In Search of the Mountain Ghost

Snow Leopard Safari

Prepare yourself for the harsh Mongolian winter in remote Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, as you spend a week with a local tracker in pursuit of the elusive Snow Leopard, Mongolia’s “Mountain Ghost.” Experience one of the last true wildernesses, a place where few travellers venture, at a time when it is covered in a picture-perfect blanket of snow. Go on safari in Hustai National Park in search of Przewalski’s horse, once extinct in the wild, and learn about eagle hunting from people still practicing this ancient way of life on this trip for the hardcore adventure and wildlife lover.

Stay in locally owned and operated hotels, marvel at the hospitality of the eagle hunters and participate in putting together a traditional nomadic ger where will stay while in pursuit of the Mountain Ghost on your Snow Leopard Safari.


SNOW LEOPARD SAFARI HIGHLIGHTS

  • Journey to remote western Mongolia to track the elusive snow leopard, known locally as the “Mountain Ghost”
  • Witness a triumph of conservation in Hustai National Park as you go on safari in search of the wild Przewalski’s horse
  • Discover the ancient art of eagle hunting and spend a day with villagers still practicing the skills of their ancestors
  • Meet a local Kazakh family, learn about their traditions and culture and have lunch with them in their Ger
  • Stay in traditional nomadic accommodation and assist in the construction of your Ger for your weeklong snow leopard safari in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

The Basics

Start: Ulaanbaatar

Finish: Ulaanbaatar

Trip style: Special Interest

Max group size: 15

16 Days

ULAANBAATAR – ULAANBAATAR

$7895 AUD*

Departure date: 29 January 2023

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: IGUU *from

ITINERARY

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and make your own way to the trip hotel. Meet your trip leader and traveling companions for a welcome meeting and introduction to you Snow Leopard Safari at 17.00. After the meeting head out into Ulaanbaatar for a special welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Early this morning head to Ulaanbaatar airport for your flight to Uglii (included).

On arrival transfer to Uglii town, where 90% of the population are Kazakhs and have their own unique language and culture. Visit a local Kazakh family in their traditional ger. Local women decorate the gers with a variety of felt carpets and delicate tapestries hang from the walls, each design unique to a particular family.

This morning transfer to the village of Sagsai to spend the day with the eagle hunters of the region, learning about this ancient nomadic cultural tradition. Learn about traditional hunting methods in the best season (winter) for the sport. The eagle hunters hunt from the back of a horse with the golden eagle which can catch small prey such as hares and foxes.

In the evening marvel at the local hospitality as you stay with the family of eagle hunters and try home-cooked food from the region.

Say goodbye to your new friends and travel to remote Altai Tavan Bogd National Park to begin our pursuit of the snow leopard. Drive through the rocky, snowy mountains and take your first glimpse of Mongolia’s wild west.

Arrive in the late afternoon and assist in setting up the gers which the group will use as shelter for the next eight days, an amazing experience in itself!

The real adventure of our Snow Leopard safari begins on the morning of our fifth day! Spend the next seven days trekking through the beautiful mountains, home to the largest populations of snow leopards. The remote landscape of the national park also gives us a chance to spot Siberian Ibex, Argali wild-sheep, raptors and other wild animals as we trek.

The altitude for in the national park is around 2800m above sea level, and the average temperature in mid-winter -25C and at night it can drop to as low as -40C. The traditional gers are perfect for withstanding these conditions, each with a small stove in the centre for heating. Traditional hot meals will be served by our cook and hot drinks will be served to keep us as warm as possible.

Please note that while every effort is made to increase our chances of sighting a snow leopard, these are wild animals and sightings cannot be guaranteed. In booking this trip with us you acknowledge that sighting a rare, elusive creature is a mixture of luck and skill on the part of our tracker.

Descend from the mountains today and back to the town of Uglii, spend a night in a local hotel and reflect on the adventures of your Snow Leopard safari in pursuit of the mountain ghost.

Transfer to Uglii airport for a short flight back to Ulaanbaatar (included). On arrival savour some traditional Mongolian cuisine at a local restaurant before transferring to Hustai National Park to spend the next two nights in a permanent ger camp.

In the morning go on safari in Hustai National Park in search of the rare Przewalski’s horse. A triumph of conservation, Przewalski’s horse, also known locally as the Takhi, was extinct in the wild until reintroduced into its natural habitat in the 1990’s.

Apart from Przwalski’s horse, Hustai National Park also gives us the chance to spot the Altai elk, Mongolian gazelle, roe deer, wild boar, marmots, grey wolf, Eurasian lynx, Pallas’s cat, red fox and Eurasian badger. For bird watchers, keep your binoculars handy to see the Daurian partridge, great bustard, golden eagle, black stork and bearded vulture.

In the evening return to the ger camp for a night of stargazing (weather permitting).

Check out of the ger camp and return to Ulaanbaatar in the morning.

After checking into the hotel, the afternoon is yours to explore this fascinating city.

This evening, join your traveling companions and trip leader for a farewell dinner at one of Ulaanbaatar’s swankiest restaurants.

Your Snow Leopard safari in the wilds of Mongolia comes to an end this morning after breakfast.

Inclusions

  • 15-nights’ accommodation in a Ger Camp, self-built ger (no facilities), with eagle hunter family and hotels
  • Economy class flights between Ulaanbaatar and Uglii (return)
  • All transport as specified in itinerary
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader, local guides and trackers

* Please note some optional experiences must be booked prior to travel. You will be given the option to add these experiences at check out

Snow Leopard Safari
Trip Map – In search of the Mountain Ghost

Details

Duration: 16 Days

Trip style: Unique

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: IGUU

Cost: $7895.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $490.00 AUD

Trip price does not include

  • International airfares
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Visa for Mongolia
  • Any expenses associated with COVID-19
  • Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the tour
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating

Camel Caravan

Camel Caravan 1

This trip travels to remote western Mongolia, a part of the world with very limited infrastructure and where few travellers have ventured. There are a few very long travel days where we will be getting up early and arriving at our accommodation quite late, most of the time this accommodation will be a ger camp with simple facilities or a ger camp with no facilities at all. Accommodation while staying in gers will also be shared and there is no option to upgrade to a private ger. We will mostly travel by coaster buses and 4×4 where necessary. This trip involves trekking through the mountains and should only be undertaken by those with a good level of personal fitness.

Good quality hospitals, pharmacies and other public amenities will be limited to Ulaanbaatar, and you should be prepared for eastern-style squat toilets in public places. This trip travels in Mongolia’s winter which is the prime season for snow leopard sightings. Winter in Mongolia is exceptionally harsh with temperatures during the day falling to -25C and at night -40C.

We recommend that travellers on gluten free, vegetarian and vegan diets bring some supplemental snack food from home as it might be difficult to meet these dietary requirements in this part of Mongolia.

A note about fitness

This trip requires a good level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 10km over rough terrain, which will sometimes be at an incline. In addition, you should be able to climb up to 200 stairs unassisted, use an eastern-style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues) and be free from lung issues as a large portion of this journey will be at an altitude of over 2800m above sea level.

You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach/4×4. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.)

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travelers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Please note that on this trip the single supplement on this trip only includes nights spent in hotel accommodation (4-nights). It is not possible to accommodate requests for single ger accommodation.

Trip leader description

Accompanying you along your journey will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

This itinerary is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 18 years

Due to the nature of this trip children are not permitted for their own safety.

There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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