Price: Subject to Size of Party

Trip Length: 9 Days

Trip Origin: Almaty

Dates: March – November

Group: Individuals + Groups

Difficulty: All Ages

Central Asia Bird Watching Tour

The center of bird watching, Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve is the oldest and best-known reserve in Central Asia. It was founded in 1926 and has since been expanded to cover over 132.6 thousand hectares (327,662 acres). It is located along Talassky Ala Tau, Ugram and Maydantal ridges in the western part of the Tian Shan Mountain range near Shymkent.

The name of the reserve combines the names of two of its biggest rivers  – Aksu and Zhabagly. The reserve offers a variety flora and fauna and provides scientists with a unique opportunity to study the reserve in it’s natural state. Visitors may observe the primitive beauty and variety of landscapes of the western Tian Shan

  • Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve – The center of bird watching
  • Oldest and best known reserve in Central Asia
  • Covers over 327,600 acres
  • Located in southern Kazakhstan

Days 1–2

Arrive & tour Almaty

Day 1 – Arrival in Almaty with meeting at the airport. Transfer to the hotel and rest overnight.

Day 2 – Full day sightseeing Almaty. We’ll visit the park of the 28th Panfilov Guards, named in honor of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War, Zenkov Cathedral, a wooden structure built without a nail, the Green Market, the old central market called “Green Bazaar” where the first greens are traded, and Republic Square, the main square in Almaty and the largest and most beautiful park in the city with its magnificent ensemble of modern architecture, location, holiday parades, festivals, sporting events, and the State Museum.

We’ll also Kok-Tobe, located on a hilltop-viewing platform that provides a beautiful panorama of the city, as well as the endless steppe stretching to the horizon. We’ll then visit Medeo, located in the mountains 25 km (16 mi) from Almaty, which is home to the speed ice skating rink that serves as the venue for many cultural events including the International Folk Music Festival. Above Medeo is a three level dam, built to protect Almaty from mudslides. A local custom is climbing the 842 step concrete staircase up the face of the dam.

Transfer to railway station with travel 15 hours overnight to Aksu-Zhabagly.

  • Arrive in Almaty and rest
  • Tour city sites
  • Travel overnight to Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve

Days 3–4

Rest & bird watching

Day 3 – Arrival at the railway station Tulkubas. Meeting and transfer to guesthouse. rest. Half day excursion, with picnic, to Berkar’s Natural Boundary including Bilikol Lake and Taskol Lake.

Day 4 – Excursion, with picnic, to Koksay Natural Boundary and Ters-Ashibulaksky Reservoir, at 100 m (3,281 ft) above sea level. We’ll also visit the Koksay River Canyon, a picturesque canyon with steep walls of the Karatau Mountains. The region of the reservoir is characterized by a large number of windy days.

  • Arrive to Aksy-Zhabagly area and rest
  • Bird watching in Berkar’s Natural Boundary
  • Bird watching Koksay Natural Boundary

Days 5–6

Bird watching

Day 5 – Excursion to Lake Chushkakol, the biggest lake in the Nurinsky area with an area of 320 square kilometers. This large lake offers dense thickets of cane, which are home to wild pigs, and give the lake the name “Kabanye Lake”.

Day 6 – Walk, with picnic, to Kshi-Kaida Natural Boundary, about 6 km (4 mi) away. The road is pleasant and not difficult.

  • Bird watching at Lake Chushkakol
  • Bird watching in Kshi-Kaida Natural Boundary

Days 7–9

Bird watching & travel

Day 7 – Excursion, with picnic, to Aksu Canyon, one of the most picturesque places of the reserve. The rocks, which are warmed by the sun and the mountain river providing humidity, create a micro-climate of a natural greenhouse in the canyon. Return to the guesthouse and dinner, then transfer to railway station for a 15 hour train ride back to Almaty.

Day 8 – Arrive in Almaty. Meeting at railway station and transfer to hotel. Free day

Day 9 – Transfer to airport for departure flight.

  • Bird watching in Aksu Canyon
  • Train ride back to Almaty
  • Depart Almaty


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