THE PONTIC ALPS
Wildlife Tour to Pontic Alps, Magical Lazistan. See NE Turkey's Spring Flowers, especially Bulbs and Orchids, also Birds and Butterflies, with Greentours
Above the still waters of the atmospheric Black Sea rise beautiful snowy mountains, their flower-studded meadows ablaze with a fabulous range of spring bulbs and orchids. Culturally this is a most fascinating region. The local populace is at once friendly and also intensely proud of their many and varied traditions. Local architecture reflects the various peoples that have passed this way, so Greek, Seljuk and Georgian influence can still be noted in the churches and mosques set amidst mountain valleys cloaked in beautiful Oriental Beech and Spruce forests.
Tea plantations and hazel groves are local agricultural mainstays and the latter provide a rich orchid habitat, notably for the mysterious Hooded Orchid and several rare bee orchids. Meadows host stately Caucasian Orchids and the rare Steven's Orchid, amid blue and white Aquilegias and acres of black-centred cerise Geranium psilostemon. Scarlet Rosefinches and Green Warblers sing alongside rushing brooks lined with the imperial-purple oxlip Primula elatior subspecies meyeri. Common Cranes dance in wide upland valleys where the sky seems mirrored by swathes of bright pale blue Bellevalia forniculata, alongside yellow Ranunculus grandiflorus and pink primulas and marsh orchids. The huge primrose-coloured orbs of rare Paeonia wittmanniana, intense blue Omphalodes cappadocica and mats of fabled Epigaea gaultheroides flower in gorgeous Euxine forests whilst steppe hosts purple Iris furcata and the vari-coloured blooms of lovely Iris taochia. Some of the finest displays of alpine flowers anywhere in the world await us on high mountain passes readily reachable by road. Swathes of the stunning mahogany-purple bells of Fritillaria latifolia, furry deep blue Pulsatilla albana and clouds of powder blue Scilla rosenii are just some of the treasures that await us. Brilliant scarlet Phelypaeas are hardly eclipsed by Paeonia mascula showering a hillside en masse with their bright red-pink goblets, and other highlights include Iris histrioides, Pelargonium endlicherianum, fabulous Iris iberica, and the newly described yellow Tulipa gumusanica. This tour features superb birding with Caucasian Blackcock, Lammergeier, Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Dalmatian and White Pelicans, and Saker all on the agenda and we’ll make every effort to see Brown Bear – during the 2014 tour we saw no less than 15 Brown Bears and in 2016 five were seen as well as Chamois and Wild Cat. Sometimes Wolves are seen on this tour too!
Spring Flowers, especially Bulbs, Orchids and Alpines; Birds, Butterflies, Landscapes and Sites of Historical Interest.
Very easy going. We will be walking no more than two or three miles in any one day.
Included in the Price
All flights. Transport, accommodation and all meals in Turkey. Services of your leaders. Entrance fees to national parks. Please note: Drinks, the Turkish entry visa (currently £10), tips, and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 15. Only one leader will accompany a group of 8 or less.
We start with three nights in the lovely Zigana Holiday Village fantastically situated amongst hillsides full of lovely blooms in the valley leading up towards the Zigana Pass. Next are two nights in the lovely new Ridos Thermal Hotel & Spa surrounded by woodlands and flowery streamside meadows. After three nights at the clean and comfortable Otel Almatur by the river in Yusufeli we’ll move east for a three night stay at pretty Laşet, a family–run wooden-built hotel which has light modern bungalow rooms, a good restaurant and sits in a flowery meadow in the Sahara National Park. Lastly we’ve two nights at Sarikamiş where we stay at the modern Çamkar Hotel, a ski hotel in the beautifully remote Kars Highlands. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
UK flights are from London Heathrow or Manchester* to Trabzon, via Istanbul, returning from Ağrı, via Istanbul, to London Heathrow or Manchester. The same routing is also available from most major European Airports*. The same routing is available from Birmingham* and Edinburgh but does involve a night in Istanbul on the return journey. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
Variable, but essentially warm and pleasant with temperatures usually between 15°C and 25°C, cooler on the high passes. Although often sunny, especially in the mornings, we should expect cloud and sometimes rain.
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. Flower, bird and butterfly checklists are available.