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The Pontic Alps

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.

Fritillaria latifolia © Ian Green

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 Pelargonium endlicherianum and fabulous Iris iberica.

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. Sometimes Wolves are seen on this tour too!

Caucasian Blackcock By Fiona Dunbar

Dates and Prices

24th May - 6th June 2025 (14 days)

London - London £3,345
Istanbul - Istanbul £3,040
Trabzon - Ağrı £2,930
Single Supplement* £220
Deposit £300

* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged

or ask us a question.

Please note; dates and prices are provisional and will be confirmed by August 2024

Tour Summary

Day 1
Arrive in Trabzon
Days 2-3
The Zigana Pass. Altındere National Park and Sumela Monastery
Days 4-5
The Ovit Pass
Day 6
The Çoruh Valley to Yaylarlar
Days 7-8
Yaylarlar & Lake Tortum
Day 9
Days 10-12
The Sahara National Park – The Çam Pass, Aktaş Lake & The Bülbülen Pass
Day 13
Day 14
Depart for UK

Tour information


Spring Flowers, especially Bulbs, Orchids and Alpines; Birds, Butterflies, Landscapes and Sites of Historical Interest.


Ian Green , Seda Soylu

Group Size

The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 15. Only one leader will accompany a group of 8 or less.

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, tips, and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
Flower, bird and butterfly checklists are available.


We start with three nights in the 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 Ridos Thermal Hotel & Spa surrounded by woodlands and flowery streamside meadows. After three nights at the clean and comfortable Yaylalar Pansiyon where forest meets meadow in the Kaçkar Mountains we move to the Mars Hotel delightfully situated in the woodlands above Artvin for a one night stay. Next we 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.


Very easy going. We will be walking no more than two or three miles in any one day


UK flights are from London Heathrow to Trabzon, via Istanbul, returning from Agri, via Istanbul, to London Heathrow. The same routing is available from Manchester, Birmingham or Edinburgh* but does involve a night in Istanbul on the return journey. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.

*These routes may incur a supplement.


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 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.