March, 17


Mongolia Photo Tour & Eagle Training

Harry Fisch



Mongolia Photo Tour


This will be a full fledged Mongolia Photo Tour  and Eagle training experience  where we get to know the rural, little known Mongolia.

Please visit the Mongolia Photographic Portfolio  and the portfolio Mongolia Revisited if you want to have a better idea of some of the characters and locations we will enjoy together.

A photo tour to Mongolia designed around the Naadam festival , as well as the Eagle Training experience, visiting a famed champion of the Mongolia Eagle Festival, in order to offer in just 11 days a complete view of the people of this great country.

A Mongolia Photo Tour and Eagle training experience  designed around the Naadam festival (in July) , as well as the Eagle Training experience, visiting a famed champion of the Mongolia Eagle Festival

On this Mongolia Photo Tour We will start out from Ulaan Baatar, the capital, where half the country’s population lives, head to the countryside for “our” local festival, and later finishing in the extreme north of the country, where we will visit the champion of the Mongolia Eagle Festival. On the way we will also have great photographic opportunities in the rural areas.


Mongolian Tourists



Mongolia is a little explored destination in terms of photographic trips. With 2,4 million inhabitants living in a territory of just over 1.5 square kilometers, and the vast majority of people living in the Capital alone, it’s approximately the population of Rhode Island living in a country 400 times bigger. Trips by road, even by trail, are often surprising. It’s easy to go two hours without finding a building or even a person.

We will be in Ulaan Baatar for a day, and then a few more afternoons necessary for our flight transfers, but aside from that we will spend most of our time in the immensity of the Mongol wilds, and remote villages.

It is important to remember that we are doing a route that is not as frequently done as others, and there are few tourist facilities in the area.

We will be staying in Ger Camps in comfortable tents . Homey and comfortable, gers are heated by wood-burning stoves; most lack en suite facilities, which are usually located in a central building. 

We will travel by 4×4, Japanese four wheeler cars instead of the typically offered Russian vans, which are very uncomfortable on long trips. – In Ulaan Baatar we will sleep in first class hotels.

This Mongolia Photo Tour and Eagle training experience, like all of Nomad’s tours, concentrates on contact with people, however in Mongolia it is impossible not to be constantly conscious of the arid and impressive landscapes as well.


Mongolia Archers


Our photographic workshop in Mongolia is based around the Naadam festival, which commemorates the country’s Independence.

The few photo tours that take place in this country stay in Ulaan Baatar to witness the festival instead of going to the countryside. This option is of course more comfortable but much more touristy and ‘mass market’, as the festival in the city takes place inside an enormous stadium where it is next to impossible to get close to the people who are the protagonists of the event: fighters, archers, dancers, etc.

For this reason, our photographic expedition takes place in the remote villages, which are much more traditional and where access to the people actually celebrating is far less complicated. We have also organized attendance at some of the events and festivals within the larger one, and different photo sessions with interesting characters.

• Private photo sessions with native people proudly wearing their medals.

• Beautiful women dressed in typical garb

• Shamans (local medicine)

• Private photo session with military musicians

• Photo sessions with camel herds and an optional camel ride.

• Sessions with a horse tamer and his animals

• Eagle hunters

• Landscape photography


For the grand finale, we’ll head back to Uglii, a remote village at the extreme north of the country, for an interview and photo session with an Eagle Hunter – a multi time champion throughout the years at the Eagle Festival.


A Mongolia couple wearing proudly their medals


It’s not about being in Mongolia, it’s how you approach the place


Merely visiting a place doesn’t guarantee you’ll see or experience it authentically. You can go to France, Mongolia, India, anywhere, but it’s years of travel experience and photographic experience that make the difference when you’re trying to connect with locals, find where they go, and get away from the structures built for tourists and visitors. That’s where Nomad Photo Expedition comes in; the experience we provide you will be real and in touch with the land and its people.


Mongolia Camels with tent


What are the questions you should ask before visiting Mongolia on a tour?


While there are many factors that go into making a good tour, the attitude, knowledge, and capability of the lead photographer is paramount. While that photographer might have his or her own pictures to be taking, the attention and priority should always be on the client/photographer first and foremost.

The quality of this lead photographer is what a potential client should be looking at first. If the person you’re going with does not seem to have mastery over either photography, travel, or how to interface with people and places in the area you are going to, you could have a difficult time learning from them. This lead is not only there to tutor, but also help orient you to some very new surroundings.

Keep in mind that styles vary and there is no one right way to be a lead photographer. However, there are some general things that should be red flags for you: The lead photographer abandons his group with the local guide to focus on his own photography, the one with such an inflexible schedule that it doesn’t allow you or the group to adapt to changes, etc.

If you want to know more about the leader of a tour, there’s a few questions you can ask in order to understand what they are actually offering you:

  • • What’s the itinerary like?
  • • Is it typical, such as viewing the festival only in Ulaan Bataar? Or is it more imaginative, authentic?
  • • Is it clear this photographer has good connections so as to offer better possibilities?
  • • What are you going to see? People, landscapes, local life, etc?
  • • How are you going to see it?: Private photo sessions or general access? What type of access does this lead seem to have to the events and people you’re interested in?
  • • How and where will you be sleeping?: Are there bathrooms available, or showers?
  • • How will you get around?: in this case, older model Russian vans that will be quite uncomfortable, or modern 4x4s?

We will make photographic documentaries about the life of these people, closely tied to their horses. Great herds and the possibility to be a witness to an actual horse taming in the midst of a steppe landscape, a stay in a yurt (a traditional tent), white camels, festivals, archers loosing into the sky, and dancers in traditional masks all await you, and all posed against one of the most impressive landscapes anywhere in the world.


Some interesting cultural facts


Mongolia’s Geography and Population

Mongolia is one of the world’s least populous countries, with only 2.6 million people as of July 2000. The country also has a very young population, with more than 70% of the population under the age of thirty.

Mongolia is bordered on the north by the Russian Federation and on the south by the People’s Republic of China. The country is larger than Western Europe, covering 604,100 square miles (1,565,000 square kilometers) and embraces numerous geographical zones: desert, steppe, and mountainous. Mongolia’s climate is harsh, with little precipitation and long, cool weather with temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius. Ulaanbaatar, which means “Red Hero,” is the capital city.

Today, the nomadic way of life is still practiced in the country’s rural areas. Nomads move from place to place, following the best grasslands and campsites for raising and breeding the five main types of livestock: goat, sheep, cattle (including yaks), camel, and horse.


Genghis Khan, The Universal King.-

The term “Mongol” appears in ancient texts for the first time in the 10th century C.E. The Mongols were a disjointed group of warring clans until the late 12th century. Temujin, a Mongol, was born in 1162 and rose to become the leader of the Borjigin Mongol clan. In 1206 he was given the honorary title Genghis Khan (“Universal King”) after twenty years of war and reunified most of the Mongol clans.
The Mongol conquests of Genghis Khan permitted them to develop their empire far outside of their own lands in Asia, all the way to central Europe. The Mongol Empire would last 175 years before its power waned due to internal conflicts.


The Chinese Influence in Mongolia.-

The former empire lost its independence in the 17th century and was ruled by the Manchus for 200 years. The Manchu government was deposed in 1911, and the Mongols spent the next ten years, with Russian assistance, liberating themselves from Chinese dominance.

The –short- Russian Age and the Independence

After a decade of political and military struggles, the Mongolian-Soviet Treaty of 1921 recognized Mongolia’s independence. The Mongolian People’s Republic was formally founded in 1924 as the world’s second socialist nation after the USSR. Following the disintegration of the USSR, major democratizing political and economic reforms began in the late 1980s. By 1990, the democratic movement had resulted in the formation of multiple political parties as well as the beginnings of a free market economy.



Mongolia, as a socialist country, designed its political systems after those of the USSR. The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) ruled for seven decades, collaborating closely with the Soviet Union. In the late 1980s, in response to the collapse of the USSR, a major transition in governing system and civic organizations began. In 1990, free elections produced a multiparty government that was still primarily Communist. In 1992, a new constitution was enacted. For the first time since 1921, the Communist MPRP was defeated in 1996 by an electoral coalition known as the Democratic Alliance. The MPRP regained control of the government in 2000, after four turbulent years and a succession of prime ministers.


Formal etiquette

Hospitality has always played an important role in Mongolian culture. Because visitors frequently travel long distances, there are numerous rituals for displaying courtesy, particularly to guests. The snuff bottle ritual, which dates back to feudal times, involves a guest and host offering each other there own snuff bottles to evaluate as part of a welcome ritual. It is conventionally required that guests will be delivered the finest food possible, as well as copious amounts of vodka.