Why every bucket list needs to include the Naadam Festival in Mongolia

Set in the largely untouched serenity of Mongolia, the Nadaam Festival is a must do for absolutely any adventurer. This festival – which is “The National Holiday of Mongolia” – fills every empty space with eclectic colours and strong spirits.

Its main event, the ‘three games of men’ is held in Ulaanbaatar, where some of the countries best athletes compete in heated matches of wrestling, archery, and horse racing. Up to sixteen events can be happening right before your eyes at one time, cheered on by the locals noble spirit and pride in their people. Smaller matches are held in neighbouring towns, where you get so close you can smell the sheens of sweat coming off the wrestlers. Archery reflects the locals dexterous ability and strength, passed down through generations of hunters which is still practised today.

Nomads still roam the austere, sparse deserts and herdsmen bring their finest horses to compete in long cross country treks. If this doesn’t already spark your interest, go solely for the reason to experience the locals and their rich hospitality. They go above and beyond to make any and everyone feel at home. “The festival is so unique, it is included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list,” acknowledged Byroads Travel’s Steve Mortimer, who will host guests on a group tour in July 4-17, 2018.

His two week long Mongolian Discoverer tour commences in the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, and includes explorations of the extraordinary remote wilderness, all the way down to the South Gobi desert, where nomads still meander with their cattle.

Overall, it is the type of festival that makes you feel proud of your heritage, and to be able to be a part of Mongolia’s. Let yourself be attracted to the fascinating, rich, traditional culture that the Mongolian people still withhold, and let it captivate you. Whoever you are, and whatever reason it is that you’re ticking off your bucket list or planning to, put this baby on it.

For more details on the festival – the next of which will be held in July – head to http://naadamfestival.com/

As for the Byroads Travel offering, their 14-day small group tour begins in Ulaanbaatar on July 4, 2018 and is priced from US3550 (about AUD4884) per person, twin share. Return air fares from Australia are extra. For more details visit byroads.com.au.

Photos by Gan-Ulzii