Flyways Birding

Glorious Georgia

Great Rosefinch Alex Rukhaia
Bearded Vulture Alex Rukhaia
Güldenstädt’s Redstart Alex Rukhaia
Caucasian Snowcocks Alex Rukhaia
Mountain Chiffchaff Alex Rukhaia
Fire-fronted Serin Alex Rukhaia
Rosy Starlings Alex Rukhaia
Twite Alex Rukhaia
Bearded Vulture Alex Rukhaia
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Glorious Georgia – Spring in the Caucasus and Steppes

1-10 May 2024

Tour leader – Jonathan Meyrav
Local leader – Alexander Rukhaia

Tour at a glance:

9 nights
9 days of birding
6-8 people (with 2 guides)
Difficulty – Easy to moderate (some short hikes)
Photography options – Good

The Republic of Georgia lies on the Eastern Black Sea coast, Between Turkey and Russia, and along the Southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, which form the conventional border between Europe and Asia. This is a country of exceptional beauty, with its ancient history and traditions, special hospitality, unique architecture, food and folklore.
Despite its fairly small size, Georgia has been blessed with a wide range of natural habitats and landscapes ranging from semi-desert to humid subtropical forests. This unspoiled piece of land hosts impressive biodiversity with a high number of regional endemics.
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Georgia. Some of the harder to find specialties are entering the breeding season and are easy to see and sub Saharan migrants are making their way north.
Our tour begins in the Caucuses mountains where we will target the regional endemic birds, known as the “Caucasus’s Big Five”: Caucasian Snowcock, Caucasian Black Grouse, Great Rosefinch, Güldenstädt’s Redstart and Caucasian Mountain Chiffchaff.
Besides these the region is blessed with many birds of prey and we will search for Bearded, Cinereous and Griffon Vultures, Eagles, Harriers and many more. Following fruitful days in the mountains we will make our way East to the remote Georgian Steppes. Here we will search for a large list of near eastern specialties, many more birds of prey and more.
The tour starts and ends in Tbilisi, where we will also have some time to explore the city. As always in Georgia we will enjoy great hospitality, fantastic food and even some local chacha!

Click for our Full Program

Day 1 – May 1 2024

Upon arrival in Tbilisi, we will be met at the airport by our host team and transfer to our comfortable hotel located a few steps from the historical part of the capital. After dinner those interested can take a walk through the nearby old town. Night at Hotel Margot, Old Tbilisi.

Day 2 – May 2 2024

An early start with packed breakfasts as we start the journey to Stepantsminda in the Kazbegi region of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Our first stop will be at the Kojori Pine Woods south of Tbilisi where we will hopefully find Krüper’s Nuthatch, one of the main targers. Other common birds here will include Coal, Eurasian Blue and Great Tits, Goldcrests, Ehrenberg’s Redstarts and more.

Continuing north, we will organize a picnic breakfast at the Ananuri Wood. This is a beautiful stretch of wild roadside forest towering over the Zhinvali reservoir. This is a known area for Red-breasted Flycatcher and with some luck also Semicollared Flycatcher. The wooded areas may host newly arrived Green Warblers and Mountain Chiffchaffs as well as a host of other common forest species. Moving on, it will take us about two hours to get to Stepantsminda. After checking into the hotel, we will immediately step out and visit the nearest area with sea buckthorn shrubs where we expect to see our first Guldenstedt’s Redstart and Great Rosefinches, as well as other local birds.

Following a wonderful authentic lunch at the Nao’s Guesthouse in Stepantsminda, we will visit the lower part of the Kuro Gorge. It’s only a ten-minute drive away, with the main purpose of seeing Caucasian Grouse, but there we are also likely to encounter both Golden Eagle and Bearded Vulture, Red-billed and Alpine Choughs, Güldenstädt’s Redstarts and Great Rosefinches. At this time of year Caucasian Dunnocks are also very active, as well as Mountain Chiffchaffs. After that, we will drive a couple of hundred meters higher, to the upper part of the gorge, where we will scan the slopes in search of Caucasian Snowcocks. We will stay there for the rest of the day as the late afternoon and evening hours are good for mammals as well. We have a good chance of finding the East Caucasian Tur, and with luck we may even find Caucasian Lynx and Syrian Brown Bear!

Night at Hotel Sno, Kazbegi.

Day 3 – May 3 2024

We will start the day by exploring the Sea Buckthorn shrubs along the local Terek River. The scrubs around the water dam are good for Güldenstädt’s Redstarts and Great Rosefinches, but they also host other high elevation species such as Black Redstarts, Mountain Chiffchaffs, Red-fronted Serins, Ring Ouzels and many others. Wallcreeper can usually be found near the dam and White-throated Dippers are not to be missed.

Following breakfast, we will return to the Terek river for more great birding. In the afternoon we will explore both Lower and Upper Kuro Gorges for Caucasian Grouse and Caucasian Snowcock. If we have time we will visit the Dariali gorge and monastery near the Russian border. This is a beautiful place where we can scan the hillsides in search for East Caucasian Turs and Syrian Brown Bears.

Night at Hotel Sno, Kazbegi.

Day 4 – May 4 2024

Today we will revisit some of the birdy areas around the village and also head up to the Gergeti Trinity Church at almost 2200 meters for a bit of culture and a good chance of migrating raptors. We will also visit the area of the Truso Gorge at the foot of the Cross Pass, where along with some interesting birds, including Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, we also have a chance to find Caucasian Chamois.

Night at Hotel Sno, Kazbegi.

Day 5 – May 5 2024

Today we leave Kazbegi and start the long journey to the east, to the small town of Dedoplistskaro in the Shikari plains. Before finally leaving the Kazbegi region, we will make another short visit to the iron springs for last looks at the Güldenstädt’s Redstarts and Great Rosefinches. The next stop will be at the vertical cliffs near the ascent to the Cross Pass, where we will look for Wallcreeper, Red-fronted Serins and other passerines.

At the Cross Pass itself we will search for Caucasian Horned Larks, Alpine Accentor, Water Pipits and Caucasian Twites. Another stop before lunch will be made at the Gudauri Viewpoint where we
will scan for birds of prey such as Golden Eagle, Bearded Vulture and more.
Our day trip takes about five hours but with birding along the way we expect to arrive to Dedoplistskaro in the late afternoon.

Night at Hotel Autograph, Dedoplistskaro.

Day 6 – May 6 2024

Following an early breakfast, we head out to explore the Chachuna nature reserve in the vicinity of the Mta Dali Dam. The reserve is about 40 kilometres away, but at this time of the year the road through the plains and steppes of Taribana should be full of many interesting local and migratory birds. Here we will definitely encounter several resident Eastern Imperial Eagles and hopefully come across Egyptian, Griffon and Cinereous Vultures, Short-toed Snake Eagles, Booted Eagles, possibly Steppe Eagle, Long-legged Buzzards, as well as Montagu’s Harriers.

As we drive through Taribana, we are also likely to encounter numerous Little Owls, Eurasian Hoopoes, Red-backed, Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Eurasian Skylarks, Crested, Greater Short-toed, Calandra and Turkestan Short-toed Larks, Isabelline and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, Rock Sparrows, Corn, Rock, Ortolan and Black-headed Buntings. Birds such as European Rollers, European Bee-eaters and Rosy Starlings should be seen throughout the morning as well.

At the dam and in the Chachuna nature reserve we will have a good opportunity to see Ruddy Shelducks, Black Francolins, Chukar Partridges, all three Egyptian, Griffon and Cinereous Vultures, White-tailed Eagles, small colony of Lesser Kestrels and many more. We will also spend some time exploring the bushes and reeds by the water, where we will most likely meet birds such as Syrian Woodpeckers, Eurasian Penduline Tits, Menetries’s Warblers, etc. On the other side of the dam we will find Eastern Black-eared and Pied Wheatears and with luck maybe Finsch’s Wheatear as well.

Night at Autograph Hotel Dedoplistskaro

Day 7 – May 7 2024

Today we will visit the Pantishara Gorge in the Vashlovani national park. The road takes us through the vast farm fields of Shiraki. The open areas on both sides of the road will be saturated with various birds of prey, among which Montagu’s Harriers will be the most noticeable. The reason for such a high concentration of birds of prey here is the abundance of rodents and little birds, for
example, various species of larks and other passerines.

The Pantishara Gorge is a dry, sparsely vegetated, canyon-type dry riverbed consisting of sandy and clay hills – a beautiful place, and here you can enjoy a variety of habitat-related birds; Chukar Partridges, Alpine Swifts, Eastern Orphean Warblers, Western Rock Nuthatches, Blue Rock Thrush and many others. If we do a little targeted search, we can also find the Levantine Viper Macrovipera lebetinus obtuse.

Driving back in the evening, we will take a slightly different route that takes us to a place called Black Mountain. The name in reality has nothing to do with a colour of the hillsides here, but this is the area where we will find native Pheasants.

Day 8 – May 8 2024

Today we start the journey back to Tbilisi. After an early breakfast we will make a short visit to the Eagle Gorge, located in the suburb of Dedoplistskaro, just a five-minute drive from the hotel. Here we will take a short hike to the observation deck over a moderate slope, where we can enjoy nice scenery and see local nesting birds; Black Storks, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures, Short-toed Snake Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, etc.

After loading the vehicle, we will drive around 2 hours to the Gareji Monastery, but this is without taking into account several very interesting stops. The steppe landscapes before the monastery offer a lot of nice birds, including larks, wheatears and harriers. In the monastery, we will explore the courtyard and the shrubby areas around the main building, where we can find numerous Chukar
various vultures, possibly a Golden Eagle, Long-legged Buzzards, Little Owls, all three Red-backed, Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Eastern Orphean Warblers, Western Rock Nuthatches, Blue Rock Thrush, Isabelline, Eastern Black-eared and Pied Wheatears, Rock Sparrows, Rock and Black-headed Buntings, and hundreds of Rosy Starlings.

We will then drive back to Tbilisi arriving in time to freshen up before dinner.

Night at Hotel Margot, Old Tbilisi

Day 9 – May 9 2024

Our last full day of the trip. We will visit two of the most significant ornithological hotspots in the vicinity of Tbilisi. The first is Lake Kumisi – a completely inconspicuous place compared to these beautiful places we visited earlier, but it is a good birding site, especially now, during the mix of migration; here we should expect various wildfowl, gulls, terns, waders, pipits, wagtails, including possible Citrine, a lot of other passerines, etc. – everything in rich numbers. And, this place is also known for regular appearance of rarities, so we should carefully check all the promising places.

After Kumisi, we will give a short visit to the nearby Ponichala Forest Park, which we also call woodpeckers’ forest. As soon as you enter the park, you will immediately understand why – here we will find Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Syrian, Great Spotted, Black and European Green Woodpeckers. Apart from that we may again be able to see Green Warblers amongst a good variety
of other passerines. Not to forget about Levant Sparrowhawks that breed in the forest, as well as Eurasian Scops Owls – the last we have a chance to see at the roosting branch.

In the evening we will return to the hotel to freshen up and head out to a nice restaurant for our farewell dinner.

Night at Hotel Margot, Old Tbilisi.

Day 10 – May 10 2024

Today we bid a warm farewell to Georgia. Following breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for our flights home.


Tour price:

6 pax (sharing) – € 2350
7 pax (sharing) – € 2150
8 pax (sharing) – € 1950

Single supplement: € 200

Price includes: 

Airport transfers

9 nights’ accommodation on HB basis

All meals from dinner on day one

All transportation and entrance fees

Guiding fees

Price excludes: 

International Flights to Tbilisi

Alcoholic beverages

Travel insurance

Medical expenses and prescription drugs

Tips for driver and guides.