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Carpathian Mountains & Danube Delta (Birds & Bears)
7 - 16 May 2019
On this tour we'll be exploring the many contrasting habitats found within Romania, one of the least developed countries in Europe. We begin in Transylvania, where we'll search the rocky peaks and dense forests of the Carpathian Mountains for such iconic birds as Nutcracker and Wallcreeper, while our evenings will be dedicated to watching Brown Bears. Next, we head to the infamous Danube Delta, which we explore both on foot and by boat, giving us the opportunity to discover a maze of channels and lakes home to huge numbers of breeding birds. Finally, we'll spend some time exploring the adjacent steppes and marshes close to the Black Sea coast, which as well as holding many interesting breeding species such as Roller and Paddyfield Warbler, also lies on one of Europe's most important migration corridors.
Meet at the airport for an afternoon flight, direct to Bucharest where will stay for one night.
After breakfast we will make a start on our journey to Transylvania, stopping at a number of locations within the Carpathian Mountains, where birds may include Ring Ouzel, Crested Tit, Firecrest and Crossbill. Later we arrive to our first base in the beautiful Hargita Mountains, where we spend 3 nights.
Today we will spend the morning in the Hargita Mountains, where high rocky peaks rise above dense spruce forests, and it is here we will look for the likes of Nutcracker, Three-toed Woodpecker and Pygmy Owl. After lunch we will look for Ural Owl in the deciduous beech forest, where both Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers are also possible. Late in the afternoon we will make our way to the Bear Hide, where we hope to watch Brown Bears as they descend from the forest in search of food - and if we are lucky - they are occasionally joined by Wolves.
This morning we will drive to the impressive Bicaz Gorge where we will search the towering cliff faces for the fantastic Wallcreeper. The river here is likely to hold both Dipper and Grey Wagtail, while others may include Alpine Swift, Black Redstart, Great Grey Shrike and Hawfinch. If we are lucky we may also find an early Common Rosefinch or Marsh Warbler. Later, we will spend some more time birding in the forest in search of any missed targets, before once again returning to the hide to observe Brown Bears.
Time permitting, one day we'll also visit the walled town of Sighisoara, the birth place of Vlad the Impaler, the alleged inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula.
In the morning we'll quickly visit a nearby city park, where we will look for Collared Flycatcher along with Lesser and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers. Afterwards we will drive over the Carpathian range (5 hours) to our next base at Balta Alba, though there will be plenty to see along the way, with White Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Honey Buzzard all possible. Once at Balta Alba we will spend the remainder of the day at Balta Alba Lake, where waders should be plentiful and include Collared Pratincole and Stone Curlew. We will also have a chance to look at roosting gulls in the hope of finding Pallas's Gull amongst the more numerous Caspians.
After morning birding at Balta Alba we will cross the mighty Danube by ferry and arrive to the Macin Mountain NP, where we will spend the rest of the day. This area is home to a good selection of raptors, including Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Levant Sparrowhawk, while others include Pied Wheatear, Sombre Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Golden Oriole, Bee-eater and Rock Thrush. Later we drive to Tulcea, the gateway to the Delta where we spend one night.
Today we take a boat into the Danube Delta, where we will be visiting various channels and lakes in order to observe the delta's rich mix of wildlife. Waterbirds will obviously be our prime focus, with Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill and Pygmy Cormorant all likely to be encountered amongst the thousands of herons, egrets and cormorants busy commuting to and from their huge colonies. White and Dalmatian Pelicans breed in significant numbers and often afford excellent views from the boat, as do a selection of terns including Whiskered and White-winged. Later, we will arrive to our next hotel at Mila 23, located deep within the delta; this small traditional village is completely surrounded by water and is only accessible by boat. Once there we will have some time to explore on foot and see for ourselves the unique way of life in this remote village.
We start with another fantastic boat excursion to some of the more remote parts of the delta, where in addition to the species already mentioned we have the chance to see Red-necked Grebe, Ferruginous Duck and White-tailed Eagle. After lunch back at the hotel, we once again take to the boat and travel back to Tulcea, from where we continue to Sinoe, our final base of the tour.
This morning we will visit a number of wetland habitats close to the Black Sea Coast, where we should witness an impressive list of migrating waders, many of which will already be in breeding plumage. Our main target however will be Paddyfield Warbler, a rare breeding species within Europe, found here at the very western edge of their range. Many other interesting passerines can also be found here, including Savi's, Olivaceous and Icterine Warblers, Bearded Tit, Penduline Tit, Bluethroat and Thrush Nightingale. Nearby, the surrounding area is made up from a mix of traditional small farms and open Steppe, and it is here we can expect to find Short-toed and Calandra Larks, Tawny Pipit, Isabelline Wheatear and Black-headed Bunting, along with Lesser Grey Shrike and European Roller. It also proves attractive to many species of raptors including Red-footed Falcon and Long-legged Buzzard.
If time permits we will have some morning birding before returning to Bucharest for our flight back to the UK.
|Single room supplement
Flights, All ground transport once in Romania, Accommodation, All Meals, Drinking water, All excursion listed in the itinerary, Entrance fees and Guiding services throughout.
Additional drinks, Insurance and Items of a personal nature.
Maximum of 10, plus leaders.
Dave Read, plus local guides.
This tour will be run at a moderate pace, with a comfortable amount of walking over mostly easy terrain. The climate in May can be variable, though it is usually pleasantly warm, with cooler mornings and evenings, especially in the mountains. Some rain is possible. Accommodation will be in medium / good quality hotels with private facilities. Transport will be by air conditioned minibus. There are no special health requirements.
Many of the flights and the 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 information about financial protection and the ATOL certificate go to www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate
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