Snow Leopard, Mongolia by Ganaa

Tour Dates: Tuesday 17th – Saturday 28th January 2023 (Ulaanbaatar to Ulaanbaatar) 
Tour Price: £4,475pp
Estimated Flight Price: London to Ulaanbaatar (via Moscow) approx. £800 return
Deposit: £600 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £200 – £400
Minimum Number: 5 people
Maximum Group Size: 6 people

Target Species
Mammals: Snow Leopard, Pallas’s Cat, Wolf, Corsac Fox, Siberian Ibex, Argali, Mongolian Gazelle and Przewalski’s Horse.

Birds: Bearded Vulture, Upland Buzzard, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Mongolian Lark, Daurian Partridge, Wallcreeper, Long-tailed Rosefinch, Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch, Great Rosefinch, Pere David’s Snowfinch, Mongolian Finch, Kozlov’s Accentor and more!

Tour Summary
We are very excited to be able to offer this new tour to Mongolia in winter focused on looking for Snow Leopard and other wildlife. Our previous tours to Mongolia have always visited in late Summer for a good selection of bird and mammal species. However, more recently our local guides have discovered an exciting new Snow Leopard area frequented during the winter months. At this time of year the chances of finding Snow Leopard becomes higher due to their tracks being more visible and seeing these beautiful cats in the snow becomes a whole new experience!! Despite being winter, there is still a good selection of other wildlife that we can see including a number of quality resident birds and other mammals.

Accommodation: 11 nights in Mongolia with a mix of hotels (5 nights) and traditional Gers (6 nights), each with their own woodburning stoves. The Gers are very comfortable! They have beds, basins and water will be supplied. Showers and toilets will be available in the nearby village.
Inclusive Meals: Full board

The video below was filmed at our Snow Leopard site by our local guides.

DAY 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar (UB)
After arriving into Ulaanbaatar in the early morning we will then transfer to our hotel near the Tuul river. Here we can enjoy a relaxed day with plenty of time for some local birding and also time to rest before a long travel day the following day. Birds just a short stroll from the hotel that we will look for may include Azure Tit, Azure-winged Magpie, White-backed Woodpecker, Bohemian Waxwing, Common Redpoll and maybe Arctic Redpoll as well as the chance of some of the rarer thrushes that sometimes overwinter such as Red-throated or Black-throated Thrush.
If time allows, we can travel south to an area of forest where we could find a number of interesting birds that we are unlikely to see elsewhere on the tour. These may include Spotted Nutcracker, Willow Tit (baicalensis subsp.), Marsh Tit and possibly Black and Grey-headed Woodpecker too. A visit to a park near the centre of UB gives us a good chance of seeing Daurian Partridge too. Overnight UB Hotel

Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Mongolia by Chris Townend

DAY 2: Ulaanbaatar – Dalanzadgad
After breakfast and a good rest we will set off on our long journey into the South Gobi region. We will travel by road to the town of Dalanzadgad which is situated approximately 600Km south of UB. We will make a number of birding stops en route and any mammals that we may find, like Mongolian Gazelle. Birds we hope to find en route include Mongolian Lark, Horned Lark, Pere David’s Snowfinch, Pallas’s Sandgrouse and both Steppe Eagle and Cinereous Vulture. Overnight DZ Hotel

DAY 3: Dalanzadgad (DZ) – Base Camp
Thi morning we will take a journey of around 2 hours across the vast Steppe and to the edge of the mountains where we will find our base camp. Once settled into our Gers we will head out for our first day searching for Snow Leopards! Overnight Ger Camp

DAYS 4 – 8: Base Camp
Over the few days we will focus all our effort on searching for Snow Leopard. Our local guides know this area very well and have had some excellent observations at close range and animals have even been seen from vehicles! However, each year is different and our daily plan will depend on the latest local information and news from the local herders.

Whilst searching for this amazing cat we will also have plenty of other wildlife to keep us entertained. Bearded Vultures and Upland Buzzards will be regular as well as Horned Larks and White-winged Snowfinch. Other birds we should find close to camp include Mongolian Finch, Pere David’s Snowfinch, Brown Accentor and the endemic Kozlov’s Accentor, Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch and maybe Great Rosefinch and Wallcreeper. Of course there are plenty of mammals other than Snow Leopard that we will be looking for too. Siberian Ibex should be seen on a daily basis and we have a good chance of finding the impressive Argali and Wolves. Pallas’s Cats are regularly seen in these mountainous areas and will also be a key target species during our stay.

Our Ger Camp is very comfortable and we will have a dedicated cook to provide us with meals. The Gers will be heated by woodburning stoves and each Ger will have traditional beds and very warm sleeping bags!

Azure Tit, Mongolia by Chris Townend

DAY 9: Ger Camp – Dalanzadgad
After a final day searching for Snow Leopard and other wildlife, we will return to civilisation by the evening for a well earned rest at our hotel. Overnight DZ Hotel

DAY 10: Dalanzadgad – Ulaanbaatar
After breakfast and a quick birding stop at the local plantation we will make the return journey by road back to our hotel in UB. Once again we will make a couple of stops en route for any birds of interest or maybe a Corsac Fox as we near UB. Overnight UB Hotel

DAY 11: UB – Hustai National Park
We will head off early to make the most of our last full day in Mongolia. Hustai National Park lies to the west of UB and it is a drive of only 1.5 hours to the park entrance. The park is most famous for its re-introduced Przewalski’s Horses, though there are plenty of other mammals to see here as well as birds and a beautiful landscape. There is a healthy Wolf population in the park with fairly regular sightings and Corsac Fox are also present in certain areas. We will certainly try hard to find both species if we have been unsuccessful so far. Birds present at this time of year are obviously less than in summer but we should still find Golden Eagle, Meadow Bunting, Daurian Partridge, Mongolian Finch, Twite (altaica subsp.) Rock Sparrow and Red-billed Chough. Other key mammal targets we will look for include Mongolian Gazelle, Corsac Fox and both Red and Roe Deer. Overnight UB Hotel

Przewalski’s Horses, Hustai NP by Chris Townend

DAY 12: UB Airport Transfer
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: £220 (includes own Ger and hotel rooms)
Transport: Toyota Landcruisers throughout the tour
Difficulty: Moderate
A good level of fitness is required as walking will generally involve short steep walks up steep scree tracks in snow, particularly when looking for Snow Leopards. However, this is not necessary for more distant views. Plans need to be flexible dependent on the most recent information on the animals movements.
Climate: Generally very cold with typical daytime temperatures typically around 0 to -10 degrees Celsius. 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

Hustai National Park by Chris Townend