Flowers and Birds of Central Asia
June 06 – 19, 2015

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 06, Days 1: To Osh
Clients depart from home towards one of the largest cities of Kyrgyzstan, Osh. Clients need to be in the hotel in Osh before June 07 - 10am. 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 07, Day 2: Taldyk Pass
After arrival on OshAirport 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. After a large breakfast we depart for the gorgeous TaldykPass which has an elevation of 3615m. Unlike neighboring Kazakhstan it is easy to explore many high passes by road in Kyrgyzstan. 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 findPulsatilla campanella, little yellow Tulipa dasystemon, Colchicum kesselringianum, Primula algida, Ranunculus albertii and the little annualGentiana karelinii too. In the evening we return to our hotel.
NIGHT: Comfortable tourist hotel, Osh.
June 08-09, Day 3-4: 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 andEuphorbia 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 10, Day 5: 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 11, Day 6: 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 lovelyPedicularis 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 turkestanicaflowering. 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 12, Day 7: 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 scatteredEremus 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: GuesthouseBay Tur, Suusamyr.
June 13, Day 8: 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 14, Day 9: 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 SonKolLake 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 SonKolLake 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 redAllium 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 15, Day 10: Son-Kul to Tamga 
In the morning we have our last exploration around the SonKolLake – 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 IssykKolLake. 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 16, Day 11: 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 nivalisssp 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 ofDictamnus albus, Codonopsis clematidea as wel asLeontipodium 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 17, Day 12: 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, bluePolemonium 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 18, Day 13: Karakol to Bishkek
We return back to Bishkek with a long drive along the northern shores of IssykKolLake. 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 Kyrgyzstan where we enjoy a feast dinner in a local restaurant.
NIGHT: Comfortable tourist hotel, Bishkek.
June 19, Day 14: 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.

TOUR LEADERS: Machiel Valkenburg &Svetlana Baskakova

FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS: The fee for the Kyrgyzstan tour is USD 2.200 - per person based on double occupancy from Osh, Kyrgyzstan which includes meals beginning with breakfast on Day 2 ending with dinner on Day 13. The fee include lodging as stated in the itinerary, ground transportation, gratuities, and guide services provided by the tour leader and local guides. Tour fees do not include airfare from your home to Osh and return from Bishkek; Medical Evacuation
Insurance (required); transfers or accommodation other than those mentioned in the itinerary; alcoholic beverages; special gratuities; departure taxes; visa fees; phone calls; laundry; or items of a personal nature. Rates are based upon group tariffs; if the group does not have sufficient registration a small party supplement may have to be charged.

TOUR SIZE: The Kyrgyzstan tour will be limited to 15 participants and with a minimum of 6 participants.