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For a thousand years the seeminglyimpregnable fortresses ofConstantinople exemplified thestrength and dominance of the EasternRoman, or Byzantine, Empire. Then, as theRoman influence diminished, the citybecame the heart of the ascendantOttoman Empire, a rule that would last intothe 20th century, until the gradual evolutionof the present Turkish Republic. Throughoutthis vast span of history, Istanbul (formerlyConstantinople) has always been at thecentre of the world stage and each passingdynasty has left reminders of theirpresence in the architecture of the old city.Today, with Turkey seeking membership ofthe EU, the country is once again lookingtowards the future as part of Europe, butthe blend of cultural influences in Istanbulhave helped create one of the mostfascinating and cosmopolitan cities in the world. The location of Istanbul, at the junction ofEurope and Asia, is also directly on thetraditional migration route for vast numbersof storks, birds of prey and other diurnalmigrants which use the thermals developingover the surrounding hills to soar and glideacross the waters of the Bosphorus.Although this phenomenon has been notedfor centuries, it was not until intensivewatches were organised in the 1960s thatthe true scale of this remarkable trafficbegan to be fully appreciated. Teams ofobservers carefully counted each passingflock of raptors and storks from vantagepoints on the Camlica Hills and the resultingcounts demonstrated that, during thesouthward autumn passage, in excess of70,000 raptors, 6,000 Black and 200,000White Storks choose to depart from Europeby this ancient fly-way. We capture the bestof both worlds in this 9-day tour whichcombines comprehensive sightseeing ofIstanbul with the exciting prospect ofwitnessing the spectacular raptor passageover the city. Like all migration movements,the prevailing weather conditions will be acrucial element in our success, but bystaying at an hotel near the famous CamlicaHills we have the flexibility to make last-minute decisions about each day'sprogramme, devoting more time to theobservation points when warranted but,during quieter moments, catching a ferryacross the Bosphorus to explore thewonders of Istanbul. With so much history todraw upon, the city has enough attractionsto occupy a visitor for weeks, but among the'must see' buildings is the extraordinaryHaghia Sophia, the triumph of Byzantinearchitecture that for over a millenium was thelargest enclosed space on the planet. Anequally impressive edifice of the Moslemfaith is the massive Blue Mosque and furtherbreathtaking examples of Moslem art arecontained in the Topkapi Palace. Thismagnificent trio of buildings would be reasonenough to visit Istanbul, but our experiencedlocal guide will be keen to show us manymore facets of this remarkable city.Watchers from the Camlica Hills will findtheir vigil an exhilarating experience aswave after wave of migrants spiral into thethermals and drift away south, only to bereplaced by yet more birds using the samemethod to cross the water. There is arelentless momentum to these dailymovements; when conditions areunsuitable only the occasional bird will beseen, but as soon as the avian log-jam isreleased by a change in the weather, theresulting stream of raptors and storkscreate the kind of unforgettable spectaclethat the Bosphorus is famous for. With themigration period extending from August toOctober, no one week tour can capture thepeak for all species, but statistically thetiming of our visit should ensure we arepresent for some spectacular movementsinvolving White and Black Storks, LesserSpotted, Short-toed, Booted and ImperialEagles, Black Kites, 'Steppe' Buzzards andLevant Sparrowhawks, with good chancesof appearances by less numerous travellerssuch as Spotted Eagle, Griffon andEgyptian Vultures, Osprey, harriers, Hobby,and Eleonora's and Red-footed Falcons.Stand by for the field guide illustrations tocome to life in this remarkable pageant ofraptors and storks!As a diversion from looking skyward, we also include a 2-day excursion toUludag, with an overnight stay in nearbyBursa. Uludag is the highest mountain inWestern Anatolia and in addition to easilyaccessible montane scenery, a visit offersthe chance of seeing such species asKrüper's Nuthatch, Alpine Accentor, AlpineChough and Red-fronted Serin. It may seem strange for a bird tour to becentred in a huge city, but it should alreadybe evident that Istanbul is no ordinarymetropolis and regardless of the vagariesof migration we are assured a mostunusual and entertaining week. Turkey - Istanbul &the Bosphorus Migration A 9-day tour to observe visible migration over the Bosphorus and to investigate the rich cultural heritage of Istanbul. Saturday 14th September - Sunday 22nd September Cost: £1,395Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationTURKEYBLACK SEASEA OFMARMARAAEGEAN SEABULGARIATURKEY(THRACE)GREECEULUDAGISTANBULBOSPHORUSOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Istanbul.Day 2/3 Migration-watching andsightseeing, Istanbul.Day 4/5Uludag; overnightBursa.Day 6/8Migration-watching andsightseeing, Istanbul.Day 9Fly London.AccommodationA 2-centre holiday usingcomfortable tourist hotels withprivate facilities. FoodBreakfast and evening meals areincluded in the tour cost. Pleaseallow £5-£10 per day for lunches.GradingGrade A. A leisurely birdwatchingand sightseeing tour, includinggentle walking. FocusBirds and sightseeing in Istanbul.LeadersAndy Harding and Kerem Ali Boyla.Single room supplement£125.Web quick search: TUR01151Lesser Spotted EagleIstanbul

AFRICAFew wildlife enthusiasts can resist Africa. Few of its visitors fail to fall under its spell. Its wide, sun-bakedlandscapes, huge skies, and friendly people offer a warmth and calm that are the quintessential ingredientsof the classic holiday. The bold and colourful birdlife of the African continent, and unrivalled abundance andvariety of its wild animals, underline its status as the world's top wildlife destination. Whilst we offer week-long tours to Tunisia and Morocco, most of our African holidays (with the exception ofour short bargain breaks listed on pages 22-25) are of two weeks' duration or more. The continent offers someof the very best hotels, wildlife lodges and permanent tented camps in the world, and we make the most ofthem. The wildlife options are boundless. In Uganda we search for Mountain Gorillas; in Botswana we savourthe expansive and majestic waterways of the great Okavango Delta. Zambia's stock in trade is the ultimate thrillof the walking safari, whilst Ethiopia offers not just the most spectacular of the continent's landscapes but also arich history. Namibia's spectacular deserts, Madagascar's lemurs and other endemic wildlife, the unrivalledbirdlife of Kenya and mammals of Tanzania, not to mention the fabulous flora of South Africa's Cape andNamaqualand regions (and the wines of course!), the lakes and mountains and friendly people of Malawi, andthe deserts, oases and spectacular wadis of North Africa and the Middle East -these are just some aspects of thecontinent's rich tapestry which we hope to offer you on our holidays . and the reasons why you are most likelyto return again and again! "Our guides were marvellous and ensured we had the best safari experience possible. Our accommodation throughout thetrip was excellent - as was the food. I will certainly recommend the trip to family and friends. Thank you Naturetrek fora wonderful experience." M.J., Suffolk - Botswana."Thoroughly enjoyed my first holiday with Naturetrek and would definitely be prepared to go elsewhere with thecompany. Excellent leader, could not have wished for better. His depth of knowledge was fantastic! Wonderfulexperience." M.W., Lincolnshire - Madagascar."The parts of Morocco we saw had spectacular scenery, from the snowy High Atlas Mountains to the oases, deserts andsand dunes. It was lovely to see the local people dressed in their traditional clothes. Our tour leader was excellent, he wasso knowledgeable and good with birds, butterflies and animals ... a professional, with a marvellous sense of humour. A holiday to remember. We are looking forward to our next Naturetrek holiday and have already booked!" B.G., Mid Glamorgan - Morocco.© Photograph courtesy of SATOUR152