MONGOL NAADAM - FESTIVAL
Organizer: Mongolian Government
Date: 11th-13th of July, every year
Since 1206, for the establishment of Great Mongolian Empire, by the order of Chinggis khan, Naadam Festival, the biggest festival in Mongolia has been annually held in Mongolia. Highlights are horse racing, archery, and wrestling. The word “Naadam” means game or competition in Mongolian. The opening ceremony kicks off with parade of athletes, artists, soldiers, musicians, and Mongolians warrior dressed.
Wrestling: One of the most important parts of the festival, wrestling competition usually consists of 512 wrestlers. Importances of participants are: there is no weight division, no time limits. The rule: the loser is the wrestler who falls first, except hands or feet.
Archery: The most important power of Mongolian warriors was archery. In the 13th century, there was a law that every family had to have arrow and bow beside horse headed fiddle. In the history, Esungen, the grandson of Chinggis khan shot the furthest 520m or 330 fathoms. Every man had arrow and bow even women used to shoot. It was originated in Mesolithic period and became on part of the festival since Bogd Khan Mongolia. The competition is divided into 3 parts: men, women and teenagers.
Horse Racing: Around 2400 horses race by division of 6 ages in Ulaanbaatar city. For the whole country approximately 26000 horses race at the same time every year. The greatest thing of horse racing is that 100 to 500horses race up to 25 km depending on their ages with children at the same time.
Day 1: July 10 Ulaanabaatar
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Transfer to hotel. Refreshment in the hotel. Enjoy traditional art performance and Welcome dinner. Stay overnight in the hotel. (D)
Day 2: July 11 Naadam Festival
Naadam! Naadam! Mongolian national day is celebrated throughout the country. Naadam festival is opened officially by the President of Mongolia. Soldiers on horseback, sometimes dressed in Chinggis Khan warriors regalia, will get the nine white horsetail banners at the Parliament house where they are normally displayed and will then ride in procession through the city, later to be placed in the center of the National Stadium, from where we will be viewing the Opening Ceremony. At the stadium, a huge procession is held including hundreds of adults and children dressed in costumes representing Mongolia’s numerous ethnic groups. The opening ceremony features a colorful show with folk music and dance, parachute show and more. The first round of wrestling will start immediately thereafter. Usually 512 wrestlers from all across Mongolia will compete in the first round! But sometimes more than 1000! After that you will see the archery competitions where contestants can only rely on his keen eye, firm hand and experience, take aim at a target of fist-sized baskets; and ankle bone shooting competition. Late afternoon we will visit the Bogd Khaan Palace museum. Stay overnight in the hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 3: July 12 Horse racing field
Morning we will travel to Khuu Doloon Khudag, the horse racing field. The horse races continue over the two main Naadam days. Mongol horseracing is part of a living cultural heritage, similar to the equestrian tradition that brought the Mongol armies to faraway places during medieval times. There are seven categories of races depending on the age of a horse. Two or three hundred riders ages 5-12 compete in every age category in a distance of 15 to 35km. We will see the “four year old” horse racing around 11 am. The horse race is actually a bit far from the barriers set up for visitors, so bring binoculars! However, the fun of attending is really seeing the locals. We can visit nomadic tented camps that have sprung up behind the race track and experience a concentration of nomadic Mongolia at one site! Herdsmen have come with their horses and all provisions for the festivities, which include airag (koumiss; fermented mares milk) for the merrymaking. Continue drive to Khustai National Park for 65kms. Stay overnight in Ger camp. (B/L/D)
Day 4: July 13 Nomad community
Morning visit park and to see wild horses. Then travel for 200km to Gurvanbulag community of nomad herders. Upon arrival in the area you will be greeted according to Mongolian tradition and warmly welcomed to nomadic meals and tea. Cultural immersion for nomadic life. Stay overnight in community based Ger camp. (B/L/D)
Day 5: July 14 Kharakhorum
Travel to KharaKhorum for 100kms. Visit famous Erdene Zuu (Hundred Treasures) monastery, built on the remains of Kharakhorum city in 1586 by the order of Abtai Sain Khan, descendant of Chinggis Khan. It was the first Buddhist center in Mongolia. Surrounding the monastery there is a wall with 108 stupas, of which 25 are on each side and 2 at every corner of the wall. Each stupa was erected in commemoration of a particular event, related in the inscription on each one. The three temples inside the wall represent the three stages of the Buddha’s life: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Stay overnight in Ger camp. (B/L/D)
Day 6: July 15 Khognokhaan & camel riding
Travel to Khognokhaan Natural Reserve, the area is protected since 1997, covers 46900ha of beautiful granite mountain of Paleozoic age and its surroundings. Camelriding trek for 2hours. Optional visit to Erdenekhamba, local Buddhist temple is available. Stay overnight in Ger camp. (B/L/D)
Day 7: July 16 Ulaanbaatar
Travel back to Ulaanbaatar for 280kms. Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and transfer to your hotel. Shopping for souvenirs and cashmere. Farewell dinner. Stay overnight in the hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 8: July 17 Departure