Book Now Hungary: Cranes, Plains & Przewalski Horses
Spectacular Birding and Hungarian Heritage
DATES: 21 Oct - 28 Oct 2017
COST: £2299 per person. All inclusive (ex. flights.)
AVAILABILITY: 3 Places Available
Join an Aigas Ranger and our local experts on a trip to witness one of Europe's true wildlife spectacles - the migration of 80 - 100,000 Common Cranes into Hortobagy National Park. The sight and sound of many thousands of these beautiful birds arriving at their evening roost is one that will stay with you forever. We will visit plains where ancient Przewalski horses roam.
Our week long programme also visits Bukk National Park and combines many amazing bird watching opportunities with insights into Hungary's ancient heritage and traditional way of life. Wolves are slowly returning here and Golden Jackals are common. We will discuss conservation issues with local experts.
It is a balanced programme with cultural interest as well as superb wildlife watching. Accompanied throughout by your Aigas Ranger and our local expert guides.
- Sunset at Hortobagy Fish Ponds to witness thousands of Cranes coming into roost and out on the steppe.
- Bird watching including Imperial Eagle, Hawfinch, Great Bustard and Long Eared Owl roost.
- A steppe safari to see ancient Przewalski Horses in an area that also has wolves and jackals. Cross the steppe in a horse drawn cart!
- Three talks from local conservation & ecology experts.
- Mist netting for bats.
- Traditional felt making & bread baking. Visit a traditional blacksmith.
- Puszta horsemanship show.
- Historical sight-seeing in Budapest & the Danube.
Inlcuded in the price of the programme is: transfers (on day of arrival and departure), all travel as noted in the itinerary, accommodation, 3 meals per day (generally breakfast, lunch, 3 course dinner), on board coffee, tea and biscuits, guiding, entrance fees to national parks, trip materials.
Not included in the price are international flights, airport and other departure taxes, transfers on days other than the start and end of the trip, alcoholic drinks, tips and other personal costs. The single supplement on this trip is £200. Extra nights' accomodation and tranfers outside arrival and departure day can be arranged at an extra cost.
Day 1 - Saturday
After collection at Budapest Airport we drive to our hotel situated in the heart of the city by the river Danube overlooking Hungary’s Parliament.
Overnight: Hotel in Budapest
Day 2 - Sunday
After breakfast a sightseeing tour of Hungary’s beautiful capital on both sides of the mighty Danube River. The western side called Buda has rolling hills with the Castle and the
old town’s narrow cobbled streets lined with old houses; the grandiose Matthias Church and Royal Palace are all well worth a visit. We drive to the top of Gellert Hill to admire the splendid views over the city and the Castle Hill.
In the eastern side of the city called Pest baroque and classical architecture rules. We walk along the magnificent Andrassy Boulevard lined by palaces and villas to end up visiting Heroes Square with its museums. The streets of the Jewish quarter lead to its beautiful Synagogue, the largest in Central Europe.
In the afternoon we transfer to Hortobagy National Park, searching for Eastern Imperial Eagle on the way.
Our hotel is in the town of Tiszafüred on the edge of the National Park. The hotel grounds are good for pre-breakfast birding with Syrian Woodpecker often present on old walnut trees.
Day 3 - Monday
After breakfast we visit the steppes of Hortobagy National Park looking for Great Bustards. In Autumn immature and female Bustards are found in smaller flocks usually feeding on rape or alfalfa
fields, where we might have good views of these magnificent birds. Raptors are also well represented here with Hen and Marsh Harriers, Rough-legged Buzzard, Merlin and Saker.
Lunch in a traditional roadside inn and then we have a short lecture about crane migration by an expert from the national park.
In the afternoon we visit the biggest and most famous fishpond system, Hortobágy Fishponds. A narrow gauge train will take us among the lakes to reach the hides from where we can see thousands of water birds feeding on the lakes. These ponds are home to Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, White-tailed Eagle, Water Rail and Penduline and Bearded Tit.
The last pond is a major roosting site for Common Cranes harbouring up to 40,000 cranes in good years. Geese, ducks, herons, egrets and gulls are also found here in large numbers. We will stay by the pond until dusk witnessing thousands and thousands of calling cranes flying in from every direction. An unforgettable experience!
Day 4 - Tuesday
We go on a Steppe safari to see reintroduced Przewalski Horses roaming in the grasslands of the park. These horses lived in the region thousands of years ago and now they form a base population for reintroduction to Mongolia.
Later we ride on a horse-drawn cart into the steppes and have traditional food prepared over the campfire. Hungarian Grey Cattle and Racka Sheep are kept grazing
on the steppe. We can enjoy a Puszta horse show with traditional horsemen performing their riding skills.
Early afternoon we visit an established Long-eared Owl roost low in the trees to watch these lovely birds from very close quarters.
In the late afternoon we have the opportunity to stay in waterside hides at Elep Fishponds to witness the spectacle of roosting cranes in the sunset. Many thousands will fly into the drained pond along with many Greylag and Greater White-fronted Geese, ducks, Caspian Gulls and waders. Another remarkable experience not to be missed.
Day 5 - Wednesday
We visit the Puszta Animal Park in the morning. It holds traditional breeds of cattle, sheep, poultry and curly haired Mangalica pigs.
Then we transfer to Bükk National Park via the picturesque ferry over the Tisza river. We stop along the way in Little Hortobagy to look for Saker Falcon and Eastern Imperial Eagle among other raptors.
Late afternoon we reach our superb hotel at the foot of the Bükk Hills where the food is often regarded as a lifetime experience.
Pre-breakfast walks are very productive around our hotel as Middle Spotted Woodpecker is regular here and Black, Green, Grey-headed, Syrian and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker are also possible.
For dinner we can enjoy a tasty Hungarian goulash around a camp fire if the weather permits.
Day 6 - Thursday
In Bükk National Park we visit magnificent beech and oak woodlands to search for Black, Grey-headed and the elusive White-backed Woodpecker. We stroll through picturesque valleys and visit an abandoned quarry to search for woodland birds including Hawfinch, keeping our eyes open for Rock Bunting.
In another area we might track the pack of Wolves living inside the forest. If we are lucky we might find their footprints or even traces of their prey.
Before dinner there will be a talk by a National Park mammal specialist about the mammals of the park.
After dinner a bat expert will set up a mist net to catch and survey bats at a small pond close to our hotel.
Day 7 - Friday
We explore the historical town of Eger visiting the old castle built for fighting the Turks centuries ago. The centre of Eger has fine baroque churches and grandiose buildings.
In the evening we will have a traditional dinner in a wine cellar sampling local wines including the famous Bull’s Blood.
Day 8 - Saturday
Programme ends at the Budapest airport.
"I have dreamed of seeing the Hortobagy crane migration all of my adult life. The reality of the spectacle surpassed even my wildest imaginations." Sir John Lister-KayeBook Now