GOLESTAN AND THE EASTERN ALBORZ MOUNTAINS
Dates, prices and itinerary for 2012 will be confirmed by 1st August.
Where the Eastern Alborz Mountains descend towards the Turcoman steppes lies Golestan National Park, perhaps the most important of all Iran's many excellent protected areas.
The meadows, forests, semi-desert and the snow-capped peaks which reach ten thousand feet above the Caspian plain, feature a virtually pristine flora and fauna. Shining red and yellow Tulipa montana, elegant Tulipa hoogiana and the scarlet goblets of Tulipa micheliana are among the many tulips that adorn this stunning landscape. Golden Crocus almehensis flower amid fabulous shows of Iris fosterana and various colour forms of Iris reticulata. Caspian Bluebells and Orchis adeinocheila decorate beautiful Hyrcanian forests that are home to native Pheasants and abundant Wild Boar. This is surely the finest place in the Middle-east in which to see large mammals - expect to see a hundred or more each day! Herds of giant-horned Urial graze in upland meadows and on tulip-dotted steppe we can watch herds of pretty Goitred Gazelle. Brown Bear is a likely sighting and on a night trip we hope to show you Wolves and Jackals. Further west in the Alborz we'll stay in a traditional Iranian summer village amidst meadows and beech woods. Banks of vari-coloured Primula heterochroma and corydalises decorate beech woods below sheer limestone cliffs where golden cushions of Dionysia aretoides are in full flower. Lammergeier and Saker overfly the Wild Rose Valley at Khosh Yelagh where Alborz Red Sheep and Ibex gaze down at us as we enjoy massed displays of yellow Fritillaria raddeana, whilst the high passes of Olang and Abr are decorated with colourful shows of Tulipa ulophylla, Scillas, Fritillaria kotschyana, Galanthus transcaucasicus and Paeonia mlokosewitschii and multi-hued Corydalis firouzi. An extension takes us to Tooran on the edge of the great Dasht-e Kavir desert where we can watch the speedy Persian Wild Ass, fabulous Pleske's Ground Jay, Houbara Bustard ... ...