Two Years Off Photos from a backpacking journey around the world

Mongolian Naadam Festival

Naadam is a traditional Mongolian festival consisting of wrestling, horse racing and archery. While the largest annual naadam is held in July in Ulaanbaatar, we were lucky to have participated in a smaller, local naadam! Once again, being accompanied by our host Agii and his family, we were incredibly fortunate to have been warmly welcomed by his friends and relatives alike, despite being in the middle of a carnival-like atmosphere. Between the excitement of the festival events and watching in fascination at the exuberant people and liveliness of Mongolian culture, we were giddy at this unique experience!

Pouring airag (fermented mare’s milk) over a shrine with prayer flags before the festivities begin

Loads of traditional food is prepared to feed the hundreds of spectators from nearby ger camps and villages

Customary exchanges of airag and personal snuff bottles are traditional ways to welcome new friends and rekindle old friendships alike

Carving up the freshly-boiled mutton (lamb)

Exchanging and taking a whiff of snuff bottles (tobacco used for sniffing) is a customary way to greet friends and family members during special events, particularly if one hasn’t seen them for awhile. The bottles are customary relics from when the Qing dynasty still ruled Mongolia.

Looks like the next batch of boiled mutton is almost done!

A participant warms up patiently before his Bökh match (traditional Mongolian wrestling)

Mongolian wrestlers perform a traditional “eagle dance” before each match and after a winner is declared

Traditional outfits worn during Bökh

Any male in the crowd who wants to wrestle may do so, although there’s no mercy when going up against the semi-pro wrestlers in attendance!

While the rules vary by region, here, a fall is defined by any part of the body above the knee touching the ground


At the horse racing finish line. Riders are usually young children, who are shorter and more lightweight.

Thanks for showing us around, Soko! We had a blast!

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