Autumn Expedition To Mongolia
Day 1 (21.08.2023)
After arriving from your international flight, our driver will bring you to the hotel situated in the centre of Ulaanbaatar. During the day, will be visiting the black market, Gandantegchinlen Monastery and Sukhbaatar Square. Proceed to money exchange for local currency. We will enjoy a traditional meal at a local restaurant in the evening. Overnight accommodation will be in a hotel in Ulaanbaatar.
Day 2 (22.08.2023) Fly to Ulgii
Hoping to catch the early morning flight to Ulgii, arriving at 9.30 am. Ulgii is the largest town in western Mongolia and an estimated 80% of the world`s eagle hunters live here. We purchase all the necessary things from the local market for the migration. Night stay at the Ulgii Hotel.
Day 3 (23.08.2023) – Proceed to Ulaankhus and Preparation For The Migration
After a quick breakfast, we will drive to Ulaankhus for 3 hours and set up our first camp alongside Yermyek’s winter place. Ulaankhus is a district of Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia. In this river valley, our friend and host, Kazakh eagle hunter, Ermikh and his family have their cosy winter house, where you will be warmly welcomed. This family lives in their autumn camp in Yurts which are close to their winter houses made of wood and clay. Same as their assistants lived 1000 years ago.
After finishing the greeting and tea and snacks we’ll be doing photography sessions of the eagle hunters. There will be possibilities to gather 3 to 4, or even more, eagle hunters for photography. Tonight we’ll stay with the family but we will have our own yurt or camp for the night. Our expedition cook will prepare western food & local cuisine, a hot meal, coffee and snacks.
Packing down the winter camp: A day spent with our Kazakh hosts who will be packing up all their possessions ready to leave the next day. Accommodation will be at our personal tents by the side of the family house.
Day 4 (24.08.2023) – Migration Day 1
Leave for the migration at first light. For the next 2 days, we will accompany the family on their epic migration in the Altai mountain ranges. The work starts very early on migration day. Not only is the family ger dismantled, but also the animals have to be rounded up – although they often migrate in their separate herds. The animals seem to know the routine by instinct. After all, migration is a cyclical routine.
Traditionally the men rode on horses, women rode on horseback or on a pack of animals and Bactrian camels were traditionally used to move possessions. Everything is made ready and prepared for moving: ger parts, carpets, pots and pans, shelves, stoves. Nowadays, if the family has access, trucks are used for moving the ‘home.’ Herder starts herding early in the morning before sunrise, and we’ll walk with the nomads and their herd at the same time as taking photographs while we follow the families to their spring camp. Each day our ground team will drive ahead in special 4×4 vehicles and set up our Ger or tents for sleeping and dining.
Our walking will be approximately 10 to 15 kilometres per day. While the walking is not terribly difficult, anyone who gets tired or simply wants a break can always hop into one of our vehicles. Photography from sunrise to well past sunset each day. Overnight accommodation will be in a Ger(yurt) or Tent.
Day 5 (25.08.2023) – Migration Day 2
Migration towards Saina’s Tuvan ethnic group Autumn shelter. During the nomad’s migration, you will have the chance to take photos of the Livestock, Herdsmen, Landscapes, Lakes and snow-capped mountains. The herding families don’t need to rely on maps or GPS devices; they use the sun, the shape of hills and mountains and landmarks to find their way. Overnight accommodation will be in a Ger(yurt) or Tent.
Day 6 (26.08.2023) – Portraiture and Landscape
A leisurely day spent at Yerbol eagle hunter’s Spring camp. Early morning photographing landscapes and exploring the neighbourhood areas. The focus of our afternoon will be to travel with our eagle hunter to one of the beautiful peaks around this valley to capture an epic ‘eagle hunter on horseback’ shot. A beautiful and very isolated spot in the snow-covered mountains of Tavan Bogd national park. The best time to shoot will be sunset and dusk so we will make time for everything precisely. Overnight accommodation will be in a local village hotel.
Day 7 (27.08.2023) – Morning Portraiture and Back to Ulgii
A natural light portrait early in the morning session with our local eagle hunter friends. Today after a good rest we drive 200 Km back to Ulgii town (full-day driving) in our expedition vehicles where we visit the local market and local sightseeing and enjoy local friends in the evening. Night stay at the Ulgii Hotel.
Day 8 (28.08.2023) – Portraiture and Landscape
This is the last day in Ulgii for this trip. Drive to our other eagle hunter family’s summer camps. We’ll shoot portraits and horse races on the river. Eagle Hunters shoot at the top of the mountains in the afternoon light. Night stay at the Ulgii Hotel.
Day 9 (29.08.2023) Fly back to Ulaanbaatar
7:00 am domestic flight back to Ulaanbaatar. In the evening, we will have a final supper at my favourite restaurant in Ulaanbaatar, then get a well-deserved night’s sleep back at our UB Hotel. If we have an afternoon flight then we’ll shoot an early morning landscape in the nearby mountains.
Tearful goodbyes as our driver drop you off at the airport to connect with your international flight. Have a safe trip!
A note about this itinerary: There are many factors that can cause this itinerary to change. For this reason, we have allowed a few days on either side of the migration to mitigate such an occurrence.
21st August to 29th August 2023
Across Mongolia’s Altai Mountains
Maximum 4 participants
Meet Your Mentor
Internationally renowned photographer Apratim is a contributing photographer for National Geographic, Getty Images and Stocksy United. He is a Canon Brand Ambassador – EOS Maestro and the Global Brand Ambassador and Mentor for Datacolor, Nisi, Godox, Vanguard and Blackrapid. Apratim Saha has over 36 years of experience, in the traditional film to digital photography. He is a commercial photographer specializing in people photography, portraiture, lifestyle & editorial clients.