17th Altai Eagle Festival, September, 14-15, 2019 LET'S PLAN YOUR TRIP
17th- ALTAI EAGLE FESTIVAL, 2019
Fresh off the heels of the less crowded and best festival to date in 2019, with over a thousand visitors from all over the world coming to take in this unique spectacle, the coming edition promises to be even better with what will surely be a record number of eagle hunters and several surprises up the organizers’ sleeves.
Tour Mongolia and join us for an unforgettable journey to this year’s festival in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia. Each year Kazakh hunters from near and far attend the festival with their Golden Eagles, known as Berkut, to enter them into competitions testing speed, agility, and accuracy. Ceremonies, dance performances, a parade in the provincial capital’s city square, and a Kazakh play are held in honor of the hunters and their eagles. The Golden Eagle Festival is a highlight of any traveler’s visit to Mongolia.
We are happy to be "less crowded", and authentic. Blue Wolf supports this festivals, so Kazakh nomads can keep their unique Eagle hunting and Nomadic Culture longer. We try to keep these festivals away from big cities and big advertisements.
Involving the community in the Festival
- Blue Wolf also supports the work of the Altai Kazakh Nomadic People, whose handicrafts will be available to guests during the festival
- We hire local English teachers to assist with translation during the Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival
- All supplies for the festival were purchased through local retailers
- Over 40 Eagle Hunters will participate in the festival – your interest and participation help ensure this practice will remain a part of Altai Kazakh Culture
Notes on safety
Following are few tips to keep in mind to ensure safety of your own and travel companions,while participating in this extraordinary festival.Eagles are not pets and we ask you take extra precaution when getting in close contact with the eagles.
- When you are in the competition field, please make sure to stand only in the designated public viewing areas,
- It' better not to wear any clothing that has an animal fur such as hat or sleeves and any loose or bright colored clothing as they might attract eagles,
- During the competition when eagles are released from the mountain, avoid running in the same field as it might distract the birds,
- If you have children, please do not let them wander on their own,
- While the competition is on,leaving designated areas to get a closer photo shoot of the eagles is not recommended
Mongolians in Altai (Kazakhs) Eagle Hunting History (over 2000 years old)
Before put here many legends about Altai Kazakh Eagle hunting history, let me to give some information about Golden Eagle and Altai Kazakh Hunting Skills.
Golden Eagle is a bird of eagles family, predatory class, In Kazakhstan lives everywhere, except - wood less deserts and steppes; in the south of Kazakhstan – settled, in the North - partially migratory. Size - up to 95 sm, wing-span - up to 220 sm, weight 4 - 6 kg. Plumage is of the same kind, dark – brown, nape and neck - goldish-red, young individuals have white, with a wide black strip on the end, tail, lower part of a wing - with large white spots. A down nestling - only white. Gplden Eagle settles in couples, making huge (up to 2 мin a diameter) nests in niches and on ledges of rocky breakages, on trees. In March- April hen lays 1 - 3 eggs (hen sits on eggs about 45 days) . The nestlings leaves nests in 2,5 months of old, but parents are guardians along time. Golden Eagle lives about 100 years in natural conditions. Eats: in mountains – marmots, kekliks, ulars, reven and gophers; in deserts – sandpiper, rabbits, partridges, hazel grouses, turtles, snakes and etc. Occasionally attacks the foxes and badgers.
Hunting with Golden Eagle is one of the most unique features of the Kazakh life. The hunter is named kusbegi or berkutchi. The experience of wild birds training was gained by Kazakh kusbegi by centuries, the secrets were impacted from the father to the son and kept deep secret. At the present time we can meet few people with such name. These masters have innate gift of wild birds training. For a hunting they tame falcons, golden eagles and eagles. Names of birds are given depending on their appearance and battle characteristics. The hunting with Golden Eagle are during ten centuries. Was considered, to present the teenager a nestling of hunting bird, means, to wish to him to begin courageous, strong dzhigit. To train golden eagle – it is the high art. The caught bird gradually accustom to the owner. For it berkutchi some nights doesn't close eyes and interdicts to sleep golden eagle. The bird can take feed (bits of uncooked meat) only from hands of the owner. After bird will get used to the hunter- berkutchi, his horse and dog, berkutchi begins to train to hunt for stuffed fox and only then the real hunting begins. Specially trained golden eagle hunts for small animals: rabbits, foxes, partridge, black hazel grouses.
Equipment for a hunting with hunting birds. For a hunting with hunting birds specially prepare equipment: a coverlet, cap, couch and leash. Bardak - special wooden prop for a hand - try without it to bring on the stretched out hand a bird of weight 6-7 kg! Shyrga – skin of hare or fox is filled with straw. This is manual for a bird. The hunter drags along shyrga with long rope along steppe and teachs golden eagle to attack prey. Kusbegi must have inexhaustible patience and persistence.
There are many legends about Altai Kazakh Eagle hunting.As far,we keep in touch with Altai Kazakh Eagle hunters every day and live together, decided to publish a legends,articles and Eagle hunter's talking.
Day 1/March 20
Festival day 1
10:00 Opening ceremony, introductions, Eagle Hunting history and practice.
10:30 Parade of all participants.
11:00-13:00 Fox Skin (The real test of a hunter's ability, Eagles must catch a fox skin dragged behind their trainer's horse.)
13:00-14:00 Break for lunch
14:00-16:00 Fox Skin (The real test of a hunter's ability, Eagles must catch a fox skin dragged behind their trainer's horse.)
14:00-16:00 Archery (Same time will be started Western Mongolian Archery Competition. Archery people will shoot from bow to balls and goat skins on horse back.)
16:00-17:00 Kyz Kuar (A race between a man and woman on horseback)
17:00-18:00 Bushkashi - Tug of war played on horseback with killed goat, common throughout Central Asia
18:00-18:30 Tiyn Teru - Riders compete to pick up flags or flowers from the ground during the race
19:00 End of first day
Day 2/March 21
Festival day 2
10:00-13:00 Eagle Call (Tests hunter's ability to 'call' Eagle to their horse from a distance)
13:00-14:00 Break for lunch
14:00-15:00 Camel Race 6kms (It is one most funny and interesting game.Camel riders can be women and men.)
15:00-16:00 Tiyn Teru - Riders compete to pick up flags or flowers from the ground during the Race
16:00-17:00 Bushkashi - Tug of war played on horseback with killed goat, common throughout Central Asia
17:00-17:30 Kyz Kuar (A race between a man and woman on horseback)
17:30-18:00 Awards and Closing ceremony