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If you have any questions about my tours or require further information, I am always happy to hear from you. Feel free to contact me by email or phone.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Trebrown Farm, Horningtops, Liskeard, Cornwall PL14 3PU. UK.

Email:
Telephone +44 (0)1503 240170
Mobile: +44 (0)7474 568886

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Kazakhstan Wilderness Wildlife
Wildlife of the Great Silk Road

On this totally unique and innovative 10 day safari tour and horse trekking expedition, we explore the breathtaking Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan’s far southeast, with special permits to enter restricted wilderness areas to look for Snow leopard, Eurasian linx, Wolves, Ibex, Argali, Tien Shan Bear and Pallas’s cat. Furthermore, you stand the very best chances of seeing all of those on this expedition. But before that, from a base inside Altyn Emel National Park we safari rolling steppe and desert for huge ungulate herds of Koulan wild ass, Bukhara deer, Przewalski horse, Goitered Gazelle and much more.

Price: £2,990.00 (GBP) per. person
Single supplement: £285
Current Exchange rate guide:
£2,990 GBP = $3,831 USD or €3,430 EUR

Get 10% discount when booking three or more. Need to contact me first for the discount code.

  • Please select your preferred dates

 

  • Several dates during May/June are available each year. Limited to a maximum of 5 places available per tour.
  • Check available flights

Kazakhstan is vast and varied, the largest country in Central Asia and ninth largest in the world, famed for the Great Silk Road passing through it, with the towering Tien Shan (Hevenly) mountains in the southeast and huge areas of steppe, lakes and desert across the centre. It is still home to many mammals, and is superb for watching Snow leopard, Tien Shan brown bear, Pallas’s cat, Przewalski’s horse, Argali and many other prized species.

We are primarily focusing on rare large mammals, but this tour is also ideal for birders and keen photographers. Suitable for most age groups, though not ideal for very young children who have no prior riding experience. You do not need to be experienced horse riders to join this expedition, total riding novices will be given basic riding tuition if they need it and these horses are passive and easy to ride. We are using horses to overcome the difficulties most people have of hiking at altitude in the mountains. We will be entering the wilderness frontier zone close to the borders of China and Kyrgyzstan under special permits granted to us, unique to Nature Expedition's clients, so you will be amongst wildlife that seldom ever see humans.

Itinerary

PLEASE NOTE: Itineraries are for guidance only. Programmes may vary depending on weather and wildlife conditions. Flexibility is paramount for high elevation expeditions.

Day 1


Arrive Almaty - Your flight should arrive in Almaty before 09:00 in the morning. You will be met at the airport and driven to Altyn Emel National Park (3½ hours) through firstly agricultural land then later through the drier grasslands and deserts with good views across Kapshagay lake, reaching your guesthouse in the national park around midday. Altyn Emel National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site and covers 4600 square kilometres between the Ili River and the Ak-Tau mountain range and consists mostly of desert, rocky terrain and also wetland avifaunas. We are here mainly to see the Przewalski wild horse which has been reintroduced to Kazakhstan, Koulan wild ass (more than 1,100), Bukhara deer which was once almost extinct but now reintroduced to the park, Argali sheep (about 200) and Goitered Gazelle (up to 5000) which have always been there. After settling in in the hotel we'll drive out to the singing sand dunes with a hope of seeing some wildlife on the way. The area is referred to as The "Singing Dunes" on account of the rumbling sound emitting from the sand.

Accommodation: Comfortable guesthouse with breakfast.

Day 2


A 100 km excursion through Altyn Emel National Park - A whole day exploring the national park in vehicles and on foot with good chances of seeing all the large animals already mentioned (Przewalski horse, Koulan, Bukhara deer and Goitered Gazelle), but also with slim hopes of seeing smaller mammals like Stone marten, Steppe Polecat, Pallas' wild cat and Eurasian lynx. Did you know they plan to reintroduce Tigers in 2025! Birds to look for include Saker falcon, White-tailed eagle, Short-toed snake eagle, Black stork, Macqueen's bustard, Barbary falcon, Lesser kestrel, Collared pratincole, Black-bellied sandgrouse, Roller, Hoopoe, Indian golden oriole and Songar tit. Due to the large number of ungulates, scavengers are common - Grey wolf, Red fox, Eurasian and Himalayan vultures, Cinereous vulture and Egyptian vulture. We should visit 5 Huge Scythian Burial Mounds (Bes Shatyr Necropol) at some stage during the day.

Accommodation: Return to the comfortable guesthouse with breakfast.

Day 3


Drive to the start of the horse trek expedition in the Tien Shan mountains - We have a further 3½ hour drive today to reach the start of our horse trek expedition in the frontier zone wilderness. We will leave the guesthouse in the National park when we're ready and we'll take our time to look for wildlife during the journey with several rest breaks on the way. We'll now leave the drier desert regions behind and head up into the lush green mountain flower meadows with stunning snow-caped mountain backdrop landscapes as we drive up the Bayankol Gorge. Eventually we'll reach the Bayanko frontier post where we'll present our special permits to enter the restricted area where Kazakhstan borders China and Kyrgyzstan. Until we gained this special permission only about 20 people per year were able to enter this area. This area is teaming with rare wildlife relatively undisturbed by humans, this is what makes this area so special to enter and unique to Nature Expeditions' clients. You stand a 50% chance of observing Snow leopard, Grey wolf, Eurasian linx and the Tien Shan brown bear. There's a strong population of Grey wolf which tells you there's good biodiversity. A 50% chance might not sound good to you but I can assure you these odds are the best there are anywhere! Other large mammals, with a 100% chance of you seeing include Siberian ibex, Argali sheep, Siberian roe deer, Maral deer and the largest Wild boar there is anywhere. Smaller predatory mammals include Pallas's cat, Red fox and Corsac fox, Tien Shan dhole, Least weasel and Otter. You'll also see a great many Marmot on the way, both Grey and Long-tailed marmot. Our destination for the day is a cabin in a place called Eki Asha Gorge. Here we'll change into our expedition clothes, store our unnecessary travel kit, get introduced to our horses and ride for a couple of hours to reach our camp for the night at 2200 m elevation.

Accommodation: Wild camp (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 4


Horse ride to Tamshi Gorge - We have a 3-hour horse trek today culminating in Tamshi Gorge. We're trekking up a valley of mountain flower pastures en-route, and we'll only climb 600 m so this will be an easy introduction to wilderness horse trekking. Species to look out for include: Roe deer, Linx, Golden eagle, Common rosefinch, Saker falcon, Citrine wagtail and Hoopoe. By the end of the day we'll be in prime Ibex, Deer, Boar and Wolf country.

Accommodation: Wild camp (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 5


Continue on horse expedition to Kokala Tas - After what would have been a much colder night than previously we will wake to some truly stunning landscape scenery. We've another 3-hour horse trek ahead of us to Kokala Tas, but now we're in prime Bear country. We're also reaching Argali sheep country, Argali are the world's largest species of wild sheep, extremely timid and quickly disappear on sight, a near threatened species and becoming very scarce having disappeared from much of their range, they are now listed as a Kazakhstan red-book species and fully protected. Birds common in this area include: Long-legged buzzard, Isabelline wheatear, Citrine wagtail, Yellow wagtail, Common rosefinch, Stonechat, Whitethroat, Tree pipit, Cuckoo and Hoopoe. We will eventually make camp at 3000 m. Another thing I'd like to point out is that we're now more than 100 miles from the nearest town, consequently there is zero light pollution thus producing some of the darkest night skies in the world. It's well worth trying to get that stunning photograph of the milky-way.

Accommodation: Wild camp (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 6


Horse ride to the Kara Say glacier to look for Snow leopard - With a further 3 hour ride we're now entering an area with a lot of Snow leopard activity. You stand an excellent chance to see a Snow leopard, but at least you should see its tracks in the snow and sand. This is still prime country for Ibex and Argali, the main prey species of the Snow leopard. Birds at this high elevation include Güldenstädt's redstart, Rock thrush, Wallcreeper, Alpine accentor, Lammergeier, Himalayan griffon and Eurasian griffon vulture, Rock ptarmigan, Himalayan snowcock, Brandt's mountain finch, Alpine chough, Red-billed chough and Plain mountain finch. We'll make camp at 3400 m, and spend all of our time here looking for Bear, Wolf and Snow leopard.

Accommodation: Wild camp (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 7


Horse ride back 20 km to Eki Asha Gorge. - You'll be used to riding by now so you should be able to handle a 5-hour ride back down to Eki Asha! It's easer and faster going down hill. But there is still plenty of time to see wildlife on the way, we'll look out for any species we missed on the way up. We'll pay special attention to look for Eurasian linx and Tien Shan Bear in the pine forest. We'll end up back at Eki Asha Gorge to camp at 2200 m.

Accommodation: Wild camp (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 8


Return to Almaty - Say goodbye to the trusted horses, change back into travel clothes and drive back the 380 km to Almaty visiting Charyn Canyon en-route. We'll get back to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Accommodation: Comfortable city hotel.

Day 9


Leisurely Almaty city tour - A day to take life a little easier. You'll be given an Almaty city tour including a visit to the Ethnovillage to better understand some of the Kazakhstan culture and history. Followed by a farewell dinner in a Kazakh cuisine restaurant.

Accommodation: Comfortable city hotel.

Day 10


Depart Almaty and fly home - An early morning transfer to the airport to catch your flight home.

Accommodation: Your home.

Additional Information

  • Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?

    Yes! You'll need a 4-season, winter sleeping bag and a Thermarest-style self-inflating roll-mat. Nights in the mountains will be freezing. We provide the tent so you don't need to bring one. The down-filled sleeping bags pack-down smaller. You'll find a full kit-list of what to bring in your joining dossier and customer portal. All Nature Expeditions' clients are entitled to 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor & Snow+Rock.

  • Do I need horse riding experience and is it difficult riding horses?

    You DO NOT need to know how to ride horses. You will be given horse-riding instruction if you need it. These horses are experienced, passive and easy to ride. Horses will be strolling along slowly and carefully up the mountain trails. The horses will be carrying the minimal kit you need on the mountain expedition in two saddlebags, your unnecessary expedition kit will be securely stored for the duration of the horse expedition, please pack the minimal amount of personal kit and camera kit items because the horses have to carry it all.

  • What camera kit should I bring?

    You really won’t want to be carrying too much when riding or hiking. Let me explain the kit I will be using, your kit should not need to exceed that. I'll have high-magnification binoculars, you might want a spotting scope. I also carry a long-range thermal-imaging scope which is expensive but invaluable for spotting animals at night or low light. I’ll have a 24-105 mm zoom, this will give me a wide choice of landscape and general shots. I’ll also carry my Canon EF 400 mm f/4 DO IS USM prime which is relatively light-weight for its size. I'll also have my 1.4x extender. The body I'll take is my APS-C/1.6x sensor format EOS 70D because this will give me greater magnification on the 400 mm and therefore less weight than carrying a bigger lens for the same magnification. So my 400 mm will then become a 640 mm f/4 when attached to the EOS 70D, if I add the 1.4x extender it’ll become an 896 mm f/5.6. I'll have a light-weight carbon-fibre tripod with me and have a camera rain coat big enough for the 400 mm. I'll also carry two Peak Design camera carrying clips to make carrying it easier, filters, batteries and other basic stuff. The big lens will have its own soft case, the rest will be in a small soft case carried in my rucksack. I’ve been there and done it! I know you won’t need any more kit than this, trust me!

  • I'm not sure I'm fit enough!

    The age range that I've had join me on similar high mountain expeditions is between 17 and 72, but it's open to anybody who wants to try. You can avoid having to walk at all if you want to, just go everywhere by horse. But if you do walk then a slow walk at high altitudes feels about the same as running quickly uphill at sea-level, consequently running uphill at low elevation is good training for this expedition. In this environment there are always some people who are stronger than others, the more physical training you do beforehand the easier you’ll find it. I'm absolutely sure you can do it if you put your mind to it. You'll have a great story to tell when you get home and this is an excellent way to lose weight.

  • Suitable clothing?

    Ensure you bring good quality footwear. Your boots are the most important piece of kit. Please make sure that they are of a good quality and well worn in so that they will not cause you any discomfort or give you blisters. PLEASE NOTE the grass in June is long and wet, it will quickly take the wax off your boots and allow water to soak in especially when crossing rivers. I might suggest waterproof snow-boots or even Wellingtons worn with thick socks. Day time temperatures can be as high as 30°C, but nights in the mountains will be cold and you should bring some warm clothes for when needed. The weather can, and will change quickly in the mountains. A plastic poncho works well for keeping you and your kit dry while riding horses. Layers of light clothing that is quick-drying is most suitable. You'll find a full kit-list of what to bring in your joining dossier and customer portal.

Price: £2,990.00 (GBP) per. person
Single supplement: £285
Current Exchange rate guide:
£2,990 GBP = $3,831 USD or €3,430 EUR

Get 10% discount when booking three or more. Need to contact me first for the discount code.

  • Please select your preferred dates

 

Several dates during May/June are available each year. Limited to a maximum of 5 places available per tour.

Check available flights

  • Duration
    • 10 days, 9 nights.
  • Location
    • Kazakhstan 3-day Altyn Emel National Park tour and 4-day horse trek expedition in the Tien Shan mountains' frontier zone wilderness, then 2-days city tour.
  • Accommodation
    • 4 comfortable hotel/guesthouse accommodations and 5 nights in tents in the frontier zone wilderness.
  • Included
    • Local wildlife experts as guides.
    • English speaking interpreter.
    • Hotel accommodation + breakfast for 4 nights.
    • All meals when out on expedition.
    • All transport costs while out on expedition.
    • Full communications and medical kit
    • Registration with local Rescue Services.
    • Use of a tent.
    • Transfer to and from airport to hotel.
    • All admissions, permits & tolls.
    • All excursions and city tour.
    • Your financial protection is guaranteed.
  • Excluded
    • International flights.
    • Pre- and post- expedition travel arrangements.
    • Meals in city restaurants.
    • Tips for guides (about USD $40).
    • Use of sleeping bag & roll-mat.
    • Items of a personal nature such as laundry charges.
    • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is mandatory).
  • Max Group Number
    • 5 people.
  • Fitness Level
    • Moderately easy. Relatively little effort needed to ride horses at high elevation. However, there will be times when you want to walk in the mountains which is difficult in high mountain terrain up to 3500 m (11,500 ft) altitude.
  •  
  • Travel Insurance (Mandatory)
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  • The best Kazakhstan books to buy:
    Birds of Central Asia
    Lonely Planet Kazakhstan Travel Guide
    Kazakhstan books at the Book Depository
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