Flowers, particularly Irises & Bulbs, of Lake Van, Eastern Turkey. Also Birds, superb Landscapes and Archaeological Sites
Surrounded by snow-clad mountains beautiful Lake Van lies more than a mile above sea level, and not far to the north is the magnificent 17,000 foot glacier-capped Mt Ararat, Turkey’s highest mountain. Kurdish herders and their families will be shearing their sheep, the women resplendent in their traditional costumes and in an extinct volcano crater the black tented encampments of Bedouin nomads overlook a deep blue lake.
All this provides a marvellous backdrop for a breathtaking show of flowers. Perhaps a million powder-blue Puschkinias bloom all the way up the Karabet Pass and everywhere are meadows covered in a pink haze of Orchids and Primulas. Seven of the world’s most beautiful Iris species can be seen in profusion. The amazingly large and elegant white and deep maroon flowers of Iris iberica elegantissima are only bettered by the inky-blue veined standards and velvety orchid-like falls of rare Iris paradoxa. Deep cerise Merendera kurdica, bright mauve-pink Tulipa humilis, yellow, green, maroon or butterscotch Fritillarias and scarlet Phelypaeas make for an extraordinarily colourful show. Bee-eaters, Rollers and Hoopoes continue the colourful theme - these are some of Van’s commonest birds!
On high passes we shall see Radde’s Accentors and Imperial Eagles whilst by the lake’s shore are flocks of Flamingoes and courting White-headed Ducks. The wonderful clarity of light makes this an excellent holiday for the photographer, not only for the flowers and landscapes but also some fine cultural sites such as the ancient Urartian citadel upon the ‘Rock of Van’, a ‘Tolkienesque’ Kurdish Fortress, and the magical Ishak Paşa Palace, each in a fantastic setting.
Flowers (particularly Irises and other Bulbs), Birds, and superb Landscapes. Also some Archaeological Sites.
No more than three or four miles in any one day, usually much less, and always at a relaxed pace ideally suited to photographers.
Included in the Price
All flights. All accommodation, transport and meals in Turkey. Services of the leaders. Please note: Drinks, tips, Turkish entry visa (currently $20) and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
One leader for a group of up to 8, two leaders up to the maximum group size of 15.
Near Doğubeyazıt we stay in the pleasant Sim-er Hotel. The owner, Ahmet Özturk, is a keen naturalist and has planted the gardens with trees which attract migrant birds and in the surrounding steppe grows Iris iberica! The rooms are spacious and comfortable and have unbeatable views of Mount Ararat. On the slopes of the extinct Nemrut volcano we’ve three nights in the new Nemrut Kardelen Hotel which has the most wonderful views over a vast swathe of the lakes and mountains of the Van area. The rooms are large and well-equipped and there’s a good list of birds to be had from the breakfast balcony! In the Van area we’ll stay at the 4-star Merit Hotel delightfully situated on the lake shore. The first night will be in the lovely Turcoman Hotel in Istanbul overlooking the fabulous Blue Mosque. All rooms in these hotels have en suite facilities and each hotel also has a good restaurant.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow, Manchester*, Edinburgh* or Birmingham* to Van, via Istanbul. The same routing is also available from most major European Airports*. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Generally warm and sunny. Showers and more prolonged rain are possible and it can be quite cool on the higher passes.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information. Flower, bird and butterfly checklists are available.