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The Apennines: Italy's Abruzzo National Park

Tour Code: ITA06

An 8-day natural history holiday looking at the alpine and Mediterranean plants, birds and butterflies of the Abruzzo National Park, in the central Apennines, home of the endemic Marsican Brown Bear and Apennine Wolf.

dates & prices to be confirmed Land Only Price: £ SRS: £

Amongst the highlights each day during this varied, single-centre wildlife holiday in the Apennine Mountains of central Italy will be an abundance of alpine flowers and attendant butterflies, the selection of a scenic spot at which to break our daily walk with a leisurely and delicious lunch made from local produce, and the opportunity to scan the mountain slopes around us for Red Deer, Chamois, Peregrine, Golden Eagle, Chough and Alpine Chough — and perhaps even a Marsican Brown Bear or Wolf (both of which we regularly see on this tour)! — and to reflect on the many charms of this attractive region of rural Italy.

  • Look for Marsican Brown Bear and Wolf (both regularly seen on this tour)
  • Enjoy a myriad of plants, butterflies and birds in the Apennines
  • Watch birds of prey and woodpeckers (including White-backed and Black)
  • Look for Great Sooty Satyr, Blue-spot Hairstreak and numerous other butterflies
  • Enjoy Marco and Geraldine’s friendly hotel… and their Italian-Scottish welcome
  • Learn from our expert Naturetrek botanist and naturalist leaders


All included in the price.


A single-centre holiday based in a comfortable, family-run hotel; all rooms have private facilities.

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Rome and transfer to Pescasseroli

Day 2/7 Wildlife walks in the Abruzzo National Park from Pescasseroli

Day 8 Transfer to Rome and fly London

Stretching the length of Italy, the Apennine Mountains provide a refuge for much of Italy’s most interesting natural history. Ancient forests and flower-filled meadows are abuzz with insect-life and birds, whilst mammals include healthy populations of both Brown Bear and Wolf. Although typically elusive, our groups enjoyed wonderful sightings of the critically endangered Marsican Brown Bear and also Apennine Wolf in 2016 and 2017. We hope for similar success in 2018! This is very much a working rural landscape of rolling hills and traditional sheep farming, made special by its wealth of atmospheric medieval villages, traditional cuisine and aromatic local wines, all of which combine to make this holiday a well-rounded and enjoyable Italian experience.

Set in the heart of the Apennines is the Abruzzo National Park, established by royal decree in 1923 and today protecting an area of 400 square kilometres. This park is the focus of our single-centre holiday, during which we will be based in a comfortable, family-run hotel, set in a quiet location at the edge of the large village of Pescasseroli, in the foothills of the Apennines. Delicious and wholesome Italian cuisine, a garden which is home to Redstarts, Firecrests, Collared Flycatchers and Red Squirrels, and the nearby and interesting medieval quarter add further to the attractions of this village base, from which we will set out each day — sometimes walking straight out from the garden into the surrounding countryside — to enjoy a series of natural history walks amongst the delightful valleys and peaks of this pleasant rural region, exploring the meadows, majestic old beech forests and high alpine pastures (usually within a 20- kilometre radius of our hotel). Our aim is not to focus too intently on any particular wildlife aspect but rather to enjoy the wealth of local flora, birdlife, butterflies and mammals, including Chamois and, with luck, even a glimpse of an endemic Marsican Brown Bear or Apennine Wolf for which the park is renowned. The area’s geology is calcareous and this feature, together with the wide range of habitats and altitudes (from 700 to 2,200 metres) within the park, are the main reasons for the outstanding flora, which includes a large variety of bellflowers, saxifrages and orchids. We will also provide time to soak in the region’s atmosphere, enjoying the culture and history found in abundance in the Apennine villages, and perhaps sampling and slipping home some of the delicious, locally produced honey, truffles and cheeses for which the area is justly renowned.

At the Camosciara, a dramatic dolomitic amphitheatre, we will search for such plants as Swallow-wort, Glaucous Spurge, Kidney Vetch, Spiny Restharrow, Nice Milkwort and the rare and beautiful Lady’s Slipper Orchid. Nearby, amongst the forests and clearings of this area, we will listen for Firecrests, Coal Tits, Serins and Crossbills. Towards the top of the Camosciara, the views of the surrounding mountains are quite spectacular and, as well as a wealth of flowers here, we will also enjoy the abundance of butterflies that they attract (if the sun is out!). Golden Eagles regularly nest nearby and we will keep an eye out for them and other mountain birds.

On another day we will focus on the Val Fondillo, ascending a trail through pastures and small wetlands where Adenostyles glabra and such orchids as Man, Toothed, Lady, Early Spider and Heath Spotted may be found. Later, as we reach the forest, we may come across Mezereon, Martagon Lily and Stinking Hellebore beneath ancient and stately Beech trees. Birdwatching here is also good, with Redstarts, all of the region’s five species of Woodpecker (Green, White-backed, Lesser, Middle and Great Spotted) and Western Bonelli’s Warbler choosing to breed in these forests.

The Vallone Pesco di Lordo, which rises gently through meadows and beechwoods, will occupy another of our days. A range of butterflies are to be enjoyed here, while plants may include such woodland species as Coralroot (Cardamine bulbifera), Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia) and the prized endemic Marsican Iris (Iris marsica). Later we will retrace our steps and travel to the ‘landslip’, north of Pescasseroli. Although the landslide occurred several years ago, the soil has not been cleared from the road and remains a feature of the area. Here we will revisit a meadow which we scan for Bears at dawn and dusk, this time focusing on the rich variety of orchid species it holds, including Lady, Burnt, Toothed, Fragrant and a form of Early Purple Orchid.

Amongst the highlights each day will be the selection of a scenic spot at which to break our walk with a leisurely and delicious lunch made from local produce. This will be a time to relax amongst an abundance of Apennine flowers and attendant butterflies, to scan the slopes around us for Red Deer, Chamois, Peregrine, Golden Eagle, Chough and Alpine Chough — perhaps even a Marsican Brown Bear! — and to reflect on the many charms of this attractive region of rural Italy.

Lago di Barrea and Monte Marsicano from Barrea (Lee Morgan)Hilltop town (Gill Castle)Lago Barrea (Gill Castle)Naturetrek clients searching for bearsV. eugeniae, Lowres (Lee Morgan)Red-underwing SkipperNarrow-bordered Bee HawkmothBergers Clouded YellowLesser Spotted Fritillary (Lee Morgan)Firecrest, Lowres (Lee Morgan)Green Underside BlueCommon Wall Lizard (Ron Brown)ChamoisAbruzzo ChamoisAdriatic Lizard Orchid (Lee Morgan)Bear watchingBrown BearsBrown BearLady OrchidMarsh FritillaryLady Slipper Orchid
Spring 2016
The organisation was great from start to finish. Warm weather, colourful scenery, fantastic birds, flowers, insects and mammals, plus a terrific leader.
Spring 2016
A beautiful part of the world and a very beautiful part of the year. Jessica Turner is an extremely knowledgeable, competent, friendly and kind guide.
Spring 2016
Our tour guides were very professional, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The hotel was comfortable and welcoming.
Spring 2015
The two leaders, Jessica and Lee were very knowledgeable and keen to share it with the rest of the group. Jessica and Lee sorted out the best picnics I have ever had. The scenery and walks were brilliant.
Spring 2015
The Hotel Paradiso was splendid and a very good choice as the base for the holiday. The perfect Italian/Scottish hospitality, local food and enthusiastic owner.
N&H. F.
Spring 2015
The group moved at a good average speed to let everyone see things - again this took skill from Jessica and Lee. Well Done.
Spring 2015
The tour leaders were extremely knowledgeable as well as being organised and very friendly, which made for a very enjoyable holiday.
West Midlands
Jessica and Marcus were both fabulous and went out of their way to give us a great holiday. Nothing was too much trouble and they were a credit to you.
East Sussex
I was very impressed by the level of expertise of both Andrew and Tom. They also had a very good attitude fostering a cheerful and well-bonded group. I'd specifically like to mention Tom, who on at least three occasions bumped into as we went looking for birds (oustide group activites) and with great enthusiasm helped us to find extra birds for our list - firecrest and wryneck included.
I enjoyed this holiday in spite of the poor weather conditions, largely due to the expertise and good humour of our leaders.
Mr J.
The two trip leaders had excellent knowledge of the area and its wildlife (in its broadest sense), and were able to share the knowledge and enthuse the group about the area and its wildlife.
J. & J.S.
A huge thank you to Jessica and Lee for a really wonderful week. The weather was perfect, the entire week filled with an abundance of birds, plants, butterflies, moths, mammals (yes, we did see bears on the very last evening), also in the week a wolf, wild boar, - the final lists were amazing. On our walks we really did not know where to look next there was so much to see. Our group was one that really got on well together and we had masses to see and do but a lot of fun and laughter as well was enjoyed by all. Jessica and Lee were superb, their efforts unstinting and really no one wanted to come home.
The whole holiday lived up to expectations. All travel arrangements went smoothly. The Hotel hit just the right balance of informality and comfort. Food was excellent and we were never made to feel a nuisance when up early for bear-watching! Lee and Jessica complimented each other with their vast and diverse knowledge. They were delightful companions and never made us feel pressurised for time - congratulations to them both! We would certainly go with Naturetrek again - this was my 4th!
This was an excellent holiday in the magnificent Abruzzo National Park at the best time of year for the plants. The two leaders were founts of knowledge and the hotel was excellent in all respects.
A tick in the excellent box does not really do justice to the qualities of the two leaders!
My compliments to Jessica, David and the hotel staff whose professional and kind hard work made this a most enjoyable holiday which matched the superb scenery and wildlife.
Bob Brown did an excellent job as the main leader. He really couldnt have done more to make sure that each person got the most out of the holiday. He was an assiduous host - sensitive, responsive, attentive and flexible. Both Bob and Ted [Griffiths] made invaluable contributions and complemented one another well. Naturetrek is fortunate in having them on their staff.
...As walking country it was better than anywhere else I have been. Special mention goes to the lovely Paradiso hotel. What great hosts Marco and Geraldine were. The hotel rooms were really good, the food and wine was great and the staff were genuinely friendly and helpful. I would also like to express my thanks and my appreciation of the work that Bob and Ted put into organising our holiday. They were great company and remained good humoured at all times.
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We will be running this tour in the near future but as yet have not finalised dates and prices. To register your interest and be added a waiting list to be informed when details are confirmed, please contact us or phone 01962 733051.

Visiting: Italy

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Tour Reviews

The organisation was great from start to finish. Warm weather, colourful scenery, fantastic birds, flowers, insects and mammals, plus a terrific leader.
D.B., Spring 2016