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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 www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryHUNGARYUKRAINEMOLDAVIASERBIABULGARIARIVER DANUBERIVER DANUBEBUCHARESTMAGURABRASOVTULCEADANUBEDELTACONSTANTACARPATHIANMOUNTAINSBLACK SEAROMANIACarpathian MountainsScarce SwallowtailBrown Bear

The Carpathian Mountains attain theirgreatest width and beauty inTransylvania, the forest-clad provinceof central Romania that is steeped inlegend and folklore. Here, the toweringpeaks of the Fagras Mountains and PiatraCraiului National Park offer a diversity oflandscapes and habitats unrivalled inEastern Europe. Above extensiveconiferous and deciduous woodlands liegreat alpine meadows, awash with flowersin the montane spring. Spectacularlimestone gorges carve through the hillsand the numerous meadows of the valleyshold a rich flora preserved by thetraditional farming techniques that are stillpractised here, in harmony with the naturalworld. This diversity of landscape, coupledwith the lack of modern farming methods,has created a botanical treasure-housewhich attracts naturalists from around theworld and which is the focus of thisexciting Naturetrek holiday.As it is a 2-centre tour, we are based firstlyin the Carpathian village of Zarnesti, andthen at a beautifully located chalet high inthe Fagras Mountains. We start, however,with a flight to Bucharest, the capital ofRomania, where we meet our local guideand drive north into the 'TransylvanianAlps' to Zarnesti, our base for four nights.On our first full day in the mountains wewill take a funicular railway high into themountains of the Bucegi National Park, tothe Babele Hut located at 2,200 metres.From here we will explore a range ofhabitats, from beautiful alpine meadowsdown to the spruce and beech forest. Thewide range of plants to be found here,which may include Artemisia petrosaandVeratrum album(White Hellebore), will only be rivalled by the magnificient 360-degree view! Next we explore the Zarnesti Gorge, aspectacular cleft that divides the limestonemountains on the edge of the PiatraCraiului National Park. The gorge ispartially lined with mixed forest of spruceand beech and its sheer and towering rockfaces are home to the beautiful crimson-winged Wallcreeper. The flora here is quiteexceptional; indeed, to date, the plant listfor Piatra Craiului National Park containsan amazing 1,108 species! The alpinemeadows at the head of the gorge hold anespecially rich flora, including the endemicCampanula carpatica(CarpathianBellflower) and Hepatica transsilvanica,plus Dianthus spiculifolius, Campanulapatula (Spreading Bellflower), Trolliuseuropaeus(Globeflower), Gentiana lutea(Yellow Gentian), Viola biflora(YellowWood-violet), Aster alpinus, Leontopodiumalpinumand Rhododendron kotschyi.On our final day around Zarnesti we willreturn to the Bucegi Massif and take acable car to Mount Postavaru. The viewsfrom the top are once again spectacularand we will have the whole morning inwhich to admire them and descend slowlythrough the alpine meadows and mixedwoodland in search of such flowers asDigitalis grandiflora(Large YellowFoxglove), Saxifraga corymbosa,Pedicularis verticillata(Whorled Lousewort),Gentiana verna(Spring Gentian),Campanula transsilvanica, Primula minima(Alpine Primrose) and Senecio integrifolius.In the afternoon we will explore the RasnovGorge, a second limestone cleft in which awide variety of plant-life should be found,including Viola alpina(Alpine Pansy) andViola dacica.We now move west to our second base, inthe Fagras Mountains - the mostimpressive and spectacular sector of theTransylvanian Carpathians. For our threenights here we will stay in a wonderfullypositioned mountain chalet set high abovethe treeline. There is no need for ourminibus here, for we can walk andbotanise from the front door of the hotel!The scenery is dominated by highmountains, glacial valleys and cirques.Waterfalls tumble from precipitous cliffsand small lakes dot the landscape. Valleys,such as the nearby Doamnei Valley, arecarpeted in a wealth of flora; in the alpinemeadows, that lie at around 2,200 metreson a base of crystalline schist andlimestone, such species as the endemicSoldenella carpatica(CarpathianSnowbell), Aquilegia transsilvanica(Transylvanian Columbine), Campanulaalpina, Listera ovata(Common Twayblade),Gentiana punctata(Spotted Gentian) andArmeria alpinamay all be found. A glanceskyward may even reveal a passingGolden Eagle. With our holiday in the Carpathiansdrawing to a close we must leave themountains and retrace our steps back tothe airport. Those wishing to add a littleculture to their tour, however, may considerextending their stay in Romania with anight or two in Bucharest, the country'scolourful and vibrant capital. Romania - Wild Flowers of the Carpathians An 8-day botany holiday to the beautiful Carpathian Mountains of Romania. Wednesday 19th June - Wednesday 26th June Cost: £1,395Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationHUNGARYUKRAINEMOLDAVIASERBIABULGARIARIVER DANUBERIVER DANUBEBUCHARESTZARNESTITULCEADANUBEDELTACONSTANTACARPATHIANMOUNTAINSBLACK SEAROMANIAFAGRASMOUNTAINSOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Bucharest and transferZarnesti.Day 2/4Zarnesti.Day 5/7Fagras Mountains.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationSimple but comfortable tourist classhotels with private facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingB. Easy to moderate day walks. FocusPlants.LeaderPaul Harmes.Single room supplement£240.Web quick search: ROM02113Meadow ClaryCarpathian Mountains