The Mongol Daguur is a flat plain with rolling hills lying in the Ulz river basin. It is an area made up of moist Daurian steppe with lakes and ponds of different sizes, rivers, streams and wetland areas including reed beds. The larger lakes support tens of thousands of molting water birds in summer. Congregatory waterbirds occurring at the site in numbers exceeding 1% of their flyway populations include Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus , Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo , Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus , Bean Goose Anser fabalis , Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea , White-naped Crane G r u s vipio , Common Crane G r u s g r u s , Hooded Crane Grus monacha , Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo and Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus . Hundreds of Demoiselle Crane and White-naped Crane can be seen in many locations in Mongol Daguur. Because of the large number of cranes occurring there, the site was designated as an Important Crane Site in North-East Asia. The site also supports an assemblage of species restricted to the Eurasian steppe and desert biome. This trip begins in Ulaanbaatar, the nation’s capital and traverses across the vsst easter Mongolian steppe where we will visit some of the most outstanding habitat areas. Then, the journey will continue south to the Gobi desert, where we will visit some of Gobi’s most interesting ecosystems and geographic formations.

Brief Daily Itinerary

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; B, L, D)

Day 2. June 3. Choibalsan city, Dornod province

The eastern Choibalsan (Mongolian: Чойбалсан) is the fourth-largest city in Mongolia after Darkhan, Erdenet and located at 700 km from Ulaanbaatar. In the morning, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Choibalsan (1.5 hours). Upon arrival, we will transfer to a local hotel for the day. (Local hotel; B, L, D)

Day 3. June 4. Ugtam Nature Reserve

Turgen Tsagaan Lake After breakfast, we will drive straight north to the Turgen Tsagaan Lake and Ugtam Nature Reserve. The landscape here is predominantly rolling hills with a couple of shallow steppe lakes and the Ulz River valley. On the way to Ugtam, we will see grassland birds such as Demoiselle cranes which is the much common small cranes in the country along with steppe eagle, upland buzzard, mongolian lark, Asian short toed lark, blyth’s and richard’s pipits and Mongolian gazelle etc. On the way, we will visit to Turgen tsagaan lake were we often see Siberian cranes using the lake as their spring stopover and summer site. However, our chances of encountering this species at this location will depend largely on whether or not water levels provide favorable foraging conditions of the year. Water levels at this site are determined by winter snow cover and precipitation during the spring period. The Siberian Crane is known to be the most specialized crane in terms of its habitat requirements, and the most aquatic, exclusively using wetlands for nesting, feeding, and roosting, preferring wide expanses of shallow fresh water with good visibility. As the impacts of anthropogenic activity along its flyway and wintering ground increases, the suitable foraging habitat for this species continues to decrease. Two pair of White-naped Crane and 5 pairs of Common cranes also regularly nest on a northern reed in the lake. But, during the main trip we should have already had a close look at this species. (Tent camp; B, L, D)

Day 4. June 5. Ugtam Mountain and Tsagaan lake

We will spend one full day and drive around Ugtam mountain to find bustards. Our main target here is Endangered Asian Great Bustards. This species is mainly represented by its eastern population of approximately 2,000-3,000 individuals. North Eastern Mongolia is one of the breeding sites for the species. Great bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. These heavy-bodied birds also perform spectacular breeding displays and exhibit extreme sexual dimorphisms. These stem from the ‘lek’ breeding system of these species, in which males compete for female attention at traditional gathering sites each spring. Overnight on the banks of Ulz river. (Tent camp; B, L, D)

Day 5. June 6. Chukh Lake, Mongol Daguur SPA

The great Mongolian-Manchurian grassland is considered by many as possibly the last and largest expanse of unspoiled and pristine prairie ecosystem not only in Asia, also in the World. The Eastern Mongolian Grasslands contains an abundance of natural wonders and conjures images of an endless and open land — tall grasses and wide-open spaces without a glimmer of civilization. The nature reserve protects a chunk of steppe ecosystem that sprawls across two of eastern provinces. Altogether, it covers nearly 480 thousand hectares’ area of enormous stretches of grassland. The nature reserve is famed for its huge herds of Mongolian Gazelle. It was originally established to conserve the extensive grasslands of eastern Mongolia and its biodiversity.
This morning we will continue traveling along to the Mongol Daguur SPA along downstream of Ulz River. Ulz river basin is one of the most important areas for breeding and staging cranes in northeast Mongolia. Isolated from human settlement, this beautiful landscape offers river valleys with numerous lush meadows surrounded by forested mountains and grassland steppe. In addition to all this wonderful natural beauty, we can expect to see Mongol horsemen riding across the steppe attending the vast herds of horses, cattle, and sheep. Visit an ethnic Buriad field museum in Dashbalbar town. (Tent camp; B, L, D)

Day 6. June 7. Khukh Lake, Mongol Daguur SPA

After an early morning breakfast, we’ll head east for a full exploration of this beautiful steppe reserve. In the afternoon, we will continue our journey to discover more breeding sites of rare cranes and we will see Grebes, Ducks, Pochards, Geese, Waders, Gulls. Before dinner time, we will reach Khukh lake which is the lowest point of Mongolia at 560 meter above sea level. We’ll head out for a full exploration of this beautiful steppe reserve. Overnight: Stay in tented camp near the lake. (Tent camp; B, L, D)

Day 7. June 8.  Choibalsan city

Early morning, we will awake to a symphony of larks. The dominant resident species here is Mongolian lark, one of the few species named after Mongolia. This species breeds in the steppe as do other ground-dwelling species like Greater short-toed lark, Asian Short-toed Lark, Sky lark, Mongolian (Brandt’s) Horned Lark, Richards and Blyth’s pipit. In winter Siberian migrant winter visitors such as Snow buntings and Lapland buntings take residence in the park as well. En route today, we will also have a high chance to see breeding individuals of Mongolian gazelle, Pallas’s Cat and other steppe specialists. We will reach the city before dinner time and stay in hotel in the city. Overnight at a local hotel. (Local hotel; B, L, D)

Day 8. June 9. Ulaanbaatar / Songino Khairkhan Mountain

In the morning, transfer to the airport for our flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival, we will drive directly to the Songino Khairkhan Mountain and a UB pond located outside the city. At this obscure-looking pond, we always see Azure Tit, Azure-winged Magpie colony, breeding Yellow-breasted Bunting, Longtailed Rosefinch, Chinese White Crowned Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler, Lancellota Warbler among other species. Dinner and overnight at hotel. (Hotel Blue Sky or similar; B, L, D)

Day 9. June 10. Gobi Gurvan Saikhan Mountain NP June 17

In the morning, we will begin driving south to the mighty Gobi Desert (7-8 hours). Arrive at the ger camp and overnight in gers. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Days 10-11. June 11-12. Gobi Gurvan Saikhan Mountain

In the next to days, we will explore the magnificent Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park lies on the northern edge of the Gobi desert. We will spend the 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 Yolyn-Am 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 Spotted Great 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. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Day 12. June 13. Khongoryn Els Dune

After breakfast, we will continue driving to Khongoryn Els, where the largest accumulation of dunes in the Gobi can be found. This 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 have an opportunity to study these fascinating small raptors. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Day 13. June 14. Zuun Saikhan mountain / Flaming Cliffs

On this day we will leave the Khongor dune area to the Flaming Cliffs. On the way, we will see Henderson’s ground jay, oriental and greater sand plovers, and Goitered gazelles. Today, we will journey northeast to the famous Bayanzag locality. 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 threfore, 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 renturn back to the ger camp for dinner. (Ger camp; B, L, D)

Day 14. June 15. Return to Ulaanbaatar city

After breakfast, we will drive to the local airport for our return flight to Ulaanbaatar (1.5 hours). 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 departure. (B)

Trip Highlights:

  • Travel through Mongolia’s vast eastern grassland and the steppe, learning about their ecosystem and searching for the wildlife
  • Explore the Mongol Daguur ecosystem and its many important bird habitat areas
  • Visit the Gobi desert and ride two-humped Mongolain camels on the sand dunes
  • Enjoy meeting with nomads and exploring the nomadic culture of Mongolia


Trip Date:

June 2 – 16, 2024

2 travelers:

$4,590 per person, standard twin occupancy

3-5 travelers:

$4,370 per person, standard twin occupancy

6-9 travelers:

$4,150 per person, standard twin occupancy

10 and more travelers:

$3,850 per person, standard twin occupancy

Domestic flight:

$480 per person

Optional single supplement:

$650 per person


bayngol room

Hotel Bayangol

Located centrally in Ulaanbaatar, Bayangol Hotel offers comfortable accommodations with easy access to the city’s attractions. Accommodations at Bayangol Hotel cater to every need, from cozy standard rooms to luxurious suites, ensuring a comfortable stay for all guests.

camping night view mongolia

Field camps

In the Gobi mountains, we will be staying expedition style tents. It is one of the best camping grounds in the entire country and be sure to watch for the northern stars and the entire Milkyway spanning over us!


Ger camps

Throughout the rest of the program, you will be staying at cozy and authentic ger camps with western bathroom and restaurant facilities. Most visitors find staying in gers as one of the highlights of their trip to Mongolia.


Land Transportation

Land transportation is provided by Toyota Land Cruisers, seating up to  3 passangers per vehicle. Some roads can be bumby and hard but our drivers are some of the most experienced and reliable in Mongolia.