Three Camel Lodge Goes Beyond Green to Support Falconry
Falconry has an ancient and distinguished history. The world’s oldest field sport, it began on the great steppes of Asia, flourishing under the khans of Mongolia, who practiced the art between military campaigns for sport and to capture food.
The nomadic Mongolian’s hunting practice has always used female golden eagles—which can reach 15 lbs with a wingspan of 7 ft 8 in—to set after quarry and use their talons and diving speed of up to 200 miles per hour to snatch up or take down such animals as hares and foxes. Females are used to hunt as reverse sexual dimorphism—found across almost all of the raptors—finds females up to 37% larger than males, thereby more powerful in their attack, as well as less likely to be injured by retaliating prey.
As the lands of Chingghis Khan became the largest contiguous empire in history, so did Mongolians introduce falconry to other nations throughout Eurasia, Europe, and the Middle East. As falconry’s practice expanded, it would continue to develop down through the centuries, as each of these regions would refine the sport in ways unique to their own native birds of prey.
Considered the sport of kings beloved by countless monarchs, falconry diminished however following the advent of firearms. Birds of prey themselves have suffered in modern times as their numbers have been threatened by climate change, loss of habitat, second-hand poisoning (rat poison), poaching, and the knowledge gap of people simply not appreciating the need for conservation.
By co-founding the Beyond Green brand of eco-tourism leaders, the Three Camel Lodge has the unique opportunity to join this elite portfolio of 24 sustainable hotels, resorts, and lodges to amplify our impact in making travel a force for good.
Along with the Three Camel Lodge, two other Beyond Green properties also participate in falconry programs—Ashford Castle, a lavish 5-star hotel in a 13th-century castle in County Mayo, Ireland—and Post Ranch Inn, a picturesque coastal homestead on the high cliffs of Big Sur, California, overlooking the Pacific.
Post Ranch Inn, a sanctuary for the soul, allows guests to get up close and personal with a variety of birds of prey through the resort’s falconry program, where you learn from a master falconer and try your gloved hand at working with a Harris Hawk.
Harris Hawks are much smaller than the golden eagle, as the female hawks reach up to 3.5 lbs with a wingspan just under 4 ft.
Ashford Castle, on an expansive 350-acre estate, lets guests discover falconry at the oldest established Falconry School in Ireland, flying Harris Hawks under the guidance of an instructor in the magnificent woodlands—seeing them fly from tree to tree as they follow you on a walk, then swooping down to land on your gloved fist when called.
Jalsa Urubshurow, pioneer of sustainable travel and founder of Three Camel Lodge, founded the Golden Eagle Festival in 1999, an annual event in Bayan-Ulgii Province, located in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia.
Urubshurow also sits on the board of the board of the Peregrine Fund, whose mission is to conserve birds of prey worldwide—helping raptor populations and their ecosystems thrive, ensuring that raptors are valued by all humans, and serving as the global expert on birds of prey and their conservation.
Guests of the Three Camel Lodge can book a journey to experience golden eagle falconry firsthand through leading sustainable tour operation company Nomadic Expeditions—also founded by Urubshurow—traveling throughout Mongolia, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet.
Moved by the stories of Kazakh Mongolians telling how few remaining eagle hunters there were, Urubshurow created the Golden Eagle Festival of to help safeguard the dwindling tradition, which has resulted in a stabilization and gradual increase in the number of eagle hunters.
The hunters compete in falconry events based on the speed, agility, and accuracy of their magnificent hunting eagles. No actual hunting takes place, however. Rabbit skins pulled along the ground by riders on horseback serve to simulate prey for the birds to sight.
Travelers to Mongolia with Urubshurow’s luxury sustainability-focused travel company Nomadic Expeditions can enjoy a journey to take in the festival, meet the local eagle hunters, and see the impressive golden eagles up close. Customization of such a journey further allows guests to visit the homes of one of these nomadic Kazakh families to learn their customs, learn how they train the birds firsthand, and to even join a group of eagle hunters on an actual hunt in the Altai Mountains.
In 2010, UNESCO designated falconry to its “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” list with measures implemented to safeguard it.
Beyond Green provides the Three Camel Lodge a broader platform of alliances—specifically with Ashford Castle and Post Ranch Inn—to further our shared initiatives to protect and celebrate this incredible tradition, as the bond between man and bird is truly a beautiful thing.