An 8-day wildlife holiday to the eastern Mediterranean to enjoy the birds, flowers and archaeological highlights of western Turkey, a country at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa.
Day 1 Arrive to İzmir
Our tour begins with a flight to Izmir, the ancient city of Smyrna and the third largest in Turkey.
Day 2 Gediz Delta
We will quickly escape the hustle and bustle, however, with a visit to the Gediz Delta. The saltpans on the edge of the delta are home to 4,000 pairs of Greater Flamingoes, plus colonies of Mediterranean Gulls, Dalmatian Pelicans and a variety of terns. Numerous migrating waders feed in the shallows, while overhead patrol Lanner Falcon, Marsh Harrier and the occasional Pallid Harrier, and in nearby villages spring is announced by the arrival of White Storks and Lesser Kestrels.
Day 3 Ephesus and the surrounding wetlands
Next we transfer to the coastal town of Kusadasi, our base for two nights while we enjoy a pleasant mixture of natural history walks and archaeological excursions, including a visit to the legendary city of Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical sites in the world and once the Roman capital of Asia.
Days 4 Dilek National Park
Nearby, Dilek National Park offers the most pristine Mediterranean habitat in western Turkey and lies on the beautiful Aegean coast opposite the Greek island of Samos. Above the maquis-covered slopes soar a variety of raptors including Bonelli’s Eagle, Peregrine, Eleonora’s Falcon and perhaps a migrant Lesser Spotted Eagle or Black Kite. Subalpine, Rüppell’s and Orphean Warblers sing side by side from the low scrub, while Krüper’s Nuthatches inhabit the extensive tracts of Callabrian Pine and Rock Nuthatches scold noisily from their boulder strewn haunts. Interesting flora includes the Eastern Strawberry Tree, Oriental Bugle, Mandrake and an interesting array of orchids including Anatolian Orchid, Holy Orchid, Toothed Orchid and the endemic Cephalanthesa kotschyaria.
Day 5 Büyük Menderes Delta and Lake Bafa
South of Dilek National Park lies the vast alluvial plain of the River Menderes and the freshwater Lake Bafa. This area is home to large numbers of egrets and herons, along with White Pelican, Spur-winged Plover, Pygmy Cormorant, Ruddy Shelduck, Long-legged Buzzard and a variety of migrating waders. In the drier countryside nearby we will enjoy a variety of western Turkey’s passerines including Masked Shrike, Rüppell’s Warbler, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Isabelline Wheatear and the shy Olive-tree Warbler.
Day 6 Pamukkale
For our final two nights we climb along the River Menderes to the town of Denizli, which lies at an altitude of about 1,000 metres. From here we visit the ancient city of Hierapolis, a World Heritage Site which sits atop an area of geothermal hot springs and the terraced white calcium cliffs of Pamukkale (the ‘Cotton Castle’). Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century and today is one of the best preserved classical cities in Turkey.
Day 7 Lake Acıgöl
Finally, as the birds and flowers beckon once more, we will end our tour with a visit to the saline Lake Acigöl and freshwater Isikli Gölü. Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Slender-billed Gull, Ferruginous Duck and Red-crested Pochard are all possible here, although it will be the surrounding Central Anatolian Steppe and juniper scrubland that is likely to produce the most exciting birds such as Orphean and Rüppell’s Warbler and Finsch’s Wheatear. If fortunate, we may even end the holiday with views of the beautiful White-throated Robin — a fitting finale to our time in Turkey..
Day 8 Honaz Mountain
before we retrace our steps back to Izmir to catch our return flight home.