Western Mongolian Eagle falconry

Mongolian eagle hunting, also known as eagle falconry or eagle hunting on horseback, is an ancient and revered tradition in Mongolia. This practice involves using trained Golden Eagles to hunt small game, primarily foxes and hares, in the vast steppes of Mongolia.

Traditionally, Kazakh nomads in Western Mongolia have been the custodians of this unique art form, passing it down through generations. The Kazakh eagle hunters, known as berkutchi, have a strong bond with their eagles and train them from a young age. These birds of prey are captured as nestlings and undergo an extensive training process that can take several years.

Mongolian eagle hunting

During the hunting season, which typically occurs during the autumn and winter months, the eagle hunter and the eagle work in tandem. The eagle hunter rides on horseback while carrying the eagle, wearing a special glove called a berkutlar, which is used to protect the hunter’s arm from the eagle’s sharp talons.

When the prey is located, the eagle is released to swiftly descend upon the target, striking it with its powerful talons. The hunter then retrieves the injured or killed animal, rewarding the eagle with a portion of the catch. This partnership between man and bird is a testament to the deep bond and mutual respect formed through years of training and hunting together.

For travelers interested in experiencing Mongolian eagle hunting, there are tour packages available that offer the opportunity to observe and learn from the eagle hunters themselves. These tours often include cultural experiences such as staying with nomadic families, learning about traditional Kazakh customs, and witnessing traditional eagle training and hunting demonstrations.

Mongolian eagle hunting

It is important to note that eagle hunting is a cherished cultural practice that should be approached with respect and sensitivity. Travelers should ensure that they are participating in responsibly organized tours that prioritize the well-being of the eagles and the preservation of the tradition itself.

Overall, Mongolian eagle hunting offers a captivating glimpse into the ancient nomadic way of life and the profound bond between humans and the natural world. It is an experience that allows travelers to appreciate the beauty of Mongolia’s landscapes and the rich cultural heritage that has endured for centuries.

Mongolian eagle hunting

Golden eagle festival organized every year in western Mongolia

The Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia is an annual gathering that brings together Kazakh eagle hunters from across the region to showcase their hunting prowess and celebrate their ancient traditions. Held against the backdrop of Mongolia’s stunning landscapes, this vibrant festival offers a captivating display of skill, culture, and the deep bond between the hunters and their Golden Eagles.

During the festival, eagle hunters compete in a series of thrilling events that test their hunting skills and the agility of their trained eagles. These competitions include the “eagle calling” contest, where hunters showcase their ability to attract and command the attention of their eagles, as well as the “eagle-to-hand” competition, which judges the swiftness, accuracy, and grace of the eagles as they descend from the mountains to land on their master’s outstretched arm.

Golden eagle festival
Golden eagle festival

In addition to the eagle-centric events, the festival also features traditional games, folk performances, and cultural displays that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the nomadic way of life. Attendees can witness traditional horse racing, archery, and traditional costume parades, providing a multifaceted experience of Mongolia’s rich heritage.

The Golden Eagle Festival is a unique opportunity to witness the centuries-old tradition of eagle hunting and gain insight into the nomadic culture and practices of the Kazakh people. It offers a chance to appreciate the skills, dedication, and profound bond between the eagle hunters and their magnificent golden companions.

Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, a culture lover, or simply seeking an unforgettable experience, attending the Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia will leave you with lifelong memories and a deep appreciation for this remarkable tradition.