The Tulip Trail

21 Apr

It’s quiz time on Kazaxia.

Where did tulips originate?

a) Turkey b) The Netherlands c) Kazakhstan

If you answered a or b then think again as these emblems of spring originated on the hillsides of southern Kazakhstan.

Turkey has adopted the tulip as a national symbol and The Netherlands has cornered the market in cultivated tulips, but to see these flowers in their original habitat you need to head for a small village located between Taraz and Shymkent in the south of Kazakhstan.

Greigs Tulip

For a few weeks at the end of April each year, the hillsides around Zhabagly come alive with a lush coating of bright red Greig’s Tulips (Tulipa greigii), the precursor of the tulips that are grown commercially around the world.

Kaufmanns Tulip

Higher up, the more delicate Kaufmann’s tulip (Tulipa kaufmanniana) blooms until July. This tulip has pink coloured petals with a yellow colouring on the inside. It is often found close to the snowline and favours rocky mountain slopes.

Zhabagly village is the gateway to Aksu-Zhabagly State Nature Reserve, founded in 1926, is Central Asia’s oldest national park. It’s a great place to visit in spring and autumn, but can get very hot in high summer. It has a range of hiking and horse trekking options including excursions to the Aksu Gorge.

One of the best homestays in Zhabagly village is run by It specialises in tours to see the tulips and other local sights of interest and can arrange birdwatching and horse riding trips.


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