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
Our hotel will be just 12km from the airport and birding in the hotel garden and surrounding Tuul River should keep us busy for our first day. Here we will look for species such as Azure Tit, Penduline Tit, Long-tailed Rosefinch, Daurian Jackdaw, Azure Winged Magpie, Amur Falcon, Yellow breasted Bunting, Little Bunting and White cheeked Starling. Overnight Mongolica Hotel 25 Km from Ulaanbaatar city centre
Days 2/3: Travel east nr Kahlzan (570 Km)
Early on day 2 we shall begin travelling east deep into Pallas’s Cat habitat. We shall spend 2 nights in this area that appears to have a very high density of this highly sought after cat. Birds we will make an effort to see include Saker Falcon, Upland Buzzard, Steppe Eagle and a possibility of Oriental Plover. Other mammals we will hope to find include Black-tailed Gazelle and possibly both Marbled and Steppe Polecat. Overnight in tents with camping shower, toilet, food catering tent
Day 4: Return to Ulaanbaatar and then Khustai National Park (660 Km)
Around the lakes of Gun Galuut, 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. Key mammal targets will be Przewalski’s Horse as well Siberian Marmot, Long-tailed Ground Squirrel, Daurian Ground Squirrel and also another chance of Pallas’s Cat. Overnight Khustai National Park in tents with camping shower, toilet, food catering tent
Day 5: Khustai NP – Luus lake – Tsagaan Suvarga (580 Km)
We begin our journey south where we will visit Luus Lake and hope to find the stunning Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Mongolian Finch, Pacific Golden Plover, Greater sand Plover and more. 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, Red and Corsac Foxes are also possible. Overnight stay near Tsagaan Suvarga in tents with camping shower, toilet, food catering tent
Day 6: Tsagaan Suvarga – Dalanzadgad – Yol Valley (210 Km)
As we travel towards the Yol valley the scenery will start changing quite dramatically as we start to head into the start of Snow Leopard country. We will look for 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 stay near Yol Valley in tents with camping shower, toilet, food catering tent
Day 7: Yol valley – Khongor sand dunes – Sevrei Mountain (160Km)
Today we travel into serious Snow Leopard habitat and our focus will change with all our energy put into trying to see this beautiful cat. Other mammals include Wild Ass & Black-tailed (Goitered Gazelle). Overnight stay in tents with camping shower, toilet, food catering tent
Days 8 – 11: Sevrei Mountain
During the next few days we will focus on trying to see Snow Leopard. 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 2,200M 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. We will be at the camp until around 2pm each day and then walk to the viewing areas and open air shelters where we will scan the mountain slopes until it gets dark. Sunset at this time of year is around 9pm. We will then spend the night in a shelter with warm blankets and continue our quest from dawn (sunrise is around 5am) scanning the slopes again until mid morning before returning to our base camp to rest before another afternoon and evening of scanning the mountains Overnight in tents with camping shower, toilet, food catering tent
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!
Day 12: Return to Dalanzadgad in the afternoon 210 km
After a final morning looking for Snow Leopards we will then return towards Dalanzadgad looking for species such as Asian Desert Warbler and Mongolian Ground-Jay en route.
Overnight stay in guest house
Day 13: Dalanzadgad – Ulaanbaatar 600 km
Mostly a day of travel but stopping en route for any new mammals and birds.
Overnight in the Mongolica Hotel
Day 14: Departure
After a final relaxing breakfast and birding in the hotel garden we will then take the very short transfer to the airport for departing flights back to the UK.