5 Reasons you will love Sagsai in western Mongolia
Sagsai is home to the eagle hunting tradition, where most Kazakh eagle hunters live and the village is named as river Sagsai. Travelers love most about eagle hunting tradition, but may have little information about its environs that support the old traditions both the falconry and nomadic culture. People also may have heard about the falconers but may little know about eagle falconers’ daily living that shows the unique culture. There are also many to tell the reasons to love Sagsai, but here we choose to tell you the reasonable fives.
1. Great hospitality
Nomadic people are known as the most hospitable ones because of their traditional way of living. Kazakh hospitality traditions have much in common with those of other nomadic cultures, all of which have a very respectful attitude to guests. Hosting begins with warm greeting, and the guests are invited to seat the most honorable place of the family. After that, the guests were treated with milk tea, various snacks, and Kazakh cuisines.
No matter the visitors are invited or not, they are strangers or not, no matter they stay there in a short period of time or for days, Kazakh family offers great hospitality to all the visitors, treating with what they have. It is said that Kazakh people believe in some strange sayings that “the family cries and they might be unlucky when guests not to visit their home” so Kazakh family offer their last meals to their guests, even they don’t have enough food for them. Also every Kazakh family has a dombra, the traditional musical instrument. They love to play dombra for the guests and it is really heart warming aspect of their hosting. When you visit Sagsai you can experience their unique culture and feel this amazing hospitality.
2. Nomadic eagle falconers
There are many countries where the falconry is still practicing in the world today. But the old tradition, the classic form of eagle falconry is in western Mongolia; when the winter comes falconer goes for a hunt the wild mammals with his trained eagle on horseback to the mountains and while they are living in nomadic way of life.
In westernmost region of Mongolia, there are about 250 eagle hunters who practice this traditional eagle falconry and most of them are living in Sagsai village. They care for eagles while caring for the domestic herds, migrating 3 to 4 times a year for looking for the better pastures. The combination of the two traditional cultures is still living in Sagsai which is not found in many places of world.
3. The golden eagles
One of the largest birds of prey, The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) has many impressive stories in human culture, the symbol of strength, courage, independence, faith and the most respected bird of many countries around the world. In Mongolia golden eagle used as a hunting bird by Kazakh nation, and is a regular resident, wild ones are occurred in most areas, mostly reside among rocks and high peaks up to 3000 m above sea level. For the trained hunter eagles, during the captivity, they live with humans in their dwelling. While you are visiting Sagsai, you can You can get closer to this magnificent bird, you will know that how smart it is, and how beautiful it is and how the avian raptor hunt prey with its human partner. This can be just amazing experience and you will love this heavenly creature.
4. Remarkable natural habitat
Sagsai village is located on the riverbank Sagsai river, surrounded with high mountains. Altai Mountain region is one of the important habitats of wild mammals, the giant golden eagles and the nomadic people and they make the Sagsai a perfect place for keeping eagle falconry in its traditional form. The diversity of animal species in the Mongolian Altai region and the levels of endemism can be lower than in the tropical zones, but the particular assemblages of species and the intact functioning ecosystems are found nowhere else in the world.
This remarkable natural habitat has been supports the livelihood of nomadic peoples along with their culture that relates to the hunting wild animals with golden eagles. But in last years, the natural environments have been affected by desertification, over grazing and some modern infrastructures which threatens both the wildlife and falconry culture. To love this tradition and natural habitat is to conserve them. So it is time to aware and preserve both nature and culture for sustaining the healthy relationship of human and nature.
5. Photogenic eagle festival
There are many stories, pictures and publications about the incredible human culture that nestles in the remote Altai mountains in Mongolia. The golden eagle festival has been known to the world, and being one of the most attractive events in Asia. The festival allows us to see and know more about the old traditions of hunting with eagles in a short period. It gives us a chance to get deep knowledge and authentic experience of centuries-old culture in just 2 days.
In Sagsai village, in every September the Sagsai Golden Eagle Festival is held that also offers us great opportunity to explore and document all of these cultural experiences and in addition, there are specific sessions and programs for photographers and film makers. The Sagsai festival is not so touristy and it gives a great freedom to enjoy, also the festival directly contributes the local eagle hunters and their family who keep this wonderful tradition.
This festival is a part of the AYAN Project which aims to help preserving this vanishing culture through the art of photography. If you are interested in more about this event, please visit the page Sagsai Golden Eagle Festival.
The atmosphere of Sagsai Golden Eagle Festival
To conclude that we got the reasons why we should love Sagsai, where one of the most hospitable people on earth living in a nomadic way of life and keeping the ancient falconry culture, where one of the most attractive festival takes place and that shows amazing heritages, where one of the most iconic wild animals inhabit that indirectly supports the humans. The place itself should be on your bucket list to travel and love.
At Ayan Travel, we initiated the project and this is the way we choose to help preserving these natural and cultural treasures is to raise awareness to the world by using the power of photography. If you would like to join us to this campaign, please feel free to contact us and we are open to the further cooperation.