Birds of Prey Festival in Bokonbaevo
Bokonbaevo village, located at an altitude of 1800 m above sea level, is a picturesque village on the southern shore of the magnificent Issyk-Kul Lake, which is called the pearl of Kyrgyzstan for its amazing beauty. Located between the Terskey Ala-Too Mountains and the southern coast of Issyk-Kul, Bokonbaevo attracts visitors with its natural beauty and traditions. The village is also well known for its yurt camps and guest houses, some of which are located directly on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. In addition, the village is a great place to start hiking in Terskey Ala-Too or in the nearby hot springs and waterfalls.
Every summer, the largest hunting bird festival in Kyrgyzstan takes place in Bokonbaevo. Experienced falconers demonstrate hunting techniques with different types of eagles, hawks and falcons. Kyrgyz hunters call Eagles the bird of God and prefer to train them and to hunt with them, because they are the smartest, most powerful and strong birds on the planet and can hunt hares, foxes, lynxes and even wolves!
Eagle hunting is an ancient tradition of the Kyrgyz, which for centuries has been passed from father to son, from generation to generation. It is said that in the old days one eagle could feed a small village. Nowadays, this form of hunting is not essential anymore in the survival of the people and the tradition of eagle hunting is now slowly disappearing. Kyrgyzstan is one of the few countries that still adheres to the traditions of nomadic civilization, and to this day, there are experienced hunters who are determined to preserve this ancient practice.
The hunter (berkutchi) and the eagle stay together for almost 20 years, they build a very strong connection during that time, and it lasts a lifetime. The eagle isn’t just the hunting partner of the berkutchi, the bird is the part of the family. Berkutchi spends a lot of time with the bird, feeds, trains it, and after 20 years, he sets the eagle free in the wilderness.
During the Festival in Bokonbaevo there is an opportunity to get acquainted with this old tradition of hunting with birds of prey. Berkutchi will demonstrate the learning process and hunting. Alongside the birds, you can also see the production of felt products, buy high-quality souvenirs, taste Kyrgyz cuisine, enjoy folk music, and watch traditional horse games and horse races at the festival.