our three new magnificent Mongolian trips you’ll get so far off the beaten track there’s no track at all...
On the Mongolian Yak Safari we walk through unspoiled steppes with yaks as support vehicles, and stay in eco-friendly ger camps along the way. On our Mongolian Eagle Festival – Expedition, we head to the far west of Mongolia where Kazakh herders live as they have for centuries – astride a horse with a golden eagle on their forearm! And if you want to take your children along for a real adventure, the new Genghis Tremendis will show your family the old haunts of Genghis Khan!
The Mongolian Eagle Festival Expedition
Picture this: a wizen man in a fox fur hat squints from atop a ridge in the Altai range, the grand steppe terrain of Mongolia before him. He lifts his gloved fist to the sky, raising with it an enormous perched eagle, its big round eyes scanning the sprawled valley below. The bird lifts off and, with barely a languid wheel, dives from on high with ferocious speed to slam into a flash of prey below. The assembled crowd at the Mongolian Eagle Festival in Sogsai applauds. This culturally-rich gathering of mostly Kazakhs is hard to beat for an authentic Mongolian experience. Here you can witness competitions based on the speed, accuracy and agility of magnificent Golden Eagles, as well as other traditional Kazakh pastimes.
Since the days of Ghengis Khan, the Mongols have long had a horse culture and develop their riding prowess at an early age. Small children expertly racing horses over twenty kilometres in gruelling cross country events is a real sight to behold, but one typical of Mongolia. Another popular event is riding a horse flat out and picking up a small object from the ground at speed – it’s amazing to see the riders swung low and practically off their horse pick up the object then swing themselves back up right and gallop to the finish line. Even more eye-popping iskokpar, known elsewhere in the world as bouzkhasi. It is pretty gruesome, as it involves a goat carcass wrestled over by men on horseback – the goal is to get the carcass to one end. Forget the goat, however, and it’s a magnificent display of balance, toughness and expert horsemanship.
On Peregrine’s inaugural expedition, guests will get to live amongst the competitors and get to know the Kazakh families participating in this celebration!
Trekking the Altai Range
Trekking the Altai Range is a rare, remote wilderness experience of protected habitat, snowy peaks and glittering glaciers. Much of the beautiful range is considered sacred and a no-go zone for hunting – opportunities to view healthy populations of wildlife abound, perhaps including the rare snow leopard. On the trek, we hike alongside Bactrian pack camels, camp by pristine, glacier-fed streams, try to catch fish for dinner in high lakes, and survey the Ibex-dotted mountains and steppes of Mongolia, Russia and China. We’ll meet with Kazakh nomadic herdsmen who are friendly and willing to show you their handicrafts and survival methods in climes far removed from the tourist norm. Our trek through the Altai is a trail-blazing adventure at its best – the perfect entrée to the Eagle Festival.
Yaks are domesticated animals in Mongolia, farmed for their meat, milk, hair and strength. They’re regularly used to pull a Mongol family’s possessions form camp to camp. With larger lungs and heart than regular cattle, yaks are well adapted to high altitudes. They eat grass and lichen – plenty to feast on in Mongolia – and are insulated by dense, matted under-hair and long, shaggy outer hair. Yak milk is often processed to a cheese known as byaslag perhaps you’ll get the opportunity to try some on our Mongolian Yak Safari.
Trek around the southern fringes of Khan Khentii, a wilderness area three times the size of the USA's famous Yellowstone National Park, accompanied by local herdsmen and a cook who nourishes us each day with a mix of western and Mongolian cuisine. Our trek will be in the true spirit of a nomad, unpressured by targets or deadlines, simply appreciating the natural environment. Our equipment will be loaded on traditional wooden carts pulled along by yaks. The carts will carry not only our personal gear and camping supplies, but all the components of a ger on which we’ll work together each night so there is a communal space to share. With only four departures scheduled for 2011 if you want to venture so far off the beaten track that the only sounds around us will be of the rivers flowing, the nearby animals and the traditional songs of our herder friends, make sure you contact us soon!
Get amongst the old haunts of Genghis Khan with your family! On our Genghis Tremendis Family Adventure you’ll get to trek the steppe with the support of camel carts, getting astride the loping gait of one of these magnificent beasts for an even better view! Meet nomadic herdsman and stay overnight in their round, felt tents, pitched on epic grasslands. Look out for Przewalskii native horses in Hustai National Park and get amongst the old forests of Khan Khentii in the southern most climes of Siberia. Take a gentle rafting trip down the beautiful Tuul River then return to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, where the suburbs are still made of nomad tents.