Dates: September 20–October 3, 2017
Begins & Ends: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Nearest Airport: Ulaanbaatar (ULN)
Leaders: Jeffrey Chapman & Winslow Lockhart
Maximum Participants: 10
(including 1 domestic flight)
(optional single supplement: $600)
Payment Policy: 3 Installments
• $500 deposit to confirm participation
• 50% due by February 1, 2017
• Balance due by May 1, 2017
Optional Gobi Desert Extension
Dates: October 3–7, 2017
Single Supplement: $300
This photographic adventure begins and ends in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Tuition includes hotels/gers (based on double occupancy; single occupancy is available with payment of a single-occupancy supplement), meals, one domestic flight (cost of flight is based on current rates and is subject to change if the airline increases prices), driver and guide tips, and local group transportation for the duration of the adventure. Two domestic flights are included in the optional Gobi Desert Extension. It does not include souvenirs, bar beverages, laundry, insurance (travel, medical, cancellation), nor any personal expenses.
This adventure is suitable for all levels of photographic experience. Participants must be in good health and able to spend each day walking and carrying their own equipment.
Tribes of Mongolia Within The Frame Itinerary
Nicknamed “Land of Blue Skies,” Mongolia is a magical country of spectacular landscapes, vast steppes, rugged mountains, clear lakes, abundant wildlife, herds of livestock, and one of the last few places on the planet where nomadic life is still a living tradition.
Tribes of Mongolia is a deeper adventure with significant time devoted to understanding and photographing the fascinating minority groups and nomads of western Mongolia, particularly the Kazakh Eagle Hunters.
We will begin in Ulaanbaatar, the increasingly dynamic and progressive capital of Mongolia. Then for six days we will drive westward across the magnificent Mongolian steppe, encountering and photographing nomads and shepherds as we travel. Each night we will overnight at a lakeside ger camp as we travel from scenic lake to scenic lake in our 4×4 vehicles. Our group’s phenomenal chef and her assistant will travel with us and prepare all our meals (Western & Mongolian). Once we reach the Bayan-Ulgii Province of far western Mongolia we’ll visit Ulgii City and then head into the mountains to spend three days with four Kazakh eagle hunters and their families. Our last days will be at the annual Golden Eagle Festival at which eagle hunters compete and prove their eagle hunting skills. After the closing of the festival and a final night in the far west, we will fly back to Ulaanbaatar for one last night.
This photographic adventure is about the passionate discovery and photography of people, place, and culture, with emphasis given to going deep not wide, and pursuing that most elusive of photographic necessities — our vision. It is appropriate for photographers of all levels, and you will be free to photograph independently or always with the assistance of one of the leaders.
Ulaanbaatar (Day One)
We will all arrive in Ulaanbaatar in time for a meet-and-greet dinner and an orientation to discuss our itinerary and events for our shared photographic adventure.
Mongolia’s capital juxtaposes the historical and religious importance and tranquility of monasteries like Gandan Khiid with an increasingly dynamic and modern city that pulsates with commerce, bohemian counter culture, and nightlife. The city center has seen a building boom in recent years, but the outskirts of the city are still dominated by ever-expanding ger suburbs that surround the city.
While in Ulaanbaatar we will stay at the five-star Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace. It is an oasis of European luxury in the heart of the city.
Kharkhorin (Day Two)
After breakfast, we will leave Ulaanbaatar and travel by 4×4 vehicles westward to Kharkhorin where we will spend the night at a ger camp. Kharkhorin is part of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape, a World Heritage Site that encompasses an extensive area of pastoral land along the Orkhon River. The site represents the evolutionary links between nomadic and pastoral societies and administrative and religious centers that are rooted in Genghis Khan’s 13th and 14th-century empire.
The old capital (once known as Kharakorum) was a thriving supply base during the 13th century but lost its status when the capital was moved to what is now known as Beijing. It was abandoned and destroyed, and 300 years later Erdene Zuu Khidd, one of the most important monasteries in the country, was built in its place. We will photograph at the picturesque Erdene Zuu Monastery, which is probably the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia and since 1990 once again an active place of Buddhist teaching.
Mongolian Steppe (Days Three — Seven)
We will continue our journey to the far west across the vast Mongolian Steppe, photographing nomads and shepherds as we travel. Each night we will overnight at a ger camp along one of Mongolia’s beautiful lakes. We will stay on the shores of Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake, Telmen Lake, Khyargas Lake, and, finally, spectacular Uureg Lake (at nearly 2,200 meters/7,500 feet) as we progress across the majestic steppe towards Ulgii City in far western Bayan-Ulgii Province. As we travel westward we will encounter more and more ethnic minorities, including Khalkha, Uuld, Bayad, Sartuul, and finally the Kazakhs of the far west.
Ulgii City (Day Seven)
Ulgii City is the center of predominantly ethnic Kazakh Bayan-Ulgii Province. It is known for Kazakh art, embroidery, and music. We will visit the black market and then head about an hour outside of the city to our private ger camp, where we will be hosted by Kazakh Eagle Hunters.
Eagle Hunters (Days Eight — Ten)
We will spend three days with four Kazakh Eagle Hunters, their eagles, and their families in order to experience and photograph the hunting traditions in the Altai Mountains. These families have lived on this land for over 400 years, and a nearby monument celebrates their warrior ancestor’s 1664 victory over the Manchurian invaders. We will get to know our adopted Kazakh families and photograph them for these incredibly special three days, including going on a traditional hunt with them. The amazing landscape has backdrops of snow-covered peaks, 12,000-year-old petroglyphs, and deer stones (ancient carved megaliths that are “planted” into the ground and stand three to fifteen feet tall). Several of these sites in the Mongolian Altai are included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Golden Eagle Festival (Day Eleven)
The Golden Eagle Festival will begin with a parade of all participants on horseback with their eagles. As the first part of the competition, each Kazakh will proudly display his hunt clothing and accessories. The most beautiful and elaborate will be awarded the highest points. In the afternoon of the first day, the Golden Eagles will be assessed for their speed and agility; the eagles will be released from a cliff and their owners, on horseback, will signal to them from below for the eagles to land on their arms in mimic of what they do during hunting. Those with the fastest times and best technique will receive the highest scores. There will also be archery competitions.
Golden Eagle Festival (Day Twelve)
This morning the Eagle Hunters will drag fox skins behind their horses and call their eagles from the top of the mountain to attack the skins. The eagles will be judged on their success of grabbing the “fox,” their speed, and their “gripping” technique. In the afternoon, couples will play “Kyz Khuar” on horseback. At full gallop, the women will try to whip the men on horseback as the men seem to nearly fall off to one side to avoid the whips. Then, two-by-two, the Eagle Hunters will compete at “Kukhbar” in which they fight, always on horseback, over a stuffed goat skin. There will also be a camel race and a wild eagle dance in which Eagle Hunters dance with their eagles on their heads.
Ulaanbaatar (Day Thirteen)
After our last night at our Kazakh camp, we will fly back to Ulaanbaatar for the luxury of the Kempinski Hotel and a farewell dinner.
Ulaanbaatar (Day Fourteen)
We will spend our final morning exploring Ulaanbaatar one last time, enjoying the company of new friends, and planning our next adventures before saying our goodbyes and heading home.
Although this represents the photographic adventure’s planned itinerary, it is subject to change at the discretion of the adventure leaders.
Gobi Desert Extension
Bayanzag (Day One)
We will fly from Ulaanbaatar to Dalanzadgad in the heart of the Gobi Desert and then drive to Bayanzag, which is also called the Flaming Cliffs because of the color of its intense orange rock in the morning and at sunset. Bayanzag is where Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first dinosaur eggs in the valley, which made the Gobi famous in 1923. Later UNESCO registered the site with World Heritage as it represented extremely rare paleontological findings some of which are on display at Mongolia’s Museum of Natural History in Ulaanbaatar. We will overnight at a comfortable ger camp.
Khongoryn Els (Day Two)
Khongoryn Els, sometimes referred to as the “Singing Dunes,” is home to Mongolia’s largest and most impressive sand dunes. We will enjoy the light at the edges of day and spend time soaking in the dramatic landscape before retiring to our ger camp, falling asleep to the sounds of silence of the Gobi Desert.
Yolyn Am (Day Three)
Today we will visit a camel breeding family and ride camels through the beautiful landscape, overnighting again in a comfortable ger camp.
Ulaanbaatar (Days Four – Five)
We will fly back to Ulaanbaatar where we will again enjoy the comfort of the Kempinski Hotel and have a farewell dinner together. The next morning, after a final breakfast in Ulaanbaatar, we will transfer to the Chinggis Khaan International Airport to check in for our flights home. We will say our goodbyes and begin planning our next adventures.
Reserve Your Spot
A $500 deposit is required to confirm your participation. Click on the Pay Deposit button to reserve your spot. You will be able to pay the deposit via PayPal or credit card. To pay by other methods (or if you encounter difficulties), please fill out the Registration Form and request an invoice in the comments. Please read the Cancellation Policy and the Release of Liability.