An opportunity to visit one of Turkey's most flower-filled corners, the north-east. In mid-July the tall meadows are at their peak and there are many other wonderful flowers on show, including the first of the gentians. Many of the valleys here still harvest their meadows with hand scythes, no fertilizers are used - the result some of the most diverse meadow communities to be found. Expect tall delphiniums, aconitums, a suite of knapweeds, crane's-bills and foxgloves, with pink sedums colouring the banks amidst fabulous verdant Black Sea countryside.
Day 1 To Ikizdere (21 July)
On arrival at Trabzon airport we will transfer to our comfortable hotel nestled among the green hills. o/n İkizdere.
Day 2 Ovit Dag
A long, verdant valleys leads up to the rockier realms of Ovit pass, a wonderful area to explore with many fine alpines in the turf and on the cliffs and rock terraces including Primula longipes, Pedicularis pontica, Swertia iberica, Gentiana pyrenaica and maybe its illustrious cousin G. septemfida. Searching stony slopes and rocks carefully and we'll find one of the finest knapweeds there is Psephellus appendicigerus with elegant creamy flowers. Side tracks lead up to other flowery slopes where we can picnic near stands of Anthemis melanoloma, the ubiquitous and lovely Stachys macrantha, the dark purple spires of Pedicularis atropurpurea and hopefully find a few globe orchids. The views throughout are superb. o/n Ikizdere.
Day 3 Anzer
It has the world's most expensive honey and given the diversity of flowers and no wonder it is rich, the bees have so much choice. Towering stands of Campanula lactiflora mingle with Centaurea helenoides, tumbling Lathyrus rotundifolius and the beautiful tall blue spikes of Delphinium formosum. The road will be snow free now and we can reach nearly 3000-metres where screes still hold Corydalis alpestris and sheets of pale yellow Coronilla orientalis mixed with abundant Campanula pulla and the tall stems of Polygonum bistorta subsp. carnea with plumes of deep pink waving in the breeze. Fabulous architectural Eryngium giganteum decorate the rocks and roadsides. Overnight Ikizdere.
Day 4 Mor Yayla
The inner hills of the Kackar quickly become drier, with very different plants. Our route passes stony slopes with the vivid scarlet of Sedum sempervivoides, Centaurea pulchra and Aster amellus. Ranks of Verbascum armenum march across the landscape and fine thistle Carduus lanuginosus appears on the rocky slopes. Stands of spectacular Centaurea macrocephala line the roac with commanding views across the valley. Screes have the beautiful little pea Vavilovia formosa, Vicia canescens and the rare Viola odontocalycina. For those with the energy, we can hike up to the spectacular viewpoint of the seven lakes - Yedi Goler. o/n Ikizdere.
Day 5 To Borcka
A spectacular road climbs up over the spine of the Kackar passing through flower-rich meadows before descending to the Black Sea coast. Expect impressive spires of Campanula latifolia, violet-veined Geranium ibericum and the stately corymbs of big-leaved Senecio platyphylla and the fringed flowers of Silene multifida. We continue along the Black Sea and then climb back into the verdant hills to our hotel is nestled right on the Georgian border and close to prime meadows. o/n Camili.
Day 6 Karcal Dagi
The handsome spine of Karcal Dagi rises to the south and we'll take the mountain roads up onto this rich area for the day. There may even be a few late Lilium kesselringianum in bloom o/n Şavşat.
Day 7 To Savsat
After a morning looking around Camili we will make the short traverse to reach the gorgeous meadows that surround Savsat - Turkey's Little Switzerland. Towering stands of Cephalaria gigantea mix with stands of Inula helenium, Centaurea salicifolia and Gentiana cruciata. o/n Şavşat.
Day 8 Cam Pass
The area is often called Little Switzerland and its easy to see why, the pleasant countryside, mountain backdrop, and stands of spruce and pine are very reminiscent. Rising beyond our well-positioned accommodation is a broad pass with many new flowers including all three Turkish species of monkshood - Aconitum orientale, A. nasutum and the unusual yellow A. anthorum. Gentiana gelida is plentiful around stands of Delphinium flexuosum and lovely Campanula crispa clings to rock outcrops. In the fir forests we will seek out a colony of that most enigmatic of orchids - the ghost orchid Epipogium aphylla which grow in the deep shade. o/n Şavşat.
Day 9 Aktas Golu
Vast meadow land swathes the wonderful big country scenery on the way to Aktas Golu where we find drifts of powder blue Scabiosa caucasica and architectural Echinops pungens. Walking out across the grasslands surrounding the lake there were wonderful tall meadows with huge clumps of Centaurea macrocephala, delphiniums, aconitums and crane's-bills. It is a delightful scenic spot, looking out across the lake, which is actually shared between Turkey and Georgia. The Kars region is one of the coldest in Turkey, as such it's peak flowering is late so expect some fine meadows and wild open landscapes. o/n Şavşat.
Day 10 Flights from Kars
We make our way to Kars airport for the flight to Istanbul and onwards connections.