Bayan Olgii mongolia

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Mongolia - Bayan Olgii, where the eagles fly
Photos: Giancarlo Radice
Bayan Olgii, on the western edge of Mongolia, is one of the most isolated regions of Central Asia, an endless sequence of raw deserts and shimmering salt lakes that follow the arc of Altai Nuruu mountains, with their glacier-wrapped peaks more than 4,000 meters in height. No more than 350,000 people are living in this region, 90% of which are Kazakhs. Most of them are nomads, deeply tied to their cultural traditions. For centuries they have used the eagles to get food and even now Kazakh eagle-hunters capture and train these birds to catch their prey. It's almost a national sport. Every year, in October, the Kazakh community gathers in a valley around Olgii town for the "Eagles Festival", during which the men compete in horseback and camels races, and challenge each other in "shakhyru" game, in which their trained eagles are launched from the top of a hill to catch a fox fur being dragged by a horse at full gallop. For the Kazakh community the "Eagles Festival" also means a unique chance to get together before the long winter, when the temperature in Bayan Olgii drops to minus 50 degrees Celsius.
Bayan Olgii mongolia
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