Spring bursts onto the scene in the bulb-rich north west of Turkey, oak woods resound with bird song above elegant snowdrops and the first of six different golden crocuses. On Uludag they mingle with drifts of violet-blue crocuses and everywhere are banks plastered with countless primroses, as the pallid cups of hellebores appear alongside pale pink corydalises. Limestone cliffs play host to colonies of lovely irises, Lake Abant is mirrored and calm, the woods filled with cyclamen, the pastures with thousands of endemic crocuses and colourful inland valleys have rare grape hyacinths and slender fritillaries. A welcome tonic to winter.
Day 1 To Izmir, Turkey
Following our arrival in Izmir we will transfer to our comfortable spa hotel in Sahlili.
Day 2 Bozdag
The mountains rise up behind the town and we’ll spend the day enjoying the first early spring shows with various colours of Anemone coronaria, cliffs plastered with Aubrieta deltoidea and depending on the season our first snowdrops in the oakwoods. Fior sure there will be plenty of Corydalis wendelboi. There will still be plenty of snow on Boz Dag, but areas of high turf will be clear and Crocus chrysanthus and Scilla bifolia emerging, some with lovely purple suffusion on the outside. With some searching we might also find Corydalis lycius. Overnight Sahlili.
Day 3 To Bursa
A long day but one with many fine plants. Stands of Asphodelus aestivus line the road as we progress through an interesting volcanic area with road cuts through cinder cones. Saxifraga cernua grows on mossy banks near flowery wild pears and then climbing to a pass through a black pine forest we see out first golden Crocus flavus. The oak woods on the other side have a strong population of graceful Galanthus gracilis. Cornus mas trees are full of yellow blossom, pastures have an abundance of Ornithogalum montanum before we arrive at our final, delightful location. Here we can find Iris attica in both pure yellow and yellow and purple forms alongside a sumptuous pink blushed white form of Anemone coronaria and the first flowers of Ophrys speculum and O. luteum. From here we push on to Bursa and our hotel above the city on the flanks of Uludag.
Day 4 Uludag
Uludag is a major ski centre, but by now the season will have wound down. Fringing the last snow patches are drifts of Crocus gargaricus mingling with violet-blue C. biflorus ssp. pulchricolor and Scilla bifolia. Elsewhere Crocus gargaricus blends with C. chrysanthus in a sulphurous confusion. Hidden among the oak woods are lovely colonies of Primula vulgaris ssp. rosea as well as extensive colones of pure yellow P. vulgaris, handsome Helleborus orientalis and mounds of Lamium gargaricum. Rocky banks have the diminutive, but lovely Hyacinthella lineata and Muscari armeniacum. Overnight Bursa.
Day 5 To Abant
Crossing the country we make our way to limestone areas with many Iris attica growing among a macchie of fragrant Daphne sericea. A stone’s throw from these are tall cliffs with both yellow and violet colour forms of a taller species; Iris junonia. We pass through the pleasant town of Goynuk with many traditional style wooden houses and if the weather is on our side and the sun is out, our final approach to Lake Abant passes a huge population of endemic Crocus abantensis, which carpet the ground with Primula veris. Overnight Abant.
Day 6 Lake Abant & Bolu
Colonies of Galanthus plicatus and Petasites hybridus thrive along our route to nearby Bolu where the mountain road cuts through oak woods full of Corydalis caucasica and masses of Primula vulgaris, Euphorbia amygdaloides and Helleborus orientalis. Higher up among the firs are plentiful Cyclamen coum and then pastures with an abundance of Crocus biflorus subsp. pulchricolor and Muscari aucheri. Grassy slopes have drifts of golden Crocus ancyrensis. Overnight Abant.
Day 7 Inner Anatolia
Snow banks near the lake have Eranthis hyemalis, Crocus abantensis and C. olivieri as we head out further afield. Inland from the forested hills of Bolu and Abant the land is drier and we approach areas of steppe. Clay hills have the dainty bells of Fritillaria fleischeriana and beyond, colourful badlands harbour a rare, range restricted endemic Muscari adilii, growing on stony slopes with blue Vinca herbacea. Cutting back north we cross a pass with many Galanthus gracilis and pastures with masses of Colchicum triphyllum. Overnight Abant.
Day 8 To Ankara & flights
Ankara airport is 2.5 hours away, with frequent flights to Istanbul for international connections and we’ll leave in good time to reach this for return flights.