Magnificent Mongolia

The Yak Festival

Updated: Feb 2, 2020

The Mongolian nomads live quite a self-sufficient lifestyle, given that they domesticated wild animals such as yaks, horses and camels, goats, and sheep to benefit from their milk, meat, fur and more. They developed unique bonds and traditions with these animals to survive in harsh conditions of the nature. The local nomads consider yak as one of the most productive animals because its meat/milk is nutritious, fur is warm, which all came handy in traveling and surviving the extremes of Mongolia. Yaks are heavily built animals with a bulky frame, sturdy legs, and rounded cloven hooves, so they have often been used for transporting the parts of the ger (Mongolian traditional dwelling ) as Mongolians moved around four times a year for better pasture. Mongolians also produce yak fiber products which is slowly becoming a trend in the market. Yak wool is pretty similar to cashmere in terms of retaining warmth.

Yak physiology is well adapted to high altitudes, having larger lungs and heart than cattle found at lower altitudes, as well as greater capacity for transporting oxygen through their blood due to the persistence of fetal hemoglobin throughout life. Conversely, yaks do not thrive at lower altitudes, and begin to suffer from heat exhaustion above about 15 °C (59 °F). Further adaptations to the cold include a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, and an almost complete lack of functional sweat glands. Therefore, yaks inhabit in the high mountainous areas of Mongolia: such as the Khangai mountains in the center, Altai mountains in the west, and Khusvgul mountains in the north, Khentii mountains in the east.

The yak festival is held in late August, in Bat-Ulzii sum, Ovorkhangai province. The programs in the event are fascinating to see: yak race, yak polo, rodeos and beauty contest. As always, Mongolians put their best traditional clothes on to come and participate in this event.

There are many surprises and entertaining activities, thus it has become a local favorite event.

If you happen to come to Mongolia around August and interested in experiencing this festival, please contact us at

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