Birding & Wildlife Tours
Romania – Bears and Mountains
10 – 18 June 2020
7 days/6 overnights
£960/person (see below for full details od costs)
Single room supplement £95/person
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London to Bucharest
Following our late-evening arrival in Bucharest (we’ll depart UK during the evening) we will transfer to a local hotel for some sleep.
Bucharest to Hargita Mountains
After breakfast, we will be collected from our hotel by Minko (our guide) and then a long drive (5-6 hours) to the Hargita Mountains. We will break up the journey with a stop at Sânpaul Fish Ponds. Here we should expect Night Herons, Little Bitterns, Ferruginous Ducks, Black and Whiskered Tern, Great Reed, Marsh and Savi’s Warblers and Bee-eaters. The area is known for its huge population of Lesser Spotted Eagles, so we will stop briefly at “Eagle junction” where we should gain some good views.
Local hotel in Bucharest and then three nights in Desag Vila in Harghita
Transylvania – Bears and birds
Transylvania is famous for its wildlife and it hosts Europe’s largest populations of Brown
Bear. Wolf and Chamois are quite common and a rich diversity of birds, reptiles,
amphibians, invertebrates and plants is also on offer. During these two days, we will be
exploring the alpine and conifer forests zones of the Hargita Moutains – the highest part of this mountain chain. White-throated Dippers and Grey Wagtails will be frequenting mountain streams. There should be a good variety of forest birds, including Black, Middle-spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Spotted Nutcracker, Alpine and Crested Tits and Bullfinch, but if we are lucky we may also see Hazel Hen. The most sort-after mammal will be the bears, so from late afternoon, we will station ourselves in the bear hide and await the arrival of Brown Bears that should be foraging directly in front of us – the stars of the tour.
Bicas Gorge – Wallcreepers and then more bears
We will visit the Bicas Gorge, a spectacular ravine with a towering cliffs and a fast-flowing river where we have a very good chance to observe the most beautiful and sought-after birds in the world – the Wallcreeper. During our 2019, we watched three Wallcreepers at extremely close quarters as they attended their nest. This is also a very good area to watch the Chamois. We will return to the forests and be taken by 4-wheel drive to a remote hide, known as “The Dead End Hide”, where we hope to gain good photographing opportunities of the mountain’s larger bears such as Goliat (Goliath) who visited the area whilst we were present in 2018 (see trip report)!
Following some early-morning birdwatching in the forest zones to search for anything missed, we’ll then transfer northwest to Székelykő Mountains with stops for birding on the way. We will visit the ancient town and hilltop castle at Sighişoara, the home of the real Vlad Dracula (or Vlad the impala) who lived there from 1431 to 1435. The Count Dracular story was based on his gruesome exploits. It’s not all culture there though as Icterine Warbler, Serin and Marsh Tit were noted there during our 2019 tour. We will also visit the limestone crag in the Székelykő Mountains area and search for Golden Eagles, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Alpine Swifts, Crag Martins, Sombre Tits and Rock Buntings
2 nights at Guesthouse Perla Transilvaniei in Moldovenești (Székelykő area)
In the morning, we’ll enjoy the unbroken vista of the Carpathian Mountains and the vast stretches of spruce, beech and oak forests by taking the Busteni Cable Car to reach “the roof of the Carpathians” where we’ll search for alpine specialities such as Alpine Accentor, Caucasian Horned Lark, Ring Ouzel and Water Pipit. In the afternoon, we’ll explore the mature beach forest zones of Bucegi Mountains at lower levels for Grey-headed and White-backed Woodpeckers, Crested and Alpine Tits, Crossbills, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers and Ural Owl. There will be optional evening walks close to the hotel.
2 nighta at Hotel Marami in Sinaia (Bucegi NP area)
Bucegi Mountains and transfer to Bucharest
Transfer (about 2 hours) back to Bucharest to get the return flight to UK, but there will be time for some final birding in the mountains and stops for Syrian and Middle-spotted Woodpecker on our return journey.
Single room supplement £95/person
Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 4; maximum group size: 12
The above tour prices include:
- Ground transport by an 8 seated minibus (driven by Minko) for a group of 6 persons and by a 16-18 seated bus for the bigger groups (with a separate driver)
- Accommodation in the hotels as described in the itinerary from Day 2 on - in double/twin bedded en-suite rooms for 7 nights - 3 nights in Desag Villa, 2 nights in Perla Transilvaniei and two nights in Marami hotel (of course, if these hotels are in the same good condition as this years
- Seven dinners and seven breakfasts in the hotels
- English speaking local guide during the whole tour
- Use of the Bear hide for one afternoon-evening - the Desag 2 (commercial) hide
- Use of the cable car in Bucegi Mountains
- Entrance fees in the protected sites
The tour prices do not include:
- Travel insurance
- Lunches (we’ll eat at small restaurants or stop at supermarkets for drinks and snacks)
- Alcoholic Drinks
- Items of a purely personal nature
- First night accommodation in Bucharest
- Second day session in the bear hide (the Dead End hide) - it is optional and costs £60pp