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Anatolian Circuit: Eastern Turkey – run by Vira Natura for the AGS

A flower-filled journey across Anatolia that features many of Turkey's loveliest fritillary and iris species as well as a plethora of other spring bulbs, some outstanding steppe flora and fine alpines. It traverses a large slice of eastern Turkey, crossing many passes and exploring a wide variety of habitats from alpine turf to steppe, water meadows and woodlands, as well as a sprinkling of cultural sites on the way.
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Day 1     To Malatya

On arrival we will transfer to our hotel in the city.

Day 2     Dogansehir

A nearby limestone ridge has a thriving population of Fritillaria aurea growing amidst rocky outcrops plastered in Aubrieta canescens. Around snow patches we can expect to find Corydalis wendelboi. Time permitting a second pass has localised Asphodeline tenuior. Overnight Malatya.

Day 3     Kubbe Pass

A rather special place in the anti-Taurus where the beautiful Iris peshmenii is endemic. Alongside we can see Tulipa julia, Fritillaria pinardii and if the season is right the second endemic bulb found on this pass; Bellevalia chrisii. We’ll continue south to the iconic sculptures at Nemrut Dagi, also a good location for lovely Iris sari. Overnight Malatya.

Day 4     To Tunceli

The drive to Tunnel take us through steppe areas where we should see good stands of the remarkable Tchihatchewia isatidea. The Kurucu Pass has a large population of Paeonia mascula, but much will depend on the season as to whether they are flowering. Reaching Tunceli there will be some exploration of the Munzur Valley. Overnight Tunceli.

Day 5     Ovacik

The mountain ridges of the Munzur Dagi have a large late-flowering population of Fritillaria imperialis and we will try for this iconic species today. Overnight Tunceli.

Day 6     To Erzincan

The journey to Erzincan will stop for various riverside orchid populations with Ophrys cilicica, Orchis simia and Cephalanthera longifolia amongst others. Passes in between will have scillas and muscaris and just beyond Erzincan we will see the superb Muscari massayanum on stony slopes with Eremostachys molucceloides and delicate Linaria corrifolia. The geology of the Anatolian Diagonal is complex and just beyond the city a limestone band has a strong colony of Saxifraga kotschyi the tight cushions studded with golden flower clusters near slopes with plenty of dusty-mauve Pulsatilla albana. Overnight Erzincan.

Day 7    Kop Dagi

A brief detour to the west will find the pretty mounds of Hesperis brevicaulis and the hefty clubs of Arnebia densiflora growing in stark black rock steppe. we’ll then head east seeing Tulipa julia, Tchihatchewia isatidea and other steppe plants before reaching an excellent location for Fritillaria alburyana. Crocus biflorus subsp. taurica will be closer to snow patches. Overnight Erzurum.

Day 8     Palandoken

A fabulous mountain area where snow permitting we’ll encounter plenty more Fritillaria alburyana as well as F. caucasica, deep violet Iris reticulata, mounds of Draba rosularis, Gentiana verna subsp. pontica, Thlaspi sintinesii, Corydalis oppositifolia and Tulipa julia. On the other side of the city water meadows should be brimming with sky blue Bellevalis forniculata. Overnight Erzurum.

Day 9     Sarikamis

Driving east across the vast steppe we’ll find out first Iris iberica subsp. elegantissima waving its’ outrageous white standards in the breeze. The road loops north to areas of pine with thriving populations of that stunner Fritillaria michailowskyi growing with pale yellow Dactylorhiza romana. Overnight Kars.

Day 10     Cam Pass

A day trip to this broad and grassy pass, which harbours superb drifts of Fritillaria latifolia together with both Corydalis nariniana and C. angustifolia and the elegant reflexed ice-blue flowers of Scilla rosenii. On good years Scilla sibirica subsp. armena creates vast blue carpets across the slopes broken by golden rivers of Caltha polypetala. Time permitting we will visit the extensive ruins of Ani in the afternoon. Overnight Kars.

Day 11     To Van via Tendurek Dagi

A long traverse of steppe begins along the Armenian border where Iris iberica becomes increasingly common. Amongst it grows Bellevalia sarmatica. The immense bulk of Agri Dagi (Mount Ararat) grows ever larger and our route takes us past this and over the flanks of another huge shield volcano; Tendurek Dagi and the lava flows have colonies of Fritillaria pinardii, F. assyriaca. F. caucasica and Bellavalia pycnantha, whilst the rocky slopes have spreading cushions of Androsace villosa and Iris caucasica. Yellow forms of Tulipa julia are sometimes found here too. Farther in and the water falls of Muradiye are renowned for their Iris iberica and the brilliant scarlet Phelypaea tournefortii. A final delight will be Iris barnumiae shortly before we reach Van. Overnight Van.

Day 12     Karabel Pass

A bulb rich pass where snowmelt will be crowded with Puschknia scillioides, Colchicum kurdicum, Ranunculus kotschyi, Fritillaria minuta and lovely yellow bells of F. minima. Snow permitting we’ll visit a natural rock garden with Fritillaria kurdica and Tulipa humilis too. With a bit of luck we’ll find Tulipa koyunci in flower too. The steppe should have the first flamboyant Iris paradoxa in flower too. Overnight Van.

Day 13     To Tatvan

The beautifully restored Georgian church on Akdamar Island is a short ferry ride across the lake. After lunch we’ll drive towards Tatvan stopping for various plants on the way. If there is time we’ll drive up to see the crater lake in Nemrut Dagi. Overnight Tatvan.

Day 14     Sason

A day trip to this remote area which has a large population of Iris gatesii. To reach them requires a climb of up to 800 metres. This is one of the finest of all oncocyclus irises. Other plants include Gentiana olivieri and Onosma bracteatum. Overnight Diyarbakir.

Day 15     Flights from Diyarbakir

There are several departures a day to Istanbul for connections to the UK, etc.

To book contact us below