Visit the World of Trumpeting Cranes in Hortobagy, Hungary

ECOTours Hungary
Varosmajor 10, Budapest
1122 Hungary
Tel: 36-1-214-2379
Fax: 36-1-214-2381

Located at the center of Europe where four major climatic conditions converge, Hungary boasts one of the richest natural environments in Europe. There are 400 species of birds, more than 50 species of orchids, 800 protected plant species and about 3600 butterfly and moth species to be found in 300 national and over a thousand local protected sites. This tour highlights the best birding sites in Hungary and includes the unforgettable experience of witnessing the arrival of thousands of trumpeting cranes flying low overhead as well as some rare bird species.

DAY 01
Arrive Budapest. Meet our Hungarian Birder Guide and drive for about three or four hours towards the famous Hortobagy, plus we add a few stops to check some spots for rarities like the Imperial Eagle, Saker and other more common birds of prey such as the Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel. We will spend the night close to Lake Tisza and the border of the Hortobagy National Park.

DAYS 02 - 04
During these days, we explore the marshes and lakes of the puszta for Great White Egret, Spoonbill, Common Bittern, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Golden and Grey Plovers, Wood, Green and Curlew Sandpipers and many more species. The fishpond systems of the Hortobagy have White-tailed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Pygmy Cormorant, Red-necked Grebe and numerous geese and ducks. Although most of the geese are White-fronted, there should be a couple of Lesser White-fronts as well as Wigeon, Pintail, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler and Ferruginous Ducks. We also hope to see Dotterel, Black-headed Gull, slender-billed Curlew and Spotted Eagle that sometimes visit the drained ponds.

All Hungarian raptor species have been registered around the Darassa-puszta Region during the year, but in the Fall, Long-legged and Rough-legged Buzzards, Saker, Merlin and Hen Harrier are the ones to look for. There is a nice exhibition and photo gallery at the Darassa Raptor Center. We will encounter some early winter visitors such as Great Grey Shrikes and locally common residents such as Penduline Tits, Bearded Tits and Little Owls. Another frequently seen nocturnal predator is the Long-eared Owl. The vast grassland is the home of the unique Great Bustard which has a healthy population in the area. It definitely will be one of the highlights to witness these enormous birds. The most spectacular event will be the arrival of thousands of Common Cranes flocking in to their roosts each evening. The trumpeting sound and majestic flight of these great birds are simply unforgettable.

Within this short period of time, we will see more than a hundred species of birds, some of them at really close range. October is an excellent time for rarities. We may see a few late migrants such as Stone Curlew, Moustached Warbler, Garganey and Osprey. Even Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Red-breasted Goose, Pallid Harrier and Great Skua has been observed here.

DAY 05
An early pre-breakfast trip gives us a chance to find groups of Bustards at some special spots. Later, we can learn about the protection of these great birds at the Bustard Rehabilitation Center at Devavanya that belongs to the nearby Koros-Maros National Park. Barna Windmill and Zador Bridge are interesting sights and it is also worthwhile to check the Kecskeri Plain for Waders and Waterfowl.

Close to the famous 9 arch bridge, we visit the Hortogaby National Park Exhibition about the vegetation and fauna of the alkali plain, including traditional domesticated animals such as Mangalica pig, Hungarian grey cattle, Racka, Cigaja sheep and Hungarian stud. Kestrel, Lapland Bunting, Crested Lark, Twite and Red-throated Pipit are usually on the grassland at this time of the year. Depending on the weather, a few White Storks might still be searching for food in the area. If you wish, you can buy some interesting items at the local folklore fair.

DAY 06
On our last day in the region, we spend some time in Debrecen, the Calvinist's "Rome." After sightseeing in Hungary's second largest city, we will search for different Woodpeckers, Short-toed Treecreepers and other birds in the Old Forest and visit some unusual habitats such as the largest volcanic monadnock in the country and the famous Tokaj Hill. It offers many specialties during the year: Smooth snake, adder, 17 different orchid species, bulbous fumitory, breeding Rock Thrush, and Bee-eater in spring while birds of prey, badger and wild cat are the highlights in autumn. We will take in the panoramic view of the Tisza-Bodrog region around it and we won't forget to taste the world famous Tokaj wines in one of the 600 year old cellars.

DAY 07
Today, we return to Budapest. We stop at Gyongyos city where we can learn about the flora and fauna of the Matra Mountains and Hungary with the help of an amazing collection in the Matra Natural History Museum. Included are thousands of plant and animal species, a complete mammoth skeleton, minerals from all over the world and Europe's largest eggshell collection consisting of more than 37,000 pieces.

We have 2 nights in the beautiful Danube Bend region dotted by scenic hills such as Borzsony and Pilis, just north of Budapest. The hills perfectly represent the woodland species of Hungary. Above the valleys we will encounter several types of Raptors (Buzzards, Goshawk, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk etc.) and Waterfowl will be abundant at the river.

DAY 08
We start our day searching for the woodpeckers. It is possible see most of the Hungarian species: Syrian, Lesser Spotted, Middle Spotted, Great Spotted, Black, Grey-headed, Green and even White-backed Woodpecker. In the meantime, Blue, Coal, Great, Long-tailed and Marsh Tits will be around plus both Treecreeper species. European Nuthatch, Yellowhammer, Wren and Hawfinch are very common residents while Stock Dove, Raven and roosting Long-eared Owls or even Eagle Owl are sometimes seen. Rock Bunting is also a resident breeder in the area. After a picnic lunch, we will visit some interesting fishponds and other habitats of international importance. Waterfowl at the fishpond system include Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Pintail, Gadwall and Wigeon. There is also a chance to see Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, some late Great White Egrets, and Grey Herons. At the end of the day we hope to witness the spectacular fly-in of several thousands of Bean Geese at Lake Tata.

Day 09
Finally, we say goodbye to Hungary with a sightseeing tour of the capital, Budapest. See below for trip extensions or alternative programs that are available.

Trip Dates and Costs

Accommodations and Meals

All meals are provided. Accommodations are located in the natural environment with full tourist facilities as follows:
6 nights at Tiszafured/Egyek Patkos Inn at the border of the Hortobagy National Park.
2 nights at Orgona Pension, Veroce, in the forest of the famous Danube Bend region.

Trip Extensions
We can make arrangements for you to extend your vacation in Hungary and nearby countries. Options range from a few hours to visit Budapest's famous caves to multi-day programmes. These include:

  • Brown Bears or Butterlies in Slovakia.
  • Raptors and Bears of Bulgaria.
  • Danube Delta of Romania.
  • Special interest - photography, canoe trips, walking, riding or bicycle tours.
  • 3-B Ecotours - Botany, Birding and Butterflies
  • Visiting other sites - World Heritage, European Award Winning and National Parks.
  • Price Includes:
    All travel and accommodations as noted above, three meals per day (breakfast and dinner at the places of accommodation, packed lunches at a suitable birding spot), entrance fees for programs listed in the itinerary, trip materials and English-speaking guides.

    Price Does Not Include:
    Passports and visas, airport and other departure taxes, food except as provided in the itinerary, tips, immunizations, optional programs, telephone calls, alcoholic beverages, laundry, room service, snacks and anything of a purely personal nature. If you have questions about the inclusion of any item, please contact us.

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