By Leah Marshall
Earlier this month, in western Mongolia, a nomadic Kazakh tribe took a treacherous journey over frozen lakes in freezing temperatures to set up their summer home.
A photographer recently joined them in a five day 150 kilometres trek up into the Altai Mountains, where he experienced their traditional culture first hand.
Stuart McKenzie, 45, currently lives in Moscow working for the BBC as a shoot and edit cameraman. However, this wasn’t a work trip.
McKenzie told Truthfal: “Ever since I was a little boy I always wanted to go”. He was guided by Shohan – an eagle hunter – and his family throughout some of his 2-week long trip.
The nomadic tribes migrate at various points in the year so their animals get the best feeding in different parts of the region; they have a herd of sheep, goats, camels and cattle.
Shohan is currently training his daughter to hunt with an eagle, whilst this is a traditionally male role, girls are stepping in to keep the tradition alive out of necessity.
“If they don’t have any boys in the family they have still got to pass on that tradition, and the girls are wanting to pick that mantle up,” said McKenzie.
During his two-week visit, the weather hit lows of minus 28. Luckily, McKenzie is used to filming and photographing in the cold climates due to living in Moscow.
McKenzie told Truthfal: “The landscape was absolutely phenomenal. It’s beautiful; there are no roads and very few permanent settlements”.
McKenzie seeks to explore traditional cultures unchanged by western society and their surrounding civilisations. Those who follow the traditions of their people, which date back decades.
In November, he plans to visit the Nenet’s – a tribe of reindeer herders who live and migrate alongside their reindeer. This journey will take him into the Arctic Circle.
“It’s something not many people have done. There have been a few folks who have gone up there and capture it but I know I can do it in my own style,” said McKenzie.