In the remote and beautiful Jargalant Mountains in the Western Mongolian Altai a truly remarkable assemblage of mammals awaits us and amazingly they can be seen with relative ease and in relative comfort! For here researchers have discovered a healthy population of 30-35 Snow Leopards in a limited range and at altitudes of between only 2000m and 3000m which means that from our carefully sited and comfortable Ger Camp we can reach them after short drives and only short walks!
During the six days we’ll spend in this true wilderness we’ll be unlikely to see humans except for our camp staff and the local researchers who will be helping us to observe mammals that include not just the iconic cat, which we’ll expect to see on more than one occasion, but also Argali, Siberian Ibex and Black-tailed Gazelle.
We have timed our trip to match the period when the young Snow Leopards are still together with their mother, but spend plenty of time outside of the den playing and practicing their hunting skills, assisted by their mother who sometimes brings birds or smaller mammals to help this learning process. Needless to say succeeding in finding the site will be the experience of a lifetime! Our experienced drivers will take us as close as possible to the observation sites. At times walking will be limited to a few metres, other times we will have to take a short or medium length walk. The far reaching morning chorus of flocks of Altai Snowcocks fills the crisp morning air as we watch playful Siberian Marmots that whistle to each other signalling danger, or the grazing herds of Argali, or Ibex with their amazing ability to climb almost vertical cliffs. There will be many White-winged Snowfinches flying around us, and other choice birds include Guldenstadt’s Redstart, Upland Buzzard, Saker and Long-tailed Rosefinch. Cinereous Vultures are often seen as they scan the landscape for carcasses, most probably left by the Snow Leopards.
In the surrounding foothills are Mongolian Ground-jay and Grey-necked Bunting, while the semi-deserts below hold Desert Warbler and Pallas’s Sandgrouse, and nearby is a fabulous wetland with Pallas’s Gull, Demoiselle Crane and a huge variety of wildfowl and shorebirds. In this area we’ll be able to watch the odd-looking Saiga Antelope, which has one of its two Mongolian populations just a few kilometres from our camp. Also in this area we’ll see the delicately built Black-tailed or Goitred Gazelle. Night-time excursions into areas close to the camp will reveal Tolai Hare and hopefully Corsac Fox and we’ll enjoy the bouncing glowing eyes of Siberian, Northern Three-toed and Gobi Jerboas.
Less than two hours from the capital is the Hustain Nuruu National Park, home to the successfully reintroduced wild horse, the Thaki or Przewalski’s Horse. Short walks will bring us Long-tailed Souslik, but most probably we will spend quite some time admiring the beauty of the world’s only true wild horse species. We’ve a chance of finding Grey Wolf amongst the gently rolling hillsides, grasslands and shrubs as this relatively small area holds at least two packs of Wolves, and early evening is when they start hunting for marmots or some unwary Red Deer. Red Deer are staggeringly common here. We’ll see elegant Amur Falcon, Azure Tit and Daurian Partridge and lots of migrant buntings, as well as Long-eared Owls and harriers passing through. This is a great site for White-tailed or Mongolian Gazelle, a herd of two-hundred and fifty or so always frequents the lower parts of the park at this season.
An extension takes us to rolling grasslands and little rocky tors that provides the optimum habitat for Pallas’s Cats. These gorgeous little felines are common in this area and reasonably easy to observe in daylight. Wolves are commoner here than at Hustai and there are also good numbers of Argali, Mongolian Gazelles and Corsac Foxes too.
Dates and Prices
23rd July - 4th August 2024 (13 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Mammals. Also Birds and Reptiles.
The minimum is 4 and the maximum is 12.
All flights. All transport, meals and accommodation in Mongolia. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, Mongolian Visas, and items of a personal nature including insurance, are not included.
Mammal and bird checklists are available.
On Jargalant Mountain in the Altai and in Hustain Nuruu we will be using traditional ger camps that are spacious and comfortable accommodations. Some, but not all, are even en-suite. These are set up in scenic locations and are erected in such a way that the comforts of foreign travellers are taken into account – for instance having beds! On the extension we’ll have our own dedicated ger camp similar to the one in the Altai.
Many of the observation points will be reached by a 4X4 vehicle or with a walk of up to but often less than 2km on almost flat terrain. During a typical day we’ll not spend so much time walking but total distances may still add up to several kilometres, and though much of the terrain is only gently sloping, you will encounter rocky, uneven or occasionally steep slopes.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow via Moscow to Ulaanbaatar. Indirect routes through Seoul or Beijing and from other regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Though it can reach 25°C in the mountains even at this season it can also be lot cooler, especially early morning and evenings. Nights can be really quite cold and observations points early in the morning can temperatures down in the low single digits °C. Infrequent rain and more frequent strong winds can also drag the temperature down, and it is even possible for the first autumn snows to arrive. In the desert areas it will be warmer, perhaps reaching 30°C.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.