For friendly, expert advice call: +44 (0) 1962 733051 Office open Mon to Fri 8:30am - 5:30pm and Sat 9am - 1pm

Turkey - Istanbul & the Bosphorus Migration

Tour Code: TUR01

A 9-day tour to observe visible migration over the Bosphorus and to investigate the rich cultural heritage of Istanbul.

dates & prices to be confirmed Land Only Price: £ SRS: £

Istanbul lies at the crossroads between Europe and Asia and sits upon the migration route for hundreds of thousands of storks, raptors and other migrants as they track south towards Africa. The surrounding geography funnels, and concentrates, these birds over the narrow waters of the Bosphorus creating one of world’s great migration spectacles. This holiday aims to catch the peak of the migration during a 6-night stay in Istanbul. From here we can enjoy birdwatching visits to the nearby Camlica Hills and explore the rich cultural attractions of this historic city such as the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. We break our stay in Istanbul with 2 nights at Bursa whist we explore Mount Uludag in search of Red-fronted Serin and Krüper’s Nuthatch.

  • Enjoy thousands of migrating storks and raptors
  • Explore the cultural and historic attractions of Istanbul
  • Visit the Blue Mosque & Topkapi Palace
  • Watch the migration from the famous Camlica Hills
  • Take the ferry across the Bosphorus from Europe to Asia
  • Red-fronted Serin & Krüper’s Nuthatch on Mount Uludag
  • Birdwatching at Lake Ulubat
  • Expertly escorted by a Naturetrek ornithologist & local guidesbr />


Breakfast and evening meals are included in the tour cost. Please allow £5-£10 per day for lunches.


A two-centre holiday using comfortable tourist hotels with private facilities.

Kruper's Nuthatch (Geoff Carr)

Kruper's Nuthatch (Geoff Carr)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Istanbul

Day 2/3 Migration watching and sightseeing, Istanbul

Day 4/5 Uludag; overnight Bursa

Day 6/8 Migration watching and sightseeing, Istanbul

Day 9 Fly London

For a thousand years the seemingly impregnable fortresses of Constantinople exemplified the strength and dominance of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Then, as the Roman influence diminished, the city became the heart of the ascendant Ottoman Empire, a rule that would last into the 20th century, until the gradual evolution of the present Turkish Republic. Throughout this vast span of history, Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) has always been at the centre of the world stage and each passing dynasty has left reminders of their presence in the architecture of the old city. Today, with Turkey seeking membership of the EU, the country is once again looking towards the future as part of Europe, but the blend of cultural influences in Istanbul have helped create one of the most fascinating and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

The location of Istanbul, at the junction of Europe and Asia, is also directly on the traditional migration route for vast numbers of storks, birds of prey and other diurnal migrants which use the thermals developing over the surrounding hills to soar and glide across the waters of the Bosphorus. Although this phenomenon has been noted for centuries, it was not until intensive watches were organised in the 1960s that the true scale of this remarkable traffic began to be fully appreciated. Teams of observers carefully counted each passing flock of raptors and storks from vantage points on the Camlica Hills and the resulting counts demonstrated that, during the southward autumn passage, in excess of 70,000 raptors, 6,000 Black and 200,000 White Storks choose to depart from Europe by this ancient fly-way. We capture the best of both worlds in this 9-day tour which combines comprehensive sightseeing of Istanbul with the exciting prospect of witnessing the spectacular raptor passage over the city. Like all migration movements, the prevailing weather conditions will be a crucial element in our success, but by staying at an hotel near the famous Camlica Hills we have the flexibility to make lastminute decisions about each day’s programme, devoting more time to the observation points when warranted but, during quieter moments, catching a ferry across the Bosphorus to explore the wonders of Istanbul. With so much history to draw upon, the city has enough attractions to occupy a visitor for weeks, but among the ‘must see’s buildings is the extraordinary Haghia Sophia, the triumph of Byzantine architecture that for over a millenium was the largest enclosed space on the planet. An equally impressive edifice of the Moslem faith is the massive Blue Mosque and further breathtaking examples of Moslem art are contained in the Topkapi Palace. This magnificent trio of buildings would be reason enough to visit Istanbul, but our experienced local guide will be keen to show us many more facets of this remarkable city.

Watchers from the Camlica Hills will find their vigil an exhilarating experience as wave after wave of migrants spiral into the thermals and drift away south, only to be replaced by yet more birds using the same method to cross the water. There is a relentless momentum to these daily movements; when conditions are unsuitable only the occasional bird will be seen, but as soon as the avian log-jam is released by a change in the weather, the resulting stream of raptors and storks create the kind of unforgettable spectacle that the Bosphorus is famous for. With the migration period extending from August to October, no one week tour can capture the peak for all species, but statistically the timing of our visit should ensure we are present for some spectacular movements involving White and Black Storks, Lesser Spotted, Short-toed, Booted and Imperial Eagles, Black Kites, ‘Steppe’s Buzzards and Levant Sparrowhawks, with good chances of appearances by less numerous travellers such as Spotted Eagle, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Osprey, harriers, Hobby, and Eleonora’s and Red-footed Falcons. Stand by for the field guide illustrations to come to life in this remarkable pageant of raptors and storks!

As a diversion from looking skyward, we also include a 2-day excursion to Uludag, with an overnight stay in nearby Bursa. Uludag is the highest mountain in Western Anatolia and in addition to easily accessible montane scenery, a visit offers the chance of seeing such species as Kr?per’s Nuthatch, Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough and Red-fronted Serin.

It may seem strange for a bird tour to be centred in a huge city, but it should already be evident that Istanbul is no ordinary metropolis and regardless of the vagaries of migration we are assured a most unusual and entertaining week.

We currently don’t have any images for this tour. If you have any suitable image you would like published then please email us.

Mr & Mrs K.
Thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The organisation by Naturetrek was excellent. This was our second tour and hoping to do our third to Peru, we have been more than satisfied with both tours and the admin side too.
Show all details | Hide all details

We will be running this tour in the near future but as yet have not finalised dates and prices. To register your interest and be added a waiting list to be informed when details are confirmed, please contact us or phone 01962 733051.

Visiting: Turkey

Detailed tour map

Tour Downloads

View itinerary
View tour reports +

Can I help You?

Paul Stanbury
Operations Manager

Email Paul

01962 733051

Tour Focus


Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

Thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The organisation by Naturetrek was excellent. This was our second tour and hoping to do our third to Peru, we have been more than satisfied with both tours and the admin side too.
Mr & Mrs K., Australia