SAUDI ARABIA 'PIONEER' - 29.03 - 08.04.2023, eleven days birdwatching from Arabian desert, Dhofar Mountains (Asir highlands) and Red Sea coast

”Saudi Arabia - SW Arabian endemics and near-endemics in a rapidly modernizing land. We visit the mountainous desert regions and the southwestern mountains of Saudi Arabia which receive copious summer rainfall and mist during the Southwest Monsoon period - which holds most of Arabia’s special birds and where we will be spending most of our time.

TRAVEL DESCRIPTION

Duration                                            11-days

Type                                                   Roundtrip with minibus and/or 3X4 with English / German                                             / Scandinavian and German speaking Miksture                                                                Tour Leaders  

Price                                                   From 2.395 USD pr. person in shared DBL                                                                        room 

Sngl room                                          400 USD           

Deposit                                              400 USD pr. person

Visa                                                     Depending on country of origin. Information                                                                   when booking the tour

Vaccination                                        Yes, against COVID-19 (If no vaccination PCR-                                                                 test might be needed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ORNITOLOGICAL JOURNEY TO SAUDI ARABIA WITH MIKSTURE; Dream species - desert species, a single endemic species and a number of near-endemics…

 

The journey is thoroughly prepared, of course - and there may be minor adjustments along the way - to increase the ornithological experience. Many of the areas are not known and previously visited, so lots of exciting birds can be expected. It must be emphasized that accommodation, food, transport, etc. are well organized - in a way that meets maximum ornithological benefits. 

 

Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia borders Jordan to the northwest, Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south. The country is adjacent to the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea and is the only country that has shores towards both of these Seas. Saudi Arabia, has not been on the ornithologists' travel cards for so long, and has only recently opened up to foreign tourists. In continuation of our very successful trips in the centralasiatsiek desert lands; Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, as well as Morocco - we go in search of all the specialties that make our trips successful.

 

Species previously only thought to be available in Yemen are all found here along with Saudi Arabia's only endemic species, the endangered Asir Magpie.

 

Key-birds (170-220 species): Helmeted Guineafowl, Arabian Partridge, Philby's Partridge, Dusky Turtle-Dove, African Collared-Dove, Namaqua Dove, Bruce's Green-Pigeon, White-browed Coucal, Nubian Nightjar, Montane Nightjar, African Palm Swift, Spur-winged Lapwing, Lesser (Tibetan) Sand-Plover ssp pamirensis, Crab Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Black-winged Pratincole, White-eyed Gull, Sooty Gull, Saunders's Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, Abdim's Stork, African Openbill, Pink-backed Pelican, Western Reef-Heron, Imperial Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk, Arabian Scops-Owl, Arabian Eagle-Owl, African Grey Hornbill, White-throated Bee-eater, Arabian Green Bee-eater, Abyssinian Roller, Arabian Woodpecker, African Paradise-flycatcher, Red-tailed Shrike, Isabelline Shrike, Great Grey Shrike ssp pallidirostris, Masked Shrike, Asir Magpie, Fan-tailed Raven, Greater Hoopoe-Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Rufous-capped Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Arabian Lark, Temminck’s Lark, Graceful Prinia, Upcher's Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Pale Crag-Martin, White-spectacled Bulbul, Brown Woodland-Warbler, Scrub Warbler, Yemen Warbler, Arabian Warbler, Rüppell's Warbler, Abyssinian White-eye, Arabian Babbler, Violet-backed Starling, Tristram's Starling, Hypocolius, Yemen Thrush, Black Scrub-robin, Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin, Little Rock-thrush, African Stonechat, Red-breasted (Buff-breasted), Wheatear, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Arabian Wheatear, Nile Valley Sunbird, Palestine Sunbird, Arabian Sunbird, Rüppell's Weaver, African Silverbill, Arabian Waxbill, Long-billed Pipit, Arabian (Olive-rumped) Serin, Yemen Serin, Yemen Linnet, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and several southern European and Central Asian species. 

 

On this trip we will visit the areas around the capital Ryiadh in the northern part of the country. Here we find a lot of desert specialties. Then we travel south to very varied nature with lush Dhofar mountains, desert, lagoons and lakes along the Red Sea coast.

 

The bird life in this part of Saudi Arabia is really exciting. On the one hand, there are the local species such as bulbuls, sunbirds, paradise flycatchers, starlings and others. Many migratory birds from both Europe and Asia also pass through Saudi Arabia: waders, Passerinas and birds of prey. Other species such as Abdim's stork are an African breeding bird that migrates north to Oman. So we can expect a wonderful mix of European, Asian, Middle Eastern and African species

 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is home to a rich heritage and ancient customs. Seen as a symbol of hospitality, food plays a very important role in traditional Saudi Arabian culture. Generosity, warmth and a sense of sharing are the hallmarks of this country's heritage, and this can be seen reflected in the food they eat: Majboos / Kabsa - Meat and vegetable dishes with rice, Gursan, Jalamah, Dajaj Mashwi, Arabian Grilled Chicken, Manti, Sambousek - Saudi Arabian Samosa, etc

 

Habitats Covered

Deserts, mountains, wetlands, coastal marshes, lakes, agricultural landscapes and semi-desert 

 

Expected Climate

Generally cool to warm in the highlands but hot in the coastal plain and around Riyadh. It will mostly be dry and sunny but overcast weather and even rain are possible in the southwest.

Accommodation & Road Transport

The hotels used are of good quality. Road transport will be by minibus (passenger van) or 4x4. Roads are generally good.

Important Note! 

Women visitors must wear a headscarf and, of course, dress modestly as perceived by the locals. No alcohol is allowed.

Bird Photography

Excellent! 

 

Tour Pace & Walking

Relaxed, easy and occasionally moderate.

 

Ease of Birding

Easy to moderate 

Other Attractions

Spectacular scenery, interesting mammals and other wildlife, Arabian culture and cuisine 

Group Size Limit

8 - 10 with one or two Miksture leaders

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SCHEDULED 2023 DEPARTURE

 

29.03 - 08.04 2023 AND November 2023 (pls wait for update)

Tour Leader: Michael Westerbjerg Andersen

Tour price (Per person): USD 2.395,-

Singl: USD 400,- 

Deposit: USD 400/per person

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THE TOUR AT A GLANCE...

 

Day 1: Scandinavia to Riyadh International Airport via stopover. 29.03: For those travelling from outside Scandinavia pls contact Miksture.

Day 2 and 3. Jebel Towki, Rawdat Nourah and Al Ha’ir - Arabian Desert Birds

30.03 and 31.03: Our tour starts in Riyadh early this morning. We will head to some desert areas north of the city where our main target is Arabian Lark (a recent split from Dunn’s Lark, now restricted to Africa), a partially nomadic and difficult to get bird anywhere in its range in the Arabian peninsula and the southern Middle East, but very reliable here. We move around the desert areas around Jebel Towki: Arabian Lark, a recent split from Dunn’s Lark. Other interesting species: Greater Hoopoe-Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Desert Lark, Bimaculated Lark, Black-crowned Finch-Lark, Crested, Temminck’s Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Great Grey Shrike, og Asian Desert Warbler. Good chances for Thick-billed Lark. More interesting species of Wheatears:  White-crowned, Hooded og Mourning Wheatear, Fan-tailed Raven, Brown-necked Raven, African Collared-Dove, Sand Partridge, Pallid Swifts, Pale Crag Martins, Trumpeter Finch, Blackstart, Red Avadavat, “Caspian” Stonechat, Black-crowned Night-Heron og Arabian Green Bee-eater. Wintertime is good for Steppe Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard. Next day we continue exploring more desert-areas, and more vegetation-rich habitats south of Riyadh: Spur-winged Lapwing, Collared and Black- winged Pratincole, African Collared-Dove, Namaqua Dove, White-spectacled Bulbul, Indian Silverbill, White- throated Kingfisher, Green Bee- eater, Black Scrub-robin, Desert Finch, and Spanish Sparrow. Winter-time: Western Marsh Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Steppe and Greater Spotted Eagle. Breeding Pharaoh Eagle-Owl in the area. O/N near Riyadh. B

 

Dag 4-7. Riyadh – Abha. Asir-region and Sarawat Mnts

01.04 - 04.04: Transfer Riyadh - Abha. Three full days of bird watching in the Asir region. We visit a number of habitats, but mainly the wooded wadis in the area. The most important bird in the area is the endemic Asir Magpie, of which there may be fewer than 100 pairs left. In addition, we are looking for near-Saudi endemics: Arabian Partridge, Philby’s Partridge, Arabian Scops Owl, Arabian Eagle Owl, Arabian Warbler, Arabian Woodpecker, Arabian Wheatear, Buff-breasted Wheatear (mulig split fra Red-breasted), Yemen Thrush, Yemen Warbler, Rufous-capped Lark, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian Sunbird (recent split from Shining Sunbird), Arabian (Olive-rumped) Serin, Yemen Serin and Yemen Linnet.  Other good birds: Hammerkop, Fan-tailed Raven, Grey-headed Kingfisher, African Grey Hornbill, White-throated Bee-eater, White-browed Coucal, Black-crowned Tchagra, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Dusky Turtle-Dove, Little Swift, African og Long-billed Pipits, Brown Woodland-Warbler, Abyssinian White-eye, White-spectacled Bulbul, African Pipit, Gambaga Flycatcher, Little Rock-thrush, Tristram’s and Violet-backed Starling, Starling, Scrub Warbler, Palestine and Nile Valley Sunbirds, Black Scrub-robin, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, and Ruppell’s Weaver. Mammals: Hamadryas Baboon. O/N Abha. BD

 

Dag 8 og 9. Jazan – Red Sea, coastal wetlands

05.04 - 06.04: In the coastal lowlands around Jazan, the primary target will be the local (and never guaranteed) Arabian Golden Sparrow that has been recorded in this area in recent years. Lots of other species are possible in this area: Harlequin Quail, Nubian Nightjar, Singing Bushlark, Helmeted Guineafowl, Abyssinian Roller, ‘Mangrove White-eye’, possible split from Abyssinian White-eye, ”‘Mangrove Reed Warbler’ – potentielt split from Eurasian Reed Warbler. White-eyed and Sooty Gulls, Saunders’s Tern, Crab Plover, Goliath Heron. In addition, there will be opportunities for a number of overwintering such as White-throated Robins, Masked Shrike, as well as a number of Sylvia and Acrocephalus warblers, Western Yellow Wagtails, Rufous-tailed Bush-Robins, and birds of prey such as the Pallid Harrier. O/N Jazan, B

 

Dag 10. Jazan - Riyadh

07.04: We return to Riyadh, and enjoy a good farewell-dinner. O/N Riyadh, BD

 

Day 11. Tour concludes, departure home

08.04. Transfer to airport. Welcome home   

FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS:

 

Price per person (in shared double-room USD 2.395,- incl. international flights to/from Riyadh from Scandinavia. From other countries there might be a difference to be added/reduced. Pls contact Miksture

 

Single supplement:   USD 400,-

Deposit: : USD 400/person;

 

Group size: minimum 8 and maximum 10   

 

Availability: Spaces available for 2023    

 

Leader:   Michael Westerbjerg Andersen

To book a seat on this tour a deposit on 400 USD per person should be paid (if Miksture cancel 100% this deposit will be returned, of course) – You are not reserved a seat before the deposit is paid. The remaining amount per person should be paid latest 1.th December 2022.

 

 Please see under IMPORTANT NOTES below.

 

The tour fee includes:

  • Guiding by Miksture/Michael Westerbjerg Andersen and his team;

  • Services of tour leader;

  • Meals according day-to-day program. Breakfasts (B), Lunch (L) and dinners (D) in Saudi Arabia;

  • All lodgings in Saudi Arabia, 3*** in Riyadh – guesthouse or small hotels in the south;

  • Airport transfers;

  • Transportation according program in Saudi Arabia in comfortable vehicles;

  • Reserve entrance fees;

  • Administration from Miksture;

  • Necessary permits sites and other paperwork;  

  • International flight Scandinavia to/from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. From other countries pls contact Miksture

The tour fee does not includes:

  • Visa fees;
  • Gratuities (drivers, hotel staff, restaurants etc.)

  • Beverages and soft drinks

  • Meals not mentioned in the DTD-program

  • Personal expenses for eventual extra arrangements not mentioned in the program

  • Travelinsurrance – mandatory! 

  • Money for own expenses and anything strictly personal (e g laundry, phone calls, any excess luggage charges, snacks).

 

IMPORTANT NOTES: a) Due to constantly fluctuating exchange rates, we quote our tours in USD. The tour price is however fixed only in the currency printed in bold, and the actual cost in the other currencies listed will be adjusted according to prevailing exchange rates at the time of final invoicing (usually four months before the tour.) The same applies to approximate flight and single supplement rates, which are also quoted in the respective fixed currency. b) Rates are based upon group tariffs; if the tour does not have sufficient registration a small party supplement will have to be charged. c) Furthermore, these costs are subject to unforeseen increases in tour related costs and may have to be adjusted as a result. d) Lastly, we may be forced to change or alter the itinerary and / or the designated Miksture leader/s at short or no notice due to unforeseen circumstances; please be aware that we will attempt to adhere as close to the original program as possible.

 

Special Notes:  It is important for the comfort of your fellow travellers that you do not over-pack. Kindly stick to 20kg (44lb) for check-in luggage and 8kg (+-18lb) for hand luggage.  

 

Some of the tour will be in remote areas with limited medical facilities or hospitals. Please ensure that you have all the necessary medication that you require for the duration of the tour.

 

Although it will be sunny, the temperatures can vary greatly, from comfortable warm days temperatures of 15 to 18 degrees Celsius in the lowlands (but cool in the mornings), to cooler with rain in the mountains.

 

Fitness: In general this tour does not require a high level of fitness, but participants should be in good general health as some of the birding will be done on foot, and may require moderate walking for several hours at a time. Some of the walks in the mountains will, however, be more strenuous. Should you have any physical limitations, please notify us in advance of departure.

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE DETAILS:
The main tour will commence in Riyadh Airport, Saudi Arabia latest evening on day 1. As we depart early on day 2, you are required to be present in Riyad the night before the tour starts day 2. The tour will conclude with a transfer to Riyadh International Airport after breakfast on day 11. The above information in respect of arrivals and departures is a guide only. Precise arrival and departure information will be sent to you in your Tour Confirmation package once the tour has been officially confirmed. If you wish to arrive early and/or depart late and would like assistance in this regard, kindly contact the Miksture office.