RFI: snow leopards in Mongolia?


Various friends who travel to Mongolia for birds and general nature tell that local nature guides repeatedly tell to know ‘sure’ places for seeing snow leopard. They are however away from the regular bird/nature circuit.

I would potentially visit it, because a) it is summer site, so not cold b) far bigger diversity of other mammals and birds than Ladakh c) low mountains so easier to move around. However, snow leopard researchers in Mongolia answered that cats in their particular study area are difficult to see.

So: any information on seeing or trying to see and failing snow leopards in Mongolia would be welcome!


  • Steve Firth

    Don’t have any information to add I’m afraid, except that I am interested to see if anyone has any relevant information

  • Antee

    I have seen Snow leopard in Mongolia. It took me an hour or two… 🙂

    This was in Yolyn Am gorge in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park outside Dalanzadgad. Spotlighting from the car. We picked up a big eyeshine from a hill and yes… there it was. Looking at us.
    In one hour we saw 1 Snow Leopard 2 Pallas cat and 1 Steppe polecat. Yes, we were lucky but there is a huge potential here I think. John Hall had also excellent spotlighting here (no Snow leopard though)

    The Gurvan Saikhan Mountains have highest peak 2825m so it´s a low mountain range with good climate.

    Some days after, we were in the southern part of the range close to the small settlement of Khurmen.
    My guide had some fantastic Snow Leopard pictures from here and the year before (2015) it was a Snow leopard den at this place. During my visit it was empty.

    We talked to some nomadic people and that night they had a Snow leopard starring at them the whole night. He pointed out to me the exact location were it had been.
    They had alot of goats and the Snow leopard was of course interested in this. They told me they had lost 15 goats this year (oct 2016) to Snow leopards.
    We gave them spotlights to scare the Snow leopards away next time 🙂

    I also told them that they could earn a few thousand US dollar per week for Snow leopard watching and hospitaling people in their Yurta. They only laughed, didn´t believed me, wanted to kill them all and was happy to be self sufficient with their goats…

    I got the impression that there is a HUGE Snow leopard potential in this area. But nobody have never looked for them here. They are for sure around. And the BIG advantage from Ladakh is that this is low altitude with nice climate and you can even spotlight from the car…

    If there is a company who will ever do like they do in Ladakh with sending out spotters and crew to search and locate the Snow leopards for more easy viewing then I am sure this area would be a big success.
    But there is no such company and structure and that is why you need alot more luck here than in Ladakh.

    My guide took once again a nice photo this February of one in this mountain range. Close to Yolyn Am gorge from 300 meters distance.


    This is the info I got and it would be great to hear/read from someone who actually puts in a week to search for them somewhere in Mongolia.

  • Jon Hall

    Yolyn Am certainly has a lot of potential. We didn’t see a Snow Leopard there (in one night) but did get Marbled Polecat, Steppe Polecats and a Pallas’s Cat. See https://www.mammalwatching.com/2016/09/26/mongolia-2016-trip-report/

    You can also write to Balazs Szigeti from Hungary Ectours who is running Snow Leopard trips to another area in the summer which sounded very promising and looked beautiful Ecotours Wildlife Holidays-Balazs Szigeti

  • Andrea Schalk

    Naturetrek, a UK wildlife tour operator, are now running snow leopard trips in Mongolia. I’ve been hoping to gain some information from their trip reports. The first two trips occurred this summer and trip reports are now available on the Naturetrek webpage. They’re already fully booked for their 2018 trips, and have taken bookings for 2019 based on the info on their page. Both groups did see snow leopards. More info available on the Naturetrek page, search for MON02.

    Presumably it’s perfectly possible to arrange a similar trip on one’s own, although one would have to find out which local agency has the spotters mentioned under contract.

    I’ve been eying this trip as an option to seeing snow leopards away from Ladakh, but I would ideally like something a bit longer and the flexibility of doing this independently would be even more appealing.


  • Cathy Pasterczyk

    I have no personal experience with this company but noted the following on their website. It sounds wonderful!


  • John Pilgrim

    I’ve seen Snow Leopard twice in Mongolia, in the last few years… both times I’ve looked for them. I will caveat that by saying that, in both cases, I was one of only one or two observers, and others very close to me missed the animal. Once was in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan range, which includes Yolyn Am, the other time was at a mountain to the south of there.
    In both cases, I was with Tumen(delger) of this small company: http://wildlifemongolia.com/ You’ll find a report on this site by Richard Webb of one of those trips that we jointly did. He has his strengths and weaknesses, but there may be no-one who knows the wildlife of the Gobi better than him, or has the connections to find leads like active Snow Leopard dens (the first time, we missed one of these by a week or so!) I’m happy to give more details if useful…

  • Steve Babbs

    The views of the Naturetrek tours do sound like they were very, very distant.

  • Edward

    I have been researching a trip to search for snow leopards in Mongolia. I am going in March 2018 and using a local company. Spending 25 days about 10 of which will be looking for snow leopards and a few days at Eagle festival in Blue Goat National Park.

  • Josh

    Does anyone yet have further information on how to visit the Tost Mountain area independently? The nature trek tour looks good, but I want to spend longer at the site exploring?

    • Mattia from Italy

      The views of Snow Leopard in Mongolia are usually veeeeeeeery distant. Some even 2-3 km away, and this year a few tours didn’t even produce a single SL.

      For SL, Hemis NP is much better, regarding both numbers and quality of views.

  • Munkhnast Dalannast

    Hi Stephen

    We are small Mongolian tour company which runs special interest trips on Mongolia including mammalwatching and birdwatching. If you need more details please contact us at menentour@gmail.com

Leave a Reply