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  • Photograph of Oriental Plover

    A striking male Oriental Plover in the Gobi Desert near Dalanzadgad by Simon Colenutt.

    MONGOLIA

    Photograph of Henderson's or Mongolian Ground Jay

    A terrific image of a Henderson's or Mongolian Ground Jay by Dubi Shapiro.


    Best Wildlife in Mongolia

    Mammals
    Argali, Siberian Ibex, Goitered and Mongolian Gazelles, Corsac Fox, Andrew's Three-toed, Long-eared and Northern Three-toed (Hairy-footed) Jerboas, Great, Midday and Mongolian Gerbils, Alpine, Daurian, Northern and Pallas’s Pikas, Siberian (Tarbagan) Marmot, Red-cheeked and Long-tailed Sousliks, and Siberian Chipmunk. Also a chance of Beech Marten, and an outside chance of Snow Leopard, Pallas's Cat, Wolf, and Marbled and Steppe Polecats. Saiga occurs in Sharga NR near Altai City. Przevalski’s Horse has been reintroduced into Hustai (Khustain Nuruu) NP.

    Birds
    The lists below are for the northern spring.

    Specialities
    Altai Snowcock, Black-billed Capercaillie, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Demoiselle and White-naped Cranes, Oriental Plover, Swinhoe’s Snipe, Asian Dowitcher, Relict Gull, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Henderson’s (Mongolian) Ground Jay, Mongolian Lark, Azure Tit, Chinese Bush Warbler, Eversmann’s and Guldenstadt’s Redstarts, Hodgson’s Bushchat, Red-throated Thrush, Altai and Kozlov’s (Mongolian) Accentors, Pallas’s Reed Buntings, Mongolian Finch, (Chinese) Beautiful Rosefinch, Saxaul Sparrow, Père David’s Snowfinch and Brandt’s Mountain Finch. Also a chance of Falcated Duck, Macqueen’s Bustard and Great Rosefinch.

    Others
    Whooper Swan, Bar-headed and Swan Geese, Ruddy Shelduck, Stejneger’s (Velvet/White-winged) Scoter, Daurian Partridge, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black Stork, Lammergeier, (Eurasian) Black and Himalayan Griffon Vultures, Golden and Steppe Eagles, Upland Buzzard, Amur and Saker Falcons, Common Crane, Sociable Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, passage migrant shorebirds including Ruff, Great Black-headed Gull, Caspian and White-winged Terns, Hill Pigeon, Pacific Swift, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, Black, Grey-headed, (Eurasian) Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers, Brown, Isabelline and Steppe Grey Shrikes, (Spotted) Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Daurian Jackdaw, Asian Short-toed and Shore Larks, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Arctic, Asian Desert, Pallas’s Grasshopper and Thick-billed Warblers, Desert, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears, Red-throated Flycatcher, Siberian Rubythroat, Daurian Redstart, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Eye-browed and Red-throated Thrushes, White-cheeked Starling, Alpine and Brown Accentors, Blyth’s and Olive-backed Pipits, Citrine Wagtail, Black-faced, Godlewski’s, Grey-necked, Meadow and Pine Buntings, Twite, Long-tailed Rosefinch and (White-winged) Snowfinch. Also a chance of Hazel Grouse, Baillon’s Crake, Mongolian Plover, Eurasian Eagle and Ural Owls, and Asian Rosy Finch.

    Photograph of Steppe Eagle

    A great image of a Steppe Eagle in the Gobi near Dalanzadgad by Simon Colenutt.

    Other Natural Wonders in Mongolia

    Altai Mountains
    ‘Altai’ means gold in Kazak and Mongolian languages and there’s plenty of it in these scenic mountains which rise to 4506 m (14,784 ft) at Gora Belukha on the border between Kazakhstan and Russia.

    Singing Sands (Khongoryn Els)
    So called because of the noise made by the unusual round and smooth grains of sand as they are blown across the surface of these dunes in the southern Gobi Desert. Some of the largest sand dunes in the world are also present here in Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park.

    ‘Flaming Cliffs’ (of Bayanzag)
    The sandstone here in the southern Gobi seems to glow at dusk, although the site is arguably more famous for dinosaur fossils. Over 100 have been found here, including velociraptors, since Roy Chapman Andrews, an American palaeontologist, discovered the first fossilized dinosaur eggs in 1923.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Mongolia

    Best Times for Wildlife in Mongolia

    Late May-early June is the peak time to visit Mongolia, when most of the bird summer visitors have arrived and many passage migrants are moving through although this is usually too late to see Black-billed Capercaillies in full display. The Gobi is a dry desert not a hot one – be prepared for cold temperatures, especially at night, and snow even in June.

    Recommended Books etc. for Mongolia

    Birds of Mongolia by S Gombobaatar and C Leahy. Helm, due 2018.

    Birds of East Asia by M Brazil. Helm/PUP, 2009.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of China by J MacKinnon and K Phillipps. OUP, 2000.

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    A Guide to the Mammals of China by A Smith, Yan Xie et al. PUP, 2008.

    The Mammals of China by Sheng Helin et al. China Forestry Publishing House, 1999.


    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Mongolia

    Many trip reports, some for Mongolia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Mongolia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Mongolia' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Mongolia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Mongolia

    Some Organized Tours to Mongolia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Mongolia include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.