Mongolia: Camping with the Tsaachin “Reindeer” People
Trip Dates: September 2 to 14, 2017

Add-on (optional extension): Golden Eagle Festival with the Kazakh Nomads of the Altai
September 14 to 20, 2017



A Tsaachin teepee camp and its reindeer
Photo by M. Ketterer


A Tsaachin woman milking a reindeer.
Photo by M. Ketterer


A boy and his mount
Photo by M. Ketterer


Musical traditions remain strong
among the Mongolian nomads.
Photo by M. Ketterer


Playing kekbar at the Eagle Festival
Photo by M. Ketterer


A Kazakh eagle hunter
Photo by M. Ketterer

Cost includes:
- Trip Leader: KarmaQuest Director Wendy Lama
- Entrance fee to Protected Area
- All transfers by minibus in the city and 4WD Russian minivan in the countryside
- Airport transfers and sightseeing tours
- Main trip (Sept 2-14): twin sharing accommodations; 3 nights in a 4 star hotel in Ulaanbaatar, 3 nights at a Ger Camp, 3 nights in a teepee, 3 nights in a tent
- Optional Extension (Sept 14-20): twin sharing accommodations 1 night in a 4 star hotel in Ulaanbaatar, 1 night at a Ger Camp, 2 nights at Guest Ger, 2 nights in a Ger owned by a Kazakh family
- Fully organized trip with English speaking local guide and support staff
- Riding and pack horses, camping equipment
- Three meals a day throughout the trip (except as noted)
- Welcome and Farewell Dinners and arts performance
- Permits as required for trip
- Other services as detailed in full itinerary

Cost does not include:
- International airfare to/from Mongolia
- Domestic flights: $250 for the main trip; $330 for Add-on trip flights, both subject to fare changes
- Single accommodations not available in teepees, or in Ger Guest or Ger owmed by Kazakh family
- Other meals and beverages
- Sleeping bag (available for rent)
- Mongolia visa fee
- Emergency evacuation/ medical insurance (mandatory)
- Airport taxes, excess luggage charges
- Personal medical kit
- Items of personal nature (e.g., laundry, drinks, telephone calls, taxi service, etc.)
- Staff tips, and donations at monasteries or social service organizations
- Any other services not specifically mentioned as included above



 

On this trip, you'll not only visit the amazing and shrinking world of the reindeer-herding people, the Tsaachin, of northern Mongolia, but will help them and their culture survive. For centuries if not millenia, the Tssachin people have herded reindeer in these norhern reaches, moving with their herds and living in tee-pees transported by the reindeer. Various challenges to their chosen lifestyle have reduced the number of herding families. Ecotourism provides them with supplemental income, though few tourists venture into their realm.

KarmaQuest travelers find the experience of spending time with the Tsaachin truly remarkable. They may choose to participate in a ritual with the shaman, an important cultural practice that gives insight into this unique way of life.

Travel to the Tsaachins' settlement is best done on horseback, with a full support crew of guides, cook and horse-tenders. En route, you’ll stay in a tent, then shift to tee-pees as the Tsaachin stay, with food provided by your cook. "Amazing dishes came out of our kitchen!" raved recent travelers. Photos (at left) capture the Tsaachin's everyday life of riding and milking reindeer, complemented by soft autumn lighting that lends magic to the scenes.

After three nights with the Tsaachin, you'll continue on through rolling mountains and forests, completing a circular route to a village roadhead before driving 175 miles to Tsagaannuur, from where you'll return to Ulaanbaatar ("UB") by flight.

Don't miss the opportunity to see the Golden Eagle Festival. Yes! This is the same Golden Eagle Festival portrayed in the film, The Eagle Huntress. Read the "The Untold History of Eagle Huntresses" and a National Geographic interview with the film director, for greater insight into the drama behind the film and story.

An optional and highly recommended Extension to the trip takes you to far western Mongolia for up-close encounters with an entirely different ethnic herding people, the Kazakhs. A family of nomads will host your stay in their guest ger (traditional yurt) and show off their eagle hunting and horse-riding skills in anticipation of the annual Golden Eagle Festival -- your next stop on the trip.

Join the festival as the hunters parade on horseback in their traditional regalia (photo left) and compete in the lively kekbar games. Eagles also compete for the honor of best hunter, swooping down from high cliffs on their owner's command to fetch an animal skin.

Return to UB after a short hike in the Altai, and head home. Other optional extensions (e.g., to the Gobi Desert) are also possible. Please inquire.

Itinerary:

Day 1    Arrive in Ulaanbaatar (UB), the capital city of Mongolia: Transfer to your hotel and overnight. (Note: most international flights arrive late at night.)

Day 2    Sightseeing: Get a feel for UB, a modernizing city with a human touch, with a tour of major sights including Gandan Buddhist monastery and the national history museum. In the evening enjoy a traditional cultural performance and welcome dinner. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 3   Fly to Murun, the center of Khuvsgul province: Drive some 60 mi to camp in tents at approx 8,000 ft elevation.

Day 4    Drive to Tsagaannuur, (approx 125 mi) and explore this provincial center. Overnight in a lodge (approx 9,100 ft).

Days 5 & 6   Travel by horse-back into the taiga: Today you'll meet your horse guides and get acquainted with your own horse and tack. Pack horses will carry the luggage. This time of year the terrain can be wet and marshy in places, so horses are the best means of travel. They move slowly over the 20-25 miles covered in two days. Being elevated on a horse also provides you with ideal viewing opportunities. Camp in a tent en route, then stay in a teepee. (approx 9,500 ft).

Days 7 & 8    Explore the Tsaachin environs: Camp amongst the Tsaachin people, observing and experiencing their everyday life. Activities include attending a shaman ritual, milking reindeers, processing milk products, and learning about their local traditional culture.

Days 9 & 10    Depart Tsaachin camp: Travel by horse-back via another trail through picturesque forested mountains and valleys. Cross a mountain pass, Ebed (approx 9,840 ft). Meet the vehicle and driver and drive to Tsagaannuur soum. Overnight in tents en route and in a lodge in Tsagaannuur (9,100 ft)

Day 11   Travel to Tultiin Tokhoi Ger Camp: Drive to Tultiin Tokhoi near Murun town. Stay overnight in Ger Camp on the banks of a river, with beautiful views of the valley and a good chance stretch your legs with a short hike.

Day 12   Travel to Murun, fly to Ulaanbaatar: Arrive in UB and enjoy an afternoon to explore on your own. For those not going to the Eagle Festival: say farewell to Mongolia with a special dinner. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 13   Departure: Transfer to airport for your departing flight. Free time until then.

Trip Cost: From US$3,750/person depending upon group size.

Single supplement: US$350/person (single occupancy not available in the teepees at the Tsaachin encampment)


Optional Extension to the Golden Eagle Festival

Days 1 & 2 (ext)   Fly to Ulgii, visit Kazakh family: Early morning fly to Ulgii town (approx 4.5 hrs), the center of Bayan-Ulgii province and drive to Sagsai soum (21 mi). Today and tomorrow you'll be guests of a Kazakh family, tended as well by your own staff. Don't miss this front row seat as the eagle hunters prepare for the festival competition. Enjoy Kazakh hospitality and traditional foods including a vast array of dishes made from the milk of their livestock: cheeses, yogurts, and fermented mare's milk or kumis. Overnight in the family guest ger.

Day 3 (ext)   Attend the Golden Eagle Festival: Travel to the festival site, where the ceremonies begin with the hunters parading on horse-back with their eagles, competing for recognition with their elaborate clothing and accessories. Later the eagles will be evaluated for their speed and agility. In the evening watch a Kazakh concert of traditional songs and dances. Overnight in a Ger Camp.

Day 4 (ext)    Golden Eagle Festival: On the second day, eagles will be released from a cliff to attack fox skins dragged by their owner on horseback. The Kazakhs will compete in their traditional game called “kekbar,” testing their horse riding skills by passing a goat skin amongst their team mates, or wrestling it from their opponents. After an awards ceremoney, enjoy a celebratory dinner. Overnight in Ger Camp.

Day 5 (ext)    Drive to Tolbo Lake (50 mi) and take a hike into the Khar Sair mountain valley. Overnight in a Ger Camp.

Day 6 (ext)   Fly to Ulaanbaatar: Transfer to your hotel, with the rest of the day on your own. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 7 (ext)    Departure: Free time until it is time to transfer to the airport for your departing flight.

Optional Extension Cost (Golden Eagle Festival Sept. 14-20): From US$1,790/person depending upon group size

Single supplement on Extension: US$120/person

Please get your deposit in soon as space is limited to 9 persons. The trip may fill up quickly.

Deposits are due April 30, 2017; final payment is due June 30, 2017.

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For more information please contact


KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel
Tel: (650) 560-0101/
Fax: 712-8164
699 Spindrift Way, Half Moon Bay,
California 94019 USA
Karma@KarmaQuest.com
Website: www.KarmaQuests.com