Genghis Khan conquered areas from Asia to Europe, forming his Mongol Empire that stretches from the Black Sea to India and the Himalayas. In 1689, Mongolia accepted Manchu’s rule but when Chinese Revolution led to the fall of the Manchus in 1911, northern Mongol princes declared independence, removing Chinese officials and beginning the struggle to be recognised as a country. They eventually gained recognition as a country in 1945. Although initially influenced by Soviet politics, the Mongol Democratic Revolution of 1990 led to a multi-party system which operates up till today.
Every year, people travel to Mongolia to view the impressive Gobi desert and witness the nomadic culture of which 40% of Mongolian still practice. Although tiring, the Gobi desert offers an impressive array of sand dunes, cliffs, caves and gorges. The Gobi desert also provides guests the opportunity to experience the traditional practices of the families in Mongolia carrying out their daily routine in their ger (tradition Mongolian tent).
On top of their daily activities of herding livestock in their extensive fields, there is also the impressive activity of eagle hunting. Humans all over the world have worked with domesticated animals such as dogs for hunting but it is only through these Eurasian steppe that you find humans hunting with birds. Although the most famous form is hunting with the golden eagles, eagle hunters also train with other goshawks and falcons.
Eagle hunters in Mongolia originally travelled between Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. However, during the Kazakhstan communist period, many eagle hunters fled to Mongolia and have remained there, still practicing eagle hunting in their genuinely traditional style. First, the young eagle hunter, usually around the age of 13, will catch a young eagle and raise it. Throughout 8 years, they will train and hunt small animals such as foxes and marmots with their eagle, forming a strong bond that allows them to send their eagles soaring with little to no worry of the eagle’s desertion. After 8 years, in spring, the eagles are sent back into the wild with a farewell gift of a butchered sheep, allowing them to return to nature to mate and produce strong newborns of their own. This practice ensures strong eagles for the next generation of eagle hunters.
Another famous event that many people visit Mongolia for is the Naadam Festival, a sport competition for archery, horse racing and wrestling. Although women have recently been included in horse racing and archery competitions, wrestling remains a men’s sports. This festival is held all over the country, even in inner Mongolia, China. However, to catch the biggest event (a.k.a. National Naadam), it is important to plan your travel such that you will be at Ulaanbaatar when the festival is held from 11th to 13th July.