Birding in the gobi, steppe and high mountains of Mongolia

Date: June 2 - 16, 2025


The Gobi Desert and Central Mongolian grasslands are home to some of Mongolia’s most diverse and endemic bird species. While exploring the valleys, slopes, and ridges, you may encounter a wide range of mountain species, including: Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier), Chukar Partridge, Himalayan Griffon, Cinereous Vulture, Booted and Golden Eagles, Water Pipit, Black Redstart, Alpine Accentor, Brown Accentor, nearly endemic Kozlov’s Accentor, Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch, Twite, Godlewski’s Bunting, Pallas’s Reed Bunting, Common Rock Thrush, and with luck, Grey-necked Bunting, Red-mantled Rosefinch, and Spotted Great Rosefinch.

In the Yol Valley, flocks of White-winged Snowfinches are often seen confidently feeding along the trail. Further north, Boon Tsagaan Lake, covering 252 km² at 1,312 m above sea level, is the largest lake in the Valley, measuring 24 km in length and 11 km in width with an average depth of 9.6 m. It is a prime site for watching Relict Gull, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Dalmatian Pelican, Mute Swan, and various waterfowl and waders. The lake supports several globally threatened species and is a crucial area for their breeding and congregation before migration. The trip concludes at Hustai Nuruu National Park, one of Mongolia’s best-managed conservation areas, known for its unique animal kingdom.



  • Stunning Landscapes: Explore the Gobi Desert, grasslands, and valleys.
  • Unique Wildlife: Spot rare and endemic birds like the Bearded Vulture and Golden Eagle.
  • Cultural Immersion: Stay in authentic ger camps with Western amenities.
  • Comfortable Stays: Cozy expedition-style tents and well-equipped camps.
  • Expert Guidance: Experienced drivers and knowledgeable guides.
  • Scenic Drives: Reliable Toyota Land Cruisers for rugged terrain.
  • Starry Nights: View the northern stars and the Milky Way.


  • Nature Lovers: Appreciate diverse ecosystems and wildlife.
  • Birdwatchers: See rare and endemic bird species.
  • Adventurers: Unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences.
  • Cultural Enthusiasts: Experience traditional Mongolian lifestyle.
  • Photographers: Capture stunning landscapes and wildlife.
  • Conservationists: Learn about managed wildlife areas like Hustai Nuruu National Park.


Day 1. June 2. Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia, located on the basins of Tuul River valley. It is nestled on the foothills Bogd Khan Uul National Park on its outhern part. Originally a nomadic Buddhist center, it became a permanent city in the 18th century. A Soviet-era influenced architecture co-exists with old monasteries and 21st-century highrises. Enjoy a short city tour followed by a welcome dinner at a fine local restaurant.

(Hotel Blue Sky or similar; D)

Day 2. June 3. Gobi Gurvan Saikhan Mountain NP

In the morning, we will begin driving south to the mighty Gobi Desert (7-8 hours). En route, we will stop to have a lunch at a road cafe. In the afternoon, arrive at the ger camp and overnight in gers. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Days 3-4. June 4-5. Gobi Gurvan Saikhan Mt / Flaming Cliffs

In the next to days, we will explore the magnificent Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park lies on the northern edge of the Gobi desert. We will spend following two days birding in the Mountain. Hike up into the narrow canyon surrounded by steep, giant mountain formation (2600m). Noteworthy species that we may encounter here today include nesting Saker falcon, Chukar, Chinese Beautiful and Common Rosefinches and migrating Thickbilled warbler, Barred warbler, Common whitethroat, Isabelline Wheatear, Brown Shrike, Brown and Alpine Accentors, Blackfaced and Pallas’s Reed Buntings. Our first stop starts with a journey to Yol Valley in Zuun Saikhan Mountain Range. While exploring the valleys, slopes and ridges, we will be on the lookout for a wide range of mountain species, including the impressive Bearded Vulture(Lammergeier), a couple of pairs of which nest in the canyons here. Another major target is the localised Altai Snowcock, which often give their characteristic whistling calls in the early morning just after dawn. Other exciting birds to look for here include Chukar Partridge, Himalayan Griffon, the impressive Cinereous Vulture, Booted and magnificent Golden Eagles, Water Pipit, Black Redstart, Alpine, Brown and the breeding nearly endemic Kozlov’s Accentors, Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch,Twite, Godlewski’s Bunting, Pallas’s Reed Bunting, Common Rock Thrush, and with a bit of luck, Grey-necked bunting and rare Red-mantled Rosefinch and SpottedGreat Rosefinch.

Flocks of White-winged Snowfinches are regularly seen and can be very confident while feeding along the trail. At this time of year, we may see migrating raptors such as Oriental Honey Buzzard, Amur Falcon and Steppe Eagle, while mammals could include the regal Siberian Ibex, the strange and extremely impressive Argali (a type of wild sheep), three species of rodents including Pallas’s and Alpine Pikas, and Midday Gerbils that scurry in and out of the stunted alpine vegetation. On the second day we will search for the species we missed previous day and explore the rocky slope, small canyons near the camp.

In the afternoon, we will travel to the legendary to the Flaming Cliffs. On the way, we will see Henderson’s ground jay, oriental and greater sand plovers and Goitered gazelles. These red sandstone cliffs was named “The Flaming Cliffs” by Roy Chapman Andrews of the American Museum of Natural History, who first discovered the fossil beds of dinosaur bones and the first fossil dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen before. In this dry and open region birds strive to find drinking water therefore, we will stop at a small oasis. Here we can approach many exciting species, providing a great opportunity to take photos. Some species such as Pallas’s Sandgrouse congregate in big numbers. The scenery en route, driving across the plains of Gobi is simply spectacular! En route, in addition to numerous Horned larks, subspecies brandti, and occasional Great sand plover we should find endangered and much desired Oriental Plover (surely one of the most elegant species of its family). Enjoy a sun-down and return back to the ger camp for dinner. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Day 5-6. June 6-7. Khongoryn Els dunes

After breakfast, we will continue driving to Khongoryn Els, where the largest accumulation of sand dune in the Gobi can be found. This sand dune reaches 300m high, 12km wide and 100km long. Our drive will take us through fantastic scenery of barren landscapes and gravel plains, with the Gobi Altai Mountains as a constant backdrop. The scenery of Khongoryn Els is brilliant with Rocky Mountains on the south, sand dunes in the center and a river oasis with extensive saxaul forest on the north. Our main target birds here is the scarce and localized Saxaul Sparrow, rather common Southern grey shrike, enigmatic Long-legged buzzard and Mongolian Ground Jay! This smart looking bird favors gravel plains with scattered vegetation and spends much of its time running across the open ground in search of invertebrates. There’s a colony of Lesser Kestrels near our camp. Here we will spend two days and will have an opportunity to study these fascinating small raptors. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Day 7. June 8. Khongoryn Els dunes / Orog Lake

From now on the wilderness adventure starts in earnest as we head north into even more sparsely inhabited area. Driving all day crossing rugged terrain of vast Nemegt valley for about 200 km! Stop for Saxaul Sparrow, Southern Grey shrike, Asian desert warbler and Mongolian Ground Jay (if not already seen) and White Cave (including a Lesser Kestrel colony). During the next few days we will visit the Valley of Lakes in the Central Asian internal drainage basin. The site is designated as a Ramsar site with a chain of four saline and middle sized semi desert lakes (Boon Tsagaan and Orog) at the foot of the Gobi Altai, ranging from 1100m to 1235m in altitude. Arriving Orog lake early evening and setting up the camp at the northern foothill optional birding at the eastern shore is available. (Tent camp; B, L, D)

Day 8. June 9. Orog Lake

We will spend a full day birding at Ikh Bogd Mountain which is the highest mountain in the range of the Gobi Altai Mountains and is worshiped by local people. The highest peak is 3,957m. It is the giant mountain formations coming up almost vertically out of the middle of the Gobi steppe. The landscape is steep slopes, rounded mountain tops, flooded valleys, barren and rocky terrain with only little vegetation. The scenery is set for a beautiful walk up to the ridge as the car could not take us higher. If we missed Altai Snowcock in Zuun Saikhan mountain here’s the another good chance to search for it and some other high mountain specialties. In the morning climb up higher elevation to search for high mountain specialists such as Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Altai Snowcock, White-winged Snowfinch,Grey-necked Bunting, Altai accentor, Alpine accentor, Guldenstadt’s Redstart, Brandt’s mountain finch, Plain mountain finch, Chukar and Mongolian finch. For one of the rarest and globally threatened bird species White-throated bushchat, alpine meadows, rocky ridges, and boulders in the high mountains of central and western Mongolia remained as a only breeding ground. Very few birdwatchers have ever observed it on its breeding grounds. We might have a chance to spot impressive Siberian Ibex and Argali (wild sheep) in this remote area. From the ridge of these mountains we see the great dry open spaces of the Gobi to the south.Camping at the foothill of Ikh Bogd Mountain. In the evening we will head norththrough a spectacular gorge and descend towards Orog lake again. (Tent camp; B, L, D)

Day 9-10. June 10-11. Boon Tsagaan Lake

For the next two days, we will drive to Boon Tsagaan Lake. Full day excursions along the shore. Boon Tsagaan lake covers an area of 252 km2 at 1,312 m above sea level. It has a length of 24km and a width of 11 km, with an average depth of 9.6 m. It is the largest of the Lake of Valley and also the primary site for watching Relict Gull, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Dalmatian pelican, Mute swan and various waterfowl and waders. The lake supports a number of globally threatened species and is an important area for their breeding and congregation before migration. The surrounding, sparsely vegetated, semi desert landscape. The biggest resource of the water comes from Baidrag River but there is no outflow. There are many other species that can be observed here. Lake Boon Tsagaan is one of a few key breeding habitats for the Relict Gull in the world. Some species, like the Great Cormorant Common tern, Mongolian Gull, Black-headed gull, Grey Heron, Caspian Tern utilize this area in huge colonies. We will camp Tour ger camp near the Baidrag river estuary. (Tent camp; B, L, D)

Day 11. June 12. Arvaikheer city

After breakfast, we will head to Arvaikheer city in Uvurkhangai province, driving through the grassland region. We will have lunch at the restaurant in Bayankhongor city in Bayankhongor province. After lunch, we will do a short birding stop at Tuin river, located close to the city. Then visit to Arvaikheer city for overnight and overnight at hotel. (Local Hotel; B, L, D)

Day 12. June 13. Arvaikheer / Sangiin Dalai / Hustai NP

After breakfast, we will continue our journey. Another important site we are likely to visit today includes Sangyn Dalai lake, a small but bird-rich steppe lake. Here, there are large numbers of Whooper Swans and Demoiselle Cranes, but the most interesting denizens are Stejneger’s Scoters (split from Velvet), Horned Grebes and endangered Falcated duck in full breeding plumage. Around the lake margins, numerous Mongolian Larks, Pere David’s snowfinch, Blyth’s and Richard’s pipit can be found breeding. We will aslo have a look at a couple of lakes where we could well find some other water birds of interest. Arrive at the ger camp and overnight in gers. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Day 13. June 14. Hustai National Park

Hustai National Park is about 100 km, 2 hours drive by paved road from Ulaanbaatar to the west. The park is the one of the three site where Mongolia’s wild horses known Przewalski’s horse (Equusferus przewalskii) was reintroduced to its native habitat. The last sighting of native wild horses in Mongolia took place in 1969, in Dzungariin Gobi Desert. Since 1992, wild horses have been successfully re-introduced to Hustai from zoos of Western Europe. Aside the wild horses, the park contains the largest Mongolian population of red deer and Siberian marmot. The site is one of the best protected areas in Mongolia. Here and on the way to Hustai you will see the birds that are common to the steppe zone: Upland Buzzard,Demoiselle Crane, Isabelline Wheatear, Mongolian Lark, Black Vulture, Steppe eagle, Amur falcon. We will stay in the gers overnight and dinner at the restaurant. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Day 14. June 15. Hustai National Park / Ulaanbaatar

After birding around the park, we will leave the site and return to Ulaanbaatar, checking in to a hotel for our last night in the country.The afternoon is free for individual sightseeing and shopping. In the evening, we will enjoy a traditional Mongolian performance followed by a festive dinner to celebrate our adventures in Mongolia. Overnight at hotel. (Hotel Blue Sky or similar; B, L, D)

Day 15. June 16. Departure

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your return flight home. (B)


2 travelers; standard twin occupancy;
$ 4,590 per person
Optional single supplement $650 per person
3-5 travelers; standard twin occupancy;
$ 4,370 per person
Optional single supplement $650 per person
6-9 travelers; standard twin occupancy;
$ 4,150 per person
Optional single supplement $650 per person
10 and more travelers; standard twin occupancy;
$ 3,850 per person
Optional single supplement $650 per person
  • Land transportation using a 4×4 van and land cruisers; A
  • ccommodation in standard rooms at hotel and standard ger camps throughout;
  • Expedition style tents, sleeping bags and mats;
  • Airport arrival & departure transfers;
  • All meals indicated as B, L or D;
  • All entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary;
  • Camel and horse riding fees; Mongolian ornithologist or a study leader;
  • English speaking guide throughout your stay with local knowledge and experience;
  • One soda per person per meal;
  • Supply of bottled water per person per day based on consumption.
  • International airfare;
  • Personal laundry;
  • Drinks not mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Medical evacuation costs;
  • Excess baggage charges;
  • Visa fees;
  • Gratuities;
  • Photography and video fees;
  • Any other item not mentioned as included.


We spent 2 weeks in Mongolia, traveling from the top (lakes region) to the bottom (Gobi) including the Nadaam Festival in Kharkhorum (mid way). We traveled as a family (2 adults/3 kids) and had a fantastic time. Mongolia Quest was very attentive and had an amazing guide and 2 drivers for the 5 of us…we did a private tour. With an hour or so it felt like traveling with family and great friends. Mongolia Quest built a custom tour/adventure for us, with emphasis on things we loved to do…culture, horseback riding, the Nadaam festival, history, and traditional art. We were very please and satisfied with the operator and the different ger camps they selected. Mongolia is an adventure! Be prepared for unexpected amazing things, a culture and society very different than our own, different foods, and a rich history and traditions. Highly recommend for the crowd who likes to see the world as it truly is, and get out of their comfort zone. The vista’s were spectacular….Mongolia has such diverse geography and climates…it’s was other worldly. Mongolia Quest made it fun, easy and adventurous!