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Explore the Vast Gobi Desert and Populus Euphratica Forest in Xinjiang for Its Fascinating Endemics and Specials
 
Located in Northwest China, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is the largest provincial-level administrative region in China with an area of 1.66 million square kilometers and borderlines of 5,600 kilometers. The vast territory of Xinjiang features several major mountain ranges, of which the Altai Mountains lie on the north, Kunlun and Altun Mountains set on the south and Tianshan Mountains stretch from west to east in central Xinjiang. Lying between these mountain ranges are two vast basins named Junggar and Tarim. Numerous glaciers from the mountains serve as the headwater for most rivers in Xinjiang. Far inland, Xinjiang experiences a typical arid temperate continental climate with dry air, plenty of sunshine, and only 150mm annual precipitation.
 
The dry weather has turned lots of places in Xinjiang into deserts, which account for two-thirds of the total desert area in China. Most of Xinjiang's territory is sparsely populated which makes it a paradise for wildlife. Thanks to the vast territory, multiple forms of topography, and various climate conditions, Xinjiang enjoys abundant living resources with about 4,000 kinds of plants and 704 vertebrate species, of which 116 species are under national key protection. 
 
There are about 430 bird species have been recorded in Xinjiang. Unlike the other places in China, Xinjiang owns plenty of bird species of European and Central Asia. There are also about 100 bird species and subspecies that mainly distribute in China or endemic to China. This itinerary is a classic route that covers the most special and endemic species of Xinjiang.
 

Tour Info Sheet

Highlight Birds
Daurian Partridge, Mongolian Ground Jay, White-tailed Eagle, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Himalayan Vulture, Golden Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Saker Falcon, Eurasian Scops Owl, Pallid Scops Owl, Shikra, Demoiselle Crane, White-headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Smew, Goosander, Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, European Roller, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, White-winged Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Great Grey Shrike, Turkestan Shrike, Bearded Tit, Coal Tit, Azure Tit, Crested Lark, Horned Lark, Northern House Martin, Great Reed Warbler, Booted Warbler, Asian Desert Warbler, Barred Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Sykes's Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Rosy Starling, Common Starling, Mistle Thrush, Blue-capped Redstart, Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Bluethroat, Common Rock Thrush, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Black-throated Accentor, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, European Greenfinch, Common Linnet, Red-headed Bunting, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, European Greenfinch, Mongolian Finch, Saxaul Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Pallas's Sandgrouse, Chukar Partridge, etc.
Numbers of Species to Expect130-180
Ease of Birdingmostly easy birding with a few tricky species
Highlight MammalsMongolian Wild Ass, Przewalski's Horse, etc.
Other AttractionsIslamic cuisine, rich ethnic minority culture, stunning desert scenery
Photography Opportunitiesbirding focused but with very good photography chances
Habitats Coveredsubtropical forests, woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, deserts
Expected Climatecomfortable, temperature varies widely from day to night, rain is possible
Physical Requirementsmostly easy, demanding but optional in certain parts
Accommodationcomfortable
Transportation19-seat van

What makes this trip irreplaceable?
 
1. Searching for endemics and specials of Central Asia in the vast Gobi Desert and Populus euphratica forest in Xinjiang.
 
2. The breath-taking scenery of vast desert and grassland.
 
3. Experienced national bird guide and local guide who have guided this trip many times ensure you a lifetime traveling experience.
 
4. A small group size of no more than 8 travelers.
 
5. Years of working as a local partner for some prestigious western companies specialized in birds and wildlife.
 
6. A strong logistic team in the office to ensure our trip goes smoothly and every participant has a comfortable and memorable journey.


Dates & Prices

Dates Booking Status Price Single Supplement Group Size Guides
May 22 - Jun 1, 2022Space Available3,500USD/pax330USD/pax8Local Guides
Slide the sheet to the left to see the full sheet if you are viewing on your phone or tablet.
 
The cost includes the following:
1. Private transportation throughout the trip, including airport pick-up and drop-off at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport.
2. All meals from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 11.
3. All the entrance tickets for places listed in the itinerary including cable cars and shuttle buses.
4. Hotel stays from the first day to the last day, two clients occupy one twin-bed room on a sharing basis at nice 3 or 4 star hotels in big cities and local best guesthouses in remote areas.
5. Bottled water and snacks throughout the trip.
6. Simple western breakfast whenever is possible.
7. Service charges of a professional national bird guide and an experienced local guide throughout the whole trip.
8. China domestic travel insurance.
9. Service of all logistic supports. 
 
The cost does not include the following:
a. Drinks during meals.
b. Extra charges due to change of itinerary from the client's side or factors beyond the control of AlpineBirding such as natural disaster or governmental policy change.
c. Discretionary tips to guides and drivers.
d. All personal expenses such as laundry service.
e. ANY AIRFARE except those stated in the itinerary.
f. Any program not listed in the itinerary.


Itinerary

Tour Map

Day 1: Arrival in Urumqi, China.
On the first day of the tour, a private guide or driver will meet you at the airport upon your arrival at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport. After that, you will be transferred to the downtown hotel for one night stay. For early arrivals, we will go for a relaxing birding at a local park nearby. 
 
Day 2: Urumqi to Shihezi via Baihu Lake and Nanshan.
We will have a short visit to Baihu Lake before we drive to Nanshan Mountain. Located in the west of Urumqi City, Baihu Lake is an important breeding place for many waterfowls including White-headed Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Common Redshank, Common Tern, Turkestan Shrike, Bearded Tit, Pale Sand Martin, Common Starling, Isabelline Wheatear, etc. 
 
Following the exploration, we will drive further south about 60km to Nanshan Mountain which was an important hunting ground in the Chinese Tang and Qing dynasties. Nowadays, the multiple eco-environments and big elevation differences here have made it home to a big diversity of bird species including Daurian Partridge, Booted Eagle, Himalayan Vulture, Golden Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Upland Buzzard, Rock Pigeon, Stock Dove, European Roller, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Rufous-tailed Shrike, Eurasian Jackdaw, Coal Tit, Azure Tit, Crested Lark, Horned Lark, Northern House Martin, Barred Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Rosy Starling, Common Starling, Mistle Thrush, Blue-capped Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Black-throated Accentor, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, European Greenfinch, Common Linnet, Red-headed Bunting, etc.
 
After our exploration in the mountain, we will drive on to Shihezi. 
 
Day 3: Shihezi to Karamay.
We will spend the day searching for birds in different habitats. Our morning time will be spent on Mushroom Lake. Located about 30 kilometers to the northwest of Shihezi, Mushroom Lake is the largest plain reservoir in Shihezi. The surrounding vegetation is rich, and the microorganisms, algae, fishes, and insects in the lake are also abundant. During the annual migration season, the reservoir attracts more than 30 species of birds that are under the first and second national protections including gulls, herons, ducks, etc. We can expect birds like Whooper Swan, Tufted Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Smew, Goosander, Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, Ruff, Caspian Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, White-tailed Eagle, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Isabelline Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Paddyfield Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Barred Warbler, Black-throated Thrush, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, etc.
 
Following the exploration, we will complete a fairly long (around 4 hours) journey to Karamay. There are many Gobi deserts and Euphrates poplar forests around Karamay. We will have chances to find some interesting forest species like Eurasian Scops Owl, Pallid Scops Owl, Shikra, White-winged Woodpecker, European Bee-eater, Turkestan Shrike, Lesser Kestrel, Sykes's Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Common Nightingale, Bluethroat, Common Rock Thrush, Common Redstart, Saxaul Sparrow, Isabelline Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Tree Pipit, etc.
 
Day 4: Karamay to Fuhai.
This morning we will have chances to try some key species we may still need to find before driving to Fuhai. We will have several stops along the way looking for Demoiselle Crane, Steppe Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Greater Short-toed Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Crested Lark, Great Reed Warbler, Booted Warbler, Asian Desert Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Northern Wheatear, Great Grey Shrike, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, European Greenfinch, etc.
 
After arriving in Fuhai, we will go to the surrounding villages and parks for birding. These villages and parks are good places searching for many forest birds including European Roller, European Bee-eater, Red-backed Shrike, Turkestan Shrike, Isabelline Shrike, Bearded Tit, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Mistle Thrush, Barred Warbler, Fieldfare, Spotted Flycatcher, etc.
 
Day 5: Fuhai to Altay.
Today we will mostly watch birds on the road. In the forests and wetlands along the road, we will look for Caspian Gull, Common Goldeneye, Goosander, Daurian Partridge, Booted Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Eurasian Scops Owl, Long-eared Owl, European Roller, Rock Dove, Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Red-footed Falcon, Eurasian Hobby, Azure Tit, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Paddyfield Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler, Barred Warbler, Common Starling, Spotted Flycatcher, etc. 
 
Day 6: Altay to Burqin.
On the way to Burqin, we will have several stops looking for Montagu's Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Western Marsh Harrier, Demoiselle Crane, Gull-billed Tern, Richard's Pipit, Common Reed Bunting, Paddyfield Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Turkestan Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, etc.
 
Day 7: Burqin & surrounds.
Today we will go to some famous birding sites in Xingjiang including Burqin Magic Forest, Burqin Magic Pond, and Chong Hu'er that have different habits to look for some unique local birds. Burqin Magic Forest is a riverine woodland at the confluence of the Burqin and Irtysh rivers where has recorded over 100 bird species. Our main targets here are Common Goldeneye, Goosander, Common Quail, Black Stork, Eurasian Scops Owl, Little Owl, White-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Eurasian Hobby, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Turkestan Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Azure Tit, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff, Fieldfare, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Chaffinch, etc.
 
Chong Hu'er is a small town in the north of Burqin. It has a good natural environment with some characteristic birds inhabit here, such as Ortolan Bunting, Pine Bunting, Yellowhammer, Rock Bunting, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Great Rosefinch, Common Rosefinch, Common Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Black Stork, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, etc.
 
Day 8: Burqin to Beitun.
We will spend most of the day trying for the key species we may still need to find in Burqin before driving to Beitun.
 
Day 9: Beitun to Qiakuertu.
Here in Beitun, we will focus on two places, namely the Ulungur River and Ulungur Lake. On the shore and both sides of the two areas, the reeds are thick and lush. Many water birds breed here including Mute Swan, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Shelduck, Common Shelduck, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Slavonian Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Little Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Barred Warbler, etc. Followed that, we will drive on to Qiakuertu.
 
Day 10: Qiakuertu to Urumqi.
Today we will drive back to Urumqi. There are many desert habitats on the way. We will have good chances to see some desert specials such as Mongolian Ground Jay, Saker Falcon, Mongolian Finch, Saxaul Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Pallas's Sandgrouse, Chukar Partridge, etc. We will also have chances of seeing some exciting desert mammals like Mongolian Wild Ass, Przewalski's Horse, etc.
 
Day 11: Departure from Urumqi.
Following a lovely breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the airport to depart from Urumqi or start the 3-day "Xinjiang Ground Jay Extension". This will conclude the services for this scheduled itinerary from AlpineBirding.


Guide(s)

We will arrange one of our best local guides for this trip who has rich experiences of guiding tours in this region. The following are some of our best local guides in and around this area.

Philip He

As a half Kangba Tibetan, Philip is the main founder of AlpineBirding and is a native of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. He has a deep love for his Kangba Tibetan heritage and the land where he was born and raised. Philip's career has gone from mining technician to a teacher, then a translator, and finally to a guide and tour operator. As a professional working in this field for more than 20 years, Philip believes travel is an art and a process of sharing and discovery. Each trip is a unique artistic work created with knowledge and expertise based on the resources available and the interests and tastes of travelers. To help more people to gain a lifetime birding and traveling experience, he established AlpineBirding with the aim to bring his professional, fun-filled tours to more people who are eager to explore birds and other beautiful attractions in China. 
 

Shay Xie

Shay is among the first group of professional bird guides with the academic background of ornithology. He spent his childhood in a small county of Chongqing municipality where is the eastern edge of the Daba Mountains. Being brought up in a beautiful natural environment and surrounded by beautiful nature creatures, Shay has developed a strong interest in nature and birds since he was a small kid. Following the call from his inner heart, he chose to study ecology as his major when he was admitted to Sichuan University. The campus of Sichuan University itself is one of the most famous birding sites in Sichuan and he spent most of his afterschool time birding there. Since that time he started working as a part-time bird guide. By now, he has successfully guided many avid birders from different countries including Norway, Britain, the US, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, Israel, etc. 


Reports


We don't have a report available for this tour at this stage, please feel free to email us, we are more than happy to answer any of your questions and share the latest bird information with you.

Testimonials


We don't have feedback on this trip yet. Please see other testimonials of AlpinBirding on the page linked at: http://www.alpinebirding.com/About/testimonials/


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