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Kazakhstan - The Tulip Tour

Spend the spring exploring tulips in their natural environment and in their place of biodiversity.

Tulipa greigi Regel
Tulipa greigi Regel, image by Alexander Petrov

The tulip has been cultivated by the Turks for over 3000 years. Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, the Ambassador of Holly Roman Empire to Constantinople (Istanbul), had seen the beautiful flower called the tulip, after the Turkish word for turban, growing in the palace gardens. In 1554 he sent tulip bulbs and seeds to Vienna botanist Charles de l'Ecluse (Carolus Clusius).  Clusius studied tulips and experimented with hybridization. In 1593 he moved to Leiden where he headed the recently founded Hortus Botanicus, the oldest botanical garden of Europe. Hence the plant was introduced in the 16th century in Western Europe and in the Netherlands and this was the beginning of the amazing bulb fields we see today. However, the wild tulips did not originate from Turkey but from Central Asia which still remains the center of the tulip biodiversity and that where we are organizing the IBEX Tour in spring 2013.

This spring stroll through an extraordinary display of colorful tulip fields in the mountains of Southern Kazakhstan. Red, orange or yellow goblets of the magnificent Greig's tulip (Tulipa greigi Regel) immediately grasp your attention. Graceful water-lily flowers of Tulipa kaufmanniana Regeldecorate the lower slopes and bands of multi-colored Tulipa ostrowskiana Regel and Tulipa kolpakowskiana Regel shine in the crystal clear air of the Tien-Shan Mountains. You will see more than a dozen tulip species flowering. Tulips of Southern Kazakhstan are truly one of the nature’s miracles. Just a few years ago a new species of tulip was discovered in these mountains. It is estimated that up to 75% of the famous Dutch tulip varieties come from just two Central Asia species Tulipa greigii and Tulipa kaufmanniana.

Tulipa ostrowskiana Regel
Tulipa ostrowskiana Regel,
Photo by Alexander Petrov

In addition to tulips, that comprise only part of colorful spring in Kazakhstan, you will find blooming Korolkowia sewerzowi Regel and vibrant colors of Rhinopetalum stenantherum Regel flowers. On the slopes, still partially covered by snow, you will admire the clearly visible star-shaped white flowers of Crocus alatavicus Regel & Semenow and the beautiful multi-color flowers of Iridodictyum kolpakowskianum (Regel) Rodion.

You  may see dozens of Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica Meyer). With some luck you should be able to watch brown bears (Ursus arctos L.) feeding on the fresh green growth near the snowline. You will never forget the sound of numerous flocks of Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo L.) passing over your head on their migration to North.

kazakhstan Tulip tour itineraryKazakhstan Tulip tour mapLodging during tulip tour in kazakhstanTour to Ecuador

Cost per person, double occupancy: $3,375
Number of participants: 10
Tour Dates: April 13 -25, 2013
Duration: 13 days
Overnight stays:  Bed & breakfast, hotels
Itinerary: Almaty, Kapchagai, Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve, Kuyk Pass, Merke Gorge, Korday Pass, Shu,  Syugaty Valley, Ketmen Mountains, Kegen Pass, . Kaskelen Gorge, Zailiyskii Alatau,  Kaskelen Gorge, Almaty (detailed tulip tour itinerary)

Activities or Transportation details

Land Travel - You will travel by comfortable private car.  Pedestrian excursions will be an easy walk in the Aksu-Zhabagly reserve, Karatau Mountains and Northern Tien-Shan for about 1 – 2 miles daily.

Climate - the spring weather in Southern Kazakhstan may be quite capricious. Usually spring in Kazakhstan is very nice, sunny and warm. However, cold weather and even snow is possible in the mountains.

Tour Leader - Anna Ivaschenko and Vladimir Kolbintsev

Your tour guides will be experts in Tulips and nature of Kazakhstan - Anna Ivaschenko, Vladimir Kolbintsev.

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