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Birding In Central Asia

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Duration: 16 days
Period: May - June
Grade: Mild
Min.group: 6 pax
Weather conditions:  In the desert area: day-time air temperature +22+30? C (max +41 ? C), and night-time +8+16? C. Rains are rare. In the highlands: daytime air temperature +18+24? C (max +34 ? C), night-time +3+11? C (ground frost occur). Rains are short and lavish.

Day 1
Arrive Almaty and transfer to Hotel Otrar.
After breakfast drive to the Observatory.
Night in Observatory.
Day 2
We'll be staying in the Almaty Astronomical Observatory. Once we clear the tree line we'll find ourselves in a crystal clear landscape of dense juniper bushes, flower-strewn alpine meadows, and snow-capped peaks.and after lunch we'll drive even higher to a breathtaking pass where handsome Guldenstadt's Redstarts nest and both Red-billed and Alpine Choughs wheel overhead. We'll also be looking for some of the mighty Lammergeiers and dainty Altai Accentors that inhabit this mountain wilderness.
Night in the Observatory.
Day 3

Continue birding in the morning for Himalayan Snowcock which will be heard echoing around the valley and careful searching should reveal these impressive birds. The juniper will be alive with the song of Himalayan Rubythroats, Hume's Yellow-browed Warblers, Brown and Black-throated Accentors, Red-mantled and Common Rosefinches, Plain Mountain Finches, and Spot-winged Grosbeaks. The beautifully marked Severtzov's Tit-Warbler can also be found in this habitat, along with the skulking Sulphur-bellied Warbler. After lunch we'll drive back to Almaty, taking time to search the spruce forests and streams for Brown Dipper, Eversmann's and Blue-headed Redstarts, and Songar Tit.
Night in Almaty.

Day 4-5
Early flight to Astana to spend two days in the steppe, with its vast grasslands and lakes of fresh and salt water. From this new city we will venture out into the ancient steppe where bird song will fill the air and the sense of space will be exhilarating. We'll search the grasslands for Dalmatian Pelican, White-headed Duck, Pallid Harrier, Red-footed Falcon, Demoiselle Crane, Great Black-headed, Caspian, Little and Slender-billed Gulls, and a range of waders including breeding Black-winged Pratincoles and Sociable Plovers, hordes of migrant Red-necked Phalaropes, and handsome Ruffs in full breeding plumage. Passerines should include Citrine Wagtail and two splendid larks - White-winged and Black - steppe birds par excellence. The marshes will be alive with clouds of White-winged Black Terns and displaying Marsh Sandpipers, while Paddyfield Warblers creep around the reedbeds and monotone Booted Warblers and showy Bluethroats sing from the bush tops. Nights in Astana.
Day 6-7
Early flight back to Almaty and then drive north to Taukum Desert, a vast area of undulating hills and wormwood covered grasslands. We'll stop at the Tamgaly-Tas petroglyphs, an ancient collection of bizarre rock carvings, where we will search the surrounding hills for Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Desert Finch, and Grey-necked Bunting. The plains will be alive with Calandra and Bimaculated Larks and numerous Long-legged Buzzards will be using roadside telegraph poles as lookouts. European Rollers and Lesser Grey Shrikes will line the roadside wires and we are sure to see vast numbers of Rose-coloured Starlings. Our camp will be by an artesian well that, at dawn, will be visited by flocks of Black-bellied Sandgrouse and perhaps some of the scarce resident Greater Sandplovers or handsome Caspian Plovers in full breeding plumage. This open desert is also home to McQueen's (Houbara) Bustard and we stand a good chance of finding a pair close to our camp. Further north lies the delta of the Ili River, a strange area of sand dunes interspersed with marshy pools and stands of turanga trees, and it is here that three of the region's very special birds; Yellow-eyed Stock Dove, White-winged Woodpecker, and the beautiful Saxaul Sparrow, are all easy to see.
Day 8
Drive back to Almaty, stopping at a small lake where we can marvel at a colony of around 5000 pairs of Rose-coloured Starlings. Night in Almaty.
Day 9
Drive east from Almaty to the Charyn Canyon. Here we'll explore secluded valleys for Chukar, Pied Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, and Rock and White-capped Buntings while all the time keeping an eye open for Sakers, Golden, Imperial and Steppe Eagles and Griffon Vultures. The plains at first sight can appear barren and devoid of life but careful searching should reveal Lesser Kestrel, Shore and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Desert Warbler, Rock Sparrow and hopefully Mongolian Trumpeter Finch. We'll be staying at an old hunting lodge surrounded by trees that can be a real magnet for migrants as well as being home to a pair of Scops Owls. A short drive to an artesian well should give us our best views of Pallas's Sandgrouse as they come to drink. Night at Ash Tree Grove Lodge.
Day 10 Return to Almaty. Stop along the way to look at a colony of Pale Martins and also to search for White-capped Penduline Tit at a regular breeding site.
Night in Almaty.
Day 11 Return to the lower slopes of the Tien Shan mountains to look for any species we may have previously missed.
Night in Almaty.
Day 12 We'll leave Kazakstan on an early morning flight to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan and set out straight away on the ancient silk route for Samarkand. We'll stop along the way to look for Variable Wheatear and should arrive in time to explore this fascinating city.
Night in Samarkand.
Day 13 To the south of the town lie the Zeravshan Hills where we'll stroll along a path alive with Red-headed Buntings and White-throated Robins. The little-known Hume's Short-toed Lark feeds among the rocky outcrops, as do Orphean Warblers and Isabelline Shrikes, and at all times we'll keep a watchful eye on the skies above for Black Vultures. Striking Asian Paradise Flycatchers live here, as well as a few pairs of Yellow-breasted Tits and those interested in plants or butterflies will find much to occupy them.
Night in Samarkand.
Day 14 Continuing along the silk road we come to Bukhara, a city even more richly endowed with historic sites than Samarkand. The true splendour of this magical place has to seen to be believed. The turquoise blue domes, towering minarets and covered bazaars, bustling with numerous shops selling spices, jewellery and famous Bukhara rugs, are guaranteed to transport you back to the days when this was one of the most important cities on the Silk Road. Night in Bukhara.
Day 15 Within reach of Bukhara can be found some extensive wetland habitats. We'll explore reedbeds alive with Clamorous, Savi's and Moustached Warblers as well as the Caspian race of Reed Warbler, and Bearded Tit. White-tailed Plovers, all in smart breeding plumage, are common here and Marbled Duck can usually be found with ease. Flights of Pygmy Cormorants skim the water and the roadside wires are dotted with Pied Bushchats and Long-tailed Shrikes. The bushes surrounding some of the massive lakes are home to the rama race of Booted Warbler, sometimes considered a separate species, Sykes's Warbler. Collared Pratincoles nest on the lake shore along with Oriental Skylarks, and Rufous Bush Robins sing from exposed perches. Night in Bukhara.
Day 16 In contrast to these rich wetlands we'll venture deep into the dry Kyzyl-Kum Desert to search for the handsome Pander's Ground Jay, one of the really special birds of Central Asia, as well as Streaked Scrub and Upcher's Warblers, before returning to Bukhara to take an evening flight back to Tashkent, and connect with a flight, via Frankfurt, to London where the tour ends on Day 17.

We recommend the following:
  • Comfortable sport clothes & shoes
  • Shorts & T-shirts for hot weather
  • Water proofs for rainy days
  • Warm jacket for cool days
  • Mat & sleeping bag
  • Sun-glasses & hat for sun protection
  • Thick socks or house slippers (no shoes allowed in the tent)
  • Camera: still & video
  • Binocular
  • Your favorite strong drinks and cigarettes
  • Flash light
  • Anti-mosquito lotion
  • Sun care cream
  • Invitation and visa support
  • Meeting and seeing off at the Almaty Airport
  • All transfers
  • Guide-ornithologist
  • Interpreter's service
  • Support team service
  • Accommodation at Almaty Hotel on double basis
  • Sightseeing in Almaty
  • Registration in the local police office
  • Insurance of local staff
  • Permits
  • Ecological duties
  • Trekking tent ( 2,15 m high) for 2 persons at camp site
  • Field bed and mattresses
  • Three meals a day (hot breakfast and dinner, lunch box)
  • Mess-tent with tables and chairs
  • Kitchen-tent
  • Shower and toilet- tents
  • Evacuation of debris from camps
  • Medical box
  • Radio communication with Almaty office
  • Reconfirmation of tickets
  • Rescue works (a copy of insurance policy required)
  • Changing of date of departure from Almaty by international airlines
  • Additional meal and night in a hotel of Almaty
Kan Tengri LTD
10 Kasteyev street,
480100, Almaty Kazakhstan
Tel: +7 (3272) 910200, 910880
Fax: +7 (3272) 912010
E-mail: kazbek@kantengri.almaty.kz

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