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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Mongolia

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING MONGOLIA: A valid passport is required for American citizens but no visa is required for Americans visiting for fewer than 90 days. Citizens of other countries should contact the Embassy of Mongolia at 2833 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone: (202) 333-7117 or http://www.mongolianembassy.us.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Mongolia.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Mongolia at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mg.html.

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: Apart from perhaps a few of the walks, this tour does not require high levels of fitness or stamina. Most of the walks are fairly easy and short over good ground. Toward the end of the tour, there will be a few long walks mainly through forest, some of which will be uphill, but the pace is slow. We may not always be following paths and may need to negotiate fallen branches and wet or boggy ground. On the day we drive up towards the summit of Ikh Bogd, we reach an altitude of around 11,300 feet (2440 metres). Here we do walk around a little on a relatively flat plateau and there might be some gentle uphill walking.

In order to reach the various habitats and birds of this vast country, there will be a lot of driving, and we spend a lot of time in the tour vehicles. Away from the capital we will be driving mostly on dirt roads or desert tracks of varying quality. At times we will be driving on very rough tracks which can be uncomfortable, although our 4x4 vehicles are admirably suited to the purpose.

There may be one or two very early pre-breakfast starts but generally, days begin with breakfast at 06:30 a.m. or 07:00 a.m. and usually end no later than 6 p.m. We try to allow an hour or more before dinner and checklist.

When we are camping, our ground crew travels ahead of us to set up camp. There will be no need for us to help set up camp.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travellers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. They further recommend that most travellers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Please contact your doctor four to six weeks in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travellers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/mongolia.

Altitude: The average elevation of the tour is just under 5000 feet and we reach 11,300 feet. 

Insects:  Biting insects can be encountered, especially around the lakes. Insect repellent (preferably with a high percentage of diethyltoluamide – DEET) will provide adequate protection.

Drinking water: Tap water is not safe to drink in Mongolia but we will carry bottled water with us, or use boiled spring water for making tea and coffee. 

Smoking:  Smoking or vaping is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

CLIMATE: Weather in Mongolia can be very mixed at this time of year. Generally it will be warm during the day but can be cold at night and in the early mornings. During previous tours we have experienced temperatures ranging from 23 to 100 degrees. Cold weather can be expected at the higher altitudes, and rain is possible at almost any time. 

ACCOMMODATION: In Ulaanbaatar and for one night during the tour we will stay in a modern three star hotel. Away from there we will divide our time between yurt (or gers as they are called in Mongolia) camps or our own tents. 

Gers (pronounced like the English word ‘gear’) are the traditional large round felt tents of the region and the camps are almost like tented motels. Washing and toilet facilities at these camps are shared toilet and shower blocks with hot water. Each ger camp also has its own restaurant where hot drinks, soft drinks and beer are usually available.

On other nights we will sleep in tents provided by the ground agents at camps which they will set. Camping beds are provided and the tents are large enough to stand up in. Bedding is provided in the form of sheets, blankets, pillow and duvet. If you wish to bring your own sleeping bag then you are more than welcome to do so. Water is available for washing and our ground agents also provide both small and large towels.

Our tents are tepee-style, large enough to walk around in and excellent against strong winds. You will be required to share a tepee-style tent if you are not paying the single room supplement.

When camping in the remote regions, our crew will erect a “toilet tent”, which consists of a sitdown camping style toilet.

FOOD: The camp cook is very experienced in preparing a variety of meals ‘on the road’ and we are constantly surprised at the quality and variety of the meals provided. In the ger camps and at hotels the food is simple but very good consisting of a variety soups, stews, pasta and rice dishes. We also get some very good salads usually as a starter. The food is not spicy but is certainly plentiful. Vegetarians are well catered for.

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation is by 4x4 vehicles. Our ground crew and drivers are skilled at solving mechanical problems. There are many long drives but these are broken by stops for birdwatching. The leader will arrange a seating rotation. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles. 

Updated: 12 July 2019