Photographic Journey to the Land of Nomads - August 2015
MONGOLIA – The Land of Nomads
Home to sweeping landscapes and nomadic clans whose lives, in many ways, remain unchanged since the days of Genghis Khan and the time of the mighty Mongol Empire.
Mongolia offers a vast and stunning array of photographic opportunities as the terrain consists of plains, high mountains (Altai Mountains), forests, lakes and desert – it’s a pristine landscape and a nature photographer’s paradise! You will journey through the vast steppes to capture images of Mongolian horses, traditional “Ger” felt-lined canvas tents, horse trainers and eagle hunters.
Mongolia is a deeply religious country steeped in Buddhism (in a sense the “glue” that still binds the country, but with a light touch of Islam) and thus presents a unique array of cultural opportunities and life styles to photograph.
It is a place momentarily paused in time, located between its past and its yet-to-be determined future. A photographic journey to Mongolia draws you into a mesmerizing aggregation of history, stories, images and memories of yesteryear.
You cannot but come away with countless, memorable moments captured with your camera.
Not a moment will be wasted searching for shots during the ten days we spend in Mongolia. All locations have been thoroughly researched and all access to photo shoots have been pre-arranged, including private photo shoots within “difficult to access” locations. To see a small selection of images from the locations we will visit see: Images of Mongolia. Images are kindly provided by tour leader Gavriel Jecan.
We have organised an exciting itinerary for this photographic journey to provide every opportunity for you to return home with a collection of iconic, distinctive images of this extraordinary country, culture and nomadic people.
The group is confined to a maximum of ten (10) participants, excluding tour leaders and local guide.
If there are seven (7) or less participants the photo tour will be led by Gavriel Jecan together with the local guide – also see the”Tour Leaders” tab.
The tour officially commences in the Bayangol Hotel, Ulaanbaatar on 16 August 2015, with a briefing scheduled for 3.30pm, and officially finishes with a road transfer to Ulaanbaatar International Airport, in the afternoon of 26 August 2015.
Day 1 / 16 Aug – ARRIVE IN ULAANBAATAR & TRANSFER TO HOTEL
The group will gather in the afternoon for a briefing (including by the local guide) on the locations we are about to visit. Gavriel & Denis will discuss helpful photographic techniques. Following the briefing, we will walk through and photograph selected parts of Ulaanbaatar. An enormous city of pulsating commerce, chaotic traffic, vibrant nightlife and bohemian counterculture, the Mongolian capital elicits as much shock as it does excitement.
The contrasts within the city can be exasperating too; Armani-suited businessmen mix with mohawked youths and del-clad nomads fresh off the steppes. One minute you’re dodging the path of a convoy of trucks and the next you’re mystified by groaning Buddhist monks at Gandan Khiid. This chaotic capital is not the easiest city to navigate, but with a little patience, you will capture memorable images, like no other.
Located in the northern part of the country, high above sea level, Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital city in the world, the cultural and business center of Mongolia, and a hub connecting the Trans-Siberian Railway with the Chinese rail system. It has become a thriving urban center in one of the most remote locations in the world. This ever-changing city may be the biggest surprise of your visit to Mongolia.
Accommodation: Bayangol Hotel. [Dinner at a nearby local restaurant].
Day 2 / 17 Aug ULAANBAATAR
You will spend the morning photographing at one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia – the Tibetan-style Gandan Monastery, one of the few buildings in Ulaanbaatar to predate WWII and one of the few monasteries to survive the Soviet purge. Built in 1809, it currently cares for over 600 monks in residence. Mornings present excellent opportunities to photograph the monk’s daily rituals and listen to the iconic Buddhist horns which call the lamas and monks to attend temple. This monastery is one of Mongolia’s most important, and also one of its biggest tourist attractions. The full name, Gandantegchinlen, translates approximately to ‘the great place of complete joy’.
Accommodation: Bayangol Hotel. [B/L/D].
Day 3 / 18 Aug ALTAN HÖKHII MOUNTAINS via HOVD or ULAANGOM
Following early breakfast we transfer by road to Ulaanbaatar airport. We fly to Mongolia’s western most province, on arrival we are met by our expedition vehicles. The transfer to Altan Hökhii Mountains will take 5 – 6 hours. The name “Altai” means in Mongolian “Gold Mountain”. This is the area where the Altai Mountains rise to great heights from initial sweeping landscapes. During our drive we will stop to photograph landscapes and nomadic villages or herders we may encounter along the route. A vast area of 16,178 km²—Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Mount Belukha and the Ukok PLateau comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site entitled Golden Mountains of Altai.
Accommodation: Ger felt-lined canvas tents [B/L/D]
Day 4 / 19 Aug ALTAN HÖKHII MOUNTAINS
This particular mountain area, anchored in the middle of the arid steppes of the Great Lakes basin, has a rather traditional community who differ from Halkh Mongols. The community is composed of Myangad Mongols, a Western ethnic clan group. This ethnic group is extremely keen horse trainers.
We will photograph their unique training of horses and herding livestock. Here, it is possible to take an optional horse ride to a higher elevation in the Altai Mountains, where snow leopards reside, but these animals are the most elusive of the big cats. Occasionally packs of wolves in the valleys below can be seen, as local communities report loosing much of their yearly livestock to these hungry marauders. The Myangard people migrate between green pastures by pack camel caravan and horses during the various seasons. Our camp is located on a plateau at moderate altitude where the climate is fresh and cool. The local communities in this region partner in conservation with WWF (World Wildlife Foundation).
Accommodation: Ger felt-lined canvas tents [B/L/D].
Day 5 / 20 Aug ALTAN HÖKHII MOUNTAINS
After an early breakfast we will hike or take a horse ride to a higher viewpoint to photograph these amazing landscapes in early morning light, returning to camp by for lunch.
In the afternoon we will visit local villages to experience and photograph the unique and ancient lifestyle of these nomadic people.
Accommodation: Ger felt-lined canvas tents [B/L/D]
Day 6 / 21 Aug To BAYAN ÖLGII
We will transfer by road in a small convoy of vehicles with a Kazakh/Mongol/English guide into Bayan-Ölgii province, a region with the most ethnic diversity in Mongolia.
The majority of people in Bayan-Ölgii are Kazakhs, who speak a Turkic language.
Kazakhs are Muslims who have a rich cultural heritage, music and the tradition of hunting with golden eagles. We will drive along Tolbo Lake to the Khar Khasuut Valley, visiting Kazakh nomad communities, among which many families still hunt with golden eagles. Great photographic opportunities present themselves either late in the day and on Day 7 with the hunters and their eagles.
A number of photo shoots will be arranged for our group. This photography is iconic ‘classic Mongolian nomad hunting’.
Expect to fill many large memory cards the next day!
Accommodation: Yurt tents [B/L/D]
Day 7 / 22 Aug BAYAN ÖLGII
Following breakfast we go to photograph the Eagle Hunters who will pose for us and demonstrate the majesty of their eagles in flight and hunting.
After lunch we continue photographing landscapes and family settlements/village lifestyles.
Accommodation: Yurt tent [B/L/D]
Day 8 / 23 Aug BAYAN ÖLGII
Continuation of early morning and afternoon photography of differing landscapes and Kazakh communities/village lifestyles.
Accommodation: Yurt tent [B/L/D]
Day 9 / 24 Aug Transfer to HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK
Rise early, breakfast and drive to one of two nearby airports – Hovd or Ölgii, depending on flight schedules (which vary with little notice).
The camp in which we will be staying is located between the two airports.
Fly to Ulaanbaatar and have lunch, then transfer directly to Hustai National Park, which is about a two-hour drive.
There is approx. 160 Przewalskii Horses and 1000 Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) in this National park. We usually arrange a game drive at sunset to photograph the Przewalski’s wild horses in golden light.
Accommodation: Hustai Ger Felt tented camp [B/L /D]
Day 10 / 25 Aug HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast, we venture again into the Hustai National Park to continue photographing the wild horses and any other wildlife. We may have the opportunity to engage with local nomads who will show us how they make felt crafts and felting. The ger camp in Hustai National Park is operated by the park service and is quite basic accommodation.
Accommodation: Hustai Ger Camp [B/L/D)
Day 11 / 26 Aug DEPARTURE FOR HOME
Following breakfast we prepare for and finalize the time for our departure to Ulaanbaatar airport.
There is one group transfer to the airport and the time of departure for the airport will be finalized on the evening before, when we are in Hustai Ger Camp and taking into account the flight times of participants.
Guest’s may depart the late afternoon/evening with Korean Air or remain until the next day in Ulaanbaatar. There will be no group transfer to airport on 27 August 2015.
Those deciding to stay an extra night may do so at the Bayangol Hotel. This will be at their own cost as will the transfer from the hotel to the airport (taxi cost is approx. US$45.00).
The tour officially commences in the Bayangol Hotel, Ulaanbaatar with the briefing scheduled for 3.30pm, on 16 August 2015 and officially finishes with an afternoon transfer to Ulaanbaatar International Airport, on 26 August 2015.
For a more detailed itinerary click the DOWNLOAD ITINERARY button in the sidebar and download the PDF.
Gavriel Jecan is one of the most experienced photography guides in this part of Asia. He has photographed professionally and worked with Art Wolfe for over twenty five years and is resident in Thailand. The exclusive access to the locations offered on this tour is possible principally because of the wealth of local knowledge Gavriel has garnished from his seven previous photographic tours of Mongolia, from tours he has co-led with Art Wolfe and from his own private tours. He has led photo tours to Mongolia for the last 10 years.
Denis Glennon AO is an Australian photographer who travels the world seeking new locations to capture iconic images. He is the owner of Iconic Images International and nothing pleases him more than introducing photographers to those same locations and seeing the delight in their eyes when they witness and photograph a subject that clearly touches their soul. If you would like to read a little more about Denis, click on: Read More and open the tab – ‘Denis Glennon AO’.
All local guides have a long experience working with photographers, TV, film teams and reporters across Mongolia.
If there are seven (7) or less participants, the photo tour will be led by Gavriel Jecan, together with the local guides.
You will be introduced to extraordinary photographic opportunities that ordinary tourists or visitors cannot access.
Costs, Terms of Payment & How To Register
Iconic Images is obligated to pay the costs of the photographic tour in US dollars.
The cost is US$5,550.00, or the equivalent in AU$ at the time of making the final payment, per person, twin share.
If you require un-shared accommodation a single supplement of US$450.00, or the equivalent in AU$ at the time of payment, applies. You must state your preference on the Registration Form.
The overall number of gers/yurts accommodations is limited. Requests for single accommodations/single supplements in these situations are “on request” and cannot be guaranteed.
For your convenience and to minimize currency exchange risks, payments should only be made (in US dollars) to the US dollar bank account of the travel agent, Our World Travel.
Should you wish to use your credit card for payment in US dollars please check with your bank or financial institution to determine the most cost-effective way to do so.
Terms of Payment
1. A non-refundable 50% deposit at the time of booking i.e. this initial deposit is payable when you submit the completed Registration Form.
2. A final payment of the remaining 50%, on or before Friday 10 April 2015.
How To Register
To register please click the REGISTRATION FORM button in the sidebar, download the PDF, complete same and follow the instructions.
Included in Cost
- All meals in Mongolia, commencing with dinner on 16 August and finishing with lunch on 26 August 2015.
- Local guide.
- Ger camps and hotels accommodation.
- Ground transportation.
- Park entrance fees.
- Transfer on arrival and departure if you arrive and depart at the same time as the group.
- One litre of drinking water per day per person. Additional bottles of water can be purchased from the local guides.
- Local Guide Fee
Not Included in Cost
- Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks.
- International flights to/from Mongolia.
- Visa fees (if applicable).
- Private transfers to and from Ulaanbaatar International Airport on arrival or departure.
- Late check-out costs at the Bayangol Hotel (if applicable).
- Local guide and driver gratuities/tips – payment is at your discretion.
1. Travel Insurance Is Mandatory
Travel insurance, including medical evacuation is mandatory for this journey.
2. Accommodation & Infrastructure Standards in Mongolia
Travel in Mongolia requires a sympathetic understanding of local conditions and accommodation facilities, a high degree of personal flexibility, a sense of adventure, plus a sense of humour.
Road conditions can be quite rough and bumpy as we travel, frequently slowly, over uneven and hilly surfaces.
Daily photography activities necessitate that all participants be able to remain “on their feet”, walking moderately, whilst out-of-doors (in possibly varying weather conditions) for the majority of the day, which can be around 8 hours when the photography is great.
In-country services are not similar to those in Western countries, and disruptions to flights and transport, which are beyond our control, may necessitate changes to our itinerary.
The gers (felt-lined canvas tents) at Hövsgöl Nuur, Gün-Galuut, and Khongoryn Els are basic comfortable accommodation, with traditional Mongolian beds (twin size) and toilet and shower facilities in a separate building/location. ‘Deluxe’ gers at Three Camel Lodge include a private toilet and sink.
A limited number of gers is available for singles and these will be allocated in the order of receipt of registrations and payment of the requisite single supplement amount.
The meals in the locations we will visit consist mainly of locally produced, wholesome products. The food is fine but do not anticipate comprehensive a la carte menus!
The standard of the food presentation is not similar to that you would have experienced on other Iconic Images photographic journeys, or you probably enjoyed when you traveled with others in less remote regions.
The low cost of this photographic journey reflects these standards of accommodation and meals presentation.
3. Restrictions of Baggage Weight on Local/Domestic Flights
The standard check-in weight for domestic flights in Mongolia is 15 kg plus 5 kg hand luggage. We have arranged to have this restriction increased 20 Kg (in-hold) and 7 Kg (carry on) .
It is possible to pay excess luggage at the check-in counter in cash, preferably in Mongolian currency (MNT).
US$1.00 = 2000 Mongolian Tugrik (approx.)
This restriction on check-in and cabin baggage means you will need to pack both your camera gear and personal luggage carefully.
4. Special Dietary Needs & Medical Needs Requiring 240-volt AC electrical Supply
It may not be possibly to accommodate special dietary needs. Please advise, at the time of booking, any dietary restrictions, including diabetic or vegan.
You must inform us of any special electronic medical equipment requiring 220-volt AC electricity, you intend using, i.e. Cpap machines etc. These special needs MUST be discussed with the booking agent, before you make a reservation.
For More Details
If you would like to discuss any aspect of international flights for the photo tour, please contact the booking agent:
Our World Travel, Shop 1/113 Royal Street, East Perth, Western Australia 6004 Telephone:+61 (0)8 9221 9977, Fax:+61 (0)8 92215577 or email: email@example.com and request to speak to Mr Nick Missikos.
If you would like to discuss anything about photography during the tour, please contact Denis Glennon, on +61 (0)428 923 103.
If this photographic journey is not for you, perhaps you might consider forwarding the information to a friend who may like to know about it. Thank you.