EXPLORE the ALTAI of GOLDEN EAGLE and SNOW LEOPARD , 12 DAYS, FROM 2215$, 2019 LET'S PLAN YOUR TRIP

EXPLORE the ALTAI of GOLDEN EAGLE and SNOW LEOPARD , 12 DAYS, FROM 2215$, 2019


Mongolia is the land of two of Nature’s most iconic predators – the Golden Eagle and the Snow Leopard. Snow Leopards – called Altai Irves by the Mongols - are one of the most elusive of all the big cats in the world. While most people associate it with Asia’s highest mountains such as the Himalaya, Tien Shan and Pamir, the Mongolian Altai and Govi-Altai mountains harbor strong populations with some the highest recorded densities in the world. Critical to their survival are the strong populations of prey, such as Mongolian Argali sheep and Siberian Ibex, as well as abundant Marmots. Here in the Mongol Altai this journey will take you into the heart of Snow Leopard habitat, where an abundance of wild prey ensures that the Irves lives unmolested from persecution. Ongoing scientific research associated with this exclusive itinerary means there is an opportunity to spend time in study areas, intimately experiencing the Snow Leopard’s mountain home, with an exciting possibility of even encountering this magnificent elusive cat.

Soaring over the Altai’s cliffs and slopes are the legendary Golden Eagles – known as the Berkut, which are renowned for their hunting prowess and revered by the Altai Kazakh people. As we go deep into the mountains to encounter the wild Golden Eagles that inspire such Kazakh “berkutchi” hunters, this journey will also give us the opportunity to directly experience the Kazakh Eagle hunting tradition that has been practiced uninterrupted by hunters for over 1000 years. While this Eagle-hunting culture has been recently rediscovered, there remain very few traditional, authentic berkutchi left. Fortunately, we will be able to visit some of these renowned hunters to experience their age-old working relationship with their magnificent eagles at first hand. Larger, more aggressive female eagles are favored by the Kazakh hunters, given the bird’s capacity to bring down large prey, such as foxes, ibex and even wolves. In the old tradition they are taken as eaglets, raised to work with the hunter for many years until fully mature, and then released as experienced hunters back into the wild to join their wild kin.

This itinerary will take us into the heart of the Altai Mountains where Golden Eagles, Eagle hunter and the mysterious Snow Leopard coexist in a truly mythic landscape and culture.

  • 1

    Day 1. Arrive UB

    Arrive UB airport and meet by our Blue Wolf guide. Transfer to hotel. After a short rest to freshen-up we will do a sight -seeing tour of Ulaanbaatar, focusing on such significant cultural sites as Gandan Buddhist Monastery, the Zanzabar Fine Arts Museum, which holds the finest collection of thangka paintings, carvings and sculptures in Mongolia. The Chojin Lama temple will be visited, the location of which clearly illustrates the great contrast between the old and the new in Mongolia. Lunch will be enjoyed in a nearby Mongolian restaurant with traditional cuisine. In the afternoon, the Winter Palace of the last Bogd Khan will be visited which houses some very interesting cultural and religious artefacts. To get a panoramic overview of the city, we may visit the Great Buddha statue and memorial at Zaisan. In the evening at dinner we will enjoy a typical folkloric Mongol performance (songs and dances). We will overnight at a 4* hotel.
  • 2

    Days 2. Fly to Hovd and Drive to Chandman village near Jargalant Mountain

    After early breakfast, transfer to UB airport. Arrive Hovd airport to be met by the Blue Wolf team. Lunch in Hovd town. After lunch, we will drive south across the Great Lakes Basin south to Chandman soum where it is claimed that the renowned Mongolian throat-singing originates. En route we will see the Khar Us Nuur (Black Water Lake) with its vast reed beds (among the largest in Central Asia) and abundant water birds (Cranes, Gulls, Herons, even Pelicans). This National Park, like the Jargalant Hairkhan Mountain is a priority for WWF Mongolia who are very active here. Overnight in tent. (BLD)
  • 3-5

    Day 3-5. Explore Jargalant Mountain - home of the Snow Leopard

    Today, we explore Jargalant Hairhan Mountain and hike into Rashantiin Am (Spring Canyon), a sacred valley with a spring renowned for its medicinal properties. Jargalant Hairkhan (Mountain of Sacred Happiness) is a great range that dominates the Great Lakes Basin. Rashantiin Am is an atmospheric valley piled with rocks and ancient poplar trees. WWF Mongolia have done many years of research here on what is known to be an important population of Snow Leopard. We will immerse ourselves in the ecology of this, our first Altai mountain experience, learning about the plants, birds and mammals that make their home here. We will do a number of hikes within this spectacular canyon and surrounding valleys, looking for sign of Snow Leopard and other wildlife. Overnight in tents. (BLD)
  • 6

    Day 6. Drive to Khukh Serkhiyn Nuruu (Blue Goat) National Park

    After breakfast, we cross open plains below Jargalant Hairkhan and will look out for the rare and unusual Mongolian Saiga antelope, a relic of the Pleistocene era. We will then drive 160kms (4-5hrs) to the northwest to come to a traditional Kazakh Eagle hunter’s summer home. Erbol will be our host, in an impressive valley on the northwestern side of the great Khukh Serkh Mountain. This is a mountain range renowned for its Snow Leopards, with abundant populations of Argali and Ibex. Our visit will be benefiting from an ongoing Snow Leopard research project that is being undertaken here, giving us considerable insight into the movements and habits of these elusive cats. We will learn from Erbol and his magnificent Golden Eagle, and learn from a true master about the traditions and skills of hunting with Eagles in the Altai. Overnight in tents. (BLD)
  • 7-9

    Day 7-9. Khukh Serkhiyn Nuruu (Blue Goat) National Park

    We will spend our days hiking in the wild and remote fastnesses of the Khukh Serkhiyn range. We will take our time to watch carefully for all aspects of wildlife here: Argalis, Ibexes and Red Deer, always entertaining the hope for a possible and rare Snow Leopard sighting. We will enjoy all that these mountains have to show, from the many raptors such as Golden Eagle, Steppe Eagle, the awe-inspiring bone-eating Lammergeyer (Bearded Vulture), the great Black Vulture and the swift sacker Falcon (the Altai race of which is considered by many ornithologists to be a separate and little-known species). We will give ourselves the opportunity to observe these mountains in all their intricate grandeur, and appreciate their great silences, in the mountain heart of Asia. We will vary our hiking routes each day, looking for signs of Lynx, Pallas’s Wildcat, Wolf, Fox and other mammals. Spending time with Erbol the Eagle hunter, we can learn more about traditional Kazakh Eagle hunting skills and gain from his unique perspectives about living in his mountain home. We will overnight in tents hosted by a local family. (BLD)
  • 10

    Days 10. Drive to Olgii

    We will take an early morning drive to Olgii, the through a dramatic landscape with Sairiyn Nuruu towering above us and the rugged Altai uplands beyond Lake Tolbo (Nuur). After 4-5hrs we arrive at the Blue Wolf ger-camp in Olgii. After lunch we will spend the afternoon sightseeing around Olgii, visiting its interesting bazaar as well as the recently renovated local mosque, and a well-stocked local museum. Some interesting backstreet handicraft shops will give us the opportunity to look for traditional Kazakh crafts and wares. Overnight at local hotel. (BLD)
  • 11

    Day 11. Depart from western Mongolia to Ulaanbaatar

    After breakfast, we will head for Olgii airport and for Ulaanbaatar. From UB airport we will transfer to our hotel. There will be opportunities for shopping in the city. Overnight at our 4* hotel. (B)
  • 12

    Day 12. To Beijing

    After early breakfast, we transfer to UB railway station and take a train to Beijing. A train leaves at 07:15 a.m. As it is old diesel train, and goes slow, you have a full day to explore steppe Mountains and Gobi desert areas of Mongolia. Afternoon, you will see often a big number of antelopes, running away. Good opportunity to take good photos of wild life. Next day afternoon, you reach Beijing. (B)
Some recommendations

Summer months in Mongolia are from early June to mid-September. Although the Mongolian summers are hot and dry with occasional rain, the temperature can fluctuate as much 5-10 degrees centigrade between day and night. /+20°+30° during a days and -+10°-5° of Celsius during a nights/. Late September and October months in Mongolia are cool and dry with occasional snow, the temperature can fluctuate as much 5-10 degrees centigrade between day and night. /+5°-10° during a days and -5°-15° of Celsius during a nights/

What to bring

Binoculars,

Warm hat and gloves,

Long underwear for travel in the high mountains, comfortable footwear,

Prescription medications, (if needed),

Money belt and small padlocks
Day-pack for use on day or overnight excursions
Torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates
Wind and waterproof jacket
Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks

Transport

The services of some herdsmen will be hired by the expedition, and they will provide us with their animals.

Staff

A local guide who speaks English and Mongolian will accompany the group at all times. A cook will follow, with an assistant. In addition, the services of the local herdsmen will be hired along with their animals. The horsemen follow a traditional lifestyle in the areas where we will be riding.

Meals

Our cook will prepare the meals. We pride ourselves in having cooks adapt to both western and Mongolian cooking on our trips. There are always vegetables available, and we have no problem accommodating vegetarians on our trips. For breakfast we can usually buy fresh yogurt from the herdsmen in the local area.

Price USD 2215 per person (min 2 members)
Group size 2-12
Includes

Eng. guide, 4x4 trasnfers, 3 meals per day (not in UB), cook with cooking gears, sleeping tent with matts and bag, overnights in 4* hotel (2nts), gercamp/local hotel in Olgii (1nts), and tent (8nts), camping equipment, Kazakh Eagle hunter with his bird and riding horse, Nat. park permits. And ULN-ULG-ULN flights.

Excludes

Personal needs, laundry and alcohol drinks. Single occupancy is 240$.

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