Golden Eagles Festival - MONGOLIA



Altai Region, Mongolia  


Racing through the mountain range on horseback, the Kazakh people of the Altai Region in Western Mongolia practise their ancient tradition of hunting with golden eagles. Only around 70 Kazakh eagle hunters take part in the annual Golden Eagle festival and the following set of  images display the 4,000-year-old art in all of its glory. 

The Golden Eagle festival sees golden eagles soaring through the air at speeds of up to 200mph as well as horse racing, archery and Bushkashi, which is a goatskin tug of war on horseback.

It takes the hunters around five years to finish their training.During this period the eagle must be treated with respect and gentleness or it might fly away and never come back. The trainer constantly sings and speaks to his bird to imprint his voice in its memory.The hunter does not keep the eagle with him forever. After years of service, the eagle is released into the wild.

During my stay with eagle hunters, I felt great respect for the way they care and treat the eagle like a child. They have an extraordinary bond with the bird and it is very hard for them to let the eagle go back into the wild.