One of the oldest states in Europe,Bavaria lies in the southernmostregion of Germany, along theborder with Austria, and covers 20% ofthe country's total land area. Rich inculture and home to some of Europe's mostbeautiful mountain scenery, there is a localsaying that Bavaria is 'not part of Germany,but near it'. Indeed the state has a verystrong and colourful identity of its own, withBavarians taking great pride in their traditions,which include playing the Alpenhorn andMaypole dancing, the regional dress oflederhosen for men and dirndls for women,such culinary specialities as white sausageand excellent local beers (served by thelitre!), and centuries-old folk music amongstthe many charms of the region.At the heart of the Bavarian Alps, theBerchtesgaden National Park, situatedbetween the Austrian city of Salzburg andthe historic spa town of Bad Reichenhal,conserves the very best of this unique regionand is the focus of this exciting Naturetrekholiday. Once a royal hunting reserve, thisnational park now protects over 200 squarekilometres of pristine mountains rising to2,700 metres. The park's spectacularscenery includes the deep glacial Königssee(King's Lake), glaciated valleys, deepgorges and mountains that are cloaked withforest beneath the 2,000-metre tree-line.We'll explore this wide range of habitats and altitudes during daily walks in Berchtesgaden's fabulous mountains andvalleys, focusing on the area's rich variety ofalpine flowers, birds, butterflies and otherwildlife. Our comfortable base for thisholiday is a traditional family-run Bavarianhotel, enjoying magnificent views of themountains from the forested slopes near thevillage of Bischofswiesen, close to thenational park. Not far away, nestled beneaththe imposing and jagged WatzmannMountain range, lies the picturesque andunspoilt market town of Berchtesgaden -delightfully quaint and quintessentiallyBavarian!Within the national park we will explore thewonderful meadows and forests of theKlausbachtal Valley, rich in such wild flowerssuch as Lady's Slipper Orchid, White andRed Helleborine, Lily of the Valley and MayLily. We will also look out for birds such asGolden Eagle, Hazelhen and Capercaillie.On another day we'll explore the Königssee,scanning the surrounding area for mammalssuch as Chamois and Red Deer as well asthe many woodland and water birds to befound here. After exploring the lake, we willvisit the world-famous St. BartholomewChurch before searching nearby mixedforest and clearings along the lakesidebanks for interesting flora such as HerbParis, Twayblade and Bird's-nest Orchid.These woods are also home to a rich birdlife- including Crested Tit and White-backedWoodpecker - and abundant butterflies.At higher altitudes we'll look for birds suchas Golden Eagle, Alpine Chough, RingOuzel and Alpine Accentor, while descentsthrough the forests give us the chance ofBlack and Three-toed Woodpeckers,Nutcracker and Goshawk. One of thehighlights of a visit to the BerchtesgadenNational Park in early summer is the carpetsof alpine flowers in its high meadows; GlobeFlower, Arnica montana, Alpenrose, AlpineSnowbell, Primula auricula, and numerousgentians are among the many species wehope to see. We'll also keep an eye open forMarmots and Ibex. On one day we may offeran optional, more challenging walk onMount Watzmann, Germany's secondhighest mountain. Here, a winding forest trailleads to a high 'alm' (alpine grazingmeadow) and gives us the chance to lookfor a variety of special forest and alpineplants such as Martagon Lily and WhorledSolomon's Seal, as well as Griffon Vultures,Capercaillies and a wealth of butterflies.While our main aim on this new tour will beto enjoy the mountain scenery, wildlife andflowers, a visit to this region of Germanywould not be complete without the chanceto discover aspects of Bavarian history andculture. We will be based very near thebeautiful city of Salzburg - a WorldHeritage Site, birthplace of Mozart and,more recently, the setting for 'The Sound ofMusic' - and will pay the city a visit duringour tour. The area around BerchtesgadenNational Park is also known for itsassociation with Adolf Hitler and the ThirdReich, and you will have the chance to visitHitler's imposing 'Eagle's Nest', perchedhigh above Berchtesgaden town onKehlstein Mountain. Finally, after a week spent enjoying thestunning mountain scenery, wildlife, flowersand local Bavarian history and culture wereluctantly have to transfer back to Salzburgfor our flight home. However, if you havetime, and wish to extend your stay in thisspecial region of Germany, extra nights inSalzburg are highly recommended. The Bavarian AlpsAn 8-day programme of daily walks in search of the alpine flowers, birds, butterflies andmammals of the Bavarian Alps, plus a wealth of rich local history and culture. Sunday 2nd June - Sunday 9th June Cost: £1,295 Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Salzburg; transfer toBischofswiesen.Day 2/7A programme of dailynatural history walks inthe BerchtesgadenNational Park at theheart of the BavarianAlps.Day 8Transfer to Salzburg; flyStansted.AccommodationA delightful, and typically Bavarian,family-run hotel in the mountainsnear Bischofswiesen. The hotelenjoys stunning mountain views,flower-bedecked balconies andspacious grounds, and has its ownrestaurant serving traditionalBavarian cuisine. All rooms haveprivate facilities.Food All included in the price.Grading Grade A/B. Mountain day-walks at agentle pace (up to 6-8 kilometres aday).Focus Alpine flowers, birds, butterflies,mammals and reptiles; plusmountain walking and local historyand culture.Leaders Andy and Ingrid Patmore(naturalists); Dawn Nelson (botanist).Single room supplementFour single rooms available withoutsupplement, then £150.Web quick search: DEU0170Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItinerarySALZBURGKÖNIGSSEEBAVARIABISCHOFSWIESENBERCHTESGADENAUSTRIAAUSTRIAGERMANYBERCHTESGADENNATIONAL PARKMartagon LilyRamsau Church, BerchtesgadenWhite-backed Woodpecker
The Rock of Gibraltar is famous tosome for being a peculiar Englishanachronism: a 'little England'precariously holding on to its privilegedposition as a last great outpost of theBritish Empire, whilst steadfastly guardingthe gateways to the Mediterranean andNorth Africa. For the naturalist, though, itconjures up many other associations. Thismajestic limestone buttress forms a stagingpost for great numbers of migrating birds,for the Straits of Gibraltar are just 16kilometres wide and provide the migrantswith an ideal crossing point of theMediterranean. This is especially true forraptors, and other soaring birds, whichmake use of the thermals along this ruggedcoastline to gain height before one of themost perilous sections of their bi-annualmigration.We will arrive, during the peak of theautumn migration, on the southernmost tipof the European continent. Our holiday willcomprise a 5-day exploration of bothGibraltar and Cadiz Province, based for fournights just outside the small Spanish townof Tarifa, an ideal base from which to enjoythe region's cetaceans and the birdmigration . with minimum travel andmaximum relaxation! All the areas we planto visit are within an hour's drive of ourhotel, allowing us time both for gentlewalks and to sit in the sun as we scanthe skies for the next wave of raptors.Our schedule will be flexible, basedon the predicted weather for eachday, which is crucial if we are to catchboth the peak movements of birds andensure good sea conditions for our boattrips. On one or more mornings, weatherpermitting, we will travel out into the Straitsfrom either Tarifa or Gibraltar to look forcetaceans. Three species of dolphin -Common, Bottlenose and Striped - areresident, and are often particularlyabundant in September. There are alsoseveral resident groups of Long-finnedPilot Whales in the area. These enchantinganimals are usually extremely obliging andunconcerned by the approach of the smallmotor-vessel we will be using. In addition,other species such as Fin Whale, SpermWhale and Orca occur in the area, and weare likely to see such migrant seabirds asCory's and Balearic Shearwaters andEuropean Storm-petrel, as well as othermarine wildlife like Ocean Sunfish andsharks. Our boat trips will be two to threehours in duration and will be followed bylunch. There are a number of migrationwatch-points in the nearby hills whichdouble as handy picnic sites. DuringSeptember the skies are usually dominatedby soaring birds. Movements can include upto 18 species of regular raptors, especiallyBooted and Short-toed Eagles, with another10 or so possible, together with Black andWhite Storks. The views from the hills can bequite superb as raptors wheel around ourheads.After lunch we may continue watching themigration or explore the local area. Thereare several different wetland habitats withineasy driving distance of Tarifa, where wemay find passage waders, terns and gulls,including regular species which can bescarce elsewhere, such as Audouin's Gulland Caspian Tern. If we have time, and ourschedule allows, the Bay of Cadiz area isparticularly good for a wide variety ofspecies, including such specialities asWhite-headed Duck and Purple Gallinule,and the coastline is excellent for migrantpasserines. We will also explore 'the Rock'itself. This is not just a migrant hotspot andthe only site in Europe for the famousBarbary Macaque and Barbary Partridge,but also offers a number of sites ofhistorical and geological interest, the mostimpressive of which is St. Michael's Cave, an enormous natural limestone 'cathedral'in the heart of 'the Rock' that provides awelcome break from the heat of the day. Part of our morning on 'the Rock' may bespent at Jew's Gate participating in amorning's ringing of the migrant birds thathave been caught overnight. This will giveus an insight into the rigours of migrationfor some of these birds, which will probablyinclude several species of warblers,flycatchers, chats and others. If we arereally lucky, and the weather is right forgrounding migrant birds, we may also beable to take part in an evening ringingsession, hoping for Red-necked andEuropean Nightjars and Scops Owls, whichoften make landfall here.The beauty of this area at this time of yearis that anything can and does happen. Apod of Orcas pops in to check out the localtuna boats, a day of inclement 'levanter'winds has migrants bursting out of everybush, a sky that was empty one day isfilled with eagles the next or a vagrantCream-coloured Courser is found on thebeach at Tarifa. Whatever happens, wewon't be far away when it does!Gibraltar & Tarifa:Whales, Dolphins &Autumn Migration A 5-day short break to observe autumn bird migration from 'the Rock' and Tarifa, and thewhales and dolphins of the Straits of Gibraltar.Thursday 19th September - Monday 23rd September Cost: £995Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationFRANCEPORTUGALSEVILLEGRANADARONDAGIBRALTARMÁLAGATARIFACADIZGUADALQUIVIRRIVERMADRIDATLANTICOCEANMEDITERRANEANSEASPAINOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Málaga and transferto Tarifa.Day 2/4Tarifa.Day 5Fly London.AccommodationComfortable hotel just outsideTarifa, all rooms with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.Grading A. A standard wildlife tour,including boat trips (weatherpermitting), and gentle wildlifewalks only.Focus Autumn bird migration, whales and dolphins.LeadersSimon Tonkin and David Morris.Single room supplement£95.Web quick search: ESP0271Long-finned Pilot WhalesCommon DolphinView from 'the Rock'