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Another biological catastrophe has been prevented. The rare and elusive "Siberian Tiger" has come back from near-extinction. The commonly used name "Siberian Tiger" is misleading, as this species lives only in the Russian Far East and bears the correct name of Amur Tiger. Now you have a unique opportunity to come and see this great feline in the wild. Only thirty animals remained in the world by the 1940's as a result of excessive hunting. Today, the Amur Tiger population is slowly recovering thanks to a sensible policy of supporting projects like the Russian-American 'Siberian Tiger' project which was launched in 1991. The main goals of the project were to preserve the tiger population and to examine interaction among tigers and bears. The current tiger population is approximately 350 in Primorye, Russia's Maritime Province. Now we are pleased to offer you this opportunity to see and photograph the Siberian Tiger in the wild.
DAY 1 VLADIVOSTOK.
Arrival to Vladivostok, the fascinating port city, the largest city in the Russian Far East, the capital of Primorye and cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe. You will find Vladivostok to be a city with much to see and much to do. Dinner at the hotel.
DAY 2 We depart for the Lazovsky Reserve, which is home to 16 tigers at the last count. Your chances of actually seeing a tiger there are quite low, but you can see tiger haunts and tracks.
DAY 3 LAZO COUNTY
After breakfast at the hotel we will enjoy picturesque views on our 3.5-hour drive deep into the taiga in Lazo County. Lunch at the local restaurant. After lunch we will meet various people: academics, researchers, hunters. They will share their knowledge of the taiga and its wildlife inhabitants. An amateur performance by local Russians and a visit to the local picture gallery where you can purchase pictures or handicraft works will introduce a pleasant variety in your stay. Dinner at a restaurant in Lazo. We spend the night in a guest cottage.
DAYs 4,5,6,... There are three different ways to track down a tiger. First, you can get a tip from the reserve gamekeepers about where you can find the most recent tiger tracks. A jeep will take you there, and you will follow the tracks until you can see and photograph a tiger. A gamekeeper guide will accompany you for your safety. Following a tiger in its tracks can be quite a strenuous exercise and can take days. Your other option is to set up “camera traps” in the spots where tigers appear most frequently. A camera equipped with a movement sensor will take a shot whenever a large enough object passes in its path. You can set up several cameras in key locations throughout the reserve and check them every day. There is one more option: you can set up a hide-out tent in a place frequented by tigers, and lie in the tent waiting for a tiger to appear. This option requires the least physical exertion, but can be quite trying as you may have to stay in the hide-out tent for days. Your chances of seeing/photographing a tiger increase with each passing day, but there is no 100% guarantee that you will see a tiger in the wild at all.
However, the best time is winter (between January and April), for two main reasons. First, by this time tigers become hungry, whereas prey becomes scarce. Therefore, tigers move about more than in other seasons. Secondly, like most cats, tigers hate to walk in deep snow. Thus, they try to follow beaten paths and are much easier to find. In summer, tigers have less trouble finding food and are more elusive. In addition, they have the whole wide wilderness to roam in without the inconvenience of deep cold snow.
There are special activities you can engage in while your cameras click away taking pictures of tigers:
1 A tour of the tigers' lair. Watching tigers' tracks and marks on trees (1-hour drive + 1-hour walk - one way). We can meet a goral (an Asian antelope), another inhabitant of this area.
2 A half a day tour to a ginseng farm where you can purchase a renowned "life root", as Asians call it. They believe it to be a panacea for all diseases.
3 A half a day fascinating tour to the Elamovskie Waterfalls, where we can admire the 3 most picturesque and large waterfalls in the region (the biggest is 17 meters high)
4 An excursion to the Archaeological Museum and Museum of Nature. (1-hour drive).
5 A full day tour to Ekaterinovskiye Caves. Over 60,000 bones of fossil animals were discovered here. These mammoths, ancient bison, woolly rhinoceros, cave lions, hyenas and other ancient beasts inhabited the area twenty thousand years ago. The visit to the caves is followed by an excursion to the Museum of Archaeology and Paleontology, where these discoveries are exhibited.
6 Photographing opportunities: wild boar, Manchurian deer, roe, brown bear
LAST DAY The next morning after we have had our final view of the tiger, we have breakfast and return to Vladivostok. If you get tired of waiting, you can see a family of tigers on the way back at a wildlife research station near Spassk. There is a sure chance of seeing tigers in a small enclosure at the station.
· airport-hotel-airport transfer with English-speaking guide
· double accommodation at Vladivostok hotel**+ ( 2 nights) b/f
· 3-hour city tour with English (or other languages) speaking guide
· transfer to Lazo county and v.v.
· full board
· foto shooting license
· accommodation at a log house in lazo (5nights)
· armed guide
· academic guide, specialised in tiger research
· three excursions of your choice
· visit to a picture gallery in Lazo
· transportation rental
Base price from USD 1355