Our Best of Central Asia tour combines the best of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, two landlocked countries with spectacular scenery, interesting historical and cultural sites, wide varieties of exciting habitats, and of course both well-represented with some of the finest Central Asian birds found in this fascinating region. Our tour starts in Uzbekistan where the general topography ranges from desert flatlands to the foothills of the Tien Shan Mountains in the east. We will drive out into the remote Kyzyl-Kum Desert in search for the desert loving Pander’s Ground Jay, a unique terrestrial species. Other special birds that we will target over the next few days include Pygmy Cormorant, Saker Falcon, Eastern Imperial Eagle, the striking Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Streaked Scrub Warbler and Asian Desert Warbler. From here we travel to the scenic hills south of Samarkand in search of White-throated Robin, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Red-headed Bunting, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Finch’s Wheatear. Our comprehensive tour continues in the remote Taukum Desert: a great start and excellent introduction to Kazakhstan birding! We will search for specialties such as Macqueen’s Bustard and the handsome Caspian Plover. Wells in the area attract Pin-tailed, Black-bellied and the much desired Pallas’s Sandgrouse. Other targets include Saxaul Sparrow, White-winged Woodpecker and the striking Azure Tit. Later on we’ll drive up into the Tien Shan Mountain range where the highly sought after Ibisbill occurs (this smart looking bird is the sole representative of its monotypic family). Other specialities in this area include Himalayan Snowcock, Güldenstädt’s and Eversmann’s Redstarts, Wallcreeper and the stunning White-browed (Sveretov’s) Tit-warbler. Flying to the capital, Astana, we will bird the surrounding steppe in search of the enigmatic Demoiselle Crane and the critically endangered Sociable Lapwing at their favoured breeding grounds. Here we will also enjoy sightings of Pallid Harrier and both White-winged and the mythical Black Lark doing their displays over the steppe grasslands!
Himalayan Snowcock, Ibisbill, Chukar Partridge, Pin-tailed, Black-bellied & Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Demoiselle Crane, Macqueen’s Bustard, Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian & Great White Pelican, Bearded & Cinereous Vulture, Himalayan Griffon, Eastern Imperial & Steppe Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Saker & Red-footed Falcon, White-headed & Marbled Duck, Slavonian Grebe, Sociable Lapwing, Caspian Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Lesser Sand Plover, Pander’s Ground Jay, White-winged Woodpecker, Blue-cheeeked Bee-eater, Spotted Nutcracker, European Roller, Wallcreeper, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Red-headed & Grey-necked Bunting, Asian Desert Warbler, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Finch’s, Desert & Pied Wheatear, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Turkestan, Daurian & Long-tailed Shrike, Blue-capped, Guldenstadt’s & Eversmann’s Redstart, White-tailed Rubythroat, Brown & Altai Accentor, Yellow-breasted, Azure, Turkestan and Rufous-naped Tit, White-throated Robin, Pied Bush Chat, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, White-browed Tit-warbler, Saxaul Sparrow, White-winged & Black Lark, Citrine & Masked Wagtail, Asian Crimson-winged Finch
rich steppe grasslands, remote deserts, foothills, high mountains, valleys, pristine spruce forest, alpine meadows, wetlands, marshes, reed beds, lakes
generally hot and sunny but much cooler in the mountains
relaxed to moderate at times with generally easy walking and some longer drives
spectacular scenery, ancient deserts, pristine wildernesses, incredible history and culture