some longer drives expected
Asia/Birding tour in Georgia and Armenia
The gems of the mysterious Caucasus: Georgia and Armenia
Caucasus Mountains, steppes, Jandari Lake, Sevan Lake, Armash fishponds, rock monasteries, 12 days
A fabulous journey to the edge of Europe amongst the mighty Caucasus Mountains. 2 countries full of natural beauty and Eastern bird specialities such as Caucasian Snowcock, Caucasian Black Grouse, Lammergeier, Güldenstadt’s Redstart, Great Rosefinch, Green Warbler, Caucasian Chiffchaff, White-headed Duck, White-tailed Lapwing, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Radde’s Accentor, White-throated Robin, Upcher’s Warbler, Finsch’s Wheatear, Grey-necked Bunting and Crimson-winged Finch.
Both countries are of exceptional beauty: diverse in nature with ancient history.
Only few birders were lucky to see this paradise, so join us to see what awaits you in this new destination between Europe and Asia.
- 5 days in Georgia and 5 days in Armenia
- begins and finishes in Tbilisi, Georgia
- visiting the Caucasus Mountains, steppes and rock monasteries in Georgia
- exploring high mountains, arid hills, stunning valleys and productive fishponds in Armenia
- use only 3 well situated accommodations
- spectacular mountains for Caucasian Snowcock, and Caucasian Black Grouse
- stunning wetlands with Pygmy Cormorant, Armenian Gull and Marbled Teal
- raptors including Lammergeier, Imperial Eagle and Steppe Buzzard
- astonishing historical sites that are great for birding
- Pied, Finsch’s and Isabelline Wheatears, Rock Thrush and White-throated Robin
- Wallcreeper, Crimson-winged Finch, Radde’s Accentor and Grey-necked Bunting
- famous hospitality, cuisine and wine!
3 nights in a luxury hotel in Kazbegi, Caucaus
2+1 nights in a 4 star hotel in historic Tbilisi
4 nights in a good hotel in Yerevan
- Caucasian Snowcock
- Caucasian Black Grouse
- Long-legged Buzzard
- Imperial Eagle
- Armenian Gull
- Slender-billed Gull
- Marbled Teal
- Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
- Rose coloured Starling
- White-throated Robin
- Rock Thrush
- Güldenstadt’s Redstart
- Citrine Wagtail
- Finsch’s Wheatear
- Radde’s Accentor
- Green Warbler
- Caucasian Chiffchaff
- Menetries’s Warbler
- Upcher’s Warbler
- Great Rosefinch
- Common Rosefinch
- Red-fronted Serin
- Trumpeter Finch
- Crimson-winged Finch
- Grey-necked Bunting
After an overnight flight we arrive in Tbilisi and head to a nearby hotel for a few hours rest. Once refreshed, we travel towards the Caucasus Mountains, pausing at Zhinvali Dam for woodpeckers and migrating songbirds. Stunning views at Krestovy Pass make a wonderful backdrop as we scan for Lammergeier, with Water Pipit, Alpine Chough, Snowfinch and even Wallcreeper possible.
Arriving at Kazbegi, we’ll spend two days exploring the amazing scenery of the High Caucasus, where Europe stops and Asia starts! We’ll drive to Gergeti Trinity Church at 2200 m, where we’ll scan for Caucasian Black Grouse and listen for Caucasian Snowcock calling from cliff-top perches. Güldenstadt’s Redstart and Great Rosefinch are possible, plus Alpine Accentor and Rock Thrush and delightful Red-fronted Serin - and we’ll look for goat-like East Caucasian Tur.
The woodlands hold Green Warbler and Caucasian Chiffchaff from early May and may be teeming with migrants, while Black Kites, Steppe Buzzards and harrier passage can be spectacular.
We’ll spend the morning in bushes and marshes hopefully surrounded by migrants, then stop again at Krestovy Pass and forest near Ananuri, where good numbers of migrant raptors may include Long-legged Buzzard and Lesser-spotted Eagle.
We shall arrive late afternoon in Tbilisi - the following day exploring the vast semi-arid steppes, rocky outcrops, shallow lakes and riverine forest to the east. Jandari Lake is a great stop-over for migratory waterbirds and anything can turn up. Imperial Eagle breeds, as do Pygmy Cormorants and we may see our first Armenian Gulls.
We head east to the amazing rock monasteries of Davit Gareji, where rock-hewn monastic cells were built in the 6th century. The steppes hold Tawny Pipit, Calandra and Short-toed Larks and around the monasteries Western Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush and Pied Wheatear are possible.
Leaving Georgia we cross the border into Armenia, then a long but interesting drive lies ahead. We pass through the impressive Debed canyon, where nearly every village along the river has a church, chapel and old fort. We’ll look out for Griffon and Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard, arriving at our hotel in Yerevan, late afternoon.
From our base in Yerevan we’ll explore the local area starting with Mt Aragats, the highest mountain in Armenia. Driving up to 3200m, we pass small pockets of trees where Semi-collared Flycatcher breed. The road ends at a small lake where raptors may include Short-toed, Booted and Lesser Spotted Eagles. Fantastic birding here may produce Raddes’Accentor, White-throated Robin, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, magna Bluethroat (no central spot), Rock Thrush, Common Rosefinch, Rock and Ortolan Bunting, Shorelark and Crimson-winged Finch. We shall also stop at the scenic and remarkable Amberd Fortress, built in the 11th century.
Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus region, is famous for the largest Armenian Gull colony in the world. On our visit here we’ll see these, plus hopefully Citrine Wagtail, a fairly recent breeder at the lake Ruddy Shelduck, Garganey and passage waders. The keen may be interested to see the large-billed caspia race of Reed Bunting. We’ll also visit the spectacular Noravank Gorge and monastery.
Armash fish ponds are one of Armenia’s richest ornithological hot spots. Nestled in the foothills of Mount Ararat, the extensive wetlands are an oasis in the arid lands of south-western Armenia. The pools, natural salt marshes and extensive reedbeds, provide refuge and breeding habitat for grebes, egrets, herons, ducks, waders and terns. White-headed Duck, Marbled Teal and White-tailed Lapwing breed here, plus Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Glossy Ibis, Collared Pratincole, Gull-billed Tern, Bearded Tit, Moustached and Paddyfield Warbler. Blue-cheeked Bee-eater should be flying above us, while we look for Lesser Short-toed Lark, Black-headed Wagtail, Penduline Tit and Ménétries’ Warbler. May is perfect timing for thousands of migrants, which should include White-winged and Whiskered Terns, with maybe Black-winged Pratincole as a treat!
The arid cliffs of Vedi provide our chance for Grey-necked Bunting, Finsch’s Wheatear, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Trumpeter Finch, Black-headed Bunting and Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and, with luck, nomadic Mongolian Finch.
Days 11-12 We make the long drive to Tbilisi birding enroute, before catching our early flight home on Day 12.