This Natural History Tour will take you to explore the best of Romania’s wildlife and scenery, including the most spectacular birdwatching sites in the Danube Delta and Coastal Dobrogea, the picturesque gorges and twinkling lakes, the swaying hay meadows and endless forests of the Hargita and Southern Carpathian Mountains, with excellent chances to see Brown Bears and other rare European mammals, birds and plants. We will travel back in time as we pass through medieval landscapes, historical towns and castles, admiring the countryside and enjoying the tasty local food!
We start our tour exploring the Dobrogea region, the easternmost part of Romania – a mix of dry, gently rolling steppes and farmlands, dotted with woodland hills, a wealth of lakes, marshes and lush meadows along the Black Sea coast, picturesque villages and medieval castles. In the coastal lagoons and marshlands in the vicinity of Sinoe we will be looking for various water birds, including Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Western Marsh Harrier, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, a variety of warblers inhabiting the reedbeds, like the Paddyfield Warbler and Great Reed Warbler, different species of gulls and terns, etc. There will be good chances to encounter the elusive European Golden Jackal in this area, plus a lot of butterflies and dragonflies. While in the area, we will stop at the Greek and Roman ruins of Histria Fortress, where apart from the cultural aspects we will have an opportunity to explore the wildlife of the wetlands surrounding the ruins.
Moving inland away from the coast we will visit the Cheile Dobrogei gorge. There we will be watching for breeding Eurasian Hoopoe, Pied Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, plus Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle. Small woodlands, shrubs and steppe grasslands, surrounding the gorge can produce Eurasian Stone Curlew, Syrian Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Barred Warbler. In the steppes we can also find the European Souslik – a small and cute rodent living in burrows. Here we will be able to enjoy colourful European Bee-eater colonies, with European Rollers often nesting next to them on the same ground walls.
Further north, driving to the port town of Tulcea we will make a long stop in the Babadag Forests, looking for various forests birds like the Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Warbler, Sombre Tit, Hawfinch. We will spend that afternoon in the riverine forests and reedbeds in the vicinity of Tulcea, searching for Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Bearded Reedling, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Icterine Warbler. In the shallow-water lakes to the east of the town we will find breeding colonies of Caspian Gull, plus Black-winged Stilts and other waders and shore-birds.
One of the highlights of this tour is the 3-day boat trip in the Danube Delta. The Danube Delta is the second-largest delta in Europe, comprising about 3,000 square kilometers of reedbeds, shallow lakes and forested islands with spectacular wildlife. We board the boat at Tulcea port and spend the next three days exploring the core of the Delta, visiting scenic pristine sites that hold a big variety of birds, including Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Red-necked Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, White-tailed Eagle, Red-footed Falcon, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Great White Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Pallas’s Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Thrush Nightingale and many others. Our accommodation for the next two nights is in a guest house in the village of Mila 23 – an isolated rustic settlement situated on a small island in the core of the Delta. Every day we have our lunch cooked on board and the dinners at the guest house.
Next we transfer north-west (about 400 km) to the Hargita Mountains (part of the Inner Eastern Carpathians). We make short stops on the way for wildlife viewing and refreshments. For the next three nights our base is a guest house in the Hargita area. Here we explore various forest habitats and flower-filled meadows and pastures. The main birds to be seen include Hazel Grouse, Eurasian Hobby, White-backed Woodpecker, Great Grey Shrike, Crested Tit, Common Crossbill, Spotted Nutcracker, Coal Tit, Fieldfare, Black Redstart, Wood Warbler and Wood Lark. We expect a big variety of butterflies, as well as a lot of flowers, including a fine selection of orchids – Birds’ Nest Orchid, Lesser Butterfly Orchid, Fragrant Orchid, Bug Orchid, Heart-shaped Marsh Orchid and others. On one of the two days while in the area, or both days if you prefer, we will enter a bear-watching hide in the late afternoon and stay there until dark. The chances of seeing bears here are very high, reaching nearly 100 %.
For the final part of our tour we drive southwest to the Southern Carpathian Mountains. On the way we stop at the local fish ponds, where we have good opportunities to encounter the Little Bittern, Whiskered Tern, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Corn Bunting, and with a little bit of luck, fishing Ospreys. We will be driving mostly through hilly areas, covered with oak and beech forests and plenty of meadows in between, where we can see the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Fieldfare, Hawfinch, European Serin and enjoy the colorful meadows. There will be a lot of White Stork nests along the village streets we are passing through. If time allows we may stop to see the historical town of Sigishoara, considered to be the most beautiful and well-preserved inhabited citadel in Europe with authentic medieval architecture. Our accommodation for the next three nights will be in a small hotel high in the Carpathian mountains.
A visit to Romania would not be complete without enjoying an unbroken vista of the country’s highest mountains, the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania. This is a long chain of mountains in the southern, eastern and northern parts of Romania, with vast stretches of spruce, beech and oak forests, holding with large populations of Brown Bear, Grey Wolf, Chamois and a rich diversity of birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and plants.
In the following two days we will be exploring the alpine and conifer forests zones of the Southern Carpathians – the highest part of this mountain chain. In the mountain rivers and streams we will find White-throated Dippers and Grey Wagtails. There will be a good variety of forest birds, including Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Willow Tit, Crested Tit, Eurasian Bullfinch. In the alpine areas we have very good chances to observe the Alpine Accentor, Black Redstart, Water Pipit, Eurasian Crag Martin, as well as one of the most beautiful and sought-after birds in the world – the Wallcreeper.
We will be enjoying the alpine flora, as there will be plenty of blooming plants on the mountain slopes, such as Rhododendron myrtifolium, Geum ssp., Potentila ssp., anemones, violas and many more, contributing to the colorful scenery. In the lower parts of the mountains we will find a lot of flowering orchids and other interesting plants, plus a good variety of butterflies and other insects. This is a very good area to watch the Chamois and the Alpine Marmot too.
Prices for groups bigger than 8 persons – to be agreed;
The prices include the ground transport by car (incl. transfers from and to Bucharest Airport), accommodation in en-suite double/twin rooms in small middle standard hotels and guest houses, all meals, a 3-day boat trip in the Danube Delta, the use of a Brown Bear hide for one day, English/German speaking guide and entrance fees in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve and other protected sites.