Unspoilt Northeastern Turkey

The Northeastern Anatolian plateau and the foothills of Mount Ararat provide high altitude grassland, wetlands and highland forests. The habitats are unique enough to support an endemic gull species: the Armenian Gull. Extensive green highlands gives you time to breath the least occupied fertile land of Turkey.

Day 1

Arrive at Van, we will drive on the shores of Van Lake, the biggest in Turkey with an area of 3755 km2, checking the marshes along the northern shore and Sodaligol protected area, a shallow satellite lake, which is an unbelievable place for migrating shore birds. The White-headed Duck has the healthiest populations here. In the north of Van Lake, Terek Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Greater Sand-Plover and large number of waders are among the possibilities. The focus of our attention will be on Paddyfield and Moustached Warbler on our way. We will spend the night in Ahlat.

Day 2

We will spend the day at Bulanık Plain, Turkey’s biggest flooded plain shaped by the River Murat. This is one of the last breeding areas of the Demoiselle Crane, which we will hope to find. Other birds include Montagu’s Harrier, Great Bustard, Common Crane, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Gull-billed and White-winged Tern. Second night in Ahlat.

Day 3

Early morning we will walk through the orchards near the hotel to look for Semi-collared Flycatcher and Golden Oriole. Afterwards, we drive to Caldiran Plain, where we will see amazing rock formations from lava flows of Mt. Tendurek, where we will look for Steppe Eagle, Citrine Wagtail, Mongolian Finch, Crimson-winged Finch, White-winged Snowfinch, Twite, magna subspecies of Bluethroat, Rock Sparrow. Overnight in Dogubeyazit.

Day 4

Morning birding will be around the famous Ishakpasa Palace, where we should see Grey-necked Bunting, Mongolian Finch, Lammergeier and Saker. And continue to bird slopes of Mt. Ararat (5137m), the purported resting place of Noah’s Ark and the highest mountain in Turkey, we head to Kars over Igdir Plain. Griffon Vulture, Rose-coloured Starling, Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater, Pygmy Cormorant are expected species on the road. Overnight in Kars.

Day 5

In the morning, we will drive to Kuyucuk Lake. Kuyucuk Lake is the best wetland in Kars. On one day in 2006, 10 % of the world population of Ruddy Shelduck was counted there. Birds include Red-necked and Black-necked Grebe, Slender-billed Gull, Ferruginous Duck, Rose-coloured Starling are possible among large numbers of waterbirds. On the way, Ardahan Forest Lesser Spotted Eagle and Eastern Imperial Eagle. Then Lake Aktas at Georgian border via Cildir Lake, where the breeding colony of both White and Dalmatian Pelicans is spotted regularly. Overnight in Erzurum.

Day 6

Keeping our eyes on Erzurum Plain, and making stopovers whenever we see a Long-legged Buzzard and any strange bird, we head to Ispir. Arriving in Ispir, we will look for Semi-collared Flycatcher, Caucasian Chiffchaff in the surrounding orchards, with a spectacular view of Coruh Valley, and drive on to Sivrikaya. We cross the mountains toward Sivrikaya, via snowy Ovit mountain pass. We shall be on the look out for Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, and many other species, such as Twite, Alpine Accentor, Grey Wagtail, Dipper. Overnight in Ikizdere.

Day 7

Very early rise for Caucasian Grouse. Caucasian Chiffchaff, Scarlet Rosefinch, Alpine Accentor, Radde’s Accentor, Crimson-winged Finch, Wallcreeper, White-winged Snowfinches will be our target species at high steppes of the Ovit Pass. Second night in Ikizdere.

Day 8

After second morning for Caucasian Grouse and Caspian Snowcock, we head to to Sumela Monastery. Overnight in bungalows near Sumela Monastery, Trabzon.

Day 9

In the morning, we will bird our way to The Monastery of Virgin Mary, Sumela Monastery, which is carved into a step cliff facing the Altındere valley in the Trabzon province. The building complex is suspended nearly 300 meters above the stream. We will look for Green Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Dipper, Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Jay, and Dunnock (rare bird in Turkey). Then we head to Black Sea coast and fly back from Trabzon.

Price and Conditions

Full board cost: 945 GBP or 1105 EUR.
Number of participants: Min. 8 and max. 10 people.
Single room supplement: 190 GBP or 222 EUR.

Total price includes:

  • Top native birders guiding during the whole tour
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) included
  • Ground transportation by comfortable air-conditioned 17-seater minibus with experienced driver
  • Clean rooms with en-suite facilities
  • Entrance fees for national parks and other reserves

Excludes:

  • International and domestic flights
  • Personal travel insurance
  • All purely personal expenses, visa charges, personal shopping, etc.