We are glad to offer a unique bird-watching tour in one of the most bio-diverse regions on Kazakhstan – Altai. It is praised to be a paradise for nature and animal fans. The tour is designed for experienced bird-watchers who are seeking to find rare species that are not to be seen anywhere else in Kazakhstan. It is also suitable for students and academics.
The tour program is an example. It can be andjusted and extended if you want to take longer time for bird-watching.
Type of the route – bird watching and exploration
Average time on the route – 5-6 hours a day
Length of the route – 315 km
Length of the hike – 15 km
Height difference – up to 1500 m
Height above the sea level – 300 m -1500 m -1800 m
Recommended physical preparation – medium
• 8.00 Transfer Ust-Kamenogorsk – Ridder – Gray Meadow. 145 km by car – about 3 hours on the road
Early in the morning we leave Ust-Kamenogorsk and go to Ridder. The way is quite long (110 km) but really exciting. Make sure you do not fall asleep on the way and miss a wonderful farmer’s market in Cheremshanka village. There you will be offered true taiga gifts, such as salted mushrooms, dried herbs, jam from forest berries, and medical tincture from fir cones. Those are the best souvenirs from the area.
• 10.00 We arrive in Ridder, a small town with an unusual European name lost in the mountains of Kazakhstan Altai
• 11.00 As soon as we leave Ridder, the good road disappears and becomes difficult to go through. In an hour or so, we arrive at a picturesque spot called Gray Meadow located at the foot of the Ivanovskiy Ridge. Now it is time to meet our horses, pack our belongings, adjust the saddles, and check all the equipment
• 12.00 Lunch made from farm products by the hosts of the settlement
• 13.00 Starting the route. 5-km hiking, height difference: 800m – 1500m
• During the hike, we will get acquainted with the birds of the steppe mixed-grass meadow and climb to the mountain-forest belt of the Ivanovskiy Ridge. The biotope unites floodplain meadow and meadow-steppe grass formations with a rare inclusion of separate groups of trees and shrubs.
• The most common are Koeleria altaica, Bromus inermis, Avenastrum pubescens, Phleum phleoides. Grassland: Carex pediformis, Poligonum bistorta, Taraxacum officinalis, Galium verum, Ligularia glauca, Geranium pratense, Potentilla chrisantha, Sanguisorba officinalis.
• We will follow the route in conditions of dark coniferous taiga, and stop among cedar-larch woodlands – the top border of wood distribution. The ascent will be unhurried so that nothing prevents us from watching the birds of the mountain-forest belt. Birds are fearful and do not like noise. So please keep silence!
• Here, in the conditions of steppe meadow grass, it is possible to observe birds typical for the biotope:
Tree pipit (Anthus trivialis),
Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea),
Masked wagtail (Motacilla personata),
Common grasshopper warbler (Locustella naevia),
Common stonechat (Saxicola torquata).
In transitional forest-meadow plant complexes of small-leaved-coniferous, you can hear the voices of birds and in the crowns of trees you can see such birds as
Common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs),
Grey-crowned goldfinch (Carduelis caniceps),
Pine bunting (Emberiza leucocephala),
Common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita),
Greenish warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides),
Spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa striata).
We may also see
Black kite (Milvus migrans),
Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus),
Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) flying over the meadow-steppe biotopes.
Quite rarely in the floodplain of the river we might see
Long-tailed rosefinch (Uragus sibiricus).
• Crossing the dark coniferous forest, we get acquainted with the biotope of forest inhabitants: Dark coniferous forest complex is represented by woody species of plants, such as Siberian spruce (Picea abovata), Siberian fir (Abies sibirica), Aiberian pine (Pinus sibirica). The common ones among shribs are: Siberian mountain ash (Sorbus sibirica), Siberian peashrub (Caragana arboresces), Lonicera altaicum; the interesting ones among grasses: Candle larkspur (Delphinium elatum), Euphorbia pilosa, Paeonia anomala, Giant fescue (Festuca giganteae), European beech (F. Silvatica), Brachypodium sillvaticum, Alfriedia cennua.
• Among the commonly encountered forest birds, we can see or hear rare Siberian-Altai species:
Black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius),
Red-flanked bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus),
Grey-headed chickadee (Parus cinctus),
Pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator),
Baikal bullfinch (Pyrrhula cineracea)
Pallas’s rosefinch (Carpodacus roseus)
• We pitch our tents in cedar-larch woodlands among subalpine meadows represented by Siberian larch (Larix sibirica) and Siberian pine (Pinus sibirica) with fragments of alpine shrubs and subalpine tall grass. Typical representatives of the avifauna of the upper boundary of the forest and the subalpine unite the birds of the upper forest and low-mountainous biotopes. One can rarely see here:
Pin-tailed snipe (Gallinago stenura),
Solitary snipe (Gallinago solitaria),
Pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator).
• On the shore of a mountain stream we will pitch the tents (tents and our belongings will be delivered to the proper place on the horses). We will not have to carry weights on ourselves. An experienced instructor will teach us how to pitch a tent and put out a fire in the forest. While our guide is laying the table and preparing dinner, we will have time to watch the birds under the rays of the setting sun. Campfire dinner. Night in a tent. Listening to the night sounds of birds.
• At dawn, we quietly get out of our tents and begin the morning observation of the birds. Campfire breakfast will fill us with the energy for the day ahead. 5-km hiking, height difference: 1500m – 1800m – 1500m
• Today we will meet with the inhabitants of the highland belts:
Highland belts are represented by tundra, alpine meadows and a nival belt. Shrub formations combine the species, such as Glandular birch (Betula rotundifolia), Net-leaved willow (Salix reticulata), S.glauca, dwarf black juniper (Jniperus pseudosabina).
• The composition of alpine meadows includes Siberian columbine (Aquilegia glandulosa), Altai blue (Dracocephalum grandiflorum), Sweetvetch (Hedisarum theinum), Siberian Globe Flower (Trollius altaicus), the Asian globeflower (T. Asiaticus), Anemone crinita, Ranunculus grandifolius, Rhodiola rosea.
• Among birds:
Dusky warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus),
Water pipit (Anthus spinoletta),
Altai accentor (Prunella himalayana),
Eurasian dotterel (Charadrius morinellus),
Willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus),
Rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus),
Siberian rubythroat (Luscinia calliope) – more rarely
Pallas’s grasshopper warbler (Locustella certhiola);
in the air we can see such rare birds as the
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos),
Saker falcon (Falco cherrug),
Black stork (Ciconia nigra).
• Lunch from field supplies (bread and canned food) with some tea made on gas burner. We will return to our campsite by the evening where we’ll eat a hot dinner made on the campfire. Warm gatherings by the campfire. Night at the campsite.
• Bird watching in the morning dawn. Campfire breakfast. 5-km hiking, height difference: 1500m – 800m
Without any hurry, we return to the settlement Grey Meadow. On the way make sure you look around, listen, and take pictures
Lunch at the settlement made from natural farm products.
• 16.00 Transfer Grey Meadow – Ridder – Ust-Kamenogorsk. 145km by car – about 3 hours on the road.
Tour Price per person:
- 2 pax – 530$
- 3 pax – 420$
- 4 pax – 345$
- 5 pax – 305$
- 6 pax – 285$
- 7 pax – 265$
- 8 pax – 255$
- 9 pax – 235$
- 10 pax – 220$
- Individual transfer Ust-Kamenogorsk – Ridder – Ust-Kamenogorsk
- Individual transfer Ridder – Grey meadow – Ridder
- Accommodation in tents
- Meals according to the program (FB)
- Let us know if you have any food preferences (like being a vegetarian) or are allergic to certain ingredients. We will certainly take this fact into account when compiling the menu.
- Light snacks during the hike – dried fruits and nuts (200g per person a day)
- Drinking bottled water – 1.5 liters a day
Medical insurance (if required)
- Cost of the tour may vary depending on the number of tourists;
- The time of departure from Ust-Kamenogorsk \ arrival in Ust-Kamenogorsk is indicative and can not be considered a mandatory item of the program;
- The time and procedure for the provision of tourist services declared in the program may vary with the preservation of their volume and quality.
- The company reserves the right to change the itinerary, as well as the time of tourists staying on the route under adverse weather conditions, in order to ensure the safety of tourists.
Necessary things to take:
Backpack (+50 kg)
Warm windproof clothes
Extra articles of clothing
First Aid Kit
Means of Personal Hygiene
Hiking dish set (bowls, mugs, spoons)
Other personal items that may be required during a trip