Meet the Mongolian Eagle Hunters
“My deepest gratitude to the Mongolian people. I bring back wonderful memories of your nation, a land that is our spiritual neighbour” – this is how the Prime Minister Narendra Modi describes his visit to Mongolia in 2015.
Indeed, Mongolia’s deep-rooted spiritual treasures – monasteries, cold deserts, eagle hunters and their nomadic way of life have become a talking point for the new age traveler looking for “to-list” tourist destinations. of wishes”.
Since this historic tour of the Prime Minister Fashion, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Indian tourists visiting Mongolia. What attracts travelers to this land of extremes is the possibility of living like a true nomad. Imagine wearing animal skins to protect you from freezing temperatures with the medieval eagle hunters in company? In the 21st century, where the hell will you find this dramatic setting?
Although the imposing figure of Genghis Khan dominates Mongolia’s historic landscape, a plethora of outdoor activities from camping to dog sledding and more await the discerning traveler. However, also know that the whole world is eagerly awaiting the benefit of Mongolia’s billion-dollar rich mineral deposits, and the first intrusion of urbanization is very palpable, especially in the capital – Ulaanbaatar, where the world Hotel chains like Kempinski, Ramada, Shangri-La, etc. established their establishments there.
Wouldn’t it be a crime committed by humanity if the last rural herders of Mongolia disappeared and melted into modernity? The rate of urbanization is quite high, but nomads find it difficult to adapt and most do not adapt to the contemporary lifestyle – laptops, smartphones, iPads, etc.
Already, environmental experts have sounded the alarm at the frantic pace of ongoing development and land fragmentation. This is where the role of developed nations is of paramount importance – guiding and mentoring the Mongolian government so that its pristine ecosystem remains untouched by humanity’s incursions into the world’s last ecological hotspot.
Ulaanbaatar – the capital, which is also the entry point to Mongolia, is ancient and easily one of the most hospitable cities in the world. The majestic Gandan Monastery still hosts 5000 Buddhist monks today while the Choijin Lama Monastery is in a class of its own, where the influence of Buddhism is meticulously depicted.
The equestrian status of Genghis Khan, which rises to a height of 40 meters in which the iconic statesman is depicted astride the Tuul River, is by far the most popular tourist spot in the city.
Ulaanbaatar is the economic and socio-cultural center of Mongolia and is conveniently located on the banks of the Tuul River. The surreal beauty of the city is further enhanced by the four sacred mountains. The city is a huge surprise for the new age traveler who says goodbye to anything rushed, frenetic or hectic and embraces a more relaxed, laid back and nonchalant lifestyle.
In Ulaanbaatar, cars and buses compete with wizened riders. Although much of the city is ubiquitous with the presence of concrete skyscrapers, the traditional Mongolian “Gers” are also an integral part of the landscape.
Forget concepts like “Ad hoc meetings / Deadlines / Rush hours” in Mongolia. If you want to experience “timelessness”, Mongolia is for you. Much of the landscape and the native way of life are intact and have not been altered for centuries.
Right in the city of Ulaanbaatar you will most likely come across nomadic herders greeting world weary travelers and welcoming them to their signature “Ger” camps and in no time they are there at home. open air, flexing their muscles while shooting arrows at targets set by the local Mongol nomads.
The best part about the local people is that they are extremely proud of their traditions and rituals, knowing full well that most of their traditions are out of step with the contemporary world. If you set off in a 4×4 on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, the scene is straight out of a fantasy world of Hollywood nomads as they roam with their goats and sheep through the rolling green pastures.
For the more adventurous, drive to Gobi Desert should be high on the priority list, where one can truly understand how these nomads withstand sub-zero temperatures with a flamboyance that is hard to match elsewhere in the world.
Try to time your trip to Mongolia to coincide with the fascinating Naadam festival, which takes place in July where the three main men’s sports – horse racing, wrestling and archery are staged in an outpouring spontaneous emotions. Indeed, it is a device like no other.
The way male and female archers shoot arrows with bows that are just too big for modern archers (Genghis Khan era hangover!) is a sight to behold. Jockeys roam the mountainous terrain and wrestlers come with all guns blazing in traditional costumes as they inaugurate the now famous Mongolian Eagle Dance to the wonder of distinguished audiences and visitors from distant nations.
Many visitors engage in traditional Mongolian dog sledding as a form of transportation. It makes sense, especially during the harsh winter months with temperatures reaching -35 degrees, which is both reasonable and very exciting. It is always advisable to hire the services of a guide when traveling by dog sledding.
For quintessential foodies, Mongolia offers some of the most daring culinary experiences ranging from mutton eyeball juice to traditional barbecue (Khorkhog). Try popular local specialties like Khuushuur and Guriltai Shul.
Check with the nearest Mongolian consulate or even better with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, website: www.mne.mn to know the exact dates of the different Mongolian festivals in order to have a first-hand experience of the Mongolian way of life. When visiting the festival. Visitors can be guaranteed to dine with Mongolian royalty, take part in ancient ceremonies, indulge in a variety of Mongolian sports and if you’re lucky, you’re even exposed to yak trafficking and the preparation of authentic Mongolian milk recipes such as salted tea, curd, fermented mare’s milk (Airag) to name a few.
Weather permitting, a visit to the magnificent Terelj National Park should be at the top of a visitor’s list as it is one of the most beautiful areas in Mongolia in terms of landscape. This outstanding natural area happens to be the highest rated protected area in Mongolia in terms of biodiversity.
From stunningly covered edelweiss meadows to a bewildering array of wildflowers and one-of-a-kind rock formations that gurgle mountain streams, Terelj National Park is undoubtedly one of the best kept natural secrets in the world and all it takes is an exhilarating 80 km. drive through the scenic Mongolian countryside from the capital – Ulaanbaatar.
Traveler information pack
Besides tent accommodation (Gers), a variety of high-end luxury options are available -Kempinski Hotel at Khan Palace, Ulaanbaatar (Tel•+976 11 46 3463), Shangri La Hotel at 19 Olympic Street, Ulaanbaatar (Tel•+976 7702 9999), The Blue Sky Hotel & Tower at Peace Ave 17, Ulaanbaatar (Tel•+976 7010 050) and the Ramada Ulanbaatar City center are among the most notable luxury options available.
Chinggis Khaan International Airport is well connected to Asian and European air hubs. Cathy Pacific, Aeroflot, Air China, Korean Air, Mongolian Airlines and Turkish Airlines offer routine flights to Ulaanbaatar.
Mongolia is huge in terms of geography and there are multiple means of transportation. To cover short distances, rental cars, bicycles and bicycles are the best options. Bus and train services, particularly the UBTZ Mongolian Railway, provide excellent connectivity and pass through some of the rarest landscapes in the world.
Visa & Passport
It is mandatory for all visitors to Mongolia to hold a valid passport with a validity of 6 months. However, there are some countries whose citizens are visa-exempt. Check with the nearest Mongolian mission or consulate.
Best time to travel
When it comes to climate, Mongolia has four distinct seasons and each one lends a unique natural aura. For the more culturally inclined, try to time your visit to coincide with the various Mongolian festivals or events.
Please note that the average summer temperature is around +20°C and the average winter temperature is around -26°C. Winter season starts from November and lasts till April. Spring season from May to June and Mongolian summer from July to September.
Important Festival Dates
December 31- January 1 – New Year 3 days,
January/February – Mongolian New Year (Tsagaan Sar),
June 1 – Mother and Child Day,
July 11-13 – National Day (Naadam Day)