The unique Ibisbill by Roger Wyatt.
The lists below are for the peak of the northern spring (mid-May to early June)
White-headed Duck, Himalayan Snowcock, Asian Houbara (Macqueen’s) Bustard, Demoiselle Crane, Caspian Plover, Sociable Lapwing, Ibisbill, Black-winged Pratincole, Great Black-headed (Pallas's) Gull, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Yellow-eyed Pigeon, White-winged Woodpecker, Black and White-winged Larks, Azure (including 'Yellow-breasted'), Rufous-naped, Turkestan (Great) and Willow (Songar) Tits, White-browed Tit-warbler, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Himalayan Rubythroat, Blue-capped, Eversmann’s (Rufous-backed) and White-winged (Güldenstädt’s) Redstarts, Altai and Black-throated Accentors, Grey-necked, Pine and White-capped Buntings, Mongolian Finch, Red-mantled Rosefinch, White-winged Grosbeak and Saxaul Sparrow. Also a chance of Saker Falcon, Brown Accentor and Eurasian Crimson-winged Finch.
Chukar, Whooper Swan, Ruddy Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Red-necked Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian and Great White Pelicans, Himalayan Griffon, Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers, Golden, Short-toed and White-tailed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Shikra, Red-footed Falcon, Black-winged Stilt and other shorebirds including summer-plumaged passage migrants such as Ruff and Red-necked Phalarope (over half a million have passed through the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn wetland complex during the spring and hundreds of thousands pass through in autumn too), Slender-billed Gull, Black and White-winged (Black) Terns, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, (European) Bee-eater, European Roller, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, Lesser Grey, Long-tailed and Great (Steppe) Grey Shrikes, Indian Golden Oriole, Bimaculated, Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Brown Dipper, Barred, Asian Desert, Moustached and Paddyfield Warblers, Desert, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears, Bluethroat (pallidogularis), Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock-thrushes, Blue Whistling-thrush, Rosy Starling, Common Myna, ‘Black-headed’ Yellow Wagtail (feldegg), Red-headed Bunting, Twite, Red-fronted Serin and Plain Mountain-finch.
Also a chance of Lammergeier, Cinereous (Eurasian/Black) and Egyptian Vultures, Steppe Eagle, White-tailed Lapwing, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Northern (Eurasian) Nutcracker, Brown-necked Raven, Black-headed Penduline-tit, Wallcreeper and Meadow Bunting.
Turkestan Red Pika, Bobak, Grey and Long-tailed Marmots, Great Gerbil, Red Squirrel, and Large-toothed, Little and Yellow Ground Squirrels (Sousliks). Also a chance of Brown Bear, Arkhar, Siberian Ibex, Goitred Gazelle, Corsac Fox and Small Five-toed Jerboa, and an outside chance of Saiga and Marbled Polecat.
Some of the rarest and most beautiful flowers on Earth grace the Tien Shan mountain range, including Primula minkwitziae, Paraquilegias, Trollius lilacinus and a wide range of bulbs such as many colourful Tulips, as well as Geraniums and Violas.
Where the Charyn River has helped carve the red sandstone into beautiful formations as impressive as those found in the famous canyons of Utah in North America.
Tien Shan Mountains
The scenic snow-topped, aptly-named (in ancient Chinese) ‘Celestial Mountains’, the Central Asian extension of the Himalaya, extend along Kazakhstan’s southern border all the way to China where the mountains rise to a lofty 7439 m (24,406 ft) just across the border.
The peak time for spring passage migrants such as herons, raptors, shorebirds, terns, larks, warblers and shrikes is April to mid-May but the second half of May to early June is the best time to visit because most of the birds which breed in the country have arrived and are at their most active and attractive at the start of the nesting season. The best times to look for flowers are April (tulips) and June. The peak time for autumn passage migrant birds including raptors, bee-eaters and passerines is September and one of the best places to observe them is the Chokpak Pass in the Tien Shan mountains in the south of the country.
Helm Field Guide: Birds of Central Asia by M Schweizer et al. Helm, 2012.
The New Birds of Kazakhstan by A Wassink. A Wassink, 2015 (Second Edition).
Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).
Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.
Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.
Collins Bird Guide.
Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.
Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Many trip reports, some for Kazakhstan, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Kazakhstan. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Kazakhstan' below.
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who run organized tours to Kazakhstan include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.