Dates: Tuesday 22nd August – Monday 4th September 2023 (Ulaanbaatar to Ulaanbaatar)
Estimated Tour Price: £4,699pp plus flight
Estimated Flight Price: London to Ulaanbaatar approx. £1,200 return
Deposit: £650 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £200 – £300
Minimum Number: 5 people
Maximum Group Size: 6 people
Birds: Demoiselle Crane, White-naped Crane, Swan Goose, Saker Falcon, Amur Falcon, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Azure Tit, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Mongolian Lark, Kozlov’s Accentor, Brown Accentor, Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch and Long-tailed Rosefinch.
Plus numerous migrant waders and passerines that may include Terek Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint, Grey-tailed Tattler, Little Curlew, Hume’s Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Two-barred Warbler, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Eye-browed Thrush, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Siberian Rubythroat, Yellow-breasted Bunting and unexpected rarities!
Mammals: Snow Leopard, Pallas’s Cat, Wolf, Mongolian Gazelle, Siberian Ibex, Argali, Przewalski’s Horse, Corsac Fox, Siberian Marmot, Steppe Polecat, Marbled Polecat, Great Gerbil, Midday Gerbil, Mongolian Gerbil, Pallas’s Pika and more!
This exciting new itinerary is specifically timed to coincide with a great period of bird migration as well as a good time to try and see Snow Leopard!
The end of August and the beginning September can be a very exciting time for birding in Mongolia because many of the country’s speciality species are still easily seen and many passerines and waders are on passage. Wherever there is suitable habitat, the trees and bushes can be alive with eastern gems! We will spend the first half of the tour focused on birding, looking for the key specialities as well as migrants and unexpected rarities. On previous tours we have found exciting species such as White-breasted Waterhen, Great Knot and Schrenck’s Bittern! Wader passage slows down by September, but there is still a good chance of finding species such as Long-toed Stint and Terek Sandpiper and also Little Whimbrel. During the second half of the tour our focus will switch to looking for Snow Leopard. We will be based in a comfortable Ger Camp on the edge of the mountains. Although we are not spending as much time in the hotspot areas as we do on our other more dedicated Snow Leopard tours, we still have a reasonable chance of success and the birding is also good. The knowledge and experience of our local guides is the key to success.
Our final day will be spent to the west of Ulaanbaatar where we will visit a wetland area for Cranes and waders and the famous Hustai National Park to see Przewalski’s Horses.
Accommodation: 13 nights in Mongolia with a mix of hotels and Ger Tents
6 nights in Gers and 7 in hotels.
The Gers are very comfortable and have beds, basins and running water. Separate shower and toilet tents.
Inclusive Meals: Full board
DAY 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar (UB)
After arriving into Ulaanbaatar in the early morning we will travel a short distance to our hotel near the Tuul River. Here, we will spend time to find the key species of this area which should include Azure-winged Magpie, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Azure Tit, Long-tailed Rosefinch, Daurian Jackdaw and maybe our first Amur Falcon or Mandarin Duck along the River.
After lunch we will visit the pine forests to the south of UB where we will be looking for migrants and specialities. Species we hope to find include Siberian Rubythroat, Spotted Nutcracker, Pine Bunting as well as mammals such as Red Squirrel and Siberian Chipmunk. Overnight UB Hotel
DAY 2: UB to Gun Galuut Nature Preserve
Today we will travel east of the city and visit the superb wetland reserve at Gun Galuut. The birding here is very exciting and migrants can appear in any bit of suitable cover. Expected species should include Richard’s Pipit, Blyth’s Pipit, Pallas’s Reed Bunting, Yellow-breasted Bunting and maybe White-naped Crane. The possibility of migrant waders is endless and amongst the commoner species we hope to find scarcer species such as Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Long-toed Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper as well as possibilities of Little Whimbrel, Red-necked Stint and Asian Dowitcher. We should also find a good selection of wildfowl that may include Swan Goose and maybe some late departing Stejneger’s Scoter.
We will spend the whole day exploring this bird rich area. Overnight Gun Galuut Camp
DAY 3: Gun Galuut – Gorkhi-Terelj National Park
After a final morning birding around Gun Galuut to check for any newly arrived migrants we will then head back towards UB and head into the pine forest of the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Here we should find a good selection of migrants such as Dusky Warbler, Hume’s Warbler and Taiga Flycatcher as well as chances of Siberian Rubythroat and maybe Red-throated Thrush.
We will spend the rest of the afternoon here before returning to our hotel by the Tuul River. Overnight UB Hotel
DAY 4: UB to Dalanzadgad
After a good breakfast we will set off on our long journey south into the South Gobi region. We will travel by road to Dalanzadgad which is around 600Km but we will make a number of birding stops en route. Birds we hope to find along the roadside should include Demoiselle Crane, Mongolian Lark, Pallas’s Sandgrouse and both Steppe Eagle and Cinereous Vulture. Overnight Dalanzadgad Hotel
DAY 5: DZ Migrant Hotspots
Dalanzadgad during migration can be very exciting! Before breakfast we will visit the park just a short walk from our hotel which can often be very productive with wing-barred Phylloscopus warblers in every tree! It is not unusual to see Arctic Warbler, Two-barred Warbler, Dusky Warbler and Hume’s Warbler without too much difficulty. We will also be looking for species such as Daurian Redstart, Taiga Flycatcher and Asian Brown Flycatcher, plus any number of rarities that sometimes our up in this tiny park! After breakfast we will visit a nearby plantation, again searching for migrants and rarities. Once again, the possibilities here are very exciting, as we found Mongolia’s 3rd Screnck’s Bittern at this site in August 2019! More expected migrants should include Yellow-breasted Bunting, Oriental Turtle Dove, Greenish Warbler, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Eye-browed Thrush, Isabelline Shrike and more!
After lunch we will continue birding various other migrant hotspots and visit a nearby wetland where we may find Greater Sandplover and Citrine Wagtail. Overnight Dalanzadgad Hotel
DAY 6: Dalanzadgad to Beautiful Mountains Ger Camp
Today we will travel by dirt road to reach our Ger Camp approximately two hours drive from DZ. On arrival at our base camp we will have time to get settled in before heading into the mountains. Common bird species that we should see around the camp include Upland Buzzard, Saker Falcon as well as numerous Horned Larks, Isabelline Wheatear and White-winged Snowfinch. Mammals around camp will certainly include both Gerbil species before we head into the mountains where we will watch Siberian Ibex and focus our attention to carefully scanning the area for Snow Leopard! Overnight in Gers with camping shower, toilet and food catering tent
DAYS 6 – 10: Ger Camp at around 2,300M
During the next few days our time will focus on searching for Snow Leopard with much of our time spent scanning from viewpoints. Our plans will very much depend upon the latest information from our trail cameras and speaking with local herders. Generally, we will focus on cats from early in the morning until mid morning and late afternoon to early evening.
During the middle of the day there will be time to rest at base camp or look for some of the other birds and mammals in the area such as Eurasian Eagle Owl, Mongolian Accentor, Small Snowfinch and Mongolian Gazelle. We will also spend some evenings spotlighting for other mammals such as various Jerboa species, Pallas’s Cat and the highly prized Marbled Polecat!.
Our base camp location will depend on the most up to date cat news, but it will most likely be at around 2,300M close to areas where we can view suitable Snow Leopard habitat. Temperatures during the night should be around 10 – 12°C during the night and 16 – 20°C during the day. The furthest trek required to one any viewpoint will be an hour, but we may may not need to go this far this dependent on the latest information and what the trail cameras reveal. It is just a matter of perseverance until we hopefully succeed! Overnight in Gers with camping shower, toilet and food catering tent
DAY 11: Final Day Beautiful Mountains
We will spend our final day searching for Snow Leopard and any other species that we have yet to see before making our way back to Dalanzadgad for the evening. Overnight Dalanzadgad Hotel
DAY 12: Travel to Ulaanbaatar
Today is mostly a travel day as we head back north. We will make a stop to look for Great Gerbil en route and a number of birding stops too.
Overnight UB Hotel
DAY 13: Lun Wetland – Hustai National Park
Today we will set off to the west of UB and head for the wetland area of Lun and. Hopefully, we will find at least one White-naped Crane family group that should still be present. At this time of year, wader passage is slowing down though we may get lucky with an Asian Dowitcher. We will also be looking for Eatern Marsh Harrier, Swan Goose, Bar-headed Goose and migrants.
We will then travel back east to Hustai National Park for the late afternoon. We will spend the afternoon in the park where we hope to find species such as Daurian Partridge, Amur Falcon, Saker Falcon and Meadow Bunting. The park is also very good for mammals and we will look for Daurian Ground Squirrel, Corsac Fox and of course the famous re-introduced Przewalski’s Horses. Overnight UB Hotel
DAY 14: Transfer to Airport
We will take the 20 minute transfer to Ulaanbaatar airport where the tour concludes.
Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides
Leaders: Wise Birding leader & local guides
Included in cost: Accommodation in a mix of hotels, tourist Ger Camps and tents, all meals, bottled water, ground transport and services of leaders.
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, alcoholic drinks and any airport/visa fees
Single Supplement: £299 includes private hotel room & Ger
Transport: Toyota Landcruisers throughout the tour
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
A good level of fitness is required as walking will generally involve walks up steep scree tracks. Particularly when looking for Snow Leopards we could trek for up to an hour in mountainous terrain. Plans need to be flexible dependent on the most recent information on the animals movements.
Climate: Very mixed! Generally warm with typical daytime temperatures typically around 15 – 25 °C and lows of around 10 °C at night. Of course as with so many places in the world the weather is very unpredictable at this time of year and these should be taken as a general guide only!
Tour Start Point: Ulaanbaatar airport, Mongolia
Tour End Point: Ulaanbaatar airport, Mongolia
Suggested Airlines: Lufthansa via Frankfurt or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul