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The recent surge of interest in naturalhistory, together with today's freedomof travel, have made it almostimpossible to find a major area of Europethat has not been extensively explored bythe British naturalist. Romania, with morethan its fair share of wild and beautifulplaces, can claim to be such a region.Situated on the western shore of the BlackSea, with the Ukraine on its northernborders, Romania has a surprising varietyof habitats. From the extensive wetlands ofthe Danube basin, to the high peaks of theCarpathians; from the evergreen forests ofthe north-west, to the rolling plains of theeast, Romania boasts a remarkableabundance of wild flowers, interestingbutterflies and mammals, plus a long list ofexciting birds. Furthermore, its Black SeaCoast, running from north to south, is partof a major flyway for migrating birdstravelling between their breeding groundsin Eurasia and their winter quarters in theMediterranean, Africa or further east.Our holiday is centred around the DanubeDelta and the Carpathian Mountains. About90 kilometres from the mouth of theDanube, the river divides into threechannels. Enclosed between them lie 3,000square kilometres of reedbeds, shallowlakes and forested islands. It is a wetlandarea larger than the Carmargue and theCoto Doñana combined! Within the Deltanest over 4,000pairsofCormorants,3,000pairs of Night Herons, 2,000 pairs ofSquaccoHerons,1,200pairsofPurpleHerons,1,500pairsofGlossyIbisand alarge percentage of the Europeanpopulation of Great Egrets, PygmyCormorants, and Dalmatian and WhitePelicans. Good numbers of grebes, ducks,terns, geese and five or more pairs ofWhite-tailed Eagles make up the supportingcast! Needless to say, the Delta is a trulywonderful place and, in ornithologicalterms, probably deserves the title ofEurope's single most valuable habitat.We begin our holiday with a flight toBucharest, capital of Romania and sceneof turmoil during the violent revolution thatswept its Communist dictators from powerin December 1989. From here we travel toZarnesti, deep in the TransylvanianCarpathians. This chain of mountains isalpine in nature, with high rocky peaksrising above dense forests of spruce andbeech. We will be based in a guesthouseon the edge of Zarnesti, an attractive smalltown that offers easy access to thesurrounding peaks. From it, we will be ableto explore the local pine woods and rockycrags in search of woodpeckers,Nutcrackers and alpine passerines suchas Wallcreepers. Beyond the treeline, lush alpine meadows host a wealth offlowering plants. In the evenings we willwatch for the Brown Bears and occasional Wolves that descend from theforests in search of carrion.After two full days in the mountains wetravel east to Tulcea, the gateway to theDanube Delta. During our stay in the Delta,we will be travelling and sleeping aboard afloating hotel. On it, we will travel throughthe Delta's numerous channels and lakes,thereby gaining a unique perspective onthe area and its wildlife. We will also havethe opportunity to visit one of the isolatedislands where we will be able to explore onfoot and see the way of life in one of theremote villages of the area. By visitingseveral habitats within the Delta, we shouldhave amassed an impressive total ofspecies by the end ofourvisit;however,the enduring memory of a trip to the Deltais the sheer spectacle of hundreds ofpelicans, herons and cormorantsconstantly flying to and from their vastbreeding colonies.We will spend the latter part of our holidayexploring the rich complex of lakes andmarshes that lie immediately to the southof the Delta. We will visit the ancientGraeco-Roman port of Histria, and the saltmarshes on the edge of Lake Sinoie wheremigrating waders feed alongside breedingAvocets, pratincoles and Kentish Plovers.To the south of the Delta, a small lakemerits our attention. Amongst its large gulland tern colony, grebes, Black-wingedStilts and Mediterranean Gulls breed. Inforest nearby, a range of woodlandspecies -including several woodpeckersand Ortolan Bunting-are found,together with an outstanding variety ofbutterflies and wild flowers. This is anexcellent area for raptors with thepossibility of Booted Eagle over the forest,whilst Imperial Eagles are sometimes seensoaring over the plains to the south.Finally we must travel back to Bucharest,breaking the journey as we pass lakesworthy of our interest. We will leaveRomania satisfied with the memories ofsome of the best birdwatching to be foundin Europe, together with an exceptionalrange of plants and mammals.Romania's Danube Delta & Carpathian MountainsA 10-day tour-by boat and on foot-in search of the birds and mammals of the Carpathian Mountains, Black Sea Coast and Danube Delta.Saturday 4th May - Monday 13th May Cost: £1,495Saturday 11th May - Monday 20th May Cost: £1,495Saturday 3rd August - Monday 12th August Cost: £1,495Saturday 31st August - Monday 9th September Cost: £1,495Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationHUNGARYUKRAINEMOLDAVIASERBIABULGARIARIVER DANUBERIVER DANUBEBUCHARESTZARNESTIBABADAGTULCEAHISTRIADANUBEDELTARAZELMLAGOONCONSTANTADOBRUGEAN PLAINCARPATHIANMOUNTAINSBLACK SEAROMANIAOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Bucharest, driveZarnesti. Day 2/3Zarnesti. Day 4/9Danube Delta. Day 10Return Bucharest and flyLondon.AccommodationHotels in Zarnesti and Tulcea.Floating hotel in the Delta. Privatefacilities throughout.FoodAll included in the price.GradingEasy day walks only. Grade A.FocusBirds and mammals.LeaderGeoff Carr, Nick Acheson, RobMurray or Andy Harding, plus localguides.Single room supplement£195. ExtensionsExtra nights in Bucharest, or otheroptions, available on request.Web quick search: ROM03111White PelicansShepherd, CarpathiansFloating hotel, Danube Delta

The Carpathian Mountains form asweeping and majestic arc that risesin Slovakia and passes east alongthe Polish border before turning south intoUkraine and finally Romania. This is arelatively young mountain chain, aneastern extension of the Alps which rosearound 60 million years ago and is stillrising to this day. It is in Transylvaniahowever, the forest-clad central Romanianprovince steeped in legend and folklore,that the Carpathians are at their widestand most majestic. This is a region famedfor the supernatural, but for the naturalistsuch legends are but an interestingdistraction from the wealth of wildlife to be found here. Fortunately, werewolves are difficult to locate these days, butWolves and Brown Bears still roam theforests in good numbers, birds andbutterflies are abundant, and the floracontains a profusion of species endemic to the region.For centuries the people living within theelbow of the Romanian Carpathians haveexisted in harmony with a rich variety ofbirds and animals. The continuation oftheir ancient, low-intensity farmingmethods has allowed the wildlife to flourishand provides an insight into how our ownlandscape would have looked in daysgone by. Add to this abundance of wildlifethe soaring peaks of the Carpathians andone of the most beautiful landscapes inEurope and you have all the ingredients foran unforgettable holiday!Our tour begins with a flight to Bucharestfrom where we drive for three hours out ofthe flat plains that surround the capital andinto the cool, forest-clad mountains of theCarpathians. We will base ourselves for theweek in the attractive mountain village ofMagura, set within flower-filled meadowsand commanding spectacular views of thesurrounding forest-clad hills and jaggedpeaks of the Piatra Craiului National Park.From here we will head out each day toexplore the beautiful mountains and valleysof Transylvania and to enjoy the birds,mammals and landscapes on a series ofnatural history walks. Our exact itinerary will depend on theweather conditions and the advice of ourlocal guide. We will, however, spend timeexploring the forests, peaks and limestonegorges of the nearby Piatra CraiuluiNational Park. This spectacular park isdominated by a jagged, 25-kilometrelimestone ridge, widely regarded as one ofRomania's most beautiful sights, whichreaches a height of 2,244 metres. BrownBears, Wolf and even Lynx still roam theforests whilst, to date, 110 species of birdand 1,108 species of higher plant havebeen recorded, including two endemics.The lower slopes are sliced by a series oflimestone gorges, such as the ZarnestiGorge, home to Wallcreepers, BlackRedstarts and wheeling flocks of AlpineSwifts. The forests are also the haunt ofBlack, Grey-headed and Three-toedWoodpeckers, Sombre Tit, plus themajestic but elusive Ural Owl. There is alsomuch to keep the botanist andlepidopterist interested including 41species of orchid, Carpathian Bellflowerand Alpine Lady's Mantle, plus suchbutterflies as Scarce Swallowtail, CloudedApollo and Meadow Fritillary.On another day we will join a localnaturalist in order to learn how to track the larger mammals by finding andidentifying their prints, spoor and the othereasily missed signs of the large carnivoresthat still patrol these hills. We hope to findWolf and Brown Bear tracks and learn howto tell the former from the more commondog prints. Then, as the sun lowers, we willmake our way to a specially constructedhide deep in the forest to watch theanimals themselves. Wolves and Lynx arerarely seen, but the Brown Bears frequentlydescend from the hills in the evening and,whilst nothing is certain in the world ofwildlife watching, we have a good chanceof seeing one or more of these magnificentcreatures. Indeed, Romania still holds thelargest population of Brown Bears on thecontinent and, whilst they are not faring sowell in other regions of Europe, in theCarpathians they are flourishing! There is so much more to enjoy in thisspectacular region. Butterflies areabundant, and there are numerous otherbirds and plants to find that are notmentioned above. It is, however,impossible to visit Transylvania andcompletely ignore the folklore and storiesthat abound here. We will, therefore, take ashort break from the wildlife to visit nearbyCastle Bran, the 'alleged' haunt of Vlad theImpaler, on whom the Dracula stories arebased. Finally, for those who wish, we canarrange an excursion into the nearbymedieval town of Brasov before we mustsadly retrace our steps back to Bucharestto catch our flight home. Romania - The Wildlife of TransylvaniaAn 8-day holiday to the beautiful Carpathian Mountains of Romania in search of birds, flowers, butterflies and European Brown Bears. Saturday 1st June - Saturday 8th June Cost: £1,395Saturday 8th June - Saturday 15th June Cost: £1,395Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Bucharest andtransfer Magura.Day 2/7Wildlife excursions fromMagura.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA comfortable tourist guesthouseoffering excellent home cooking; allrooms have private facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingB. Easy to moderate day walks. FocusBirds, butterflies, flowers, wildlifeand local history.LeaderRob Murray or Alan Outen.Single room supplement£130.Web quick search: ROM01112Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryHUNGARYUKRAINEMOLDAVIASERBIABULGARIARIVER DANUBERIVER DANUBEBUCHARESTMAGURABRASOVTULCEADANUBEDELTACONSTANTACARPATHIANMOUNTAINSBLACK SEAROMANIACarpathian MountainsScarce SwallowtailBrown Bear