This wilderness float and fishing adventure explores the upper reaches of Mongolia’s very first taimen sanctuary…
The Buryat Headwaters Expedition is limited to only two anglers per expedition, beginning in the uppermost section of this unique and beautiful river, considered sacred in Mongolia as the birthplace of Ghengis Khan. You’ll fish through a diverse, mountainous landscape targeting world-class taimen, Amur trout, lenok, grayling, and Amur pike.
Mongolia River Outfitter’s “no shuttle” policy means that anglers experience a new stretch of river daily. Anglers float between tented camps strategically placed along the river. These trips run with just one guide and two guests. The trip is supported by a small camp team that transfers equipment downstream using gear boats.
Guests are accommodated in very large tent-tipis complete with cots and simple bedrolls. When we arrive at each evening’s camp, the professional staff has your bags waiting, beds made, fires lit, and dinner prepared.
At the completion of your one week trip, you will return to Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian Capital by vehicle or charter flight, again depending upon Expedition date, where you will overnight in a comfortable hotel before the next day’s airport transfer and departure for home.
Limited numbers, remote location, incredible private fishing, world-class guides, a unique and fascinating culture, and outstanding wilderness accommodation all combined to make for a remarkable adventure.
Limited to two anglers per expedition, late August – October 2019
Reservations & Rates
The cost of the 8 night, 6 fishing day program, based on double occupancy, is $6,450 per person.
Included in your angling package at Monglia River Outfitter’s Buryat Headwaters Expedition is airport transfers, 2 nights hotel accommodations in Ulaanbaatar, transportation to/from the river, fishing permits, guide services, and all meals, lodging, soft drinks, beer, wine and classic Mongolian vodka at camp.
Not included in your angling package at Monglia River Outfitter’s Buryat Headwaters Expedition are international airfare, meals/drinks in UB, and gratuities. Prices are based upon double occupancy. Trips begin and end in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses.
• Travel Guard Insurance
Seasons at Mongolia Buryat Headwaters
The fishing season in Mongolia legally opens on June 15th and closes November 1st. The Buryat Headwaters is located in the eastern parts of Mongolia at relatively low elevation. In this part of Mongolia, the rivers can be high through the summer months and typically drop into beautiful fishing conditions by the end of August. Fishing can be great all the way until the season closes on November 1st, though temperatures can start to get cold as winter approaches towards the end of October. We work hard
to select the best times for weather and water. However, these are truly wild and remote rivers susceptible to flow fluctuations.
Temperatures on the stream in Mongolia can vary dramatically from week to week, day to day, sometimes even hour to hour. You want to be prepared every week of the season for every type of condition, from sunny and warm (wet wading weather), to cold and wet.
Getting to Mongolia Buryat Headwaters
Anglers traveling to Mongolia will want to fly into Ulaanbaatar (often referred to as simply, “UB”), the capital of Mongolia. The airport in UB is very small and easy to navigate. The airport code is: ULN. There are direct flights from Beijing, Seoul, Berlin, Moscow, Hong Kong, Istanbul and Narita. Most guests fly via Beijing or Seoul. After clearing immigration/customs, you'll be met by a member of Mongolia River Outfitter’s staff and transferred to your hotel. It’s approximately a twenty-minute drive from the airport to the hotel in the city center.
While in UB, a professional guide will be available to introduce you to the capital's very interesting monasteries, museums, performances, and shops. The guides are wonderful and will help make your visit to Mongolia's capital much more enjoyable.
Depending upon the week, passengers will be traveling either via fixed-wing aircraft (Cessna Caravan) or off-road vehicle (Toyota Land Cruisers). Each expedition will travel one way by air, one way by ground. If you fly to the river, you’ll drive out; if you drive in, you’ll fly back.
If you’re on an expedition that travels to the river via charter, we check out of the hotel after an early breakfast and drive about 20 minutes to the airport. You may leave extra bags at the hotel. Passengers will be traveling via fix wing Cessna Caravan. The flight path goes directly over the beautiful Khan Hentii protected area, a 2.4 million hectare forested wilderness. The flight out to the river from the capitol takes a bit over an hour. From the airstrip, you will be driven about 3 hours up to the first riverside camp.
If you’re on an expedition that travels to the river overland, we check out of the hotel after an early breakfast and head out of town. You may leave extra bags at the hotel. Passengers will be traveling via comfortable 4X4’s. These are generally very kitted out Toyota Land Cruisers. The first half of the drive to the river is on pavement, this includes passing the massive Chinghis Khan statue! The second half of the drive is on dirt track over the grassland steppe. We’ll have a picnic lunch en route and the vehicles are equipped with plenty of drinks and snacks. Anticipate arriving streamside late in the afternoon with plenty of time to settle into your camp, grab a hot shower, and get ready for a hearty meal.
Return to UB: Your last morning at the river means rising at a decent hour, eating breakfast, packing your bags and preparing for the return to the capital city. You’re usually in town by early afternoon.
If you’re on an expedition that travels via charter, the airstrip is located about 30-minutes’ drive from the last camp. The flight back to the capitol takes a bit less than 90 minutes. Upon arrival, a MRO guide and driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel.
If you’re on an expedition that travels overland, passengers will be traveling via comfortable 4X4, generally Toyota Land Cruisers. The first half of the drive is on dirt track. The second half is on pavement. You’ll have a picnic lunch en route and the vehicles are equipped with plenty of drinks and snacks. Anticipate arriving back at your hotel late in the afternoon with plenty of time to take a long, hot shower before heading out for dinner.
Departure: A Nomadic Journeys guide and driver will meet you at the hotel to give you a ride to the airport and will make certain all goes smoothly with check-in and departure.
Delayed Flights and Extended Stays: It is very common for fishing guests to arrive a day early and/or stay an extra night or two on their return. This is a good idea if you have a tight flight schedule. It rarely happens, but delays are possible on the flight back to UB.
Please let us know if you would like to extend your trip and we will help you make necessary arrangements. Nomadic Journeys operates trips all over Mongolia. If you want to add a couple of extra days in UB with a guide visiting cultural sites, volunteer on a research project, or take a couple of weeks riding a camel across the Gobi, please let us know and we can easily arrange a private trip for you.
Lodging at Mongolia Buryat Headwaters
The team at MRO has operated distinctive cultural and natural history tours in Mongolia for over two decades and their field camps are the best in the country. Much like an African tented safari, the camps are rustic but very comfortable. Each campsite along the river is uniquely peaceful, designed to reflect Mongolian traditions and integrate with the country’s natural surroundings. They are completed with cook tent, hot showers, toilet facilities, and gers for eating and sleeping. There are no generators or stereos, only the sounds of the trees and the river, the lights of candles and stoves, and the sparkling night stars.
The cooks are veterans. The food is fresh, diverse and well suited to Western tastes. The coffee is hot, the beer cold and the wine very palatable! Breakfast and dinner are served either inside a dedicated dining ger (yurt) or in very remote camps a central wall tent complete with tables, chairs, and wood stove.
Mongolian culture venerates hospitality and the camp staff is no exception. They are wonderful, hard-working, fun, and highly attentive folks. You’ll have a great time getting to know them and they will make your visit remarkable.
On the Headwaters Expedition, guests will be accommodated in two types of accommodation: gers and tents (tipis).
With their wooden lattice frames and insulated felt walls, sleeping in a cozy Mongolian ger is a great experience. It’s much like having a spacious streamside hotel room...with dirt floors! The tent tipis are also very comfortable, over ten feet tall and nearly 18 feet wide.
Each accommodates two guests and is outfitted with simple table and chairs, wool carpets, two beds, sleeping pads, piles of blankets and a wood-burning stove. (You will want to bring a sleeping bag). On cool mornings, one of the camp staff will enter at your request and light the stove before sunrise…a great way to start the day!
Hot shower facilities are located in specially designed large tents…. Same with the toilets. Both facilities are quite comfortable and private.
Fishing at Mongolia Buryat Headwaters
This stream is amazingly well suited for fly-fishing. The river is gentle. There are no rapids, but the flow is steady with loads of interesting features, including plenty of riffles and pools. We fish only the prime season when the water is generally clear. However, gin clear water is not guaranteed. Wild taimen only survive in true wilderness. There are no dams and river flow may fluctuate substantially with the weather.
When the water is clear, we frequently spot cast for big fish, much like chasing tarpon on the flats. Over the period of a typical week, we often hook progressively more and larger fish as everyone learns the secrets of Taimen.
The fishing is a combination of drift boat and wade-walk fishing, and it is a great river for both single and double-handed rods. The single-handed rods are used from the drift boats. The double-handed rods are generally fished from shore, but some guests use switch rods to great effect from the boat as well. Most guests bring a 5-6 weight single hand for the trout and an 8-9 weight single hand for the taimen. Both of these rods will have a dry line. The double-handed rods for taimen can be a bit lighter, ranging from 7w to 9w. Generally these are 13-foot spey or 11-foot switch rods. It’s a wonderful thing to fire a Skagit line out across a camp pool at sunset and skate a big mouse pattern to a giant taimen!
Taimen are giant predators, renowned for a ferocious appetite and explosive strike. Their main diet is “small” fish and they do take well-presented streamers. However, taimen often feed on the surface, searching out small mammals and even ducklings. This means taimen aggressively take skated or gurgling surface flies, too. Taimen will absolutely explode on the fly, sometimes coming completely out of the water on the strike. On witnessing this impressive smash and grab many anglers pull too soon and miss the hook up. The trick is to keep stripping until you feel the weight of the fish, then set the hook. If you miss the first strike, slam that fly right back on the water. That big, angry fish will usually come back around and absolutely hammer your fly.
These taimen will often go airborne. Like a big tarpon, they will tail walk along the river’s surface. In skinny water, they will rocket across the river for greater depths. The four-foot long predator on the end of your line will charge around the pool, bore deep and shake its head violently like a very, very big brown trout.
Mongolia can be an excellent trout-fishing destination, too. While taimen are often the big draw, the same pristine and productive water that holds monster taimen also produces hard-fighting lenok and grayling, and at times rare and elusive amur trout and pike as well.
Lenok are an ancient and beautiful Siberian trout. They have golden bodies, bright red bands and black spots. Throughout the fishing season, these native trout feed aggressively on the surface. They wait along banks to slurp the abundant grasshopper, mayfly and stonefly hatches. A large Siberian trout will happily destroy a mouse pattern skated across a shallow run or behind a rock. They will smash bead-heads dropped beneath riffles. Fly-fishing for these native trout can be a great diversion from casting big flies for big taimen.
Amur Trout are an incredibly rare species of trout, found only in a few drainages in the world, including these Buryat Headwaters. In fact, our initial explorations of these upper stretches of river indicate this piece of river may in fact be home to the highest populations of these rare trout in the world. These fish are always beautiful and typically large, usually attacking the same big flies we fish for taimen. They are usually a favorite of the guides because they are so rare.
As a bonus, the unique Amur Pike is also found in this river. These toothy, aggressive predators attack big streamers in deep pools and around sloughs off the main channel, and put a serious bend in an 8 or 9 weight rod.
Reel, Rod and Line: The “classic” set-up is a single-handed 8 or 9w rod for Taimen and a second 5 or 6w rod for trout. (Taimen can be over fifty inches and forty pounds. Many trout will be around twenty inches and right around three pounds.) Many guests also bring spare rods. A 7w is a nice addition for throwing smaller dry flies. Make sure your reel has a functional drag and is fully loaded with backing. Large arbor reels are useful.
We’ve found the best lines for taimen to be the Scientific Anglers Freshwater Titan for a floating line, and bringing along a 200-250 grain sink tip is also a good idea.
This is a great river for spey and switch rods. Seven – nine weight is a good choice. Most guests have a tough time fishing the spey rods from the boat, so best to have a single hand for fishing from the boat and use the spey for working particular runs.
For trout, folks typically fish with a weight forward floating line for both wet and dry flies.
Bring a good supply of leader material. Nine foot or longer leaders suitable for salmon or big steelhead work fine for Taimen. Normal trout leaders are great for the lenok. Bring clippers, hemostats and tippet. The guides all have large landing nets.
There are usually extras of just about everything in camp. However, we recommend that you bring a back-up rod, reel and line just in case. Of course, one client broke his 9 weight, picked up his 5 weight, and straight away landed a monster Taimen.
The guides can supply many of the taimen flies. They have their own patterns and tying equipment on hand. The flies are user friendly and not obnoxiously large. Just like any trout or salmon, you don’t need a giant fly to catch a giant fish. If you have patterns that you would like to try, please bring them. Taimen fishing is an evolving pursuit and we’re always amazed by what works. For the trout, an assortment of general patterns works just fine.
Bring a fishing vest/chest pack with a drying patch, waist or chest high breathable waders, and comfortable wading shoes. (Please, no spikes on the boots. The spikes tear the boats). A waterproof jacket, good hat, and polarized sunglasses (on a keeper) are must haves.
Please bring a small waterproof bag that fits your personal “day’s fishing” stuff, e.g., camera, spare coat, etc. We have life jackets and coolers on the boats.
You will want to pack as if going to float a river in Montana the first week in October. There might be snow or rain, but it’s far more likely that the days will be sunny and warm (60 – 70 degrees F). As unbelievable as it may sound, be prepared for both snow and wet wading even during the early and late season. Evenings are generally cool, sometimes just below freezing.
Fishing permits are included in the trip price. Mongolia law requires that all international anglers obtain a variety of fishing permits. We arrange for all permits in advance and have long-term operations and conservation agreements with all relevant government agencies.