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Autumn in Hungary

Tour Code: HUN01

An 8-day birdwatching tour to enjoy the spectacular migration of Cranes through the Hortobágy, together with wildfowl, raptors and Great Bustards.

8 days from £1595(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1395 SRS: £195


Each autumn 50,000 Common Cranes gather in Hungary’s Hortobágy National Park. It is one of Europe’s greatest wildlife spectacles. Spending our first 5 nights in the Hortobágy, each day we’ll explore its flat open steppe (known as puszta), fish ponds and Lake Tisza before positioning ourselves each evening beneath the flight path of the Cranes as they come in to roost – a quite breathtaking sight (and sound!) as flock after flock passes overhead. Stately Great Bustards are another highlight of this tour, plus Dotterel, Imperial Eagle, Saker Falcon, Pygmy Cormorant and a variety of wildfowl and migrating waders. The holiday concludes with 2 nights in the contrasting wooded hills and meadows of the Bükk National Park in search of woodpeckers, raptors and other woodland species.

  • Enjoy one of Europe’s great wildlife spectacles
  • 50,000 Common Cranes in the Hortobágy in October
  • Great Bustard, Dotterel, Imperial Eagle & many others
  • Migrating flocks of geese including Lesser White-fronted Goose
  • Woodpeckers, raptors & other birds in the Bükk Hills
  • Mammals – such as Souslik – and other wildlife also enjoyed
  • Hungarian wines to sample including the ‘Bulls Blood’
  • Extend your holiday with time in Budapest
  • Expertly led by a British Naturetrek ornithologist & local guides

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels with private facilities.

Common Cranes (Paul Marshall)

Common Cranes (Paul Marshall)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Budapest and transfer Kiskunsag National Park

Day 2 Kiskunsag National Park

Day 3/5 Hortobagy National Park

Day 6/7 Bukk Hills

Day 8 Fly London

Hungary’s varied landscapes, abundant wildlife, rich folklore and excellent wines combine to create the perfect destination at any time of year. For the birdwatcher, however, one season stands out above the rest — the autumn. Each October over 100,000 Common Cranes gather on the steppes of the Hortobágy on their way south to their wintering grounds in North Africa. There are few experiences in the natural world to rival the sight and sound of an evening crane roost and this exciting tour will position you directly under their flight path! Add to this a supporting cast of wildfowl, raptors, waders — including Dotterel — and the mighty Great Bustard, and you have all the ingredients for a spectacular week of Magyar birdwatching.

We will spend our first two nights of the holiday in the Kiskunság National Park, just an hour's drive from Budapest, Hungary's vibrant capital. This tranquil lowland region of steppe, sandy dunes and farmland is one of the country's strongholds for the Great Bustard. These stately birds live alongside Saker Falcon and Eastern Imperial Eagle, plus a variety of passage and wintering species including Rough-legged Buzzard, White-fronted Goose and Great Grey Shrike.

We next travel east to the Hortobágy National Park for a 3-night stay. In October the puszta (a dry semi-natural grassland broken only by acacia copses, farmsteads and reed-fringed fish ponds) attracts a wonderful variety of birds. This is a flat land of distant horizons, dotted with isolated sweep wells and grazed upon by flocks of scruffy sheep. Eastern Imperial and White-tailed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Merlin, and both Hen and Marsh Harriers hunt over the plains flushing parties of Red-throated Pipits, Corn Buntings and Crested Larks as they go. Here we have a second opportunity to look for Great Bustards, whilst the huge system of fish ponds that dot the national park attract Spoonbill, Bittern, Great Egret and Pygmy Cormorant. This is an excellent month for waders too, as the drained ponds expose carpets of invertebrate-rich mud for Golden and Grey Plovers, Little Stint, Ruff, Spotted Redshank and Green, Wood and Curlew Sandpipers.

Large numbers of ducks — particularly Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler and Ferruginous Ducks — are also attracted to the fish-ponds, and thousands of grey geese (mostly White-fronted and Bean Geese accompanied by the occasional group of Lesser White-fronts) use the ponds as roosts. Both Penduline and Bearded Tits are resident and common around the edges of the endless reedbeds, whilst an autumn speciality of the Hortobágy is the collection of confiding Dotterel flocks which remain here until the first frosts of winter.

Over the last decade, the number of Common Cranes passing through the Hortobágy, on their way from breeding grounds further north to their winter quarters in Africa, has steadily increased. Well over 100,000 now regularly spend the autumn in eastern Hungary, and on successive evenings we will be in place just before dusk to experience flight after flight of Cranes, whistling and trumpeting as they pass low overhead from their daytime feeding areas to secure wetland roosts. This is one of Europe’s most spectacular ornithological sights and sounds, and will no doubt be the highlight of the week for many.

For the final part of our holiday we will transfer to the broad-leaved woodlands of the Bukk Hills in the north of the country, close to the Slovakian border. The Bukk National Park protects one of Hungary’s most scenic regions and its rolling landscape of forested hills, vineyards and quaint villages offers a dramatic contrast to the flat lands of the Hortobágy and the great Hungarian Steppe. Our hotel is situated in a small and traditional wine-producing village with birds such as Serin, Black Redstart and Hawfinch typically amongst the garden birds. We will also head a little further afield, however, and explore the surrounding forests in search of Black, Middle Spotted, Grey-headed, Syrian and the localised White-backed Woodpeckers, plus Hawfinch, Goshawk, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Short-toed Treecreeper.

For those wishing to extend their stay we would recommend a couple of nights in Budapest, Hungary’s beautiful and vibrant capital. Here you may choose to spend some time exploring the historic Castle District or perhaps end your holiday with an evening cruise down the Danube; a fitting finale to autumn in Hungary!

Great Bittern (Paul Marshall)Otter feeding (Malcolm Stott)Garganey (Malcolm Stott)Cranes and full moon (Malcolm Stott)Common Cranes in flight (Malcolm Stott)Cranes flying in to roost (Malcolm Stott)Naturetrek group (Malcolm Stott)Common Cranes (Malcolm Stott)Tree Sparrow (Malcolm Stott)Sheep shed in Angyalhaza  (Malcolm Stott)Sunset (Malcolm Stott)Scenic Bothy (Malcolm Stott)Nutcracker (Malcolm Stott)Spoonbill (Malcolm Stott)White-backed Woodpecker (Malcolm Stott)Dotterel (Malcolm Stott)Dotterel watching (Malcolm Stott)Bukk hills (Malcolm Stott)Bukk National Park (Malcolm Stott)Long-eared Owl (Malcolm Stott)House in the Bukk hills (Malcolm Stott)Nomad hotel (Malcolm Stott)Rural Hungary (Malcolm Stott)Tower hide (Malcolm Stott)European Souslik, Gerard GormanFire Salamander, Gerard GormanGoat Moth, Gerard GormanLesser Purple Emperor, Gerard GormanWoodland Brown, Gerard GormanDotterel in autumn plumage
Mr and Mrs H.
Staffordshire
The organisation was superb. I particularly liked the picnics. Everything seemed to work seamlessly thans to Andy, Gerard and Ishvan. The weather could have been better but did not stop Gerard finding more birds than we expected. Overall the holiday was excellent.
L.G.
Greater Manchester
Itinerary good, especially the Cranes but enjoyed all days and we saw lots of birds. Food- excellent tasty, local cuisine.
S.J.
Hampshire
The main objective of the holiday was to see birds and Gerard worked hard to ensure we saw lots. He tried to give us closer views as well which was great as my main requirement was to photograph the birds. He was also very knowledgeable on other wildlife. Lots of frogs and toads. I thought he was excellent as the local guide.
J.S.
Warwickshire
Gerard contributed massively to the success of this trip. Apart from his bird/wildlife expertise he was always around helping with the language, explaining the type of food etc. He worked hard and was always jovial. With Gerard and Andy we were in safe hands.
Mr & Mrs W.
London
Gerrard Gorman was an excellent guide with comprehensive local knowledge, who enabled us to see an amazing variety of birds and other wildlife and opened up much of the history and development of the country to us. Geoff Carr was really helpful with the scope and explained so much about the birds we were seeing and the wider migration habits. A great combination!
Prof A & Mrs R.
Fife
We highly recommend this trip.
S.R.
Yorkshire
The local leader was brilliant - very keen, earnest and genuine and could not have done more.
M.V.
Dorset
The hotel in Noszvaf was brilliant, friendly and well organised. The food was superb. We learned a lot about Hungary - its way of life, food and culture. Our leader, Paul, was friendly, extremely knowledgeable, eager to help and informative. Andrej Schmidt was perfect - a brilliant leader, ornithologist and, overall, a mine of information about birds, plants, the environment, and the culture of his country. Paul and Andrej were always ready to help, find brilliant birds and make sure we all saw them.
Mr & Mrs R.
Berkshire
Thank you for an enjoyable trip.
J.W.
Scotland
Excellent holiday. The local guide was quite outstanding.
D.C.L.
Middlesex
Gerard Gorman's spot-on local knowledge and contacts ensured excellent birding opportunities and some fantastic views.
M.J.
Gloucestershire
We would both like to thank Naturetrek in their choice of Andy as tour leader.
M.T.
Berkshire
It was great to be able to be so close to where the cranes were roosting for the night. We could see line after line of birds come in. A great experience!
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Wed 10th October 2018 - Wed 17th October 2018

YES

£1595

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Hungary

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Paul Stanbury
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Tour Reviews

The organisation was superb. I particularly liked the picnics. Everything seemed to work seamlessly thans to Andy, Gerard and Ishvan. The weather could have been better but did not stop Gerard finding more birds than we expected. Overall the holiday was excellent.
Mr and Mrs H., Staffordshire