Mongolia, the land of Snow Leopard
Mongolia. Its name inmediatly brings to our mind images of endless steppes, the Gobi pristine ondulations, yurts and wild horsemen. From these vast landscapes is from where the hordes of Genghis Khan and his successors built the largest human empire of all times, a wave that conquered Central Asia, China, India, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. But after this explosion of conquers, Mongolia faded a quiet era. Nowadays Mongolia is an extremely welcoming, and rather isolated country in Central Asia.
This is a vast country with a range of different natural habitats and ecosystems from the taiga forest to the Gobi desert. The country is mostly steppe (grassland), but you also find taiga forest in the North, majestic Altai mountains in the West, endless grassland steppes in the East and Gobi desert in the South.
Despite its 1,564,600 square kilometer area, just over 3 million people live in Mongolia. About 45% of the entire population lives in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Many of the Mongolians still live in a nomadic lifestyle herding their livestock throughout the year. Having this as a background is not difficult to imagine that Mongolia is a natural paradise with several untouched areas. The vasts landscapes offer endless habitat for a good variety of bird species along with some unique wildlife.
Once assembled at Ulaan Baator or at any other previously agreed airport, this journey shall start in the Mongol capital. After a breaf birdwatch near the city to take contact with some local specialities such as Azure Tit, we will take an internal flight to the Western region of Khovd. Here, with the mighty Altai as uncomparable setting, we will search for the enigmatic Snow Leopard. While searching for them we shall enjoy the bird jewels living in the area including Altai Snowcock, Mongolian Ground-Jay, Palla’s Sandgrouse, Brown Accentor, Swan Goose, Palla’s Fish Eagle, or Daurian Redstart to name some. After a six days in the Altai we will come back by plane to Ulaan Baator.
The last two days of our journey we will explore the Hustai National Park providing a long array of specialities that may easily include Demoiselle & White-naped Cranes, Palla’s Grasshopper Warbler, Blyth’s Pipit, Palla’s Reed Bunting, Mongolian Lark, Amur Falcon or Upland Buzzard to name a few.
A journey throught a mitical land, the only nomadic country in the world full of specialities and mammals of legend.
The passion of Carles Oliver for desertic landscapes and mountains have brought him from the Pyrenees and Atlas Mountains, and from Sahara & Sinai Deserts and South African karoo to the Central Asia endless steppes and mighty mountains. This is a tour to explore some little known areas, with comfortable accommodations and surprisingly good local food.
A book to help you understand Mongolia: “The Blue Sky” (1994) by Galsang Tschinag (1944-).
Day 1. Arrival to Ulaan Baator. Depending on the time of arrival, birding around the city. Overnight in the city, where we will be birding around the hotel as it is located in one of the best birding sites, called Songino Resort. Here it is possible to enjoy some excellent birds including Azure Tit, Azure-winged Magpie, White-cheeked Starling and many other goodies that breed in the area.
Days 2-8. Altai Mountains in Khovd Province
After we land at the local airport in Khovd town, we will transfer to our Snow Leopard site (~150 km) where we will stay in a yurt camp operated by the local communities. We will spend a week in the Altai Mountains and adjacent semi-deserts in western Mongolia in search of elusive Snow Leopard, and other wildlife and birds. We work with the experienced local guides who will help us spot this large wildcat and other wildlife during our stay including Saiga Antelope, Siberian Ibex, and Goitered Gazelle among other. Here we will also target really sought after birds including Altai Snowcock, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Mongolian Grond-Jay, Brown Accentor, Daurian Redstart, Mongolian Lark and Pied Wheatear among other.
On the way back to Khovd town after the Altai Mountains, we shall stop at the south-western edge of Khar Us Lake which is not far from the main road between Khovd town. Here it is possible to enjoy Swan Goose, Palla’s Fish Eagle, Paddyflied Warbler, Masked Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (White-headed), Greater Sandplover and White-headed Duck along with good numbers of migratory birds that can easily include Blyth’s Pipit or Barred Warbler among many other.
Day 9. Internal flight from Khovd to Ulaanbaatar and short transfer to Bayan Lake, a wetland listed as an Important Bird Area due to its large reedbeds, and good variety of birdlife. Here we shall look for some interesting specialities including Palla’s Reed Bunting, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Oriental Reed Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Palla’s Grasshopper Warbler, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Bearded Tit, Daurian Jackdaw, Small Snowfinch and Eastern Marsh Harrier. This is also a nesting place for cranes, and we will be granted with nice views on Demoiselle & White-naped Cranes family groups.
Day 10. Hustai National Park (100 km to the west from UB)
The Hustai National Park was established in 1993 to protect reintroduced wild horses, also known as Przewalski’s Horse. This is a great place for birds of prey and we will look for Steppe Eagle, Upland Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Cinereous Vulture, Amur Falcon and Himalatan Vulture. Interesting passerines common in the area include Meadow Bunting and Mongolian Lark. Daurian Partridge is also a sought-after target here! The park also supports a large number of Wapiti and Tarbagan Marmots. On the southern steppe of the park, there are some Mongolian Gazelles. Transfer back to Ulaan Baator for a final overnight.
Day 11. After breakfast, final transfer to the International Airport.
Flights to/from Ulaanbaatar and Barcelona (please check also our no flights option), 10 nights of accommodation in twin/double room, breakfasts, lunches and evening meals, birding guides, ground transport, reserve entrances/fees and travel insurace, internal flights inside Mongolia. All prices include VAT.
Alcoholic and soft drinks are not included, any other item not listed as “INCLUDED”.
Tour participants will assemble in one of the connection airports for a coordinate arrival into Ulaanbaatar International Airport (if not chosing our in flight option), and trasferred to the accommodation for an evening meal (depending on the time of arrival).
In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in Hotel Mongolica (3 stars). The rest of the nights we will stay in modern yur camps.
Temperatures can be low in the Altai Mountains, and you may expect to be between 0ºC and 10ºC at times during the tour. In the steppes it can be windy, but not really often. Temperature will be higher in the center of the day and we will try to avoid central hours of the day when exploring some desertic lands.
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