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Armenia - Butterflies of the Caucasus

Tour Code: ARM03

An 8-day holiday in search of the butterflies of the spectacular Caucasian countryside.

8 days from £1995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1695 SRS: £200

Although a small country (about the size of Wales), Armenia supports more than 230 species of butterfly, among them a highly sought-after selection of Caucasian specialities as well as many European and Asiatic species at their range limits. Armenia has varied landscapes and habitats: semi-desert, flower-rich steppes, ancient forests, mountain gorges and alpine meadows, each of which supports a distinct butterfly community and we will go in search of as many of these as we can during our holiday, including skippers, blues, fritillaries, hairstreaks, graylings and apollos. We will not neglect other wildlife on our daily excursions and there are many interesting birds, dragonflies and day-flying moths to enjoy, as well as some beautiful scenery and cultural highlights in this little-explored country.

  • Led by renowned butterfly expert, Tom Brereton
  • Armenia supports 230+ species of butterfly
  • Chance to see 80+ butterfly species during the week
  • Persian Skipper, Dawn Clouded Yellow & Persian Fritillary in semi-desert habitat
  • Look for thousands of ‘mud-puddling’ blue & white butterflies at water courses
  • Short-tailed Blue, plus Jerusalem & Caucasian Lesser Spotted Fritillaries, Gharni
  • Large Blue, Hungarian Glider & Northern Brown Argus in forests & meadows, Dilijan
  • Mountain Alcon Blue, Kurdish Copper & False Heath Fritillary near Janjour
  • Apollo, Mountain Apollo & Nickerl’s Fritillary among montane species, Mt Aragats
  • Chelmos Blue, Agri Blue in montane hay meadows around Gnishik
  • This tour supports Butterfly Conservation


All included in the price.


A mixture of simple but comfortable hotels and guesthouses with private facilities.

Gavarnie Blue (Tom Brereton)

Gavarnie Blue (Tom Brereton)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Yerevan.

Day 2 Hatsavan and Garni; overnight Yerevan.

Day 3 Acharkut, from Dilijan.

Day 4 Janjour Pass, from Gumri.

Day 5 Mount Aragat, from Yerevan.

Day 6 Khosrov, from Yeghegnadzor.

Day 7 Noravank and Gnishik, from Yerevan.

Day 7 Fly London.

Armenia is a land-locked Christian country in the southern Caucasus with a rich and ancient cultural heritage. Located between the Black and Caspian Seas, bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Iran and Azerbaijan, and with a mountainous terrain rising to over 4,000 metres, it is hardly surprising that Armenia makes a superb holiday destination for the natural history enthusiast in the early summer. Further, it is safe, friendly, warm and dry in summer with almost no biting insects, and offers fabulous food and spectacular scenery. Above all, it is fantastic for butterflies — this small country, the size of Wales, supports more than 230 species, amongst them a highly sought-after selection of Caucasian specialities as well as many European and Asiatic species at their range limits. A wealth of other wildlife is also not to be overlooked. Dragonflies, day-flying moths, and such avian specialities as Upcher’s and Greenish Warblers, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Radde’s Accentor, Whitethroated Robin and Lammergeier should be among the highlights of this exciting new Naturetrek tour.

We begin, and end, in the historic capital of Yerevan, but we will also stay in small villages and rural towns, experiencing Armenian life and hospitality, and enjoying the country’s varied landscapes. In particular, we will search for butterflies in Armenia’s semi-deserts, flower-rich steppes, ancient forests, steep mountain gorges and alpine meadows grazed by livestock that are tended by nomadic tentdwelling Kurdish shepherds. Each habitat supports a distinct butterfly community, and seeing 80 species or more is a possibility over the course of our week.

From Yerevan we will first make an excursion into the nearby steppe and semi-desert habitats around Hatsavan and Gaghadir, searching for Persian Skipper, Southern Swallowtail, Dawn Clouded Yellow, Persian Fritillary, the fritillary Melitaea trivia caucasi and the hairstreak Satyrium ledereri. Water courses in this arid environment can be real magnets for butterflies, where thousands of ‘mudpuddling’ blue and white butterflies may gather. At nearby Gharni we will visit the gorge where spectacular basalt columns have been carved out by the Goght River. This is another rich butterfly habitat and supports Marbled Skipper, Short-tailed Blue, Esper’s Marbled White, and both Jerusalem and Caucasian Lesser Spotted Fritillaries.

Leaving Yerevan we will travel north to Dilijan, a spa town in the Tavush Province of Armenia surrounded by lush forests. In one, the Acharkut Beech Forest, which contains a number of flower-rich meadows, we will look for Large Blue, Dryad, Great Banded Grayling, Scotch Argus, Northern Brown Argus and the hairstreak Satyrium abdominal, and along the forest’s rides and glades we will seek out Southern White Admiral, Eastern Wood White, Hungarian Glider and the beautiful emperor butterfly Thaleropis ionia. Then we will drive west through some stunning mountain scenery and pass through several unique and little-changed wooden Russian villages, established from the late 18th century onwards when sectarian ‘Molokan’ Christians left Russia. At a mountain pass near Janjour we will search the rocky slopes and sheltered grassy woodland edges for Mountain Alcon Blue, Turquoise Blue, Purple-shot Copper, Damon Blue, Gavarnie Blue, Azerbaijan Brown Argus, the Brown Argus Aricia alos, Kurdish Copper, the fritillary Mellicta caucasogenita, False Heath Fritillary, Yellow-banded Skipper, Olive Skipper and the Grayling Pseudochazara benoyi. We will then travel to Gyumri, the capital city of Shirak Province in Northern Armenia which is famed for its old Armenian architecture. Montane butterflies will be our focus the following day, as we visit Armenia’s highest mountain, Mount Aragats. Here, amongst its sub-alpine meadows and rocky slopes, we will look for the skipper Pyrgus jupei, Apollo, Mountain Apollo, the clouded yellow Colias chlorocoma, the Scarce Copper subspecies armeniaca, the high altitude white Pieris bowdeni and Nickerl’s Fritillary amongst many other species.

Lastly we will head, via Yerevan, into eastern Armenia. Here we will explore the semi-desert, moist meadows, rocky slopes and extensive Juniper and oak forests of the Khosrov Forest State Reserve in search of such species as Pogges Skipper, the skipper Eogenes alcides, the green hairstreak Callophrys suaveola, the blues Lysandra corydoniu and Polyommatus surakovi, Oriental Meadow Brown and Amasian Satyr. Then, following an overnight stay in the pretty village of Yeghegnadzor, we will conclude our holiday with a visit to the colourful montane hay meadows around Gnishik where Chelmos Blue, Agri Blue, the blue Polyommatus paulae and the brown Satyrus effendi occur, before visiting the beautiful gorge at Noravank, known for its towering brick-red cliffs and spectacularly situated 13th century monastery — a fine way in which to end a holiday to an ancient land with so many attractions. 

Brown HairstreakCamberwell BeautyClouded ApolloEssex SkipperGlanville FritillaryLarge BlueLittle Tiger BlueLong-tailed BlueOrange TipPainted LadyPale Clouded YellowRed AdmiralShort-tailed BlueSooty CopperTessellated SkipperBasalt Columns at Garni Gorge, ArmeniaGarni Gorge, ArmeniaNoravank GorgeMount AragatsSpotted Fritillary by Clive PicktonBlack-headed Bunting by Clive PicktonNemoptera sinuata by Clive PicktonHoopoe by Clive PicktonColumnar Basalt by Clive Pickton13th Century churches in the Noravank Gorge by Clive PicktonAragatsZygaena cuvieri & Hermit by T BreretonThread-winged Antlion by T BreretonQueen of Spain Fritillary by T BreretonOdd-spot Blue by T BreretonMountain Green-veined White by T BreretonMeleager's Blue by T BreretonLycaena kurdistanica by T BreretonGreat Steppe Grayling by T BreretonGlanville Fritillary by T BreretonGavarnie Blue by T BreretonGavarnie Blue by T BreretonGavarnie Blue by T BreretonEastern Mazarine Blue by T BreretonFreyers Fritillary by T BreretonGavarnie Blue by T BreretonCaucasian Spotted Fritillary by T BreretonCaucasian Heath by T BreretonCaucasian Fritillary by T BreretonCallophrys chalybeitincta by T BreretonBalkan Marbled White by T BreretonAmandas Blue, Turkish Fiery Copper & Queen Spain Fritillary by T BreretonAmandas Blue by Tom BreretonAmandas Blue by T BreretonAmandas Blue by T Brereton
The expertise and easy manner of both UK and local leader made the trip a complete delight. Armenia is an astounding location for a whole range of wildlife and the surrounding landscape, heritage, culture and cuisine adds amazing richness - a venue worth developing further!
A very enjoyable week. The butterflies were amazingly abundant in Armenia - probably spoiled us for other places. Plants were wonderful too.
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Sat 22nd June 2019 - Sat 29th June 2019



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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1695 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Armenia

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The expertise and easy manner of both UK and local leader made the trip a complete delight. Armenia is an astounding location for a whole range of wildlife and the surrounding landscape, heritage, culture and cuisine adds amazing richness - a venue worth developing further!
M.J., Buckinghamshire