With approximately 8,000 species of plants, 197 species of mammals, and 535 species of birds Iran is one of the most important countries in the Middle East and Western Asia for conservation of biological diversity and remarkably scenic landscapes.
The focus will be on such highly restricted-range species as Caspian Tit, Black-headed Penduline Tit, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Western Marsh Harrier, Common Moorhen, Common Kingfisher, and Moustached, Eurasian (or European) Reed and Great Reed Warblers.
Also high altitude species such as Caspian Snowcock, Radde’s Accentor, Red-tailed Wheatear , Plain Leaf Warbler, Red-fronted Serin, Crimson-winged Finch, Grey-necked Bunting and, with a lot of luck, White-winged Grosbeak.
Day 1 – Tehran, Kelardasht
- Arrival at IKA International Airport, meet and greet, starting our journey north by driving up the dry and barren south-facing slopes of Alburz almost to the snow-line and then down through the luxuriant forests on the northern slopes to the densely populated, rice-growing areas along the shores of the Caspian (which has a surface 26m or 85ft below sea-level!).
Day 2 – Kelardasht
- During our first full day at the Caspian we will visit patches of forest and scrubby secondary growth, as well as areas of farmland with small fields and hedgerows, somewhat reminiscent of the English countryside. The star attraction here is the Caspian (or Hyrcanian) Tit, a split from Sombre Tit that is restricted to the Caspian forest zone stretching from eastern Azerbaijan to north-eastern Iran. It is by no means common, and so we may have to spend some time searching for it in the forest.
Day 3 – Kelardasht
- On our second full day we will head up into the snow-capped peaks of the Alburz Mountains in search of some of the high-altitude species. Prime targets include Caspian Snowcock, Radde’s Accentor, and other high altitude species.
Day 3 – Kelardasht, Shahrud
- Today we head eastwards to Shahrud where we stay overnight . Along the way we will visit some reed-fringed pools at the edge of the Caspian Sea where the restricted-range Black-headed Penduline Tit can usually be found, along with Little Grebe, Little Bittern,and Western Marsh Harrier.
Day 4 – Touran National Park
- Iran’s largest reserve, Touran Wildlife Refuge and Biosphere Reserve, lies at the north-eastern edge of the great Dasht-e-Kavir desert, about 150km southeast of Shahrud. Established in 1973 and covering 18,000 square kilometres, this vast reserve protects a wide range of semi-desert and desert habitats such as Artemisia steppe and bushy Zygophyllum steppe,. We will have the best part of two full days to explore this wonderful area, spending one night in Delbar.
Day 5 – Delbar, Shahrud
- We continue our observations through the sparsely vegetated sand dunes and bare stony plains in Turan national Park for another full day, heading back to Shahrud, for overnight saty at the hotel.
Day 6 – Shahrud, Parvar
- Today we will drive westwards along the northern edge of the Dasht-e-Kavir towards Parvar, checking along the route for likes of Red-headed Bunting and other migrants.
Day 7 – Shahrud, Parvar
- Descending to Tehran and if we still need to look for any species of the Alburz Mountains there will still be time for a detour. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8 – Departure
- Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.