This new and exciting tour is very much an adventure as we visit the vast open wilderness of Mongolia in search of its fabulous wildlife. We will be visiting some of the more easily accessible areas within this great country. Most journeys will be done on tarmac roads with limited dirt road travel and as with most tours to Mongolia, accommodation will involve a large amount of camping. Therefore this tour is for the more adventurous traveller prepared to accept more basic accommodation and facilities but the wildlife experiences and scenery should be simply spectacular! The beauty of this tour is that unlike other Snow Leopard focused tours in other parts of the world, the temperatures in Mongolia should be more comfortable! We will have a team of drivers, cooks, interpreters & assistants in a convey of just two Toyota Land Cruisers so everyone has a window seat.
Our time will be focused on both birding and mammal watching with a strong focus on trying to see Snow Leopard as well as other key mammals such as Pallas’s Cat. Though not the best time for a birding itinerary, we will still make an effort to look for key species and should see a good selection including many highly sought after species such as Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Mongolian Lark, Mongolian Ground Jay, Oriental Plover and more!
Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar
After arriving into Ulaanbaatar in the early morning we will then head south to Dalanzadgad. We will travel the 590Km by road making birding stops en route. Birds we hope to find en route include Daurian Jackdaw, Azure Winged Magpie, Amur Falcon, Yellow breasted Bunting, Little Bunting, White cheeked Starling, Mongolian Accentor, Wallcreeper, and other montane species. Near Dalanzadgad we will try for Great Jerboa at night as well as many other possibilities including cats! During the heat of the day Himalayan Griffon, Black Vulture & Lammergeier should be soaring in the sky above us.
Overnight Dalanzadgad Hotel
Day 2: Travel to the mountains west of Dalanzadgad
Today we will travel by dirt road to reach our Ger Camp. En route we will look for mammals and birds and set up camp which will be our base for the next 8 nights to focus on searching for Snow Leopard and Pallas’s Cat. Species we are likely to see today include Upland Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Demoiselle Crane, Mongolian Lark, Pallas’s Sandgrouse and with luck, Oriental Plover. Commoner mammals we will hope to find include Mongolian Gazelle and Corsac Fox before we spend the first afternoon focusing on our key species, the Snow Leopard! Overnight in Ger tents with camp shower, toilet & food catering tent
Days 3 – 8: Ger Camp at around 2,300M
During the next few days our time will focus on Snow Leopard and Pallas’s Cat with much of our time spent scanning from viewpoints. Our plans depend upon the latest information from trail cameras and herders but we will mostly be focused on cats from early in the morning until mid morning and late afternoon to early evening. We we may drive short distances to vary our viewpoint at times. We will also spend time looking for key birds in the day and other mammals at night.
During 2016 Snow Leopards were coming to drink at this site almost every day, but of course each year is different depending on the amount of rainfall available. At this time of year, it should be very dry and therefore increase our chances of connecting with this amazing cat. This area is continually being monitored by trail cameras as well as regular information being shared with our local guide and local nomads and rangers who will help us try and succeed. We will set up base camp at around 2,300M and then walk to viewing areas. Temperatures during the night should be around 15-18 C during the night and 28-32 C during the day. The furthest trek required to one of the viewpoints is an hour, but we may may not need to go this far this dependent on the latest information and what the trail cameras show. Our daily strategy will be to set up camp and then travel on foot each day to the best viewing area dependent on the most recent information.
Snow Leopards have been recorded at all times of day and night. On numerous occasions animals have been recorded during the first and last couple of hours of daylight and it is just a matter of perseverance until we hopefully succeed! Continual monitoring of the Snow Leopards takes place through trail cameras which will help us greatly in achieving success. Our local guide has completed 7 specific Snow Leopard trips of which five have been successful, so although nothing is guaranteed, we have an excellent chance!
We may have time to visit the Khongor Sand Dunes for species such as Wild Ass & Black-tailed (Goitered Gazelle) as well as special birds such as Henderson’s Ground Jay.
NOTE: these days will be flexible dependent on our success with the cats!
Overnight in Ger tents with camping shower, toilet and food catering tent
Day 9: Yol Valley – Luus lake – Tsagaan Suvarga
Dependent on our success with Snow Leopard we may visit the Yol Valley and Tsagaan Suvarga but will need to be flexible! Species today may include Wallcreeper, Mongolian Finch, Greater sand Plover and other waders as well as the now expected Pallas’s Sandgrouse and Mongolian Larks. In the evening we will do some spotlighting for small mammals such as Siberian Jerboa, Mongolian Jerboa and Midday Jerboa. Plus Desert and Campbell’s Hamster and both Red and Corsac Foxes are also possible.
Overnight Dalanzadgad Hotel / Camping
Day 10: Travel to Ulaanbaatar
Today is mostly a travel day as we head back north but making a number of birding stops en route. Overnight Mongolica Hotel
Day 11: Lake Bayan via Khustai NP
Today we will set off to the west of UB where we will head for Khustai NP and then on towards Lake Bayan where we will spend the night. This day will take us to some very new habitats and we will see plenty of new wildlife. Possibilities include Swan Goose, White-naped Crane, Daurian Partridge, Amur Falcon and many great mammals including the Przewalski’s Horse. Overnight in canvas tents
Day 12: Lake Bayan – Khustai Np – UB
We will have the whole day to slowly re-trace our steps and look for species that we are still missing and to enjoy the wonderful scenery of this area. Overnight Mongolica Hotel
Day 13: Terlj NP / Gun Galuu
Exploring the forest of Terlj NP we will look for new species such as Azure Tit, Taiga Flycatcher and Chinese Bush Warbler as well as possibilities of woodpeckers.
Around the lakes of Gun Galuu, we will look for Demoiselle & White-naped Crane, Bar-headed Goose, White-winged Scoter, Red-throated Thrush, Daurian Redstart, Daurian Jackdaw, Mongolian Lark & Relict Gull. Overnight Mongolica Hotel
Day 14: Transfer to Airport
We will take the short transfer to the airport for an early morning departure.