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Slovakia - Birds of the Mountains & Plains

Tour Code: SVK04

An 8-day birdwatching holiday to the mountains, forests and plains of Slovakia.

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

The Republic of Slovakia is a land-locked country at the very heart of Europe, and its attractive, varied scenery holds exciting potential for birdwatchers. After a flight to Krakow in southern Poland we will drive south to the Slovakian town of Orava, in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains. We will be based here for two nights, in order to explore the surrounding grasslands, woodlands and peat bogs home to a wide variety of birds including Citrine Wagtail and Lesser Spotted Eagle. Next, we transfer to the historic town of Liptov for two nights where we search the forested hills and meadows for all 9 species of European woodpecker, Pygmy Owl, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Hazel Grouse. From Liptov, we will make a scenic drive east through the High Tatra Mountains and into the Slovakian lowlands, a northern extension of the Great Hungarian Plain. Our final three nights will be spent near the Zemplinska Sirava Reservoir, where we can wake up to the sound of Nightingales in the mornings; Wryneck, Hoopoe, Ural Owl and Icterine Warbler will be among the nearby attractions. We end our holiday in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.

  • Explore the spectacular scenery of Slovakia including the High Tatra Mountains
  • Look for all 9 species of European woodpecker in the Velka Fatra & Chocske Hills
  • Eagle, Ural, Pygmy & Tengmalm’s Owls all possible
  • Wallcreepers often breed in gorges near Liptov
  • Search for Black Stork, Citrine Wagtail, Bluethroat & Lesser Spotted Eagle
  • Visit the 12th century Spissky Castle
  • Red-backed & Lesser Grey Shrikes, Bee-eater & Montagu Harrier in open country
  • Birdwatch around the marshes and wetlands of Sienne
  • Extend your holiday with a city break in Budapest
  • Led by expert naturalist guides


All included in the price.


Simple, but comfortable, hotels with private facilities throughout.

Ural Owl

Ural Owl

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Krakow and drive Orava.

Day 2 Orava.

Day 3/4 Velka Fatra and Chocske Hills.

Day 5/7 Zemplinska Dam and eastern Slovakia.

Day 8 Fly London.

Over the past couple of decades, birdwatchers have slowly awoken to the natural history delights of Eastern Europe. Today, countries such as Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Hungary are well established destinations on the European birding circuit and familiar to many of us who travel the world in search of wildlife. For reasons unknown, however, the Republic of Slovakia has not enjoyed a similar surge in ornithological interest. This is odd, for this small landlocked country, which sits at the very heart of Europe, is every bit as exciting for birds as its larger neighbours. For example, Slovakia is home to all of Europe’s nine species of woodpecker (plus Wryneck) with over 1,000 pairs of each! Ural, Pygmy and Tengmalm’s Owls are more readily seen here than anywhere outside Scandinavia, whilst Eastern Imperial Eagle, Saker Falcon, Wallcreeper, Citrine Wagtail and River Warbler make up just a small part of an impressive supporting avian cast. Slovakia can also boast some of the most varied scenery on the continent, from the towering peaks of the Tatra Mountains to the rolling tree-less plains of the east. It is therefore only a matter of time before Slovakia will take its rightful place as one of Europe’s finest wildlife destinations and, with that in mind, we are pleased to offer this exciting itinerary which takes in the very best of the country’s birdlife and scenery.

Our holiday begins with a flight to Krakow, in southern Poland, where we will meet our local guide and then drive south for two hours to the Slovakian town of Orava, tucked away in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains. Orava will be our base for the first two nights of this tour whilst we explore the region’s open grasslands, woodlands and peat bogs. Lesser Spotted Eagles are frequently seen soaring overhead and nest here in good numbers, as do Black Storks. We will also explore the shores of the Orava Reservoir one morning, where Citrine Wagtails now breed, and later we will make our first attempt to locate the beautiful Ural Owl.

Next, we will move our base to the historic town of Liptov for two nights, from where we will explore the forests and meadows of the Velka Fatra Mountains and Chocske Hills, looking for woodpeckers and owls in particular. All nine species of woodpecker breed here, including Black, Three-toed, White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers. We will also look for Slovakia’s largest owl, the Eagle Owl, and its smallest, the diurnal Pygmy Owl, and perhaps find a Tengmalm’s Owl measuring somewhere in between. The mixed Beech and spruce forests that clothe the slopes of the mountains are also home to Collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers, Wood Warbler and Common Redstart, whilst a whirr of wings may signal the escape of a secretive Hazel Grouse. Wallcreepers breed in the gorges in some years and overhead a Golden Eagle, Goshawk or Honey Buzzard may drift past.

Moving on, we leave the mountains behind and head east into the Slovakian lowlands which are the northern extension of the Great Hungarian Plain. Our drive will take us through the dramatic scenery of the High Tatra Mountains and we will break the journey east with a stop at the spectacular 12th century Spissky Castle. As the mountains fade away and the landscape opens out, we will start to see our first open country birds such as Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Bee-eater and Montagu’s Harrier. For our final three nights of the tour we will be based in a comfortable hotel close to the Zemplinska Sirava Reservoir where pre-breakfast walks will be enlivened by a chorus of Nightingales, plus Icterine Warbler, Hoopoe and Wryneck.

We will explore the open plains, mixed woodlands and wetlands of eastern Slovakia over the coming two days in search of such species as Eastern Imperial Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Saker Falcon, Rock Bunting, Tawny Pipit and Barred, Grasshopper and River Warblers. We will also have another opportunity to look for woodpeckers, and especially for Ural Owl which our guides will make a particular effort to find here. Finally, we will explore the complex of marshes and old fish ponds close to the town of Sienne. This is one of Slovakia’s finest wetlands and attracts numerous breeding and migrant birds. The extensive reedbeds and adjacent pools hold Purple Heron, Penduline Tit, Red-necked Grebe and various ‘reed warblers’, whilst all three marsh terns (Black, Whiskered and the beautiful White-winged Tern) hawk for insects overhead. 

Our tour ends in the attractive Hungarian capital, Budapest, where you might like to spend a couple of extra days enjoying its cultural and historical highlights before finally returning home.

Barred Warbler, Milos BallaLesser Spotted Eagle, Martin HrouzekGreen Lizard, Martin HrouzekOrava, Martin HrouzekEurasian Hobby, Martin HrouzekOrava, Martin HrouzekThree-toed Woodpecker, Martin HrouzekOrava and West Tatras, Martin HrouzekMap Butterfly, Martin HrouzekCitrine Wagtail, Martin HrouzekPygmy Owl, Martin HrouzekBirding the Liptov region, Martin HrouzekScenic, Martin HrouzekWhiskered Tern, Martin HrouzekBurning Bush (Dictamnus albus) Martin HrouzekEuropean Souslik, Martin HrouzekEuropean Bee-eater
Mr B & Mrs F
Good organisation, excellent guides, lovely driver, wonderful scenery – and relatively short distances to travel, always broken up with short stops. And of course, the birds! But also flowers, butterflies and interesting villages, farming etc. We enjoyed our pre-tour trip to Krakow, simple to arrange and well worth a couple of days sightseeing.
Mr & Mrs T
North Yorkshire
We enjoyed the variety of habitats we visited and the large number and quality of the birds found. The scenery was beautiful. Thank you Andy and Martin and everyone on the trip - it will be hard to beat!
Mr & Mrs A
A very enjoyable holiday and amazing range of wildlife.
The two leaders were outstanding. Andy Smith is one of the best I have been with – outstanding knowledge and awareness of birds, very good organiser, endless patience and good humour. I particularly appreciated the way he called out the ID features of a bird as we all watched it. The habitats visited were all exceptionally good – especially the Sienne fish ponds – mind-blowing birds!
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Mon 6th May 2019 - Mon 13th May 2019



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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: Slovakia

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Good organisation, excellent guides, lovely driver, wonderful scenery – and relatively short distances to travel, always broken up with short stops. And of course, the birds! But also flowers, butterflies and interesting villages, farming etc. We enjoyed our pre-tour trip to Krakow, simple to arrange and well worth a couple of days sightseeing.
Mr B & Mrs F, Essex