Central Asia Birding Tour

Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Birding Tour with Uzbekistan pre-trip extension

birding tour booking22nd May-4th June 2025: Central Asia birding tour highlights include Ibisbill, Himalayan Snowcock, Sociable Lapwing, MacQueen’s Bustard, Turkestan Ground Jay, Black Lark, White-capped Bunting, Black-winged Pratincole, Saxaul Sparrow, White-browed Tit-warbler, Himalayan Rubythroat, White-headed Duck, Eversmann’s Redstart, White-winged Lark, Pallas’s Gull, Guldenstadt’s Redstart, Demoiselle Crane, Fire-fronted Serin – £TBA per person

White-browed Tit-Warbler - Kazakhstan Birding Tour

Trip Details
  • Dates: 22nd May-4th June 2025
  • Cost: £TBA
  • Single Supplement: £500
  • Deposit: £550
  • Tour length: 16 Days (14 days birding)
  • Min/Max group size: 5/10
  • Start/Finish: Almaty/Nur Sultan (Astana)
  • Tour Type: Birding
  • Photo Opps: Good
  • Physical Classification: Easy/Moderate
  • Tour Leaders: Nick Upton & Local Guides

If you have any questions about this trip, please feel free to contact us at info@calidrisbirdingtours.com

Central Asian Birding

Imagine birding in vast open spaces, of steppe, mountains, wetlands  and woodland; an area the size of Europe but with a population of fewer than twenty five million; a birding trip where you can enjoy watching iconic central Asian species such as Ibisbill, MacQueen’s Bustard, Himalayan Snowcock, Caspian Plover, Sociable Plover, Pallas’s Gull, Black Lark, Fire-fronted Serin and Himalayan Rubythroat. If you can imagine that you have imagined birding in Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan are situated in the heart of Central Asia where the avifauna is a delightful blend of the familiar and the exotic alongside a host of regional specialities that are hard to find outside of this amazing country; an intriguing example of east meets west which is paralleled by the cultural and ethnic variety that is also obvious on our route around Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan. While part of the Soviet Union these countries were difficult for foreigners to access but since its independence  it has established itself as a welcoming and safe country which is probably the most  accessible place to see a wide range of exciting Central Asian birds. Being immersed in a variety of vast open spaces is a feature of this tour with some scenery to rival the birds we will be searching for, indeed, this area is a refuge for many rare and range-restricted species for the very reason that it has so much uninhabited land. Wide expanses of flat steppe grasslands merge into stony deserts and open woodlands with a patchwork of  wetlands dotted around the country which attract large numbers of superb birds, both migrants and residents. The massive towering, snowy peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains, which are an extension of the Himalayas, rise to over 20,000 feet forming the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan as they march into neighbouring China. In these mountains we find ourselves immersed in ecosystems varying from beautiful deciduous and coniferous forests with wild rivers running through them at lower elevations, to snow-capped peaks and flower-rich alpine meadows at the higher altitudes.

The birdlife is as varied as the habitats. In arid areas we expect to find Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Pallas’s  Sandgrouse as well as Asian Desert Warbler, Desert Finch and MacQueen’s Bustard while in the high mountains Himalayan Snowcock, Eversmann’s Redstart, Altai Accentor, Red-mantled Rosefinch and Himalayan Rubythroat are some of the treats. Shorebirds are well-represented too with Caspian Plover, Sociable Lapwing being the stand out highlights while Ibisbill is always a candidate for the bird of the trip. While endeavouring to enjoy the best views of all the target species we will also encounter a wide variety of Central Asian passerines, raptors, waterbirds and woodland birds; this is a birding tour that is high in quality species as well as variety.

Day 1, Arrival in Almaty – 21st May 2025

On arrival at Almaty International Airport you will be met and taken to our hotel in the city. In the evening we will have dinner together and a pre-trip briefing.

Day 2, Kaskeleyn Valley – 22nd May 2025

Brown Dipper - Kazakhstan Birding

After a good night’s rest we take a day trip out of Almaty to the foothills of the Tien Shan Mountains birding in the traditional farmland and pastures of the Kaskelyn Valley. A fast-flowing mountain stream is home to Blue Whistlingthrush and Brown Dipper as well as the leucogaster subspecies of White-bellied Dipper. In the past we have seen these two species of Dipper side-by-side for comparison.

For European birders there will be a number of familiar birds such as Common Cuckoo, European Bee-eater and European Roller all of which can be seen sitting on roadside cables and fence posts. Siberian Stonechat can be seen in rough vegetation and the highly skulking Corncrake can sometimes be teased out into the open here too. One of our main targets here though is the very attractive Meadow Bunting which is present here in small numbers and can usually be located by its call. Nearby to Meadow Bunting habitat streamside vegetation plays host to White-crowned Penduline Tit, Hume’s Leaf Warbler singing its descending buzzing song and we have our first chance to find cute Azure Tits, a bird that is always a highlight.

This can also be a good area for raptor sightings. Black Kite, Steppe Buzzard and Long-legged Buzzard are common and we can also hope for Golden Eagle, the massive Himalayan Griffon and Lammergeier among others if weather conditions are good for these birds to be in flight. We can also take time to look at local subspecies of birds that are familiar to European bird watchers such as Woodpigeon, Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat as well as taking our first look at Greenish Warbler in low trees. We will have our first picnic lunch in this scenic area and when we have found all of our target species we will head back to our hotel, perhaps stopping in some farmland along the way for Corn Bunting, Rufous Turtle Dove and maybe our first Red-headed Buntings.

Day 3, Almaty to Kokpek Pass & Sogety Plains – 23rd May 2025

White-crowned Penduline Tit - Kazakhstan Birdwatching Tour

Leaving Almaty after breakfast we drive across areas of villages and traditional agriculture where birds are still abundant. In farmland here we have another excellent chance of seeing White-crowned Penduline Tits nesting and are likely to be amazed at the abundance of Common Nightingale while any stop in appropriate farmland habitat might reveal Corn Buntings. Both European Golden Oriole and Indian Golden Oriole can be found here and we are also likely to encounter Cetti’s Warbler, Rosy Starling and Blyth’s Reed Warbler before moving on to the Kokpek Canyon.

At this remote area rock formations thrust out of the surrounding steppe hosting one of the most attractive buntings of our trip: White-capped Bunting. This lovely little bird often sings from rocky outcrops or small bushes protruding from the crags, a very memorable bird indeed. In this area we can also search for Rock Bunting, Chukar Partridge and Hume’s Whitethroat while birds such as Lesser Grey Shrike, Golden Eagle, Pied Wheatear, Eurasian Crag Martin and Red-headed Bunting are also likely. We will investigate the area thoroughly for the key birds, and maybe a few surprises, before having a field lunch of locally-sourced ingredients.

Once we have found our target species we cross the plains where species such as Rosy Starling and Isabelline Wheatear are common before attending a small spring in the semi desert where birds collect in the late afternoon to drink and bathe. The bella subspecies of Common Linnet is surprisingly colourful and we hope to see our first Red-tailed (Turkestan) Shrike here too but some of the species we hope to see here are rather more scarce. Mongolian Finch is a regular visitor here and it is also a great spot to find Grey-necked Bunting. Crimson-winged Finch cannot be guaranteed but we certainly have an excellent chance of seeing this attractive bird here. Rock Sparrow will hopefully come to join the show but the bird we most hope to observe at this watering hole is Pallas’s Sandgrouse. If not successful on the first attempt we do have the opportunity to try again over the coming days.

We continue our journey to our accommodation at an old hunting lodge where we have dinner together, maybe finding time to spotlight a European Scops Owl.

Day 4, Sogety Plains & Charyn Canyon – 24th May 2025

We can get up early and do some birding around the wooded river valley and farmland that our accommodation is set in before breakfast is served. Birds we might encounter here include the cute Azure Tit, the paropanisi subspecies of Goldfinch (Eastern Goldfinch), Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Common Cuckoo, perhaps another chance at Indian Golden Oriole or even our first White-winged Woodpecker.

After breakfast we head out back onto the Sogety Plains where we will walk among low vegetation in search of one of our main targets; Asian Desert Warbler. This delicate little warbler can be found feeding on insects in the early morning among the vegetation that hugs the ground of the semi desert before disappearing into the dense foliage as the day heats up. While walking across the plains we are likely to come across small numbers of the smart Horned Lark, frequent encounters with Isabelline Wheatear, small groups of Mongolian Finch and we should also look out for Desert Wheatear. Pallas’s Sandgrouse is one of the birds we might have to put some effort into finding and this is another opportunity to find them when feeding on the ground.

Later we make a short drive to Charyn Canyon where Pied Wheatears are usually very obvious and the scenery very spectacular. We make stops at a variety of places along the canyon towards the border with Kyrgyzstan to enjoy Lesser Kestrels nesting at close range, Common Rock Thrush, Red-billed Chough and searching for Upland Buzzard in a wild, windswept location. Here the river runs through marshy grassland on a plateau where wetland birds like Temminck’s Stint, Citrine Wagtail occur alongside many others and with luck we can see out first Demoiselle Cranes, an extremely elegant bird indeed. If we are still looking for any of the key birds of Sogety Plains we can return to the waterhole for another session, alternatively we can make the most of where we are or return to our accommodation for that Eurasian Scops Owl.

Day 5, Sogety Plains- Kegen Plains – Karakol – 25th May 2025

Once again we have time for some pre-breakfast birding around our accomodation to enjoy species like Hume’s Warbler and to see what else might be around; in the past we have seen Black Stork and Goosander here. After breakfast we leave the lodge and continue our journey into some amazing landscapes spending more time on the Sogety Plains if we are still looking for any of the target species there.

We continue towards the border with Kyrgyzstan stopping at some awesome locations that put us in some of the best of Central Asian scenery, looking for birds such as Steppe Grey Shrike, Steppe Eagle, Rock Bunting, Red-billed Chough and checking out upland lakes for Demoiselle Crane and perhaps a few waders such as Temminck’s Stint, Little Ringed Plover as well as breeding Ruddy Shelduck. The wide vistas will be set to the song of Isabelline Wheatears and Eurasian Skylarks while we will scan the skies for raptors such as Golden Eagle, Cinereous Vulture and Black Kite. We have time to investigate a variety of stops along the way and/or revisit any of the previous day’s sites if we think we can find something new there.

Eventually we will cross the border into Kyrgzstan, which will be a country “tick” for most people and reach our comfortable guesthouse with its view of the mountains in time for a drink and then dinner.

Day 6, Chon Ashuu Pass – 26th May 2025

Today we have a very early start and head up into the spectacular scenery of the Altai Mountains where we begin by searching for the highest altitude species that are highly-prized such as the iconic Ibisbill which is present in small numbers alongside wide mountain rivers or on the lake edges. While this is one of the most memorable wading birds in Asia there is also the not so small matter of Himalayan Snowcock which roams the mountainside and can usually be located either by scanning the open habitat or tracking it down from its call.

In these areas above the treeline there are a variety of specialities to enjoy including the colourful Guldenstadt’s Redstart and a more subtle duo; Altai Accentor and Brown Accentor. In these high places both Alpine and Red-billed Choughs can be seen and while the incredible landscape might take much of our attention we will not forget to look for more sombre species including Plain Mountain Finch as well as Brandt’s (Black-headed) Mountain Finch.

Of course, in mountain regions such as these there is always the possibility of large raptors. Species such as Golden Eagle, Black-eared Kite, Lammergeier and Himalayan Griffon are all possible so we should remember to scan the skies for these impressive birds throughout the day.

As the day proceeds we will slowly move down the mountain into different ecological zones where in the low shrubbery lurks the beautiful Himalayan Rubythroat, coming out to feed on insects and to declare its territory. Sulphur-bellied Warbler is another key bird that occupies similar habitat as does the colourful Red-mantled Rosefinch. Water Pipit can be found in good numbers in wet areas at this altitude but one of our main targets is the superb White-browed Tit-Warbler. By no means is this an easy bid to find and it can take some persitence, but when it is seen well it is worth the effort. White-winged Grosbeak is often found in these areas, feeding on seeds on low vegetation; another memorable bird when seen well.

On the edge of the treeline we might come across a familar bird in Coal Tit or the more regional smart little Red-fronted Serin. Mistle Thrush, Eversmann’s Redstart, Black-throated Accentor and Brown Dipper might be found or we may have to wait until the next day.

We have the whole day to search for our target birds but eventually make our way back to our accommodation in Karakol for dinner.

Day 7, Jety Oguz Forest & Barskoon Pass – 27th May 2025

Blue-capped Redstart

Another early start to get us to the nearby forest of Jety Oguz. Mixed pine and deciduous woodland and scattered wooded patches host a wealth of birds including species familiar to European birders like Common Cuckoo, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Spotted Nutcracker, European Treecreeper, Eurasian Blackbird and Mistle Thrush to mention a few but also some Central Asian treats including the smart little Blue-capped Redstart and Black-throated Accentor. Although rare, in this habitat we have a chance of encountering Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker or the regional race of Willow Tit, songarus, which is sometimes given full species status and is known as Songar Tit.

In the mountain streams in this area Blue Whistlingthrush, Brown Dipper and White-throated Dipper can all be found while in low vegetation and small trees Black-throated Accentor is a fairly common bird.

Day 8, Karakol Region – 29th May 2025

Day 9, Karakol – Almaty – 30th May 2025

Retracing our steps back to Almaty we will make stops along the way depending on what we might have missed on the outward journey or simply to take in some of our favourite places again. Perhaps we will still be searching for rare birds like Pallas’s Sandgrouse or make another visit to a waterhole if we are stil looking for Asian Crimson-winged Finch. There are plenty of places to look for a wide variety of species such as Steppe Grey Shrike or to scan for raptors hunting over the wide expanses of wilderness.

Another stop at Kokpek Pass for White-capped Bunting and Hume’s Whitethroat can be scheduled if necessary but as we get close to Almaty there are some nice areas of traditional farmland to stop in, not least for a colony of Pale Sand Martins where birds such as European Bee-eater and Turkestan Shrike are usually common. These areas of traditional plots are like taking a time machine back to a form of agriculture that most western countries abandoned in the middle of the twentieth century with species including Lesser Grey Grey Shrike, Red-headed Bunting, Corn Bunting and many others being abundant as well as the home of a few Long-tailed Shrikes.

By around 5pm we expect to be at out hotel in Almaty with an early morning departure scheduled for the next day.

Day 10, Sorbaluk Lake – Konshengel – Taukum Desert Camp – 31st May 2025

Leaving Almaty in the early morning we head north out of town through wetland remanants and farmland before the landscape becomes more open and drier. Our first port of call is Sorbaluk Lake where one of our main target species is the increasingly rare White-headed Duck. This handsome bird could be lurking in the edges of the main lake itself but more likely we will find it lurking among emergent vegetation in one of the small, marshy satellite pools nearby. In the main lake we will look for flocks of pelicans which should reveal both Great White Pelican and Dalmatian Pelican while groups of Rosy Starlings wheel overhead. We can scan groups of wildfowl which should contain Whooper Swan, Ferruginous Duck and Ruddy Shelduck, to mention but a few, while waders around the lake’s muddy fringes should include Temminck’s Stint, Terek Sandpiper and possibly a few Collared Pratincoles.

Raptors are always a possibility anywhere in this region and migrant Oriental Honey-Buzzards along with Western Marsh Harriers are both likely while White-tailed Eagle can sometimes be spotted somewhere close to the lake.

Continuing our journey a roadside lunch stop often turns up a few interesting species such as Citrine Wagtail, Red-headed Bunting and Calandra Lark all attracted to small pools and puddles. Much closer to our accommodation, at the Yurt Camp, another area where water is available in this arid environment often attracts a variety of species to visit for a drink in the late afternoon. This will be our first opportunity for Black-bellied Sandgrouse and perhaps one of perhaps even Pin-tailed Sandgrouse if we are very lucky. A variety of buntings and larks are possible here and on previous trips Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and Desert Finch have been seen.

By the end of the day we arrive at our Yurt Camp where we have a our first chance of finding Caspian Plover.

Day 11, Taukum Desert – Topar & Zheltorangly Turanga Woodland – 1st June 2025

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Waking up as the sun rises over the semi desert we are camped in we can scan the surrounding habitat from the camp while we have a morning coffee; perhaps we can spot Black-bellied Sandgrouse or Caspian Plover from where we stand. However, we will not hang around too long as we intend to head off into the best habitat for our main target, but one which is becoming ever more scarce: MacQueen’s Bustard. Our other key species in this area will be both Great Sand Plover and Caspian Plover, unless we have already seen them, with birds such as Brown-necked Raven, Long-legged Buzzard and Calandra Lark all highly likely.

Some of the uncommon birds in this area that we have a chance of finding include Desert Finch, Little Bustard, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and Bimaculated Lark but by mid-morning we take a fairly lengthy drive to Zheltoangly Turanga Woodland, making a few stops in the wetland areas of Topar Lakes. The scattered Turanga trees host a few really good birds with White-winged Woodpecker one of the main targets. Even if we have already seen this Central Asian speciality it is likely that we can get extremely good views here. Saxaul Sparrow is another key bird here and one which is surprisingly attractive while Yellow-eyed Pigeon is another range-restricted bird we expect to find at this location. Other possibilities here include Great (Turkestan) Tit and perhaps even Pallid Scops Owl.

On the way back stops at reedy pools should reveal a variety of wildfowl and it gives us a chance of locating Black-headed Penduline Tit before returning to our camp.

Day 12, Taukum Desert – Tamgaly Tas – Almaty – 2nd June 2025

Once again we will wake up early and see the sun rise over our remote camp, to the sound of Isabelline Wheatears and Calandra Larks in song. This morning gives us another chance to search for the rare MacQueen’s Bustard as well as Caspian Plover and any of the rarer larks and sandgrouse that we have not yet seen. In nearby scrub we might be able to locate Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and Syke’s Warbler but our plan for this day will become clearer once we know what we need to focus upon.

On our journey back to Almaty there are a wide variety of places we can stop to look for species not yet seen or to look for any rarer species based on up-to-date local knowledge.

Day 13, Flight to Astana, Birding Near the City – 3rd June 2025

After breakfast we make a short drive to Almaty International Airport where we will take a short flight to the capital city of Kazakhstan: Astana. On arrival we will meet our new driver and head straight out into the countryside near Astana where we can have a picnic lunch and start our birding in the north of the country.

Bluethroat

By visiting nearby farmland we will target finding the territories of the smart Pine Bunting by listening for its song delivered from the tops of small trees. A few regularly-held territories are in this area so we expect to get good views of this attractive bunting. Also in this area we can look for Booted Warbler and (Siberian) Chiffchaff both of which should be singing by this time of the year. Nearby open areas should provide us with sightings of Isabelline Wheatears and perhaps Corn Bunting or Tawny Pipit.

We should also have time to visit some wetlands right on the outskirts of Astana where large numbers of species congregate in the shallows and reedbeds around several lakes. Giant Caspian Terns wheel around in the air while both Steppe Gull and Caspian Gull are likely too. Shorebirds should be well represented here with elegant Pied Avocet easy to pick out alongside Terek Sandpiper, it’s upturned bill and short orange legs making it easy to identify. Familiar species such as Common Shelduck and Northern Shoveler will be swimming in the open water while over the reedbeds we can expect both Western Marsh harrier and Pallid Harrier to be hunting.

In the reedbeds and surrounding scrub there are a wide variety of species to enjoy too, including Paddyfield, Blyth’s and European Reed Warblers; quite confusing and something of an education to separate. Bluethroat can often be seen with Red-backed Shrikes hunting from the tops of bushes and Common Reed Bunting singing from all around. This will essentially be a taster for what will come over the next two days across similar habitats in some wild locations.

Day 14, Korgalzhyn – 4th June 2025

Black Lark - Birding in Kazakhstan

Starting early we head west out of the city of Astana through wet grasslands, reedbeds and agriculture before reaching wide areas of wilderness; steppe grassland with interspersed wetlands in which we can immerse ourselves. Throughout the day there are going to be some real birding highlights with a stop in wet grasslands revealing beautiful Demoiselle Cranes, reeling Common Grasshopper Warblers, Spotted Redshank in breeding plumage among many others but the impressive Black Lark is likely to steal the show.

This large lark will be an exciting sighting but one that will become familiar as the day goes on. The bizarre wing-clapping flight of Black Lark makes this bird even more impressive and one of the more memorable birds of this Kazakhstan birding tour. As impressive as this bird is our attention is likely to be drawn away to also appreciate smaller numbers of White-winged Lark in the same habitat. Western Yellow Wagtail, Tawny Pipit and Common Crane are likely to be in the same area while we should come across decent numbers of Pallid Harrier and Short-eared Owl at any point.

Red-necked Phalarope - Kazakhstan Birding Trip

We will look out for impressive numbers of Red-footed Falcons perched on roadside wires and trees before stopping in the target zone for one of our key species; Sociable Lapwing. This increasingly rare bird can usually be found on agricultural land along our route and we expect to be able to get good views of at least a few of these handsome birds. In the same area we will be able to enjoy the sight and sound of Black-winged Pratincole as it displays over dry areas of breeding habitat, often alongside Sociable Lapwings.

We will have our lunch alongside a small lake set far away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world where a little islet is home to an impressive colony of Pallas’s Gulls. The island isn’t far away so good views are always to be had but as they fly back and forwards many of them pass very close by, giving us superb views of this magnificent gull. Greater Flamingo is always an impressive bird too and we can expect to see good numbers of them in the same location. More Black Larks will be active around us as we have our picnic lunch while large numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes will be feeding on the lake, many of them allowing us to approach to within a few metres; a superb sight. The supporting cast is made up of species such as Whooper Swan, Great Reed Warbler, Black-winged Stilt and superb White-winged Terns in full breeding plumage.

Day 15, Birding Astana Steppe & Wetlands – 5th June 2025

Demoiselle Crane - Kazakhstan Birding Tour

We have another day to explore the wetlands surrounding Astana, making multiple stops at a variety of places where we can see Paddyfield Warbler in detail, colourful Red-necked Grebe, Bluethroat, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Caspian Gulls and spend time looking for any key targets that we may have missed or just simply taking a better look at some of our favourites from the day before.

We can take time to look for Slender-billed Gull, enjoy Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew Sandpiper in breeding plumage or try to tease out Savi’s Warbler from its reedbed songpost or attempt to see a singing Common Quail. One of the beauties of this area is just the sheer abundance of birds and it is great to enjoy many sightings of species in full breeding activity and for those who are photographers there are likely to be plenty of good opportunties. We will use this day to ensure that we have had the views we wanted of the key birds as well as add some more widespread birds to our trip list, perhaps Eurasian Penduline Tit, small numbers of breeding Fieldfare or if we are very lucky, perhaps Moustached Warbler. We will make the most of the day, the habitats and the birds before heading back to Astana.

Day 16, Departure from Astana – 6th June 2025

Transfer to Astana International Airport at a time convenient for the onward flights of all participants to conclude this memorable Central Asia birding tour.

Day 1, Arrival in Tashkent – 16th May 2025

Arrival at Bukhara airport and short transfer to our accommodation in this historic city. We will have dinner in a restaurant in the historic area and discuss the plan for the next day.

Day 2, Tashkent to Chimgan – 17th May

lllll

Day 3, Chimgan to Samarkand – 18th May

kkkkk

Day 4, Aman Kutan – 19th May

hhhh

Day 5, Samarkand to Bukhara – 20th May

jjjj

Day 6, Kyzylkum Desert – 21st 2025

uuuuu

Day 7, Jeyran Ecocentre – 22nd May 2025

Leaving the city in the early morning a drive of just over an hour will ensure we arrive at the Jeyran Ecocentre very shortly after first light. This is an area of wetlands, farmlands, pools and riverside vegetation that provides a home to a wide variety of birds given the arid nature of the wider environment here. Close to the headquarters we have a good chance to see Menetries Warbler singing from tussocky vegetation in the early morning

Day 8, Transfer to Almaty – 23rd May 2025

Turkestan Ground Jay

The following is a list of what we consider key bird species on this Kazakhstan birding tour that we have a good chance of seeing based on previous experience. It is not an exhaustive list of birds that we will look for but they are many of the highlights based on range restriction or just how memorable they are. We expect to see a very high proportion of these target birds but cannot guarantee that we can find all of them; conditions and bird abundance change from year to year affecting which birds are present.

Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan (Main Tour)

  • Himalayan Snowcock – Tetraogallus himalayensis
  • White-headed Duck – Oxyura leucocephala
  • Greater Flamingo – Phoenicopterus roseus
  • Great White Pelican – Pelecanus onocrotalus
  • Dalmatian Pelican – Pelecanus crispus
  • Lesser Kestrel – Falco naumanni
  • Red-footed Falcon – Falco vespertinus
  • Lammergeier – Gypaetus barbatus
  • Himalayan Griffon – Gyps himalayensis
  • Long-legged Buzzard – Buteo rufinus
  • Steppe Eagle – Aquila nipalensis
  • MacQueen’s Bustard – Chlamydotis macqueenii
  • Demoiselle Crane – Grus virgo
  • Corncrake – Crex crex
  • Ibisbill – Ibidorhyncha struthersii
  • Sociable Lapwing – Vanellus gregarius
  • Greater Sand Plover – Charadrius leschenaultii
  • Caspian Plover – Charadrius asiaticus
  • Red-necked Phalarope – Phalaropus lobatus
  • Black-winged Pratincole – Glareola nordmanni
  • Caspian Gull – Larus cachinnans
  • Pallas’s Gull – Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
  • White-winged Tern – Chlidonias leucopterus
  • Black-bellied Sandgrouse – Pterocles orientalis
  • Pallas’s Sandgrouse – Syrrhaptes paradoxus
  • Yellow-eyed (Eversmann’s) Pigeon – Columba eversmanni
  • Eurasian Scops Owl – Otus scops
  • European Roller – Coracias garrulous
  • European Bee-eater – Merops apiaster
  • White-winged Woodpecker – Dendrocopos leucopterus
  • Turkestan Shrike – Lanius phoenicuroides
  • Lesser Grey Shrike – Lanius minor
  • Steppe Grey Shrike – Lanius excubitor pallidirostris
  • Indian Golden Oriole – Oriolus kundoo
  • Turkestan Tit – Parus major turkestanicus

  • Azure Tit – Cyanistes cyanus
  • White-crowned Penduline Tit – Remiz coronatus
  • Calandra Lark – Melanocorypha calandra
  • White-winged Lark – Melanocorypha leucoptera
  • Black Lark – Melanocorypha yeltoniensis
  • Turkestan Short-toed Lark – Alaudala heinei
  • Syke’s Warbler – Iduna rama
  • Sulphur-bellied Warbler – Phylloscopus griseolus
  • Asian Desert Warbler – Sylvia nana
  • White-browed Tit-Warbler – Leptopoecile sophiae
  • Rosy Starling – Pastor roseus
  • Rufous Scrub Robin – Cercotrichas galactotes
  • Himalayan Rubythroat – Calliope pectoralis
  • Blue-capped Redstart – Phoenicurus caeruleocephala
  • Eversmann’s Redstart – Phoenicurus erythronotus
  • Guldenstadt’s Redstart – Phoenicurus erythrogastrus
  • Desert Wheatear – Oenanthe deserti
  • Pied Wheatear – Oenanthe pleschanka
  • Saxaul Sparrow – Passer ammodendri
  • Brown Accentor – Prunella fulvescens
  • Black-throated Accentor – Prunella atrogularis
  • Altai Accentor – Prunella himalayana
  • “Eastern” Goldfinch – Carduelis carduelis parapanisi
  • Red-fronted Serin – Serinus pusillus
  • Plain Mountain Finch – Leucosticte nemoricola
  • Asian Crimson-winged Finch – Rhodopechys sanguineus
  • Mongolian Finch – Bucanetes mongolicus
  • Desert Finch – Rhodospiza obsoleta
  • Red-mantled Rosefinch – Carpodacus rhodochlamys
  • White-winged Grosbeak – Mycerobas carnipes
  • Pine Bunting – Emberiza leucocephalus
  • White-capped Bunting – Emberiza stewarti
  • Grey-necked Bunting – Emberiza buchanani
  • Red-headed Bunting – Emberiza bruniceps

Uzbekistan Pre Trip Extension

  • Marbled Duck – Marmaronetta angustirostris
  • White Stork – Ciconia ciconia
  • Pygmy Cormorant – Phalacrocorax pygmeus
  • Lammergeier – Gypaetus barbatus
  • Himalayan Griffon – Gyps himalayensis
  • Shikra – Accipiter badius
  • White-tailed Lapwing – Vanellus leucurus
  • Black-bellied Sandgrouse – Pterocles orientalis
  • Alpine Swift – Tachymarptis melba
  • Blue-cheeked Bee-eater – Merops persicus
  • White-winged Woodpecker – Dendrocopos leucopterus
  • Turkestan Ground Jay – Podoces panderi
  • Indian Golden Oriole – Oriolus kundoo
  • Turkestan Tit – Parus major turkestanicus
  • Azure Tit – Cyanistes cyanus flavipectus
  • Rufous-naped Tit – Periparus rufonuchalis
  • White-crowned Penduline Tit – Remiz coronatus
  • Hume’s Lark – Calandrella acutirostris
  • Streaked Scrub Warbler – Scotocerca inquieta
  • Syke’s Warbler – Iduna rama
  • Eastern Olivaceous Warbler – Iduna pallida
  • Upcher’s Warbler – Hippolais languida
  • Menetries’s Warbler – Sylvia mystacea
  • Eastern Rock Nuthatch – Sitta tephronota
  • Rufous Scrub Robin – Cercotrichas galactotes
  • White-throated Robin – Irania gutturalis
  • Pied Bushchat – Saxicola caprata
  • Pied Wheatear – Oenanthe pleschanka
  • Finsch’s Wheatear – Oenanthe finschii
  • Desert Finch – Rhodospiza obsoleta
  • White-capped Bunting – Emberiza stewarti

The map below shows the main locations visited on our route on this Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan birding tour. There are quite a number of short stops as we travel along our route and a few side trips from these main birding hotspots.

Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Birding Tour Map

1. Almaty International Airport

5. Kegen Pass & Plains

9. Zeltorangly Woodland

2. Kaskelen Valley

6. Karakol High Mountain Sites

10. Nur Sultan International Airport

3. Kokpek Pass

7. Lake Sorbulak

11. Korgalzhyn National Park

4. Sogety Plains & Charyn Canyon

8. Taukum Semi-desert Yurt Camp

The following is a selection of bird photos taken on previous tours.

All above photographs copyright Nick Upton/Calidris Birding Tours.


Tour Details

Tour Cost: £TBA

Single Supplement: £500

Included in the tour cost; All transport including airport transfers, accommodation (based on two people sharing a room), Almaty-Nur Sultan domestic flight, all meals, water, national park entry fees and permits, English-speaking birding guide, translator and Calidris Birding Tours guide.

Not included in the tour cost; International flights,  travel insurance, visa (most nationalities get visa-free entry for 30 days), alcoholic & soft drinks, tips, hotel mini bar, phone calls, laundry and any other items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: A variety of types of accommodation is used on this tour ranging from comfortable hotels to a very basic hunting lodge and a yurt camp. 

Physical effort: This Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan birding tour does not require any great physical effort or long walks. However, particpants do need to be fit enough to  walk on rough ground and make walks of several hundred metres at altitudes over 2000 metres.  Any able-bodied person with decent mobility and moderate fitness levels will be able to take part in this tour. Most birding is done in open country with easy walking. Like any birding tour there will be some long days in the field and a few moderately long journeys.

Weather: The timing of this trip is well into spring and we expect mostly pleasant, temperate conditions, with hot midday temperatures in the semi-desert and steppe. However, a variety of weather conditions should be prepared for with cold weather and even perhaps snow flurries in the high mountains

Food:  A variety of styles of food will be encountered on this trip. Evening meals often consist of grilled meat along with a variety of vegetable side dishes while lunches are frequently taken in the field with a variety of locally-made bread, meats, cheeses, salad vegetables and suchlike. Also we encounter more tradional Central Asian dishes that are rice-based as well as meatballs, dumplings and a wide variety of side dishes. Although the local diet is meat-based arranging vegetarian food is not a problem at all, just let us know in advance of this or any other food requirement/allergies.

Ask a question about this tour
Book this tour

Tour Leaders

Nick Upton - Bird Tour Leader

Nick Upton

Nick Upton has been birding since the age of seven and leading birding tours full-time since 2007. After travelling extensively in Asia he settled in Thailand in 1997, teaching English and science while establishing thaibirding.com. With a BSc (Hons) Wildlife & Countryside Conservation he is well placed to understand the ecology of birds as well as the conservation issues that affect them.

Nick is co-founder/director of Calidris Birding Tours.


While we make every effort to adhere to the advertised itinerary for this Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan birding tour, we reserve the right to make changes in the case of unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our control. These can include problems with accessibility, national park closures, unseasonal weather events or any other reason that may demand a change of itinerary.


Recommended Field Guide

Birds of Central Asia

Birds of Central Asia

Helm Bird Guides have produced many high-quality and easy-to-use field guides over the years and Birds of Central Asia is another of these that we use on our tours. This field guide contains all of the species we are likely to see on this bird watching tour to Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan and is small enough to be carried into the field in a large pocket.

The checklist that Calidris Birding Tours will issue for this trip will use IOC taxonomy with the additional reference to the taxonomy used within this field guide so that it is relevant to both. We recommend obtaining a copy of Birds of Central Asia when joining our birding tours to this region as pre-trip reading and for use on tour.

Read our full review of the book here – Birds of Central Asia.


Related Birding Links

Terms and conditions: Please read full Calidris Birding Tours terms and conditions which apply to this Central Asia Birding Tour.