Russian state of Primorye may not evoke the same thoughts and emotions as Siberia. But it is this state which harbours the largest areas of intact and protected forests in the Russian Far East. Many parks and reserves have been set up in the last 10-20 years. Mostly to protect the populations of Amur Leopards and Siberian Tigers that live here. The numbers of both Siberian tigers and Amur leopards have been slowly yet steadily increasing for years.
However despite this good news and it is true that the numbers are steadily increasing, the number of wild Amur leopards is pitifully low. The last census suggested an increase in the total population by around 50% which is incredible, and there are now around 70 in the wild
This tour is a pioneering tour and you will be among the first ever tourists to come here and the first to spend time here during the wonderful winter time to try and find and photograph the Amur leopard. We have had incredible success in running these tours with so far a 100% success rate in leopards arriving at our hide.
Because of the nature of Amur leopards we cannot guarantee any sightings; however we can assure you all of an adventure of a life time and one that could result in you becoming one of the only non-Russian people to see wild Amur leopards!
Eurasian Red Squirrel
Eurasian Wild Boar
Tour Dates: 31/12/2020 – 08/01/2021
Duration: 9 nights
Type / Focus: Amur Leopard
Vladivostok / Forest Reserve
Today you will be met at the airport by your guide / interpreter and taken to the national park (~3 hours). On arrival here we will settle into the log cabin / hotel (it has large apartments which we will share) and have some food, we will meet the park rangers and have a briefing about the park, the hide and the way the photography hide operates here. If time allows (the days are short and the nights long here during winter) we will have a guided walk around some of the forest to look for wildlife and evidence of the elusive leopard. Tomorrow will be your first day in the hide.
For the next 6 days you will have access to the hide. The hide accommodates 3 people, there are two bunks and one folding camp bed for sleeping and we recommend people spend the entire time (all 5 nights inside the hide). There is a toilet, gas heater and we will provide lots of food (we will bring food regularly and you will be in radio contact with the main accommodation). We recommend staying inside the hide the entire time and maybe receiving one folding camp bed for sleeping and we recommend people spend the entire time (all 5 nights inside the hide). There is a toilet, gas heater and we will provide lots of food (we will bring food regularly and you will be in radio food deliveries every 2 days as this will dramatically decrease the disturbance around the hide and thus increase the chances of the leopard (there are 3-5 leopards that are currently using the area around the hide according to camera traps) coming around. The location of the hide was chosen to take advantage of natural features (water sources and the popular food trees utilized by the wild boar and deer species here) so that the ungulate animals naturally like to spend time here during the winter. The high density of prey animals around here increased the chances of leopards using the area too. To further increase our chances the area has been baited with salt and other minerals as well as grain for up to 2 months prior to our arrival. This is done just for us and is done in the hope that it will increase the presence of the prey animals and therefore the leopards ahead of our arrival.
The hide has been in use on and off for a number of years, most notably in 2007 when the BBC Planet Earth team came here and filmed wild Amur leopards for the very first time. From then until 2015 the hide was used sporadically by the occasional wildlife photographer and film crew. But in general the area was unknown and very difficult to arrange a visit too. Now the hide is open to tourists and Royle Safaris has managed to negotiate the use of the hide on our tours. With the success we have had on our Siberian tiger tours we believe that this is the perfect extension and hope to further show case this species and its stunning habitat to help increase awareness and raise much needed funds which goes the national park and surrounding communities to create a positive association with the wildlife and their continued survival.
In fact on our very first tour here in February and March 2018 we had success and a sighting and photographs of two different Amur leopards.
This morning you will leave the hide and come back to the main building for a shower, to pack up and get ready to leave for the city. Once back in Vladivostok the rest of the day will be free for you to explore, rest or do as you please. The city is quite pleasant to walk around, the frozen bay and the cars driving across it is a sight to see, the terminus of the Trans Siberian Express railway is another famous location in the city.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather in the Russian Far East during late winter is very cold, record temperatures are as low as -40 to -50 degrees C; but average around -10 to -20 degrees C. There is also some snow on the ground (particularly in December – January) and when there is a snow storm it is heavy.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) – when in the hide meals are provided in advance and there is a small gas cooker for warming through food. There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide for transfers when needed.
All our excursions including guided walks, hide use and park entrance fees are included; we also include all fees for our team including cooks, assistants and translator.
We include one deer carcass as standard – if a cat comes along and eats the entire carcass early into the trip, then a second deer carcass can be provided but is chargeable as an extra – 2019 prices are USD $800.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars in addition to your camera (no tripod is needed in the hide – there is no room) as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as very warm winter clothes, such as down jackets & trousers, walking socks, gloves, hats, scarfs, fleeces etc. Broken in and comfortable, waterproof walking boots are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. We have also provided night vision goggles which can record, so you can monitor the area after dark, as well as camera traps which will be set up around the hide for your trip and any pictures / videos taken with these will be free for you to have and use.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Areoflot as a good airline for flights to Vladivostok. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Russia. These are only obtainable in advance from your local embassy. The easiest way to find information is by visiting http://visitrussia.org.uk (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site). A tourist visa costs around £115 for a single entry visa which is valid for 30 days, however things change so please check out the website above for more information.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Russia, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Russia as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Prof. Jens Krause - Berlin, Germany
Mr. Erik Op de Beeck - Vienna, Austria
Jan Fleischamann - Sweden
Mr. Durga - Bangalore, India
Ms. Margaret Powers - Texas, USA
Ulrich Heinz - Switerland
Mr. Nicolas Huser - Switzerland
B.A. Mahipala - Sri Lanka
Mr. Mark Coreth - UK
Mr. Hobbs - California
Mr. Fraser - London, UK
Mr. Francois Wurz - Monaco
Mr. Abilash Sekar - USA
Ms. Becca Murphy - USA
Mr. Lindsay Farkas - Australia
Matthew Roper - Norwich
M. Baptise Bataille - Belguim
Kurt Bertels - South Africa
Ms. Michelle Liles - California, USA
Laurent Spriet - Belgium