Machiel Valkenburg


Machiel Valkenburg is owner of Rubythroat Birding Tours. He was born in the Netherlands but travels all over the world finally brought him to Central Asia where is has lived for over eight years. He currently resides in Spain from where he runs the daily management for RBT. He is a tourleader for the biggest bird tour company in the world, Victor Emanual Nature Tours for whom he leads tours in Asia and Europe. Machiel has an excellent ear for bird sounds and a keen eye. Nowadays he also counts butterflies to his expertise and is developing himself more and more in the field of Asian nature. Machiel is a devoted traveler, making trips in Europe, Africa and Asia. The former Soviet Union countries and their avifauna however have a special place in his heart. Travelling extensively the last 10 years to Central Asia and Siberia has resulted in the founding of Rubythroat Birding Tours. He has a calm approach. Respect, good atmosphere and a good laugh combined with good birding are keywords for trips guided by Machiel.









Akbota Valkenburg


Akbota Valkenburg Kubentayeva is director of LTD Rubythroat Birding Tours. She was born and raised in the northeast of Kazakhstan in the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk, which is very close to the Altai Mountains. During her university years she lived in Almaty where she studied finance and graduated summa cum laude as a financial analyst. She continued working in the banking sector until joining Rubythroat Birding Tours in 2012. Bonny, as we call her, has also a very active social life in which she loves skiing, swimming, reading, travelling and hiking in nature with friends. Bonny is working with RBT behind the scenes where she is responsible for all necessary logistics of our tours and contracting!








 Ed Michels

Ed Michels has been interested in wildlife since an early age and nowadays he spends most of his professional time outdoors either as photographer or ecologist. Ed is born and raised in the Netherlands and has traveled all over the world. He is the owner of Ecodat, which has two fields of competence; ecology and nature photography! His pictures are known for its strong atmosphere and colorful expression. To make 'that special picture' Ed wakes up hours before sunrise and is willing to wait until the moment is perfect. Next to these skills Ed has been teaching and training people for many years. His approach can be described as empathic, respectful and inviting to improve. Ed will lead all the photo tours that Rubythroat Birding Tours offers.







 Elena Shnayder


Elena Shnayder, 26 years old, was born and raised near the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, birding being her hobby since childhood.More than 10 years she is involved in monitoring of birds in the Novosibirsk region and Altai Republic. Her love for nature was wakened by reading books by Gerald Durrell, James Herriot, Joy Adamson, Konrad Lorenz and several Russian writers, they are all great naturalists and her idols. She has a PhD in biology with here theses being about chemical communication in mammalian species. Nowadays she is launching several programs pointed to ecological education and conservation of birds species in Siberia. Next to birds she is also studying bat populations at the Teletskoye Lake, making Snow leopard surveying at the Chikhachova ridge and she loves photographing all these wonders as well. Elena is fluently in Russian and English. She is full-time emplyed in Rubythroat Birding Tours as a member of the office staff and will accompany the tours as a tourleader.





Koshkin Alexey


Koshkin Alexey was born in the Akmola region. In 1987, he graduated from the Saratov State University with a major in biology. For 22 years he was working in the Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve: 1984-2006 as a researcher at the Department of Science. In 2006 he became Deputy Director for Science KSNR. Alexey is permanently involved in several field studies within the GEF / UNDP project on wetland conservation. He monitored the Saiga population in the Tengiz region as well. Alexey speaks German as a foreign language and has a wealth of knowledge about the fauna of his native land. He has years of experience with birdtour groups as he is guiding them for many years around the Korgalzhyn State Reserve. Alexey is for Rubythroat Birding Tours the main local guide in the Astana region.






Dilyara Dakova


Dilyara Dakova is an operational manager of Rubythroat birding tours. She was born in Pavlodar, a town located in north-east of Kazakhstan where she studied tourism at the local university. She currently resides in Almaty, which is on the south-east of Kazakhstan and surrounded by gorgeous mountains. Here she worked in a tourism field and gained experience in organizing tours and got interested in nature and travelling. She enjoys spending time outdoors in mountains.