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Anybody interested in doing a photo trip to the Mongolian Naadam Festival in 2015?

Discussion in 'Special Sessions, Events, and Tour Announcements' started by Jonathan F/2, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. Summary of what is Naadam:

    A video from this year's Naadam festival:

    I've always thought it'd be cool to organize a small tour from the U.S. to Mongolia. My wife is Mongolian and I can help coordinate the logistics of the trip with her connections back home. My idea is that we'd organize a small group and fly from Los Angeles to Mongolia for the event. There are a ton of photo ops...everything from dances, wrestling, archery, horseback riding, etc. I went in 2011 and I came back with a plethora of photographs. Also the summer there is very warm and the city is bustling with activity with outdoor eateries, bars and shopping.

    Anyways, I just wanted throw it out there to see if there was any interest, if there's enough people perhaps I can start coordinating early to get trip organized next year!

    A couple pics from my last trip in 2011 to give you an idea:
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  2. That's a really good idea - I think Mongolia is underrepresented in the photography realm compared to other parts of the world and would be a good candidate for folks who want to photograph places and culture that hasn't been done 1000 times before. My wife went to UB/Renchinlumbe/Darhat Valley for work a few years ago as Montana State has a lot of ties with agriculture and forestry in Mongolia. She took my D200 and did great for a non-photog; Mongolia is a beautiful land with a vivid culture. There are some Mongolian expats here in Bozeman that organize trips there, although I don't know if they specialize in the photography aspects though: http://www.boojum.com/boojmong.html

    Good luck, I hope you get some takers!

  3. I'd love to do that. Bit hard though from here. Good luck.
  4. The best way I can describe photography in Mongolia...everything feels so epic! While Naadam is definitely the key event to shoot, there are many other activities and photo subjects worth shooting. Everything from architecture, landscape, nature, wildlife and people. I think the one key difference I can offer if doing a trip is having it more personalized, especially if we keep the group fairly small. Many of the tours that go are very large and can feel a bit more touristy. Plus I've got a good idea of the places to shoot and how to navigate the area with photography in mind due to my past trips there.

    I think most subjects can be shot with either an 80-400 VR or even a 300 f/4 + 1.4 TC for long range , a good wide lens for landscape is a must and a good standard prime for portraits of the people is all you really need.
  5. Yeah, due to logistics and keeping the tour organized, I'd have to start the trip from LA. It'd just be easier especially for ticketing and planning! Though I did meet a couple Aussies vacationing there, so I'm sure there are trips from your neck of the woods that go there!
  6. That looks like an outstanding trip-do you have a 'guesstimate' for how much it would cost?
  7. Airline ticket prices go way up during the Naadam holiday...so I'd guesstimate about $2000+ for the flight alone. You can either fly through Beijing or from S. Korea ( a bit more expensive), but I prefer S. Korea due to less delays from past experience. Accommodation prices vary as well depending on the quality of the lodgings selected. They recently opened a Marriott Hotel in the heart of the city, but they have other lodgings that are a bit cheaper. Unfortunately outside goods are still expensive due to the landlocked nature of the country, most things have to be imported in through China. Though we can circumvent the city for the event and stay at one of the outlying resorts where you get to stay in a Mongolian ger (yurt). I think these are bit more fun, since you get to taste a bit of Mongolian country life.

    So it really depends how authentic you want the trip...we can do it backpacker style or have a bit of comfort or a little of both! Half the trip can be in the country the other half stay at a comfortable hotel. The games are split up on different days and we can attend each day to shoot it. In terms of photo ops there will be lots of action, candids and horses galore. Last time I went, I saw some tourist from Japan use their DSLRs for action shooting and mirrorless cameras for wide angle and candids. At night there are events as well and if we stay in the city we can hit up the main strip. They have lots of stores, eateries and bars to hit up. Though I'd be a little picky eating the local food. Even though they have some of the most organic meat supply in the world, western stomachs need a bit of adjusting. :) 

    We'd start from LA, fly to S.Korea, transfer and then fly to Mongolia. We can probably arrive a day or two early just to adjust to the time and check out some of the local scenery. Naadam last for about 3 days and each day is a different event, so we'd probably be looking at a 5 to 7 day trip. I'd highly recommend everyone travel as light as possible as well.

    I'll most likely not fly back with the group, but I will see everyone off at the airport. I think I'd also make it mandatory that everyone bring a personal medical kit. I say this from personal experience and it will save us from making a trip to the international hospital (you don't want to go to the local hospital!). This site has a good check list of what to bring:


    Anyways, this is just a rough itinerary of what to expect. If there's enough interest, I can flesh out the details. Also it's probably best for those who have the strength to get around. We'll probably be doing a lot of walking! Also, I'd put away any preconceived notions you may have about East Asia and Mongolia. Mongolia is in East Asia, but it's a totally different feel. Think Asia, but mix it in with Texas, post communism, booming early 20th century industrialism, internet and Chenggis Khaan (Ghengis Khan)!
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
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