Tulips in the Tien Shan


A truly remarkable display of colourful tulips carpet the mountains and valleys of Southern Kazakhstan in spring. Chief among them are the magnificent goblets of Greig’s Tulip which come in an unforgettable pageant of reds, oranges and yellows. Beautiful water-lily flowers of Tulipa kaufmanniana adorn the lower slopes of the Mountains of Heaven like so many jewels, while swathes of multi-coloured Tulipa ostrowskiana and Tulipa kolpakowskiana shine in the crystal clear air of these Central Asian Mountains.

Tulipa kaufmanniana VladimirKolbintsev

Stunning red Tulipa albertii and luminous yellow and orange Tulipa lehmanniana are among twenty species of Tulip that include rarities such as Tulipa buhseana, Tulipa tetraphylla and the lovely bicoloured Tulipa zenaidae. Most recently we’ve added the beautiful Tulipa lemmersii, only described two years ago, a yellow beauty known as yet only from west‑facing rocks in a single canyon. But these are just part of a floral extravaganza. Fritillary-like Korolkovia severzovii and Rhinopetalum stenantherum, with their strange coloured bells, the latter a stunning pink, mix with bright yellow Anemones and a colourful variety of elegant Corydalis species. By patches of snow are the white stars of Crocus alatavicus and along with half a dozen species of Iris is the many-hued Iridodictyum kolpakovskianum.

Korolkovia severzovii

We’ll walk in the famous Aksu-Dzhabagly reserve where we’ll see Siberian Ibex and the globally endangered Arkhar on flowery slopes. Sometimes we encounter Isabelline Brown Bears as they select the most succulent greenery in rich turf by patches of snow. The Sugaty Plateau in the Ketmen Mountains is home to Desert Warbler and elegant Pallas’s Sandgrouse, and Susliks will whistle at us as we enjoy a fine display of bright yellow Tulipa iliensis and lovely Iris scariosa. Bird migration will be in full swing. Flocks of up to a thousand Demoiselle Cranes will be a fantastic sight.

Resident Blue Whistling Thrushes and Brown Dippers are joined by migrant Blue-capped Redstarts and Black-throated Thrushes feeding in rocky valleys ablaze with Juno subdecolorata, Iris ruthenica, Paeonia hybrida and the milky wands of Eremurus lactiflorus.

Blue-capped Redstart (Phoenicurus caeruleocephala) Imran Khan

Dates and Prices

8th April - 21st April 2025 (14 days)

Prices TBC

Tour Summary

Day 1
Depart UK
Day 2
Days 3&4
The Kordoi Pass, Merke and the Muyum Kum Desert
Days 5-7
The The Karatau Mountains: Berkara, Kumburual Dunes & Steppe Lakes
Days 8-12
The Aksu-Dzhabagly Nature Reserve in the Tien Shan Mountains
Day 12
Evening transfer to Almaty by sleeper train
Day 13
Day 14
Depart Almaty

Tour information


Spring Bulbs and other Flowers. Also Mammals, Birds and Mountain Wilderness.


Vladimir Kolbintsev

Group Size

One leader for a group of up to 6, two leaders up to a maximum group size of 15.

Included in the Price

All flights. Transport, accommodation and all meals in Kazakhstan. Services of the leaders. Please note: alcoholic drinks, tips, visas and items of a personal nature including travel insurance, are not included.


We start in Almaty where we’ve two nights at the start and two nights at the end (really one and a half nights at each end of the tour) in the very comfortable modern Hotel Kazhol. At Merke we have a single night at a rather basic hotel before moving to Taraz for a three night stay in the good quality Dzhambyl Hotel. Next we’ve four nights at Yevgeny’s Guesthouse in Dzhabagly. This lovely place has a very friendly atmosphere, comfortable rooms, and we can guarantee you will be looked after superbly. The garden is a delightful and shady place to enjoy before dinner. All rooms have en suite facilities except for the night on the sleeper train that takes you back to Almaty near the end of the tour. In this you’ll be in twin-berth compartments for the one night.


For the most part easy. Walks of up to three or four miles each day in the Karatau and a bit longer in the Aksu-Dzhabagly Reserve. Some walks on steep slopes.


UK return flights are from London Heathrow, Edinburgh*, Birmingham* or Manchester* to Almaty via Istanbul. Add-ons are available from various UK airports*. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.


Variable – very like Britain in April! Anywhere from cold to warm. We can expect plenty of sunny weather,but should also be prepared for some rain or even the possibility of snow!

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.

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