Mongolia - 2015

Mongolia © Chris Leahy
© Chris Leahy, Mass Audubon
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May–June 2015

From May 28–June 8, 2015, Chris Leahy led 10 travelers on our almost-annual exploration of Mongolia. Our itinerary combined the best the country has to offer in terms of birding and general natural history, unforgettable landscapes, and an introduction to one of the world’s most beguiling cultures.

Mass Audubon travelers were joined by our neighbors and friends from the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture. And the country worked its magic on everyone! This most congenial group took a great interest in all aspects of this fascinating place. This kind of interest and appreciation is a tour guide’s dream and of course also tends to make for a wonderfully compatible group.

Favorite Memories

  • The Takhis in the late afternoon at Hustai light—an especially fine sight—with the added bonus of the large number of Red Deer and Mongolian Gazelles. 
  • The Argali rams—blending cryptically into the mountainside at Gun Galuut and that reserve’s wonderful wetland with its stunning collection of rare birds such as Swan Goose, Black Stork, White-naped Crane!
  • The overnight snowfall at Lake Hovsgol that yielded not only a spectacular mountain-cape in the morning, but an extraordinary “fall-out” of migrants: warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, and buntings everywhere at close range and near eye-level!
  • The evening drive over the serene steppe between Irkl Lake and the Deer Stones site, which nearly everyone remarked on. In many places, long drives without “highlights” can be tiresome, but traversing the Mongolian steppe seems to have the opposite effect on people.
  • Our ascent of the honey-colored dunes at Khongoryn above an emerald green river meadow studded with azure irises.
  • A remarkable Gobi day that began with a visit to the herders’ camp and ended with a dinner al fresco beneath the Flaming Cliffs while being entertained by charming young musicians and dancers.
  • The Yol Valley, provided a fitting finale, giving us yet another gorgeous snowfall, as well as fine views of its namesake (aka Lammergeier) both perched and in flight; no fewer than three Koslov’s Accentors (one of the world’s rarest birds) and one of the best Wallcreeper performances in our leader’s memory!

We look forward to returning again in a few years!

Learn more about Mass Audubon’s conservation partnership with Nomadic Expeditions in Mongolia.