THE PONTIC ALPS
SUMMER ON LAZISTAN’S HIGH PASSES
Wildlife Tour to Pontic Alps, Magical Lazistan. See NE Turkey's Spring Flowers, especially Bulbs and Orchids, also Birds and Butterflies, with Greentours
The fabulous snowy peaks and the verdant valleys of Turkey’s Eastern Black Sea Mountains host a tremendous show of beautiful flowers and amazing numbers and variety of butterflies.
The highest passes will have only just opened and so even in the height of summer bright pink and deep purple Primulas still bloom alongside azure Corydalis conorhiza and electric blue Gentians. Steel-blue Swertias and shining red Louseworts line sinuous streams. Family groups of Alpine Accentors and Red-fronted Serins feed among golden goblets of Crocus scharojonii that glitter from mile upon mile of alpine turf. Birds of prey are abundant in Ardahan’s open landscapes with Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black Vulture, Saker and the magnificent Lammergeier the pick of the bunch. Set in a stunning location next to the Armenian border are the ruins of the Armenian city-state of Ani, including the well-preserved (it was finished in 1215!) Church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents, and we’ll also visit a couple of very fine old Georgian churches in the Çoruh Valley.
Stately Lilium kesselringianum and elegant Lilium ponticum provide a tremendous show along with many rare and beautiful Delphiniums, Foxgloves and Monkshoods in meadows still cut by hand. In so much rich grassland grasshoppers and crickets are superabundant and by ponds and watercourses there are many and varied dragonflies and damselflies. Fritillaries, various Clouded Yellows, shimmering golden Coppers and of course Apollos are everywhere. Little clouds of Blues erupt from the damp tracks as we pass by. Rare Yellow Globe Orchids mix with Dactylorhiza iberica and the intensely beautiful black-centred flowers of Geranium psilostemon, whilst under deep green forests we’ll encounter Creeping Lady’s Tresses, and maybe the first flowers of that most enigmatic of flowers, the Ghost Orchid. Indeed amazingly beautiful very garden-worthy flowers seem to be at every turn - white Gentiana gelida and blue Gentiana septemfida, gorgeous dwarfed Delphinium linearilobium, bright red Sedum pilosum, lovely pink and silver Centaurea pulcherrima and striking yellow Centaurea macrocephala, and Campanula troegerae with its cascade of white pink tinged bells.
Flowers, Birds, Butterflies, Dragonflies, Mountain Landscapes, Georgian & Armenian Churches, and Rural Turkey.
For the most part quite easy, generally on hillsides by roads, so some steep slopes. Three to four miles a day and always at a slow pace. On one day there is an optional walk of some ten miles up to a high mountain pass. Please see the itinerary for more details.
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 £10) 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 a night at the 3-star Hotel Horon in Trabzon, quietly situated just off the main square and tea garden. Next are four nights in the lovely new Ridos Thermal Hotel & Spa surrounded by woodlands and flowery streamside meadows. After a night amongst Barhal’s delightful walnut and cherry orchards in the clean, comfortable and modern Barhal Pension we’ll move up to the alpine meadows of Olgunlar where we’ll stay in the Kaçkar Pansiyon for three nights. This small hotel is set by the rushing stream that descends from the highest peaks of the Kaçkar. Very clean rooms are simple but comfortable and there’s some great home-cooked meals in the restaurant that overlooks the stream. Now we head 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 a night at the modern good quality Sim-er in Kars. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow, Manchester*, Edinburgh* or Birmingham* to Trabzon, via Istanbul, returning from Kars, also 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.
Warm and sunny for much of the time though afternoons and occasionally whole days in the Ovit Pass area can be dull and cloudy. Rain is quite frequent in the afternoon in these areas though elsewhere should be confined to occasional thunderstorms.
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.