What a fantastic way to start a holiday – five million Iris bucharica stretching for miles in dense drifts of yellow blooms along the Karatag Valley. Eight fantastic Juno Irises and eight Tulip species are the cream of an amazing array of bulbous species that cover the spectacular mountains and steppes of Tajikistan and nearby parts of Uzbekistan.
There will be regular sightings of those avian indicators of montane splendour, Lammergeier, Wallcreeper and Himalayan Griffons. We’ll also be able to enjoy a full day exploring the incomparable blue-tiled mosques and palaces of magical Samarkand.
Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, is surrounded by high mountains, and whichever way you leave the city you are soon amongst flowers. Hillsides are covered in pink-centred white Anemone tschernjaewii and brilliant scarlet Anemone bucharica. Iris vicaria has a subtle combination of lilac-marked white and egg yolk yellow blooms. Blue-capped and Güldenstadt’s Redstarts sing amongst deepest purple Bellevalia atroviolacea and pale lilac Fritillaria bucharica, Scilla puschkinioides and extra-large flowered Corydalis popovii, with long slender pink spurs and purple-black outer perianths. On the Ansob Pass we’ll find Tulipa praestans while dense carpets of golden yellow Crocus korolkovii produce bands of gold stretching from the road into spectacular high snowy mountains.
Three starling-sized red passerines occur in this terrain, Red-mantled, Red-faced and Great Rosefinches and we’ve a chance of the localised Afghan Snowfinch and Tibetan Snowcock. There’s more red to be seen too, flowers this time, Tulipa montana and Tulipa micheliana join elegant Corydalis maracandica and a lovely Corydalis with flowers an extraordinary mix of cherry-red, gold and pink as we move into Uzbekistan. Famous Chimgan has Corydalis darvasica, Tulipa schimganica, Tulipa kaufmanniana and Fritillaria seversovii, and nearby mountains are home to Iris tubergeniana, abundant Gymnospermium albertii and pretty pink Fritillaria stenanthera. Pale lilac Iris magnifica is a fantastic sight amongst the large granite boulders of the Amankutan Pass. Here little striped Colchicum kesselringii will hardly get a look in as we admire the huge glossy goblets of Tulipa fosterana, dark pink Primula fedtschenkoi and the fine purple, blue and yellow Iris warleyensis. After such fabulous floral fare those needing a little extra culture can fly on to Bukhara’s elegant Islamic architecture.
Dates and Prices
3rd April - 14th April 2024 (12 days)
Optional Tour Extensions
14th April - 16th April 2024 (3 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Spring Bulbs and other Flowers. Also Birds, Mountain Wilderness & Culture.
The minimum is 4 and the maximum is 9.
All flights. Transport, accommodation and all meals in Central Asia. Services of the leaders. Please note: visas, drinks, tips, visas and items of a personal nature including travel insurance, are not included. Flower and bird checklists are available.
We start with five nights at the Hotel Taj Palace in Dushanbe. On a tree-lined avenue, this hotel has a little of the old Soviet style to it, however it has recently been refurbished and is now very comfortable with large rooms. We then move to Uzbekistan and a night in Shakrisabz at the Hotel Orient, again with large air-conditioned rooms. In Samarkand we’ve two nights at the Malika Classic. In a quiet area a twenty minute walk from the central square, this is a very nice hotel with modern wooden-panelled rooms. We move back into the mountains to the Beldersay, a big ski hotel whose comfortable rooms have good views of the impressive countryside. Our last, rather short, night is at the Hotel Rovshan in Tashkent before an early morning trip to the airport.
For the most part easy. Walks of up to three or four miles each day, occasionally longer. Sometimes on steep slopes.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow/Manchester*/Edinburgh*/Birmingham* to Dushanbe via Istanbul, returning from Tashkent via Istanbul. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Variable. Anything from cold to warm, or even hot in Samarkand. We can expect plenty of sunny weather, but should also be prepared for some rain or even the possibility of snow!
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back 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.