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Participant at Mongolia's Thousand Camel Festival

Mongolia’s Thousand Camel Festival

Mongolia’s Thousand Camel Festival is a yearly event – falling on the same date each year. Taking place on March 6th and 7th, this is Mongolia’s only festival dedicated to the Bactrian camel. Put the date and location in your diary. It takes place in Bulgan Soum – a district of Omnogobi Province in the southern Gobi Desert.

A Mongolian camel herder in Bulgan - location of Mongolia's Thousand Camel Festival

Mongolia’s Thousand Camel Festival is annual celebration was first initiated in 1997 and is organised by a local NGO and the Governor’s Office of Onmogobi Province to help protect the Bactrian camel and the essential role it plays in the lives of the nomadic herders in the region.

 It is a celebration of the way of life in the harsh Gobi and a chance for the local herders to come together as a community at what can be quite an isolating time of year. Mongolian people love a celebration and this comes across in the atmosphere. It’s an entertaining two days of events that feature various contests including camel races, camel polo competitions even a camel beauty pageant (although the criteria for the winning camel is never clearly announced or explained).

Participants in the camel beauty pageant at Mongolia's Thousand Camel Festival

There is also a traditional ankle bone (knucklebone) shooting competition which is much more exciting than this short description implies. As with most Mongolian festivals, it includes an evening concert of traditional music and dance. Don’t get caught up in notions of authenticity – Mongolia’s Thousand Camel Festival features a lot of local involvement. The festival draws local Mongolian spectators as well as westerners and the locals are always more enthusiastic. It often feels like a party for locals, thrown by locals. 

 We recommend staying the two days to experience the range of the competitions (the best is the final competition on the second day – March 7) and also for the concert on the first night. You can also take part in the opening parade. Just be prepared to be flexible – see it as something similar to a community fete – with delays, random announcements and sideshows. Actually, even better just remove your watch and enjoy joining the local community in their celebration.
At Mongolia's Thousand Camel Festival
If you’re interested in experiencing Mongolia’s Thousand Camel Festival with Eternal Landscapes you’ll find more details on our Winter Tours in Mongolia. We look forward to welcoming you.
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes
Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I’m Jess Brooks. I am the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia - a registered Mongolian business and social travel enterprise that focuses on providing travellers with a real 21st Century insight into Mongolia. I have been based in Mongolia since 2006 and together with my beloved Mongolian team, we focus on tourism that makes a positive difference. I'm also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society - awarded for my work in Mongolia and a published guidebook author - having worked together with World Adventure Guides to produce a digital interactive guide to Mongolia.
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