Real Russia Blog

Golden Eagle Festival

Golden Eagle Festival

Take an opportunity to experience old Kazakh traditions and ways of life, and coincide your trip with the fantastic Golden Eagle Festival.

If you are looking to experience a traditional way of life, with a scenic and diverse landscape, and awe-inspiring wilderness, then a visit to Mongolia will give you a fascinating insight into invigorating eastern culture. Why not take an opportunity to experience old Kazakh traditions and ways of life, and coincide your trip with the fantastic Golden Eagle Festival.

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Event, the Golden Eagle Festival is annually held in Mongolia during the first weekend in October. The festival was founded in 1999 to preserve the Kazakh's unique heritage, a tradition that has been practiced thousands of years, and to protect golden eagles. The Golden Eagle Festival is one of the best opportunities to catch a glimpse into the area’s unique culture.

Place: Bayan-Ölgii, the highest Mongolian province
Location: the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia
Date: 15 – 16 September 2018, 6-7 October 2018

This province is a home to ethnic Kazakh nomads who train Golden Eagles for hunting. While enjoying breathtaking scenery of the Altai mountains that offers endless opportunities for photography, you can observe an ancient and disappearing art of eagle-hunting.

Mongolian Kazakhs, who honor the tradition of hunting on horseback with Golden Eagles, continue to hunt with trained Golden Eagles today. Once a year, dozens of them, from teenagers to old men, gather in a valley of the Altai Mountains to celebrate the Golden Eagle Festival and to participate in the hunting competition to the view of locals and tourists. The Eagle Hunters compete with each other in catching animals with specially trained eagles, who follow commands of their owners.

What the tourists can’t see, though, it’s the hard work of the eagle domestication that comes before. To tame the eagle, the eaglet is starved of food for days, until it begins to accept food from humans, and then the hunter can start training the eagle. As the bond between the hunter and eagle develops, they head to the mountains, sometimes for days, to hunt their prey – usually foxes, hares or wolves – during the winter months, when it is easier to see the animals against the snow.

Eagle huntsmen compete in the hunting skills, eagles’ agility, speed and accuracy as well as in huntsmen’s clothes: the more extravagant the coat the more respected the hunter is. The hunters are dressed in traditional Kazakh costumes, with fur coats made of marmot, fox or wolf skins which have been caught by their eagles.

The festival includes an opening ceremony, parade, cultural exhibitions, demonstrations and handcrafts taking place in the centre of the town of Ölgii, followed by sporting activities and competitions outside of town towards the mountains. The other activities held during the Golden Eagle Festival include horse racing, archery and Bushkashi, where horse-mounted players attempt to place a goat or calf.

Keeping with the tradition, no women can participate in it. However, in 2014 the 13-year-old Kazakh girl Aisholpan, who was taught to hunt with her eagles by her grandfather, challenged a male-dominated tradition and became the first female to enter and won the competition. It was featured in the documentary ‘The eagle huntress’.

Tourists, coming from all over the world to participate in the Festival, help to keep this ancient tradition alive and thus support the local community, where people still live in harmony with nature, practicing the lifestyle that ancient Kazakhs lived centuries ago.

If we inspired you to visit this spectacular event, contact our travel experts to arrange you visa, tickets and accommodation.

Real Russia Blog

Mongolian Holidays - Naadam Festival


Mongolian Holidays – Naadam Festival

The Naadam Festival also known as eriyn gurvan nadaam (эрийн гурван наадам) means “the three games of men” and is celebrated in July, each year.

This year the festival falls on the weekend of the 11th to 13th July and the celebration kicks off with an opening ceremony on the first day, which includes a parade hosted by local Mongolians, music influenced by the Mongolian military and a march displayed by Mongolian soldiers. This in part commemorates the revolution of 1921 when Mongolia declared itself an independent country.

The remainder of the festival focuses on three key competitions: wrestling, horse racing and archery. Each of these games capture the historical and cultural significance important to local Mongolians, today, that remember their ancestral roots.

Wrestling signifies the belief that men, and in particular soldiers, should remain at the peak of their fitness. Unlike modern wrestling, the competition at Naadam has unusual rules: the weight of the competitor has no consequence – a small person may be matched against a larger person – and with no time limits too, these guidelines make it a thrilling event to watch!

Horse racing displays how Mongolians traditionally relied on horses for all aspects of their development. Traditionally, horses became their means of transport, their ability to feed and support themselves and even enabled Mongolian people to interact socially with fellow Mongolians that lived further afield. Even today, many Mongolians rely on horses as a means of transportation and to support their welfare, while children learn to ride a horse from an early age, including toddlers as young as 2 years old.

Archery showcases the strategy of Mongolian soldiers over centuries. Over hundreds of years, soldiers develop their combat skills using archery, though they also used archery to hunt for food and provide sustenance to the army too. Traditionally, archery allowed Mongolians to establish their place as great warriors of the time and this pride carries over to Mongolians, even today, showcased throughout the Naadam celebrations.

At Real Russia, we believe the Naadam Festival is an event everyone should experience. Alongside the tri-sports, there are many other events to enjoy, including folk dancers, exhibitions and craft fairs. Many people at the festival dress in traditional costumes, allowing you to immerse yourself in the customs of Mongolians, even further!

If you would like to visit the Naadam festival or to travel to Mongolia, we have a range of fixed tours and excursions that allow you to indulge in the magnificence of Mongolia. Please contact our travel team who will be happy to offer advice inspiring your dream trip!

Real Russia Blog

Go Help Charity Rally

Go Help Charity Rally


Text added August 2014

In celebration of us winning, ‘Russia's Leading Travel Agency’ at the World Travel Awards 2014 for the second consecutive year, we will be extending our support to Go Help further by making a donation! Thank you for the support from our customers and partners, without their help this award would simply not be possible.


Original March blog for Go Help – re Chariy Rallies Launch (July 2014)

Real Russia is pleased once again to announce our involvement with the Go Help Charity Rally.

Go Help is a UK based charity where volunteers work with local communities in Central Asia and America in improving access to education and healthcare services.

Plans are well under way, as many voluntary teams are spreading awareness and support for their excellent cause. The teams aim to launch and operate ambulance services in third world countries and it is a cause that Real Russia feel is particularly worthy of support!

Under the ‘Charity Rallies’ name, ‘Go Help’ runs three rallies:

  • 'Mongolia Charity Rally’ – from London to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
  • 'Roof of the World Charity Rally’ – from London to Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
  • 'MesoAmerica Charity Rally’ – from San Diego to Siguatepeque, Honduras.

As Real Russia has assisted Go Help Charity Rallies over the last 3 years, our visa specialists are experienced and understand the timeline for the rallies and the border requirements specific to each route. We can provide support and preparations for visas for the Mongolian Charity Rally and the Roof of the World Charity Rally routes.

If you are a volunteer participating on one of these two routes and would like to arrange your visas, feel free to speak to one of our visa specialists, via email at:

Or by phone at, 0207 100 7370 (Ext 350) – The extension number 350 has been set up on the Real Russia phone line, specifically to help Charity Rally participants arranging their visas.

Please keep in mind that for the Mongolia Charity Rally (Southern Route) to allow enough time for the visa applications for all sections of the route, we have set a deadline of the 4th April 2014.

If you are interested to know more about the ambulance charity events ran by Go Help, see their website at:

Good luck to all teams raising support; hopefully we can help lighten the pressure of arranging the visas!

Keep in touch with us and share your progress with us on facebook, or twitter too – It'll be great to hear how you're trip has gone enroute!


Real Russia Blog

Upcoming consulates closures

Upcoming consulates closures

It has been announced that, during February, the following visa application centres and consulates will be closed on some days due to national holidays:

Chinese Visa Application Centre
– Monday 11th February 2013 until Wednesday 13th February 2013

Mongolian Consulate
– Monday 11th February 2013 until Tuesday 12th February 2013

Vietnamese Consulate
– Monday 11th February 2013 until Friday 15th February 2013

These closures could have an effect on visa processing times so please be aware of this if you are planning on using these services.