Mongolia contains a unique range of biophysical environments due to its landlocked situation, geological and human history and highly variable terrestrial and aquatic characteristics. The climate is distinctly continental with long, cold, dry winters and brief, mild, and relatively wet summers. Mid-winter, temperatures average -20 to -35ºC with extremes recorded as low as -58ºC in the far northwest. Summer temperatures in the Gobi desert may reach 40ºC. Annual precipitation ranges from 600 mm in the Khentii, Altai, and Khovsgol mountains to less than 100 mm in the Gobi desert. On the biodiversity side, more than 3000 species of vascular plants, 927 lichens, 437 mosses, 875 fungi, and numerous algae have been recorded with many more yet to be classified. Mongolia's flora includes almost 150 endemic plants and nearly 100 relict species. Over 100 plant species are listed in the Mongolian Red Book as rare or endangered. As with the flora, the fauna represent a mixture of species from the northern taiga of Siberia, the steppe, and the deserts of Central Asia. Fauna includes 136 species of mammals, 436 birds, 8 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 75 fish, and numerous invertebrates. This highly variable background presents a marvellous array of plant and animal assemblages that the visitor can observe firsthand by travelling offroad.
|Photo 1. A June herbfield of
buttercups and Irises with
the northren forests of the
Khentii Mountains in the background
||Photo 2. Desert steppe with
dune systems in the background.
In spring and early summer the northern forests and herbfields of the Khentii mountains abound with wildflowers (Photo 1). Whole valley systems are often ablaze with buttercups (Ranunculus spp. ) and Irises. At the other extreme, the desert steppe on the Gobi provides an unforgettable display of how vegetation can adapt to desert conditions (Photo 2). Along this biophysical gradient Mongolia offers an ecological vista that is unmatched in other countries over the same distance. For both amateur and professional photographer alike the biggest challenge will be carrying sufficient film or digital camera equipment to take advantage of the limitless photo opportunities. Our highly experienced offroad staff can design the most efficient road traverses to accommodate the needs of photographers and natural history buffs in a way that will ensure an unforgettable ecological adventure.