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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 v1503 240170
Mobile: +44 (0)7474 568886

Kyrgyzstan - Snow Leopards & Birding Expedition 2019

Join me on expedition to 4000 m elevation in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan for seven days (3 nights in comfortable hotel) and (4 nights in tents). Departing on Sat 22 Jun 2019 and returning on Sat 29 Jun 2019. We will be travelling in two 4×4 automatic-transmission Toyota Land Cruisers, where you have the opportunity to drive if you wish.

Price: £1,140.00 (GBP) per. person
Single supplement: £45
Current Exchange rate guide:
£1,140 GBP = $1,459 USD or €1,269 EUR

  • (hotel 3 nights) (tents 4 nights)
  • Sat 22 Jun 2019 - Sat 29 Jun 2019 (7 days) (9 spaces left)

Kyrgyzstan is a country located in Central Asia and often referred to as the "Switzerland of Central Asia". Landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the south-west and China to the east. Its capital and largest city is Bishkek. The mountainous region of the Tien Shan covers over 80% of the country, with the remainder made up of valleys and basins. More than half the country is above 2,500 m. Steppe and alpine vegetation dominate the landscape; glaciers and eternal snow cover over 3% of the country’s total area. The climate in Kyrgyzstan is continental with a small amount of rainfall. And the people are as friendly as can be.

This is primarily a hiking and birding expedition in the realms of the Snow leopard high in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan. While getting acclimated to the high elevation, for the first couple of days we will be based in a comfortable hotel. From there we will partake in birding day trips, first to the drier desert mountains to search for desert birds, then into the forested mountains for a plethora of different bird species before we head out on expedition about 200 km into the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range to look for the Snow leopard and high mountain birds.

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 Bishkek - Aim to be there by early afternoon on the first day. Briefing starts as soon as we’re all there and I want to cover everything by the end of that first evening so that we can start early the next morning. Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan and well connected through its airport and train station. I will pre-book your rooms as a group in advance. The Hotel provides a complimentary free transport to and from the airport, which is a long way out of town, you’ll need to contact them to arrange your transfer.

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel with breakfast. Hotel Futuro is a new and comfortable hotel 3.5 km from the centre of town. The hotel also provides a complementary luggage store so you can reduce the amount you carry in the cars to the mountains. The hotel information will be in your joining dossier.

Day 2


Visit the dryer mountains - We'll make an early start to drive out to the dryer mountains to the east of Bishkek with hopes to see Black stork, Macqueen's bustard, Barbary falcon, Lesser kestrel, Cinereous vulture, Collared pratincole, Black-bellied sandgrouse, Roller, Hoopoe, Indian golden oriole and Songar tit. Driving into the mountains and returning to the lower-elevation hotel for the first couple of days gets you gradually used to the high elevation prior to the expedition.

Accommodation: Return to the comfortable Hotel Futuro.

Day 3


Visit the forested national park - We drive into the forested national park high in the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range on the Bishkek side, where we'll hopefully find a whole different list of species including: Yellow-breasted tit, Rufous-naped tit, Daurian partridge, Hobby, Tengmalm’s owl, Mongolian and Crimson-winged finch.

Accommodation: Return to the comfortable Hotel Futuro.

Day 4


Head out on expedition - We have a 6 hour drive ahead of us into the mountains on the south side of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range. We'll stop every couple of hours for toilet breaks, lunch and to see what we can see. We'll be driving through open farmland, high mountain passes and mountain pastures en-route. Those who want to drive will each get a turn. Species to look out for include: Golden eagle, Common rosefinch, Saker falcon, Citrine wagtail and Hoopoe. By the end of the day in the area where we'll make our first camp we should start to see our first Grey marmot, I've seen wolves at this location before.

Accommodation: Tent (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 5


Continue on expedition - After what would have been a much colder night than previously we will take a short morning walk to explore the area beside the river. 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 then pack-up and move on up the valley in the cars to make base camp at 3000 m. I hope to drive to 3500 m in the afternoon, where we'll take a short hike in the snow fields to get used to the high elevation.

Accommodation: Tent (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 6


Look for Snow leopard - After yet another cold night in base camp we'll set of on an all-day hike where I hope we'll reach 4000 m elevation, and a location where in previous years there has been a lot of Siberian ibex and Snow leopard activity. I'll try my hardest to let you see a Snow leopard, but at least you should see its tracks in the snow and sand. 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.

Accommodation: Tent (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 7


An open day - This day is left open to do whatever we want. It may be that some of you want to recover from the previous day's activities, or you might want to hike out to high elevation yet again. I'm open to ideas.

Accommodation: Tent (1 or 2-person tent).

Day 8


Return to Bishkek - Pack-up the base camp prior to another long day's drive back to the city, stopping every couple of hours en-route. We have all day to try to see any new species missed on the way up. We'll get back to the hotel in the late afternoon for de-brief.

Accommodation: None. (on your own). Most people like to stay on a few days afterwards to see the city or visit Issyk-Kul lake. Let me know if you need advice or car rental.

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. I provide the tent so you don't need to bring one unless you want to bring your own (let me know if you do). 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.

  • Can I drive the expedition vehicles?

    Yes you can! Bring an International driving licence. I need at least one other driver. We use two, occasionally three Toyota Land-cruisers. These vehicles are 4-wheel drive and although they are automatic transmission are capable of handling the rough roads and river crossings that we will have to negotiate on this expedition. If you are one of my drivers you will be given full instructions for using the vehicles before we leave Bishkek. Multiple drivers will share the driving. Each vehicle is fitted with five seats. There is limited room in the back for all your kit, the tents, tools and food so please pack the minimal amount of personal kit and camera kit. You’ll be able to store some kit in the hotel.

  • What camera kit should I bring?

    You really won’t want to be carrying too much when hiking. Let me explain the kit I will be using, your kit should not need to exceed that. 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 remove the mount off the 400 mm to make it lighter and because I won’t have a tripod with me. I’ll use a beanbag to rest on the car window or rocks (there’ll be lots of birds visible from the vehicles), 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 this expedition is between 17 and 72, but it's open to anybody who wants to try. 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 lead from the back and the group only goes as fast as the slowest person. This is certainly a challenge but a very satisfying one and I'm 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. 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: £1,140.00 (GBP) per. person
Single supplement: £45
Current Exchange rate guide:
£1,140 GBP = $1,459 USD or €1,269 EUR

Sat 22 Jun 2019 - Sat 29 Jun 2019
(9 places left)

  • Duration
    • 7 days, 7 nights.
  • Location
    • Kyrgyzstan Tien Shan mountains.
  • Accommodation
    • 3 comfortable accommodations and 4 nights in tents in the wilderness.
  • Included
    • Professional expedition leader with local experience.
    • Hotel accommodation + breakfast for first 3 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 & communal gas stove.
    • Transfer to and from airport to hotel.
    • All admissions, permits & tolls.
    • Gratuities.
  • Excluded
    • International flights.
    • Pre- and post- expedition travel arrangements.
    • Main meals and bar tab whilst in Bishkek.
    • 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
    • 10 people.
  • Fitness Level
    • Moderately difficult. Ability to walk about 5-15 km (3-10 miles) per day in high mountain terrain and up to 4000 m (13,100 ft) altitude.
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  • The best Kyrgyzstan books to buy:
    Birds of Central Asia
    Lonely Planet Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide
    Kyrgyzstan books at the Book Depository