The Kazakhs of western Mongolia are one of the world’s last surviving nomadic cultures. From wrestlers as wedding entertainment to bona fide eagle hunters, photographer Susan Portnoy captures a world steeped in tradition and virtually untouched by modern times.

It’s dawn on my first full day in western Mongolia and I am too excited to sleep. I crawl out of my tent, bracing against the morning chill. It’s a gorgeous day. Overhead, ribbons of clouds float against a bright blue sky and all is quiet except for the deep, low roar of a river.

We’re camped in a valley three hours’ drive from the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park where we’ll spend the next two weeks. I’m with Timothy Allen, a renowned British travel photographer and eight other guests. Tim has been here many times before and cultivated lasting friendships with the Kazakh nomads who are going to let us to camp near their summer gers, a type of yurt, meet their families, and photograph their lives.