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HUNGARY & TRANSYLVANIA

Birdquest's Hungary & Transylvania is a classic East European birdwatching trip. Our Hungary & Transylvania tour is an exciting springtime journey through the Zemplen hills and Hortobagy plain of Hungary and the Carpathian mountains in Romania, featuring Brown Bears, Great Bustard, Western Capercaillie, Ural Owl, Aquatic Warbler, Wallcreeper and many other great birds.

Sunday 5th May — Tuesday 14th May 2019
(10 days)


Leader: János Oláh

Group Size Limit: 9

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

Great Bustards are one of the main avian attractions of the Hortobágy, and we will be hoping to see a spectacular displaying male! (János Oláh)

Great Bustards are one of the main avian attractions of the Hortobágy, and we will be hoping to see a spectacular displaying male! (János Oláh)

Eastern Hungary and the Romanian region of Transylvania contain a fascinating diversity of habitats and offer some of the finest and yet most undisturbed birdwatching in Europe today. Indeed, the combination of these areas creates what is undoubtedly the most productive bird tour of Eastern Europe in existence. Above all, the friendliness of the local people and their obvious enthusiasm to show off their culture and natural heritage ensures a memorable tour during which we shall see many of Eastern Europe’s most exciting birds.

Eastern Hungary conjures up images of wide-open spaces, Magyar horsemen and gypsies, but before we go on to enjoy the wide open spaces of the Hungarian puszta we will visit the historic town of Tokaj and the Zemplén Hills in northeastern Hungary. In an area long famous for its wines we will pass through timeless villages where the single storey houses are decorated with elegant stucco work and where White Storks peer down from their untidy nests. In the hills we shall often be gazing upwards in search of birds of prey. The prize amongst these must surely go to the powerful Imperial (or Eastern Imperial) Eagle, which nests in these uplands and can be seen soaring effortlessly over the woods and meadows. There are plenty of other specialities too, as other inhabitants of this superb area include Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Ural and Eurasian Eagle Owls, Black, Grey-headed, White-backed, Syrian and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, and Collared Flycatcher.

From Tokaj we will drive eastwards into Transylvania, the wild, mountainous heartland of Romania and renowned as the homeland of the Dracula legend. The Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania are some of the most magnificent and least disturbed mountains in Europe today, possessing an exciting avifauna. Here we will look for Hazel Grouse, Western Capercaillie, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Thrush Nightingale, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Crested Tit and the delightful Wallcreeper. Equally exciting will be the opportunity for some exciting encounters with Brown Bears, lured in to hides, following their long winter hibernation, by the prospect of an easy meal. Transylvania still has some 3,000 Brown Bears, a truly amazing quantity, and this is undoubtedly the best place in Europe for observing this magnificent creature.

Finally we will recross the border into Hungary in order to explore the famous Hortobágy. The Great Hungarian Plain is to this day an evocative and romantic place with its own special atmosphere and charm. Here one can appreciate the Hungarian's ancestral roots, for these lands are populated by the descendants of those famed and feared invaders from the steppes far to the east, the Huns, who swept irresistibly across Europe in the Dark Ages. The Czikos, the ‘cowboys’ of the puszta, are still expert horsemen who spend a great deal of their lives in the saddle. Their charges, the grey long-horned cattle and the strange Racka sheep with their long twisted horns, are also of ancient lineage.

Despite the encroachment of modern agriculture a good deal of original steppe survives and the magnificent Great Bustard can still be found in some numbers in the grasslands of the Hortobágy National Park, whilst the powerful Saker Falcon can be seen more easily here than anywhere else in Europe. Even the dainty Red-footed Falcon is still a common sight. Man has also helped to redress some of his past wrongs to nature, albeit unwittingly, by creating new wetlands in the form of large fishponds the size of lakes, home to a wide variety of waterbirds including Pygmy Cormorants, grebes, herons, egrets, spoonbills and graceful marsh terns. Elsewhere there are marshes and wet thickets where Aquatic, Marsh and River Warblers and Bearded Reedlings skulk tantalizingly, European Penduline Tits build their basket nests and Little Crakes are regularly to be seen.

Birdquest has operated tours to Hungary since 1989 and to Transylvania since 2001.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/guesthouses are of good standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus and the roads are mostly good.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, with a few moderate uphill walks, but there is one optional fairly strenuous hike (starting pre-dawn) to look for Western Capercaillie.

Climate: Many days are warm, dry and sunny, but cool, overcast weather with some rain is not unusual. In the higher levels in Transylvania it can be distinctly cold at times.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities are quite good.

These are provisional prices

Tour Price: £1940, €2290, $2540 Budapest/Budapest.

Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, bottled water in Transylvania, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Single Room Supplement: £189, €223, $248.

Deposit: £300, €360, $390.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

The magnificent Brown Bear, a very hard animal to see in most of Europe, is a major draw for any visitor to Transylvania, where they are routinely observed on our tours (János Oláh)

The magnificent Brown Bear, a very hard animal to see in most of Europe, is a major draw for any visitor to Transylvania, where they are routinely observed on our tours (János Oláh)

The scarce Lesser Spotted Eagle will be another of our targets (János Oláh)

The scarce Lesser Spotted Eagle will be another of our targets (János Oláh)

Hungary and Transylvania are great places to catch up with a number of East European goodies such as Collared Flycatcher (János Oláh)

Hungary and Transylvania are great places to catch up with a number of East European goodies such as Collared Flycatcher (János Oláh)

Ural Owl is always a favourite (János Oláh)

Ural Owl is always a favourite (János Oláh)

Few tours see as many species of woodpecker as this one, with target species including White-backed Woodpecker (János Oláh)

Few tours see as many species of woodpecker as this one, with target species including White-backed Woodpecker (János Oláh)

...Middle Spotted Woodpecker (János Oláh)

...Middle Spotted Woodpecker (János Oláh)

...and the uncommon European Three-toed Woodpecker (János Oláh)

...and the uncommon European Three-toed Woodpecker (János Oláh)

Eastern Imperial Eagle will be top of our raptor want list (János Oláh)

Eastern Imperial Eagle will be top of our raptor want list (János Oláh)

... with the attractive Red-footed Falcon not far behind! (János Oláh)

... with the attractive Red-footed Falcon not far behind! (János Oláh)

Another view of a fabulous male Red-footed Falcon (János Oláh)

Another view of a fabulous male Red-footed Falcon (János Oláh)

In the wetlands, we will be delighted to see the attractive White-winged Tern (János Oláh)

In the wetlands, we will be delighted to see the attractive White-winged Tern (János Oláh)

... the localized Pygmy Cormorant (János Oláh)

... the localized Pygmy Cormorant (János Oláh)

... and the globally threatened Aquatic Warbler (János Oláh)

... and the globally threatened Aquatic Warbler (János Oláh)

Whilst in the wooded areas we will look for the secretive Thrush Nightingale (János Oláh)

Whilst in the wooded areas we will look for the secretive Thrush Nightingale (János Oláh)

... and the colourful Ortolan Bunting (János Oláh)

... and the colourful Ortolan Bunting (János Oláh)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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