KIRGIZIA
Flowers of Central Asia!

 

Tour date:
June 12 – 27, 2016

 

Tourleader:
Svetlana Baskakova 

 

Minimum group size:
6 plus 1 leader

 

Maximum group size:
15 plus 2 leader

 

2016 Tour price:
€ 2.140,- / £ 1.370,-

 

Plus flights estimated at:
€ 650,- / £ 455,- (from London)

 

Single room supplement:
€ 215,- / £ 155,-
 

Kirgizia (or Kyrgyzstan) is located in the central part of Central Asia and represents one of the most interesting mountain areas of our planet, the Central Tien-Shan Mountains, located on the northern flanks of the Himalaya mountain range. Some of its mountains reach over 7000 meters (Pobeda 7439m) at the north-eastern edge of the country and belong to the highest of the world. During this trip we will make a tour around some of its most fantastic nature reserves coming across many dazzling plants and other wildlife. This trip is assured for fantastic mountain scenery, an overwhelming flora, splendid birding, and large numbers of butterflies all in the kingdom of one of the most endangered animals on this plant, the Snow Leopard. Not unimportantly this tour offers fantastic opportunities for photography.

 

The flora & fauna in this part of the world is a true gem and during this tour we hope to come across apart from a large list of more typically European species also a stunning list of very special wildlife largely confined to Central Asia. Angelica archangelica, Angelica brevicaulis, Eryngium bungei, Ferula tenuisecta, Achillea filipendulina, Aster alpinus, Centaurea turkestanica, Cousinia fetisowii, Hieracium aurantiacum, Inula macrophylla, Leontopodium fedtschenkoanum, Leontopodium ochroleucum, Ligularia macrophylla, Ligularia thomsonii, Saussurea elegans, Saussurea gnapthallodes, Tragopogon dubius, Taraxacum lilacinum, Impatiens parviflora, Eritrichium villosum, Heliotropum rotundifolium, Lindelofia macrostyla, Lindelofia stylosa, Chorispora bungeana, Chorispora macropoda, Chorispora songarica, Desideria flabellata, Draba oreades, Erysimum humillimum, Campanula glomerata, Codonopsis clematidea, Lonicera semenovii, Lonicera tartarica, Cerastium lithospermifolium, Dianthus crinitus, Orostachys thyrsiflora, Pseudosedum longidentatum, Rhodiola litwinowii, Orthilia secunda, Pyrola rotundifolia, Astragalus sieversianus, Hedysarum chaitocarpum, Hedysarum neglectum, Lathyrus gmelinii, Oxytropis chionobia, Thermopsis turkestanica, Gentiana olivieri, Geranium collinum, Dracocephalum integrifolium, Corydalis fedtschenkoana, Primula minkwittsiae, Clematis songarica, Ranunculus albertii, Trollius altaicus, Trollius dzungaricus, Allium ambylophyllum and the lovely Eremurus sogdianus.

 

Not to mention some very interesting mammals and reptiles! Nature enthusiasts have been enjoying this stable country and their fantastic flora and fauna rather little which is quite surprising when having such a great natural environment on the doorstep of Europe!  RBT operated its first and highly successful tour in 2007 and since we established ourselves as the main ground operator of several of the largest tour companies in the world. We are sure that participants will be delighted with this extraordinary Central Asian experience.

 

June 12, Day 1: To Osh

Clients depart from home towards one of the largest cities of Kirgizia, Osh. Clients need to be in the hotel in Osh before July 03 - 9am. We schedule for this time the introductory meeting with your tourleader in our hotel in Osh. This will give your leader the chance to introduce you with your fellow participants, give you the latest information on this trip and to tell you more about the daily routines. If you like to come in earlier please contact the RBT office which will gladly help with extra hotel bookings? 

 

NIGHT: Day 1, on aircraft.

 

June 13, Day 2: Osh and surroundings

After arrival on Osh Airport we depart for our hotel in the city. As arrival is presumably early in the night, we have a rest, in our comfortable hotel, before starting the day program. We have an easy day where we visit several small interesting areas near Osh, a city of reputedly founded 3000 years ago. Also there will be time to visit the local bazaar and the largest mosque in Kirgizia, the Shaid Tepa Mosque. Also when time permits we visit some interesting areas around Osh to have our first glimpses of Kirgizia’s nature!

 

NIGHT: Comfortable tourist hotel, Osh.

 

June 14, Day 3: Taldyk Pass

After a large breakfast we depart for the gorgeous Taldyk Pass which has an elevation of 3615m. Unlike neighboring Kazakhstan it is easy to explore many high passes by road in Kirgizia. We’ll drive steadily uphill, passing the magnificent pink spires of Eremurus robustus blooming amidst yellow roses, and will soon find ourselves above 3000m as we approach the mountain pass east of the town. Himalayan Griffons, Lammergeyer and Alpine Choughs patrol the skies and feel home in this desolate landscape. We’ll find the lovely reddish decorate bells of Fritillaria walujewii. On the pass itself we will explore the area and hope to find Pulsatilla campanella, little yellow Tulipa dasystemon, Colchicum kesselringianum, Primula algida, Ranunculus albertii and the little annual Gentiana karelinii too. In the evening we return to our hotel.

 

NIGHT: Comfortable tourist hotel, Osh.

 

June 15-16, Day 4-5: Dashman Forest Reserve ‘walnut forest’

We depart from Osh and set sails for the village of Arslanbob which is near the Dashman Forest Reserve where we find the largest walnut forest in the world. The walnut Juglans regia is native to a wide region in Central Asia and we will have one full day to explore this magnificent reserve. During our drive to this wonderful place we stop to photograph the abundant Salvia sclarea as well as Achillea filipendulina and lovely Lindelofia macrostyla. Soon we rise into increasingly wooded foothills with orchards and lovely cute farms. Drifts of Balsams, Buttercups and tall Ligularia thomsonii and Euphorbia lamprocarpa make a fine sight under the trees. Not only plants do well here, we also come across many colorful birds such as Red-headed Buntings, Rose-colored Starlings and European Rollers. In the nearby river we find Brown Dipper and Blue-whistling Thrushes.

 

NIGHT: Family run guesthouse, Arslanbob.

 

June 17, Day 6: Arslanbob to Sary-Chelek

Our route to Sary-Chelek takes us through steppe dotted with Acanthophyllum pungens, a plant that attracts abundant butterflies, and the striking silvery-haired Astragalus alopecias with great balls of yellow flowers.When we drive into the hot lowlands we see many patches of Eremurus tianshanicus and sogdianus. Also we cross paths with Perovskia scrophulariifolia and Ostrovskia magnifica. European Bee-eaters and Hoopoes are really common in this dry semi-desert habitat. In the evening we start driving up into tgreen forested hills and clear rivers. We arrive at our guesthouse where we will stay for 2 nights.

 

NIGHT: Family run guesthouse, Sary-Chelek.

 

June 18, Day 7: Lake Sary-Chelek

Today a wonderful day lies in front of us with a full day exploring the delightful mountain lake of Sary-Chelek. Sary-Chelek is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful landscapes in Central Asia. An idyllic lake surrounded by stunning mountains in lavish scenery. We start with a steep drive up bringing us to the lake where we first see patches of lovely Pedicularis dolichorrhiza and Dactylorhiza umbrosa. And Eremurus fuscus is not uncommon at all for which we take time photographing. Drier slopes have some fine pale yellow Cousinia turkestanica flowering. Incredibly lush meadows are full of pink, white and blue Alliums. From the evergreen forests we hear the sounds of Greenish and Hume’s Warblers. Siberian Stonechat’s vie for our attention while singing in the afternoon sun. We return back to our cozy guesthouse where a tasty dinner awaits us.

 

NIGHT: Family run guesthouse, Sary-Chelek.

 

June 19, Day 8: Sary-Chelek to Suusamyr

The Suusamyr valley is a high steppe plateau at an altitude of 2200m which will be our destination for the day. We leave Sary-Chelek in the morning and drive through steadily uphill passing scattered Eremus fuscus and abundant Phlomis oreophila, Pedicularis dolichozhiza and the striking golden heads of Eremostachys speciosa. The steppe is vibrant with massed orange Trollius altaicus and vast carpets of Primula algida.

 

NIGHT: Guesthouse Bay Tur, Suusamyr.

 

June 20, Day 9: Suusamyr to Kochkor 

After breakfast we’ll set of in eastern direction across the expansive steppes where we admire clumps of deep purple red Lindelofia stylosa and extensive stands of Ligularia macrophylla. We stop a couple of times to admire white flowered Clematis songaricus and deep purple Dodartia orientalis. We find along the way more Red-headed Buntings, Hoopoes and even a Sykes’ Warbler is a possibility. Today is mainly a day of transport taking us to the east of the country.

 

NIGHT: Guesthouse Kochkor, Kochkor.

 

June 21, Day 10: Kochkor to Son-Kul

Our end destination is one of the most favorite parts of Central Asia of your guide who travels and lives in this part of the world for 10 years. He describes the Son Kol Lake is ‘heaven on earth’ and is a must do visit to anybody visiting Kyrgyzstan or Asia for that matter. From Kochkor we drive through gorgeous green valleys up towards Son Kol Lake which is located on an altitude of 3016m. We find ourselves between large amounts of calcarata Citrine Wagtails, a black backed form of this stunning looking bird, which find food between grazing yaks. We find thousands of darkest red Allium atrosanguineum as well as hundreds of Tulipa heterophylla, Tulipa dasystemon, many Primula algida, white flowered Eritrichium villosum and the pale yellow Chorispora Macropoda. In the late afternoon we arrive at the lake where we overnight in a traditional yurt. This felt made tent was the portable dwelling of the Central Asian nomads in the times when Genghis Khan’s armies roamed the steppes.

 

NIGHT: Overnight in Son Kol Yurt camp.

 

June 22, Day 11: Son-Kul to Tamga 

In the morning we have our last exploration around the Son Kol Lake – we say our goodbyes to our hosts at the yurt camp and set sails for our first looks upon yet another gorgeous Central Asian lake, the Issyk Kol Lake. This endorheic lake is the tenth largest lake in the world by volume and the second largest saline lake after the Caspian Sea. The lake is a Ramsar site of globally significant biodiversity and forms part of the Issyk-Kul Biosphere Reserve. On our way to Tamga we visit a very special place called Fairy Tale Canyon which consists of convoluted multicolored clay hills and inclined strata. Interesting flowers include Limonium kaschgaricum, Scutellaria przewalskii, Lagochilus seversianus and the dark spikes of parasitic Cynomorium coccineum. The birdlife is abundant with phoenicuroides Black Redstart, Mongolian Desert Finch and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush to name a few of the species we might come across. In the evening we arrive in our lovely guesthouse where we make our daily checklist.

 

NIGHT: guesthouse Tamga, Tamga.

 

June 23, Day 12: Barskoon & Jeti Oguz

We continue our journey today with a drive to the largest town in eastern Kyrgyzstan, not far from the Chinese border. Many fine blooms of Salvia nemerosa and Central Asian Marbled Whites are the first flora and fauna we come across along the lake. The entire road is along the gorgeous Issyk Kol Lake from which we say goodbye on two occasions when visiting the Barskoon Gorge and Jeti Oguz. In the gorge we find many fine stands of Primula nivalis ssp farinosa and Desideria flabellate with its dense heads of lilac flowers.  In the afternoon we visit the site of Jeti Oguz where the name derives from the rock formation's resemblance to seven bulls and a legend about a khan's, a Central Asian Lord, unfaithful wife! This unique geological formation of sheer cliffs composed of tertiary red conglomerates. The rock formation is a well-known landmark in Kyrgyzstan and is seen as a national symbol. On the meadows we find stands of Dictamnus albus, Codonopsis clematidea as wel as Leontipodium fedtschenkoana, Polygala hybrida and a few small Allium Caesium. We arrive in this former Russian military outpost, now called Karakol, in the evening. 

 

NIGHT: guesthouse Greenyard, Karakol.

 

June 24, Day 13: Chon Ashuu

Today we drive up to great heights with an excursion to the Chon Ashuu pass which is the highest pass we visit during this tour in Kyrgyzstan. With a dazzling 3822 meters we go today way past the tree line and look for a rather special set of flora and fauna.  On the way up we drive through meadows full of Veratrum lobelianum, blue Polemonium caucasicum, purple-blue Campanula glomerata, wine-red Aquilegia atrovinosa. The nearby wild streaming river holds both White-bellied and Brown Dipper. Lammergeyers are patrolling the sky.  The lush meadows are home to one of the strangest waders of the world; the elusive Ibisbill. The higher we go the more increasingly abundant we come across Papaver croceum and Geranium collinum. The scree and gravel lovers take over as we gain more height with yellow Erysimum humillimum colouring the roadside, mixed with Aster alpinus, Crepis karelinii, and lovely Corydalis fedtschenkoana. White-tailed Rubythroat’s together with Himalayan and Brown Accentor’s are quite common up here. The gorgeous White-browed Tit Warbler needs some more time to be found just as his colorful friend the Güldenstädt’s Redstart!  In the evening we return to our lovely guesthouse in Karakol

 

NIGHT: guesthouse Greenyard, Karakol.

 

June 25, Day 14: Karakol to Bishkek

We return back to Bishkek with a long drive along the northern shores of Issyk Kol Lake. En-route we make a stop at the Burana tower which is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun was established by the Karakhanids at the end of the 9th century. Colonies of Spanish Sparrow and Rose-coloured Starlings are common around the tower as are Sophora alopecuroides. We arrive in the early evening in the capitol of Kirgizia where we enjoy a feast dinner in a local restaurant.

 

NIGHT: Comfortable tourist hotel, Bishkek.

 

June 26, Day 15: Ala Archa

Our last full day in Kirgizia we spend visiting the splendid Ala Archa National Park, located only 40km south of Bishkek. Large coniferous trees make suitable habitat for Greenish Warbler, Hume’s Warbler, Rufous-naped Tit and Azure Tits. Along the wild streaming river we go after the finest songster of the region, the Blue Whistling Trush! Next to birds, gorgeous butterflies fly around, Mountain Apollo, Banded Apollo, Clouded Apollo is three of the seven species of Apollo we can encounter in the park.

 

June 27, Day 16: Bishkek to Home

After a splendid holiday in Central Asia it is time for us to say goodbye. We say our farewells on the Bishkek Airport from where we fly back home.

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