NOTE: This itinerary is approximate, and the exact route we take will depend on water levels and seasonal conditions at the time of departure. All key birds and sites will be visited, but likely not in the order specified below! Tour is timed to coincide with the arrival of Turkish Airlines and Korean Air flights landing in Ulaanbaatar on the 21st of May, but those flying through South Korea will not be able to depart until the 7th of June, one day after the conclusion of the tour.
Day 1: The tour starts this morning at Ulaanbaatar airport. In the afternoon we will go birding next to the Tuul river, searching for Azure Tit, Long-tailed Rosefinch and White-crowned Penduline Tit. Night in a hotel near Ulaanbaatar.
Day 2: After some morning birding near the city we will head towards Terelij NP. (If our local guide, based on sightings the week before the tour, thinks we should try at another site for the capercaillie then we will go somewhere else, possibly to Mongon) Afternoon birding in the national park. Night camping.
Day 3: All morning in the forest searching at our secret stake out for Black-billed Capercaillie. Other birds like Hazel Grouse, Black Woodpecker, Siberian Rubythroat, Pine and Black-faced Buntings, Two-barred Greenish Warbler and others are possible. In the afternoon we will drive back towards UB. Night camping.
Day 4: All day driving south to Dalanzadgad in the Gobi desert. Night at a Ger Camp.
Day 5: Transfer to Zuun Saikhan mountain in Gobi Gurvan Saikhan national park. Full day exploration of Yolyn am gorge. Many resident and summer breeding birds will be seen, such as Altai Snowcock, Himalayan Griffon, Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle, Kozlov’s and Brown Accentors, Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch, Wallcreeper, White-winged Snowfinch and buntings. The gorge also acts as a migrant trap and the stream that flows through the bottom of the canyon and rough grass could hold thrushes, warblers and buntings. Night camping.
Day 6: The morning will be spent trekking along two smaller mountain valleys that resemble Yolyn am gorge. Mongolian Finch and Grey-necked Bunting should be seen here. In the afternoon we will drive through the Gobi plateau and will check out a number of tree plantations that act as migrant traps for passerines. We will also search for Oriental Plover and Pallas’s Sandgrouse. Night at a Ger camp.
Day 7: Long drive through stunning desert scenery. On the way birding in the Saxaul forest, where we will search for Henderson´s (Mongolian) Ground-jay, Long-legged Buzzard, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Saxaul Sparrow, Steppe Grey Shrike, Asian Desert Warbler, Pere David’s Snowfinch and Hill Pigeon. We will arrive at Orog lake in the evening. Night camping.
Day 8: Morning birding at Orog lake and arrive at Kholboolj lake in the evening. Night camping.
Day 9: Most of the day will be spent at the birdy Kholboolj lake. Key targets will be waders such as Red-necked stint, Asian Dowitcher and Mongolian Plover, as well as Relict Gull, which favours this lake. Night camping.
Day 10: Drive to Buuntsagaan lake. Night camping.
Day 11: We will spend all day birding at Buuntsagaan lake, where we will enjoy large numbers of gulls, ducks and shorebirds, as well as Demoiselle Crane and hopefully Pallas’s Fish Eagle. Night camping.
Day 12: Long drive to Khukh lake. Night camping.
Day 13: Full day searching for Altai Snowcock and Hodgson’s Bushchat. Guldenstadt’s and Eversmann’s Redstarts and sushkini Asian Rosy Finch are also possible here. Night camping.
Day 14: All day at Khukh lake. (If we had missed Relict Gull at this stage, we would consider driving west to Ikhes Lake or Tseteg Nuur in case the gulls were breeding there this year) Night camping.
Day 15: Drive to Bayan lake. Stop at Ugii lake for Swan Geese, Black-throated Diver and Stejneger’s Scoter. Night camping.
Day 16: Morning birding at Bayan lake, where we should see White-naped Crane, Whooper Swan, Bar-headed Goose, Brown-cheeked Rail, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Paddyfield Warbler, Pallas’s Reed Bunting, Lanceolated and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers and others. In the evening we will drive back to Ulaanbaatar. Night in a hotel near the city.
Day 17: International departures from Ulaanbaatar International Airport.
Cost: $ 5,500
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 300
Accommodation: The hotel in Ulaanbaatar will be of good quality. When camping we will use single tents for each participant. We will have an assistant to help us set up the tents each night. The only camp assistance group members will be asked to give is erecting and dismantling one’s personal tent (an easy and rapid task) on those rare occasions when the camp crew have limited time. On a couple of nights we will stay at Ger camps, using large and comfortable Ger tents with beds, where sharing might be necessary.
Walking difficulty: Mostly easy, with some moderate uphill walking when searching for Black-billed Capercaillie, as well as in the mountains.
Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.
Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.