Hidden away in the temperate forests of the incredible Russian Far East are two of the worlds rarest and most elusive animals in the whole world. The Siberian tiger is the largest species of cat in the world and the Amur leopard is the rarest subspecies of cat in the world. Both beautiful and elusive these big cats hang onto life in a couple of remote locations in Russia. This tour takes you into the heart of these protected areas and whilst we admit the chances of seeing either species are very slim we aim to increase the profile of these reserves and contribute heavily to the conservation groups striving to save these big cats. As with most of our tours we believe that only responsible eco-tourism will save this species and help investment into the protection of the 30-40 remaining Amur leopards. So if you want to help their conservation and have the chance of becoming one of the few people to have ever seen both these cats then this is the only tour for you.
Track rare Amur Leopards
Camping in Lazovsky & Kedrovaya
Stake out wild Siberian Tigers
Tracking both of Russias big cats
Expert big cat tracking guides
Up to 20 species of mammals
Siberian Roe Deer
Amur Leopard Cat
Tour Dates: 11/3/2021 – 24/3/2021
Duration: 13 nights
Type / Focus: Tigers & Leopards
On your arrival at Vladivostok airport you will be met by your zoologist escort and local guide and transferred to your accommodation, level – 3* hotel. Then after lunch you will have some sightseeing of this very industrial city. The majority of the city is quite charming and offers much sightseeing. This is because the city remained closed to the rest of the world for a long time and unlike other Manchurian and Far Eastern cities there is little cultural diversity. But we will visit the fortress museum which is worth a visit.
Zov Tigra National Park
After leaving Vladivostok you will be transferred to the first of two reserves. The first is Zov Tigra National Park and is located close to the coastline of the Sea of Japan and in one of the most impressive landscapes of all of Russia. From the mighty Milogradovka River to the huge Mount Oblachanaya that rises over 6000ft high from the Sea of Japan. The park is over 200,000 acres in size and provides one of the largest protected areas for a large number of Siberian tigers. It is estimated that around 15 different tigers use this area (either as a resident or transient), to help us in our quest we have a few tricks up our sleeves. We will arrive with specialist equipment, from camera traps and spotlights to increase our chances of seeing tigers when they are most active (after dark) and we also gain the help of the resident anti-poaching patrols that help to keep these tigers safe. Protected by WWF as part of their commitment to conservation Siberian tigers these ant-poaching rangers know the park and its wildlife better than anyone. We will accompany them as they work the park, tracking tigers along their preferred routes through the forest and also using camera traps to understand their movements, population size and behaviours. The park encourages people to visit the park and join up with the patrols; by helping here you will be directly contributing to the ongoing conservation of the tigers here. Because this park is so remote we will come equipped with a small team to help us on this expedition-style tour; we have a local translator to help us communicate with the rangers as well as a small team of camp cooks and assistants that will prepare our food whilst we are out searching for tigers. Whilst we cannot guarantee a sighting of a wild Siberian tiger we can assure you of seeing their tracks, scratch marks on trees as well as being a significant part of tiger conservation here. We will be arriving and tracking during the late winter and despite the freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall winter is the best time to try and track down and observe Siberian tigers; the snowfall makes tracking them easier as well as concentrating their prey in certain areas where they can still access the vegetation and find unfrozen water. Plus late winter is their breeding season so the tigers are more active as they pursue partners, they mate at this time of year so that they can time the birth of their cubs for the onset of spring and the birthing time for their prey species. The format of each day whilst we are staying in the park will be early starts where we help the patrols and also scout out potentially good areas for tigers, followed by a lunch break and some rest time during the middle of day, we will then head out in the afternoon until nightfall where we will retire to the base camp, level – log cabins; and maybe even a traditional Russian sauna before dinner. Of course this is one of the rarest and least encountered species in the entire world but by being here and tracking through the snow with expert guides you stand as good a chance as any of seeing the stunning and huge Siberian tiger. To help us achieve this ambitious aim we will head out in winter, this vastly helps in tracking tigers as their prints and scat are highly visible as well as being the season where they move around the most. This is the breeding season and also when they search far and wide for food as well as mates. In addition to tracking their prints and staking out carcasses that tigers may return to, you will have help in this mission. You will have an expert local guide, nature reserve rangers (who know and understand the tigers habits here) as well as our own big cat expert zoologist escort who has experience in tracking big cats on 4 continents. This reserve in winter can seem quite bleak and imposing but there is a wealth of life here. Whilst the brown and Asiatic black bears hibernate there are many species of deer which endure the harsh winter and as well as the threat from tigers the prey species here also have lynx and wolves to face.
Kedrovaya Pad Reserve
This morning you will leave the Zov Tigra National Park and head a little south-west to the only dedicated reserve in the world to the protection of the Amur Leopard. This is a very small reserve and one that had the majority of the 40 or so remaining Amur leopards. On arrival at the reserve you will be taken to the camp (we may have a cabin or private camp site – depending on availability) and then after lunch you will be able to explore some of this park. Like the tiger winter is the best time to try and catch a glimpse of this most elusive of mammals. Just like with the tigers in Zov Tigra we will track the leopards through the snow covered forests and look for likely places to stake them out. But this afternoon and this evening will be quite relaxed and mostly used as an introduction to the reserve and also the Amur leopard.
Kedrovaya Pad Reserve
Over the next 5 nights you will be staying in either reserve lodges or camping (depending on the local conditions), and during the day we will exploring the reserve in its entirety. The park is dominated by a meeting of two mountain ranges, the impressive Sikhote Alyn Mountains are at their southern most tip and meet the eastern Manchurian Mountain range. These are low mountains and have several small streams that meet coastal rivers. It is these mountains that help to retain the heat supplied by the warm Sea of Japan in the during the summer and this coupled with the coastal river systems there is a great variety of plant life here which has helped maintain large populations of prey animals. It is all of these factors that make this small reserve the last stronghold (if you can call 40 animals strong) for the Amur leopard. Created as a reserve in 1925 to help protect the leopard after the explorations of Vladimir Aseniev made accounts of the leopard at the turn of the 20th century. As well as the leopard there are large numbers of musk deer, Siberian roe deer and sika deer. These three species make the majority of prey animals for both Amur leopards and the other predators that inhabit the reserve. During the winter the Asiatic black bears will be hibernating but raccoon dogs and red foxes are common throughout the park. Also easily seen are Manchurian hares, Amur leopard cats, Eurasian badgers, Siberian weasels and also Eurasian otters that inhabit the many lakes in the reserve. Whilst we are in the best place to see Amur leopards (as with Siberian tigers) we must stress that there is absolutely no guarantee that we will see any of the big cats here. But we will as always try our best.
This morning you will have a last chance to spot a leopard before heading the short distance back to Vladivostok. Then after checking into the accommodation, level – 3* hotel, you will have lunch and then the rest of the day for some rest and relaxation.
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 a lot of snow on the ground and snow fall is common and heavy.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). 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, vehicle safaris, hide use, camping fees and park entrance fees and museum, rehabilitation fees are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope 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. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive). Where camping all camping gear is included as well as camp cooks and assistants where needed.
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 KLM as a good airline for flights to Valdivostok. 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.
You are extremely good at what you are doing and I hope we will have an opportunity to continue our interesting discussions on another trip in the near future.
Prof. Jens Krause, Grermany
Erik Op de Beeck, Belgium
Jan Fleischmann, Sweden
Ms. Becca Murphy - USA