Georgia is one of the best places in the world to enjoy one of the most spectacular natural phenomena on planet Earth, bird migration. Located in the southwest of the Republic of Georgia and on the shores of the Black Sea, Batumi channels the largest flow of migratory birds in the entire Palearctic, both raptors and passerines. The Batumi Raptor Migration is, in number and species, the third best place on the planet behind Mexico and Panama, to observe this natural phenomenon.
Every year Batumi Raptor Count, an NGO that tracks migration in the area, more than 1 million birds migrating south in summer-autumn (1,384,584 birds in 2014) with concentrations of up to almost 300,000 birds of prey in the same day. We have arranged the dates of our trip with the migration peak of the Steppe Buzzard, Lesser, Greater Spotted and Steppe Eagles. Hopefully we can enjoy the best migration day of the season!
On top of the Batumi raptor migration, on this trip we will go up to the high peaks of the Caucasus mountains in search of its endemic birds, such as the Caucasian Snowcock, the Great Rosefinch or the Caucasian Grouse.
In addition to being a fantastic country for birdwatching, Georgia remains a little visited destination, really quiet and fascinating. Its little-known culture and history, along with its rich gastronomy and traditions makes it an excellent destination to visit.
Days 1 to 5: Batumi and its surroundings. The spectacle of migration
During the first part of the tour we will be staying in the small town of Sakhalvasho. This is a quiet village where traditional Georgian life, orchards, hives and rural life are combined with the activity of ornithological tourism. Here is where the best observatory to enjoy of bird migration is located. Therefore, it makes sense to stay in the area and carry out our birding activity. Most importantly, this will give us the chance to adjust our schedule according to the latest weather forecasts and the state of the migration.
There are two main observatories from where we will enjoy the Batumi Raptor Migration. The main observatory is located in the same town of Sakhalvasho, where we are staying. We can walk the steep slope to the observatory with the help of some stairs, which makes the, access now easier. The observatory is close to the shore of the Black Sea and the scenery is fantastic. Here we will wait for the birds that come from the North. Some facilities have been set in place to make our stay more comfortable.
The second observatory is located in Shuamta, just on the edge of the Mtirala National Park, inside a beautiful deciduous forest. From here, we will look for those birds that prefer to migrate closer to the mountains, such as the Steppe Buzzard. Access is achieved after a short climb through the forest of about 20 minutes.
This is the best time to wait for the migration of thousands of Steppe Buzzards, Lesser and Greater Spotted Eagle, and Steppe Eagle. We also have chances for Eastern Imperial Eagle, European and Oriental Honey-Buzzard, LevantSparrowhawk, Pallid Harrier, Red-footed Falcon, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Osprey and Booted Eagle, among others.
Chorokhi River Delta
During this time we will also visit the Chorokhi River Delta in Batumi. This wetland has a great ornithological interest, being used by migrant birds that find a place to rest and feed on their journey to the south. This Delta holds one of the most important conservation projects in the area, since its degradation has been significant and its ecological interest is essential for fauna. Inside the Chorokhi we will visit different habitats on foot until we reach the Black Sea. Interesting species that can be seen in this place are the Broad-billed Sandpiper, Terek’s Sandpiper, Little and Baillon’s Crake, Red-backed Shrike, Yelkouan shearwater, etc… being close to Batumi we will end up in the city to have a drink and take a walk through the gardens of the promenade, where we can find small migrants such as Red-breasted Flycatcher, Siberian Stonechat and Red-throated Pipit, among others.
Kolkheti Lagoon Natural Park
Kolkheti is a large wetland located on the shore of the Black Sea, about 70 km from Batumi. We will take a boat trip of about 2 hours to observe waterbirds and ospreys that breed in the Paliastomi lagoon. It is possible to see a Little Gull, Caspian Gull, Armenian Gull and White-winged Tern, among others.
Day 6: From Batumi to the Caucasus Mountains
After our time enjoying the Batumi raptor migration and general birding in the area, we move to the Caucasus. This mountain range acts as a natural border between Asia and Europe and is the cause of the large concentration of migrating birds of prey, since there are just three valleys that birds can use to cross this enormous mountain wall.
After breakfast, we will leave for Mestia, in the region of Svanetia. We will make a stop on the way to watch birds and have lunch and arrive to Mestia in the afternoon. Mestia in the center of this region and is characterized by its spectacular views of the Tetnuldi peak and by the “Svan Towers”, a UNESCO heritage site, We will stay in a family guest house and enjoy the rich Georgian gastronomy.
Day 7: Mount Tetnuldi and the Caucasus endemics
First, we will drive to the foot of Mount Tetnuldi (4,858 m), we will take the road with our 4X4 vans that will take us to 3,000 meters of altitude. In this area we will search for the incredibly mimetic Caucasian Snowcock, as well as the Caucasian Grouse, Bearded Vulture, Great Rosefinch, Alpine Accentor, Fire-fronted Serin, White-winged Redstart and Horned Lark, among others. We will return in the afternoon to our accommodation in Mestia to have dinner and rest.
Day 8: drive to Batumi
On our last day before taking our flight back home, we will go to the Chalaadi glacier, where we will spend the morning birding and looking for butterflies during a light walk of approximately an hour each way. This area is good for Mountain Chiffchaff and Golden Eagle among other species. At noon we will take our mini bus to Batumi.
Day 9: end of tour
Today we will get ready for our flight back home, with some birding in the early morning if there’s enough time.
* Note: we will be flexible to adjust our itinerary, especially in Batumi, in order to be present during the best migration times. In the evenings, and optionally, we will have identification and migration talks by our guide.
Species of interest
- Caucasian Snowcock
- Caucasian Grouse
- Bearded Vulture
- Golden Eagle
- Eastern Imperial Eagle
- White-tailed Fish-Eagle
- Lesser Spotted Eagle
- Greater Spotted Eagle
- Steppe Eagle
- Short-toed Snake-Eagle
- Booted Eagle
- Black Kite
- Hen Harrier
- Pallid Harrier
- Montagu’s Harrier
- Steppe Buzzard
- European Honey-Buzzard
- Oriental Honey-Buzzard
- Eurasian Sparrowhawk
- Levant Sparrowhawk
- Lesser Kestrel
- Red-footed Falcon
- White Stork
- Black Stork
- Little Crake
- Baillon’s Crake
- Broad-billed Sandpiper
- Terek’s Sandpiper
- Little Gull
- Armenian Gull
- Caspian Gull
- White-winged Tern
- Stock Dove
- European Bee-eater
- European Roller
- Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
- White-backed Woodpecker
- Middle-spotted Woodpecker
- Greater Short-toed Lark
- Alpine Accentor
- White-winged Redstart
- Siberian Stonechat
- Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush
- Isabelline Wheatear
- Black-eared Wheatear
- Mountain Chiffchaff
- Krüper’s Nuthatch
- Red-backed Shrike
- Red-billed Chough
- Yellow-billed Chough
- Hooded Crow
- Fire-fronted Serin
- Common Rosefinch
- Great Rosefinch
- Ortolan Bunting
The package of this tour includes:
- All accommodation from day 1 until day 9 (8 nights).
- All meals, starting with lunch on Day 1 until breakfast on Day 9. This includes 1 drink with every meal and water during the whole duration of the trip.
- Transportation in a comfortable mini bus for 9 or 14 pax depending on the final number of participants.
- Programmed entrance fees as in the itinerary.
- A specialised birding guide fluent in English with extensive experience in Georgia and coordinator at the Batumi Raptor Count.
- Welcome package with itinerary, travel information and checklist of the birds of the region.
Items not included in the package:
- International flights.
- Extra drinks.
- Tips in hotels, service and guides.
- Personal travel insurance.
- Personal items.
For further details on bookings and cancellations, you can check out our general Terms and Conditions.
If at any time you have questions about this trip, payments, or other related topics please feel free to contact us.
- Guide: Rafa Benjumea.
- Length: 9 days.
- Maximum number of participants: 10.
- Single Supplement: 150€
- Lodging: Local family houses. Double rooms with private bathroom.
- Food: excellent, traditional Georgian food has a great reputation for being varied and with high-quality ingredients.
- Weather: highly variable, alternating warm temperatures throughout the day with cold weather in the afternoon. Rains and low temperatures can occur especially in the Caucasus. Warm and rainwear clothes are highly recommended.
- Difficulty: Easy, short walks at a comfortable pace. In Batumi and Mestia, short minibus trips. The drive Batumi – Mestia takes about 6 hours with stops to observe birds on the way.