Explore the Altai of the Snow Leopard & Golden Eagle, 5 days, from $ 440 Book now
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.
Fly to Olgii and Drive to Khukh Serkhiyn (Blue Goat) Nuruu National Park
After early breakfast, transfer to UB airport. Arrive Olgii airport and meet by Blue Wolf team. Have a lunch in Blue Wolf restaurant and drive 160 km (4-5 hours) to south and come to a traditional Kazakh Eagle Hunter's family. Erbol (eagle hunter's name) will be our host, in a impressive valley on the northwestern side of Khukh Serkh Mountain. This is a mountain range renowned for its Snow Leopards, with abundant populations of the Argali and Ibex. Our visit will be benefiting from a 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 meet Erbol and his magnificent Golden Eagle, and learn from the true master about the traditions and skills of a hunting with Eagles in Altai. Overnight in tent/wooden house near a herding family. (LD)
Khukh Serkhiin Nuruu National Park
|We will spend our days in the wild and remote fastness of the Khukh Sekhiin 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 this mountains have to show, from 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 species). We will give ourselves the opportunity to observe these mountains in all their intricate grandeur, appreciate their great silences, in the mountain heart of Asia.|
Overnights in tent/wooden house near a herding family. (BLD)
Last day, we take an evening dive back to Olgii the through a dramatic landscape with Sairiyn Nuruu towering above us and the rugged Altai uplands beyond Lake Tolbo. Overnight in "Eagle Dreams" hotel. (BLD)
Fly to UB
Early breakfast and transfer to Olgii airport. Take a flight to UB. (B)