Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The last of Cat's Mongolia

The two-day eagle festival outside Sagsai was a thrilling event, with 82 hunters on horseback with their birds, flying to the fist and to the lure. There were other events, including a camel race, a horse race, goat tug, and other fun events, but the eagles were what had brought us all to that valley. Because one of the two airlines had shut down fights the week before, there were less tourists than the year before.

These were great days that ended too soon. Armanbek participated in several of the non-eagle events, so we cheered him on. But his presence there was really to help our three eagle hunters. It was Armanbek who stayed with the eagles at the rock perch and settled them in as the hunters rode down below and prepared to call them to the fist or lure. One of our hunters, Bakht, ended up in second place – at both eagle festivals we attended.

The Monday after the big eagle festival was slated to be election day in Mongolia, so many of the eagle hunters left mid-day on Sunday, hurrying home to be there to vote. We had a long, slow and painful goodbye with our Kazakh friends. I was later disappointed to read that several regions of Mongolia had such a low voter turnout that they were going to have to have re-elections. Here’s a few final images from those last few days in Mongolia.


Matt Mullenix said...

Thanks Cat!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story of your trip. After reading Steve's "Eagle Dreams" (which I found after finding a copy of "Good Guns Again") I have been thinking about how to bump around Mongolia to see some falconry (and maybe a little taimen fishing too). It sounds like you had a guide for at least part of your trip? Can you share any details. Thanks, Tobin Kelley

Cat Urbigkit said...

I would encourage anyone wanting to go see the eagle hunters to do so - it's well worth the trip. There are a number of good companies that offer services in Mongolia.
Boojum Expeditions from Montana is a real reputation company. Check out their website at:
They can arrange custom trips, as well as group trips already scheduled.

I went with Steve's old buddy's company, Blue Wolf Travel, which I recommend as well. Canat owns the company and we had a fine crew of guide, cook and driver. His website is:

Happy travels!