Mongolia: Camping with the Tsaachin “Reindeer” People
Trip Dates: September 5 to 17, 2020

Add-on (optional extension): Golden Eagle Festival with the Kazakh Nomads of the Altai
September 17 to 22, 2020



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:
- KarmaQuest Director Wendy Lama as Trip Leader
- English speaking Mongolian guide
- Entrance fee to Protected Area
- All transfers by minibus in the city and 4WD minivan in the countryside
- Airport transfers and sightseeing tours
- Main trip (Sept 5-17): twin sharing accommodations; 3 nights in a 4 star hotel in Ulaanbaatar, 2 nights at a Ger Camp, 4 nights in a teepee, 1 night in a tent, 2 nights in a lodge. Single accommodations are not available in teepees
- 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: approx. $250 for the main trip
- Other meals and beverages
- Late check out from hotels
- 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

Optional Extension
Cost includes (in addition to the above):

- Twin sharing accommodations 1 night in a 4 star hotel in Ulaanbaatar, 4 nights in a Ger Camp or Family Guest Ger in western Mongolia. Single accommodations are not available in Family Guest Ger.

Cost does not include:
- Domestic flights: approx. $580, subject to fare changes


 

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 four 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 to the Gobi Desert or the Khustai National Park to see the once nearly extinct Przewalkski horses 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).

Day 5   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 6, 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. One day, explore the taiga forest and along the river valley where crystals are found and where locals go for meditation.

Day 9    Depart Tsaachin camp: Travel by horse-back through picturesque forested mountains and valleys. Meet the vehicle and driver and drive to Tsagaannuur soum. Overnight in tents en route and in a lodge in Tsagaannuur (9,100 ft)

Days 10 & 11   Tultiin Tokhoi Ger Camp: Drive to Tultiin Tokhoi near Murun town. Spend two nights 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, perhaps visiting ancient deer stones near the river. There are also rafts are available for rent from the camp.

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. 3

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

Trip Cost: From US$4,890/person depending upon group size.

Single supplement: US$520/person (single occupancy not available in the teepees at the Tsaachin encampment)


Optional Extension to the Golden Eagle Festival Sept. 17-22, 2020)

Days 13 & 14: Travel Westward to Ulgii We'll take the long flight (1,200 miles, approx 3 hrs) to Ulgii town in Western Mongolia, where the Kazakh ethnic peoples live. After a night in Ulgii, we'll move to the grasslands and stay close to a nomadic family in gers. Being Muslims, their family structure and traditions are quite different than what we’ve experienced in central Mongolia. Some of our hosts may be participating in the Golden Eagle Festival, and will proudly show us their birds and gear.

Days 15 & 16   May the Games Begin! Today is Day One of the Golden Eagle Festival. After an opening ceremony where festival participants parade on horse-back with their eagles, each Kazakh hunter displays his or her – yes, there may be a couple of female participants – ability to entice their eagle to them from afar, baited by fox or rabbit skins. The two-day event is full of activities, with horsemen playing a tug-of-war game where they struggle for possession of a goat skin. In the evening we’ll watch a Kazakh concert of traditional song and dance.

Days 17 & 18: Back to UB and Home: The festival over, we'll fly to UB and spend our last afternoon shopping -- the "State Store" has everything from cashmere sweaters to leather goods and Mongolian CDs under one roof -- and a Farewell Dinner. Depart on Day 18.

Optional Extension Cost (Golden Eagle Festival Sept. 17-22):
From US$2,650/person
depending upon group size

Single supplement on Extension: US$170/person


Deposits for both the main trip and extension are due February 30, 2020. Final payment is due May 30, 2020. Please get your deposit in soon as space is limited to 12 persons. The trip may fill up quickly.


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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