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Cats of Mongolia Photo Tour: Snow Leopard and Pallas’s Cat

November 10 – 24, 2024: $9295pp

Join me on a new adventure in search of two of the world’s most elusive cat species: the snow leopard and Pallas’s cat!

We’ll spend two weeks in Mongolia, exploring different environments while hoping to photograph these fascinating felines and other wildlife. Working with expert local guides and trackers, we’ll visit some of the best locations in all of Asia for photographing these cats. Thanks to the onset of winter, and with a full six days of exploration allocated for snow leopard searches, we’ll increase our chances of seeing and photographing “The Ghost of the Mountains.” Our guiding team is also active in Pallas’s cat research, meaning we’ll get to visit a remote Pallas’s cat hot spot that has been uncovered and monitored only thanks to years of study.

In addition to the two cat species, we’ll also search for some of the following species:

  • Corsac Fox
  • Siberian Ibex
  • Bactrian Camel (domesticated)
  • Steppe Polecat
  • Eurasian Stoat
  • Mongolian Gerbil
  • Ural Owl
  • Golden Eagle
  • Lammergeier
  • Cinereous Vulture

To get more information about the tour itinerary, wildlife, lodging and more, please contact me to request an info packet.

Why Mongolia?

Mongolia offers more consistent opportunities to see snow leopard (and a chance to see another rare feline in the Pallas’s cat) compared to other Asian destinations. Snow leopard exploration there ranges between 2200-3300 meters (6600-10,000 feet).

By comparison, in Ladakh, India—which I scouted in 2015—snow leopard treks usually take place at 4000+ meters (12,000-14,000 feet). The thin air and longer treks make for a more challenging experience, and I deemed that location to be incompatible for my tour groups.

The variety we see in Mongolia also has some appeal, as we travel from boreal forest to the eastern steppe, and onward to the mountains. As you can see in the photo gallery from my scouting trip, I encountered several different types of fascinating animals. This trip won’t just focus on cats, though they’re our primary target.

Tour Participants Must Be in Good Shape!

Though only mild hiking is expected in the forest and steppe parts of the itinerary, snow leopard trekking in the Altai presents a different challenge.

Our base camp in the Altai is at 2200m (~6600 feet), with snow leopard searches extending as high as 3000+m (~10,000 feet). Though significantly lower than the Himalayas, there’s still 33% less oxygen at 3000m than at sea level.

We may have to ford or walk along frozen creeks (crampons recommended). The hills and mountainsides are covered in loose rock and gravel. Footing is slippery and treacherous in some areas.

Participants should have good balance and coordination, proper footwear, and an efficient system for carrying gear (ideally with hands free). Trekking poles may be a good idea if you struggle on loose or uneven terrain.

Ultimately, I recommend that participants be in decent physical shape, be prepared to hike at altitude, over uneven and slippy terrain, and be comfortable carrying gear up to 2-5km at a time.

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Interested? Here’s what you need to remember:

  • You must be physically fit and able to carry your camera gear over hikes ranging from a couple hundred meters up to a few kilometers round trip.
  • You must be comfortable scaling hills and the occasional steep slope, with trails sometimes covered in slippery pebbles or skree (again, while carrying gear). We may have to walk on frozen creeks.
  • You will want to have a minimum of 400mm to shoot with in order to get photos, but ideally 500mm or greater. “Good” snow leopard photo ops are never guaranteed and may still be several hundred meters away.
  • Be prepared for cold and possibly snowy weather.

What’s Included in the Price of Your Tour

  • Lodging from November 10 – 23
  • Optional photo instruction by Max
  • Ground transportation and transfers
  • Domestic flights to/from western Mongolia
  • Most meals, excluding the evenings in Ulaanbaatar in the middle and end of the trip.
  • Park/Ranch entrance fees.

What is NOT Included in the Price of Your Tour

  • Flights to/from Ulaanbaatar (UBN).
  • Lodging/ground transportation prior to November 10 or after November 23
  • Meals/drinks at Ulaanbaatar hotel during mid-trip stay and at end of trip.
  • Tips for guide/trackers/drivers/camp staff.
  • Single supplement, if applicable

Cost

$9295 per person. There is a small single supplement for solo travelers.

This tour is limited to 6 guests. We now have ONE spot open!

Get on the waiting list for the Cats of Mongolia Tour!

Get in touch if you’d like to claim the open spot on the 2024 tour or learn more about future tours. Participants must first receive and read through the free info packet that describes the experience in more detail. Please contact me to receive more information.

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