Wildlife observation and citizen science in the Gobi Desert

~ adventure for 12 days ~

Discover here the list of all countries whose nationals won't have to get a visa to enter Mongolia for stays up to 30 days

Dates

From June 11 to 22, 2023

Day 1 - Arrival in Mongolia - City tour in Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar (UB) is home to roughly 45% of Mongolia’s population and our free city walking tour will give you a more local introduction to this vibrant frontier style city with a strong Mongolian identity of its own. It is the beating heart of Mongolia and the hub of contemporary Mongolian urban life. The reality for many Mongolians takes place in this urban context, in a city they are striving to develop and improve. Ulaanbaatar deserves to be appreciated and explored as the urban centre that it is. Today's informal and relaxed city walking tour will give you a contrasting insight into a way of life, compared to that of the rural population as you spend the day in the company of one of our partner agency's female Mongolian trip assistants exploring the city through the eyes of a local. 

Day 2 to Day 4: the wild horses and a first insight of the Gobi Desert

On Day 2 you will visit Khustain Nuruu National Park, which is one of Mongolia’s conservation success stories for its successful reintroduction of the endemic Przewalski horse (the only wild horse to survive in modern times and known as Takhi in Mongolian). 

 

The stars of the show are obviously the Takhi which are free-ranging through the hills and mountains of the national park. The Takhi have a number of ranges which include the ridge tops of the national park. As with all wildlife, there is no guarantee of catching a sighting but we will try – whilst keeping within the strict rules and regulations of the NP.

 

On Day 3 and Day 4, after traveling through the steppe to the desert and maybe observing some hers of Mongolian white-tailed gazelles, you will arrive at Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, a wildlife region of rocky terrain and canyons. This reserve is located in the Gobi Desert and is a place of wide diversity of fauna and flora and a research and conservation site for the Denver Zoo and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The studies aim to understand the ecology of the region, the behaviour of the resident species and to improve conservation management in the region.  You will spend these two days discovering the wildlife and biodiversity of the region together with your Association Goviin Khulan guide. If one of the reserve's local protected area ranger is available, he will also join you and share with your his great knowledge of the place, the conservation efforts and challenges. 

 

Day 5 to 11 - Goviin Khulan's conservation area

This is the start of 7 days spent in the Goviin Khulan research area.

 

Examples of the activities in which you could take part in our conservation area are: 

  • Observation of wildlife species including recording GPS positions for each species observed
  • Recording of the presence of each species observed including animal tracks, dung and scats.
  • Settlement of camera traps at strategic locations
  • Sampling of plants in specific areas
  • Record of carcasses found
  • Meeting with rangers and families involved in the project
  • Cleaning of specific sites

 

Areas you will visit include

 

Golden Mountain: this is a protected natural reserve where dinosaur fossils were discovered in the 1920s by Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions. Gobi fossils tend to be well-preserved, revealing minute details of life during the Late Cretaceous Period – 80 million years ago. You may also observe black-tailed gazelles, Mongolian (white-tailed) gazelles, Mongolian khulan and birds of prey. Part of the day will be spend meeting a local family who work as ‘citizen conservationists for Association Goviin Khulan. 

 

Native Mountain: this area is home to a Buddhist monastery. In Mongolia, many mountains, rivers and other natural spaces are revered as sacred – either because they are the residing place of a deity or because they are viewed as a deity in themselves. Often, monasteries were built on such sites as was the one built at Native Mountain.  The monastery of the site of the ‘Native Mountain’  was destroyed during the 1930s political purges but since then re-introduction of Buddhism in the 1990s some of Mongolia’s ruined monasteries and temples have become operational again.  At ‘Native Mountain’ you will meet with the community of monks and you will have the opportunity to discuss with the monks about their involvement in the Association Goviin Khulan conservation program and their actions and motivations towards the protection of the Gobi ecosystem.

 

During part of your visit, you will be specifically focusing on the observation of wildlife to collect additional data for AGK. This will include visiting a site of petrified wood (it has been protected since 1996 but is threatened because of illegal robbery of the artefacts) as well as meeting community members such as Gansukh and Otgon and families who are now involved in the khulan project as Citizen Conservationists. 

 

Queen’s Spring / Located just 150km from the Chinese border, this region is a natural habitat for the khulan. It is an area where you can expect to find water holes created by the khulan. Water sources are an important factor in the distribution of Khulan populations including natural springs such as the one at Queen’s Spring. In the summer months the species occurs within 10-15 km of standing water, and this range increases in the winter when it is not restricted by water availability as there is typically snow fall. In fact, the Association Goviin Khulan have observed Khulan digging holes in a dry river bed to access water.

 

Khanbogd / Just 10 years ago, the district of Khanbogd, in southern Mongolia’s Omnogovi province, was barely visited – just home to a community of local herders. That changed with the discovery of gold and copper deposits and the creation of  the Oyu Tolgoi mine – Mongolia’s largest copper mine. Khulan waterpoints are clustered along the edges of the Khanbogd massif in the mining infrastructure corridor. Hence Khanbogd is an important research area especially as OT offsets have included the protection of 80,000㎢ of khulan habitat.

 

Accomodation: tents in the wilderness of the Gobi Desert under the stars!

Day 12 - Return to Ulaanbaatar

Following the route of the Trans-Mongolian train line you will head back to UB. On the drive today you will travel through a diversity of Mongolia’s natural habitats – everything from the wide gravel plains to the gentle rolling steppe. On arrival into UB, we’ll transfer you to your accommodation and the rest of the day will be yours to create your own experience. You’ll meet for a farewell dinner.  We will transfer you to the airport or train station on your departure date. 


Receive a report after participating to our expedition

After participating to one of our citizen science expedition you will receive a report about all activities and observations conducted during the expedition, as well as a selection of photos captured by the camera traps we did set up during the expedition. 

Prices

2 guests : 3885 USD pp *

3-4 guests : 3230 USD pp *

5 guests : 2800 USD pp *

6 guests : 2525 USD pp *

 

* international flight tickets not included in the price. Organized with Eternal Landscapes agency. 

Included in the prices

  • All meals outside the capital city. The meals will be mainly prepared by the local team and it is possible to offer more flexbility for any dietary requirements. Filtered drinking water is also provided, as well as tea and coffee. 
  • In Ulaanbaatar: local lunch and welcome drink on city walking tour on Day 1.
  • All overland transportation throughout the trip (4*4 russian van and fuel).
  • Local English speaking trip assistant (female) and Mongolian driver. 
  • A scientific guide from our organization
  • Each vehicle will have a charger for cameras and phones. 
  • Free city walking tour of Ulaanbaatar. 
  • Transportation from and to the airport on arrival and departure days. 
  • Entrance fees to museum and monasteries (when accompanied by the local team). Camera tickets are excluded. 
  • A donation to support our conservation activities, as well as the local community of our conservation area. 

Not included in the prices

  • International flight ticket to and from Mongolia
  • Accomodation in Ulaanbaatar (but we can provide you with a list of hotels  or guesthouses where you could book during your stay in Ulaanbaatar)
  • Domestic flight where/if applicable
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Travel insurance (which is mandatory) 
  • Gratuities

For more information and book your trip:

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