Great experience with Blue Wolf Travel
The opportunity to join a photography trip to stay with the Kazakh eagle hunters in Bayan Olgii in Mongolia was the trip of a lifetime for me.
In September 2015, my wife and I were privileged to be able to join a small group of photographers, including former AIWC member Mary O’Connor, and travel to Olgii in western Mongolia where we stayed for several days with two families of Kazakh eagle hunters.
The region of Bayan Olgii in the North-western corner of Mongolia is predominantly ethnic Kazakh (indeed many people moved from here to Kazakhstan in the early 1990s), and many of them still live their traditional lives in yurts (gers) and “winter huts”, sometimes moving their herds of cattle, goats, sheep, and horses hundreds of miles from summer to winter feeding areas. Along the way, many of the men continue to hunt with their golden eagles.
There are also a very small number of girls and women who hunt with their eagles. Indeed, we were able to stay one night with the family of the youngest female eagle hunter, who is only 14 years old but is already very famous (if you do an internet search, you will undoubtedly find many photos of her). Her name is Ashol-Pan, the only teenage female eagle hunter in Mongolia. She became famous when photographs, taken by the Asher Svidensky, went viral on social media. We had the privilege of meeting her family, sleep in her parents’ home and Dolores was even given a lesson in milking cows by Almagul, the very cheerful and hardworking mother of Alshol-Pan who was at boarding school with her sisters.
For two days we travelled by horseback to try some hunting with the eagle hunters. Then for another two days we attended a festival of eagle hunter games, where the hunters and their eagles showed off their skills in competition against each other. The events included eagle hunting skills as well as Buzkashi (which in this part of Mongolia is not a team event like the Kokpar here Kazakhstan but is rather a 1:1 tug-of-war), “kiss chase”, and even camel racing.
Dolores particularly enjoyed the camel races, almost being run over by a pair of completing camels at one point. Without a doubt though her favourite activity was shopping and negotiating for embroidered Tuskiis (traditional embroideries done by the Kazakh women for decorating their homes) and other items in the outdoor market. She became so well known amongst the market sellers, that they recognised her in the streets of Olgii a few days later!
For me however the most memorable events involved the eagles. It was amazing the watch the skills of these hunters and their birds and impressive to see these birds flying. Coming from the west coast of Canada, I am no stranger to eagles, but this was a whole new experience for me to be so close to these magnificent birds.
I hope the photos provide a sense of the elegance of the hunters and the power and beauty of their eagles.
Please note that this trip was, at times, arduous and conditions can be very basic; we slept together cosily with the families and other travellers, we went several days without showers, used very rudimentary outdoor toilets and were transported in the ubiquitous UAZ (УАЗ) van over very rough terrain – some nights brushing teeth was optional! We went in mid-September which can be cold, but exposure to sun is intense, but eagles can only hunt when the weather is cold. Being outdoors and exposed to the elements was a part of it we enjoyed, it was part of the adventure. We very much appreciated the opportunity to sleep in the same yurts our host families did, share their food and tea, having dusty hair, gritty teeth and being exposed to the elements gave us a real appreciate for the resilience and spirit of the people we met.
Edits, travel notes & photography by Dolores Maisoneuve
We travelled to Olgii return from Almaty on three flights; first leg was on Air Astana to Bishkek, then from Biskek to Ulaanbaatar on Turkish Airlines and then on Aero Mongolia from Ulaanbaator to Ölgii. Our return flight from Ölgii to Ulaanbaatar was delayed a whole day, these types of delays are to be expected in these smaller airports.
Accommodations: While in transit to Olgii, in Ulaanbaator we stayed at the Ulaanbaator Hotel on Peace Avenue, about
30 minutes to the Chinggis Khaan International Airport when there is no traffic! While we were touring we slept all together in the same yurts/gers and homes as the families.
Travel company: Our travel company was called Blue Wolf Travel, owned and operated by Mr. Canat and his bilingual staff took care of everything while we were on tour with the eagle hunters. They can arrange any kind of tour you want, we were on a special photo-safari trip to take photos of the eagle hunters. Ignore what you read on TripAdvisor, go with an open mind, don’t expect perfection and be ready for adventure and it will be the time of your life! The National Geographic magazine uses this travel company, so you will be amongst experienced professionals. Here is the website: http://bluewolftravel.com/
Other Links you may find interesting:
An Article about Alsho-Pan:http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2015/10/16/ashol-pan-eagle-hunter/
Photographer Padraig Grant’s website:http://www.padraiggrant.com/
Artist and Photographer Mary O’Connors website:http://maryoconnorart.com/
To download the original magazine:
Well done with our assistance
Like I said previously, I was really pleased with the team, good English speaking guide, he knew the route very well, was patient and had a lot of experience.
Excellent cooks on both trips, help cook als really good.
Pack animals all good, including the caretakers.
Very good food, vehicles in order, really I cannot find anything that did not fulfil the expectacions, I am sure we can work again together in the future!
Kris Lippens from Belgium.
0489 845 216
Apple Bits AIWC February 2016
Magnificent Mongolia – A Journey with Kazakh Eaglehunters
Our travel company was called “Blue Wolf Travel”, owned and operated by mr. Canat and his bilingual staff took care of everthing while we were on tour with eagle hunters. They can arrange any kind of tours you want. We were ona special photo-safari trip to take a photos of eagle hunters.
Ignore what you read on Trip Advisor, go with an open mind, don’t expect perfection and to be ready for adventure and it will be the time of your life.
The National Geographic magazine uses this travel company, so you will amongst of experienced professionals.
Here is the website: http://bluewolftravel.com/
Edits, travel notes and photography by Dolores Maisoneuve <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This note is LONG overdue. I have been composing it in my mind for the past 6 months. I want to thank you on behalf of myself and my mother for a magical, heart-felt and soulful trip to the Altai. Key to the magic was our beautiful, kind, smart, and talented crew: Unergul, Mohammed, and Janka. I feel not only did we have brilliant guides, companions, and cooks, I connected in real friendship with them and think about them often. I am in touch with Janka via Facebook, but do not know how to contact Unergul and Mohammed. Please send them my warm greetings and well wishes! I have finally gone through the mountain of photos I took while in the Altai, and am about to put in an order for photographs so that I can give copies to Mohammed, Unergul, and Janka - and also to the wonderful families with whom we stayed. I am concerned about sending them by mail since our check to you never arrived. I remember your son was coming to the US to study, and wonder if he will be returning to Mongolia any time soon, and if so, if there is a way I could give them to him to give to you to give to all parties concerned? I see also that Asholpan and her family are at the Sundance Film Festival. I don't know if they will be traveling through New York, but if so, I have photos I would like to give to them as well.
I'm attaching a couple photos here. I don't know if the magic translates if you weren't there, but they bring all the magic back to me. Please share with Unergul and Mohammed!
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Canat :
Please again accept our appreciation for your arrangement of our tour which we enjoyed very much during our stay in Ulgii. In addition stayed at your home made us feeling at home and your hospitality has left us an unforgettable good impression and all your family members are so nice and we feel we are brothers and sisters. I understand why your biz growing so fast and I believe most of the tourists who come to you will have the same feeling with me. Wish your biz faster and stronger.
As I mentioned your family members will always welcomed to contact with me when they are in Beijing especially Tianjin,my hometown.
Frank Liu / 刘庆鹏
We deliver project
3rd floor, Nissan Center, 2nd khoroo,
Sukhbaatar district, Sun Road-13,
Email address: email@example.com;
Office phone: (976) 7010 8881
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first i would like to thank you and your entire team for your great help in the rescue of tal and daniel.
you did a great job and we and their families are very pleased and grateful
please send me a summery of all the costs with all the details so we can transfer the money as soon as possible.
thank u we r gratfull for your effort
hope to c u soon i had been in Mongolia several times
next time i will visit u
Founder & chief rescue officer
Magnus International Search & Rescue
Toval 20, Ramat-Gan 52522 Israel
Emergency 24/7: +972-3-6006505
TRAVELLER FROM OCTOBER AND DECEMBER, 2014Scotty E Melbourne, Australia
Hiroko Ohta <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for arranging my trip with many experience.
I just come back on 4th Jan and feel alone separated from Ulgi.
During my stay I spent very comfortable days owe to Blue Wolf Staff & local people.
Dauit: helping me always, Muhamet: making peaceful time for me always, Janka:taking care for me always like my mother.
Thanks to them, They are really superb ! I feel they are not travel guides but my family.
And special thanks to Bachakhan's family.
Their hospitality is the best of best, Beyond of my imagine, I was treated as like as their family members.
I was alloed to take part in Asmrat's(Bachakhan's grand child) Tusau Kesu and cut a rope tied his legs.
What an amazing happening !!! It was my best great honor which stays in my heart forever.
I respect all of them.
Shilbeck's (Jilbeck) family.
He kindly invited me for lunch and treated big meal. His father is a really great and I was moved by their pure pride of Kazakh.
Meeting time was short but this memory is shining in my heart.
Very loving Mana ! We are given a warm hospitality and he showed donbra & song.
His word is wisdom and give me deep knowledge of Kazakh.
His wife showed me beautiful TusKiz producted by herself.
Staying at their place I felt my spirit was purified and fulfilled with new energy.
My country Japan is managed by modern technology but a lot of problems from lack of heart.
We can find a key of life-way in kazakh culture to make our own society better, I think.
Living modestly,knowing our own limitation,taking care for each other...and enjoy life.
I was attracted totaly and want to know more their world, culture and the wisdom to survive in nature.
Next time I want to see summer life on July or August ( or Sep, maybe last of December as same as this trip )
Wishing all happiness and prosperity in Ulgi.
I miss you , Ulgi.
I want to thank you for arranging such a great trip for me. It was perfect and exactly what I wanted. Your hospitality was appreciated and hope I can repay you some day. I still will be sending the eagle hunter his pictures by way of you but I don't have them ready yet. Take care and I hope to find a time soon to get back and see more of Mongolia.
Blue Wolf goes and develops together with local community.It is why most our tours are community based (CBT).
GO to MONGOLIA-ALTAI EAGLE FESTIVAL with EAGLEHUNTERS and ALTAI EXPLORE-2016, 10 days, from 1370 USD, Mongolia
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