Vira Natura

Butterflies of Kyrgyzstan

12 - 25 July 2024
From $3,250.00 per person

A tour into the Tien Shan and Pamir Alai of this wonderfully scenic Central Asia land, with highlands rich in species including scarce Parnassius and Colias.

Species lists are available on request.

A tour with Hiro Takenouchi.


Why not watch Hiro's videos of some of the species and the spectacular Kyrgyz landscapes: 


Day 1     Journey to Chon-Kemin

After an early morning arrival into Bishkek and a breakfast, we will drive for a few hours to Chon Kemin where we can enjoy many low-elevation butterflies including Maculinea sp. and numerous Nymphalids. A huge subspecies of Parnassius apollo sibirica might even be seen puddling. Overnight in Chon Kemin.

Day 2     Chon-Kemin & to Karakol

After a half day in the Chon Kemin area again, we will drive along the northern shore of Issyk-Kul, the third largest saline lake in the world, to reach the town of Karakol in the far east of the country. Overnight in Karakol.

Day 3     Chon-Ashuu

Chon Ashuu is one of the highest drivable mountain passes in Kyrgyzstan at 3,822m above sea level, and amazingly there are several Parnassius sp. living there right near the top. As with any high mountain habitats, the weather here can be extremely changeable but as soon as the sun comes out the butterflies will crawl out from their scree hideouts. On the way to Chon Ashuu, we will pass through a large riverbed which is a known stronghold of a mythical bird; the Ibisbill. Returning to Karakol for an overnight stay.

Day 4     South shore of Song-Kul & to Kochkor

Today is mainly a transfer day from Karakol to the town of Kochkor, driving along the south shore of Issyk-Kul. Along the way we will make a stop or two to observe the butterflies in the valleys. Overnight in Kochkor.

Day 5     Dolon Pass & to Song-Kul

Leaving Kochkor early, we will drive towards another large lake, Son-Kul sitting at impressive 3,016m above sea level. On the way, we will pass Dolon Pass (3,030m) where we will stop for more high elevation butterflies. After another interesting butterfly location "33 Parrots” Pass, a magnificent view of Song-Kul opens with craggy mountains surrounding the lake where the south shore is scattered with yurts. Overnight and dinner in a yurt camp.

Day 6     Moldo-Too

Leaving the high Song-Kul plateau from the south, we will pass Moldo-Ashuu Pass in the morning where we will hopefully see the morning butterfly activity. After the pass, we will descend into the magnificent valley formed by Naryn River, the largest river in Kyrgyzstan. In the early afternoon, we will reach the typical "badlands” habitat of the elusive Parnassius davydovi, a species described only in 2006. This dry scrubland in the Moldo-Too Range is also surprisingly rich in Lycaenids and Satyrinae. Overnight camping at the camping location.

Day 7     Moldo-Too & to Kazarman

We’ll continue our searches for Parnassius davydovi in the morning when they are most often seen. After the full day there, we will transfer to the quiet village of Kazarman for an overnight stay in a cosy local homestay accommodation.

Day 8     Kaldama Pass & to Osh

Another transfer day and we will today drive to the southern city of Osh near the border with Uzbekistan. Although the distance to Osh doesn’t seem great, this route has mostly basic dirt roads only, so it will take time! A few hours after leaving Kazarman, we will drive over Kaldama Pass (3,072m) where we will stop for a few hours for some more butterflies. We will then take a long dive towards Osh through the dry lowlands of Fergana Valley where the mountains disappear, and the grassy hills and flatlands take over. Overnight in Osh.

Day 9     Taldyk Pass

We’ll leave Osh very early to make the most of the AM hours around Taldyk Pass (3,615m). The Alai Mountain Range is a transitional area between the Pamir Range in the south and the Tianshan Range in the north, and the butterfly fauna noticeably changes from the previous areas we have visited. At the end of the day, we will drive through the vast Alai Valley to the village of Daroot-Korgon for an overnight stay.

Day 10     Kyzil Eshme/Tengizbay Pass

In these remote, high-altitude, dry slopes live some butterflies that are more associated with neighbouring Tajikistan therefore unlikely to be seen anywhere else on this tour. Return to Daroot-Korgon for an overnight stay.

Day 11     Trans-Alai Range

Leaving Daroot-Korgon early, we will head south towards the magnificent Trans-Alai Range, the extremely high border region with Tajikistan. In this area we will look for the elusive Parnassius charltonius romanovi amongst others. Camping overnight on site.

Day 12     Trans-Alai Range

A full day in the Trans-Alai Range. Having camped overnight in the mountains, we can enjoy the morning butterfly activity straight after breakfast. At the end of the day, we will drive towards the village of Sary-Tash, near Taldyk Pass for an overnight stay.

Day 13     Taldyk Pass and return to Osh

On our final day in the field, we will revisit Taldyk Pass on the way back. After half a day there, we will make our final long drive back to Osh, arriving late afternoon. Farewell dinner and an overnight stay in Osh.

Day 14     Departure flight from Osh

Early departure from Osh International Airport (flights via Istanbul).




12-25 July 2024 


Per person: 3250 USD (twin share)

Single supplement: 200 USD


  • 13 nights of accommodation
  • All food
  • All ground transport in Kyrgyzstan

Not included:

  • Flights
  • Travel/Medical Insurance
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Personal expenses


Minimum number of participants 5; maximum 12.  

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