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Butterflies of Romania


Dates & Prices


Dates: July 2020 (dates TBC)

Price: £TBA

Single Room Supplement: £TBA

Deposit: £150 per person

Price Includes: All meals, accommodation with private facilities, ground transport, services of the guides, holiday report & a donation to Butterfly Conservation

Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items

Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to Butterfly Conservation

Leader: Patrick Barkham

Group Size: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 guests plus 1-2 leaders.

Grade: Gentle pace. Ideally suited to photography

Holiday Highlights

  • Explore fascinating and wildlife rich areas of Transylvania for an array of summer butterflies & other flora and fauna!
  • Around 100 butterfly species including many Hairstreaks, Coppers & Blues – with 4 Maculinea species
  • Potential star species include Poplar Admiral, Lesser Purple Emperor, Purple Emperor, Camberwell Beauty & possibly Danube Clouded Yellow or even the stunning False Comma!
  • Lots of other species including Hungarian and Common Gliders, Scarce Large Blue, Large Blue, Scotch Argus, Arran Brown, Dryad, Small Pearl bordered, Lesser Marbled, High Brown and Dark Green Fritillaries, Sooty & Scarce Coppers
  • Relaxed pace suitable for photography & full enjoyment of the area for its scenery and wildlife
  • In support of Butterfly Conservation

An exciting butterfly watching holiday in Transylvania!


Holiday Guide

Details to follow…


Romania is one of the largest Eastern European countries and within that Transylvania is a well defined region both geographically and historically. It is surrounded by the spectacular Eastern and Southern Carpathian Mountain ranges and for a thousand years it was either a separate country or a dukedom of Hungary. It is still renowned for a wealth of folklore & culture, but also habitats and thus species.

Many areas are still managed by traditional agricultural methods and the hand-mown fields and patches of original flowery meadows really help many populations of butterflies survive which are struggling or have already disappeared from other parts of Europe. With close to 200 butterfly species including many sought after ones, superb landscapes, medieval castles, fortresses and churches and excellent local food Romania is definitely a prime destination!

The tour is designed to visit some of the best butterfly regions in Transylvania. The Carpathian Mountains host many attractive mountain species while within the huge Transylvanian Basin you can find an amazing variety of different habitats ranging from wet meadows, alkaline marshes, steppes through to extensive oak, beech, evergreen woods, limestone slopes and volcanic hills.

During the 8-day long tour we visit many protected areas: Fogaras Mountain in the Southern Carpathian Mountain Range, Hargitha Hill and other parts of the Eastern Carpathian Mountain Range, Transylvanian Basin and Turda Gorge, all very different parts of Romania.

This promises to be a fantastic and very popular tour – we recommend booking early to avoid disappointment!


The following itinerary is to be confirmed…

Day 1: Arrival at Cluj International Airport. Travel to one of the most attractive parts of the Southern Carpathian Mountain system, the Fogaras Mts. This is surely one of the most spectacular towering masses of mountain chains in the region with splendid views of rocky slopes, dotted with small, crystal-clear alpine lakes with fine subalpine and alpine meadows around.

As we drive up we cross many vegetation levels, when finally leaving the deciduous and evergreen forests we will find the first Pinus mugo Dwarf mountain pine. We travel higher up on a good quality but meandering road.

We will have our accommodation absolutely on site in a mountain chalet built on a lake surrounded by the U-shaped valley formed by glacial erosion. A truly fairytale place with alpine flora and fauna all around us.  We’ll spend the night in the Fogaras at around 6600feet/2100m.

Day 2: We will spend the whole day in the Fogaras Mountains checking out the alpine and subalpine meadows alongside the main road between 3300 and 6600 feet (1000 and 2100m) of elevation.

In these meadows it is possible to find subalpine and alpine botanical treasures such as Alpine colt’s-foot, Alpine rock-cress, Whitlow grass, Moss campion, Least primrose and some endemic and other rare Snowbell species. Yellow Wood-violet and Snowdon Lily is also on the botanists list.

We definitely will try to find different Erebia species which should be around the flowering Alpine Buttercup, Transylvanian Columbine, Alpine Avens, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Bellflower. At the higher elevations Mountain Ringlet Erebia epiphron transsylvanica is the most common species. Close to the pine forest zone at grasslands it is quite common to find Large Ringlet Erebia euryale syrmia. Usually lower in the open areas of forested areas the very similar Arran Brown Erebia ligea is more common.

There is an outside chance for an early Sudetan Ringlet Erebia sudetica radnaensis and Yellow-spotted Ringlet Erebia manto trajanus as well between 1300 and 1900 metres. We might add to the daily list Alpine Grizzled Skipper as well.

Birds are usually represented by Black Redstart, Water Pipit, Ring Ouzel and Alpine Accentor. Sometimes Golden Eagle checking out the valley and with extreme luck even Wallcreeper is possible. Chamois and mormots are around for the sharp-eyed observers and there is an outside chance for even Wolf or Brown Bear, both having good populations in the hills. We’ll spend the night in the Fogaras again, at around 6600feet/2100m.

Day 3: Today we descend step by step from the Southern Carpathian into the Transylvanian Basin and travel to the Eastern Carpathians. After driving down from the Fogaras Mountains there are two ways to go. If we have spent too much time stopping and checking different habitats at the varying altitudes then we will take the faster road. If we have plenty of time then we  will go on smaller rural roads which gives the possibility to stop during the journey whenever we find a suitable butterfly habitat South West of Segesvar, for example at Berethalom which also boasts with a fantastic medieval fortress church.

At lower areas we should find Large Copper, Chestnut Heath, Dryad, Duke of Burgundy. Some other places might be good for Sooty Copper, Large Blue and Scarce Large Blue. Common Glider should be really common, but Hungarian Glider will be much harder to find.

We also should check out all the High Browns because we will have a good chance to find the cleodoxa form. In the meantime with some we should pay attention to other large fritillaries as well, because beside Silver-washed Fritillary we should also find the delicately marked Pallas’s Fritillary. We’ll spend the night in Desag.

Day 4: Today we will visit different meadows and valleys, plus a breathtaking gorge. As we drive up towards the backbone of the Eastern Carpathians we will stop at different habitats. We should find some Scotch Argus, Mountain Ringlet and Lesser Marbled Fritillary. Hopefully we will encounter our first Camberwell Beauty of the tour as well.

Pale Clouded Yellow should be common, but we also know a place where with some luck we might find Danube Clouded Yellow as well. This species during the last decades disappeared fast from many of the countries and if it continues like this we might loose the species in Europe. If we manage to observe the male well you might notice that the upperside forewing should have a solid black tip without markings, while the females have distinctive lemon yellow dots on the upperside of the lower wing.

If there is enough  time and interest we can descend down into an incredible gorge which is a really reliable site for Wallcreepers, sometimes having nest nearby.

We will  also pass a strangely named lake, called Killer Lake which was created by a landslide, killing a shepherd with all the sheep, according to the local story. You still can see the broken stumps sticking out of the water, the remains of a former forest.

We might check out some meadows below coniferous forests East of Georgheni for Titania’s Fritillary Boloria titania transsylvanica, however this is the most localized and endangered species in Romania so we would be extremely lucky to find any.

We return to our mountain hotel reasonably early today, so if someone wants to try the optional Bear watching from professional hide there will be time (Note: booking for this needs to be done months in advance).

Day 5: Today we will visit different upland dry and wet meadows in the Eastern Carpathians. Also we will look around at the slopes and forest edges of Mt. Hargita, the sacred mountain of the local ethnic Hungarian population, Secler people.

Beside many other species we should find Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Niobe Fritillary and large numbers of Marbled Whites. Higher up in the valley we hope to get Large Ringlet and Marbled Fritillary. We will also look for Purple and Lesser Purple Emperor, the latter one has quite good populations of the orange-coloured clythie form.

Day 6: Today we will leave the Eastern Carpathians, cross the Transylvanian Basin and head West towards the Apuseni Mnt. and Szekelyko.

We might stop shortly at Korond, a village which is really famous for selling interesting folklore items and some interesting useful stuff like waterproof light hat made out of bracket fungi. But soon we will continue towards nearby isolated Transylvanian meadows which are usually excellent butterfly habitats.

Chestnut Heath should be common and Pearly Heath as well. We should not be surprised to find some more Large Coppers either. Short-tailed and Eastern Short-tailed Blues can offer a nice side by side comparison. We usually have here Grizzled Skipper, Knapweed Fritillary, Geranium Argus, Green Underside Blue and Eastern Baton Blue.

Our aim is to reach our next base as soon as possible so we can spend time with exploring some other butterfly rich meadows close to our final destination, Szekelyko or Piatra Secuiului.

 This is a huge limestone rock above the village of Torocko/Rimetea and we will try to discover its slopes and meadows, generally between 2-4000feet (600-1200m).

It is a very rich area for plenty of different blues including Eastern Short-tailed and with great luck even Osiris Blue. The beautiful Meleager’s Blue should be relatively common. Fritillaries should be represented by Twin-spot, Pearl-bordered, Lesser-spotted and High Brown Fritillaries.

Great Banded Grayling should be easy and if we find Hairstreak at this time of the year at this location it is usually Blue-spot Hairstreak.

Sometimes we find Hungarian Glider here as well, but the real mega rarity is Black Ringlet which has a small population of the runcensis form here.

We will surely enjoy spending time at another nearby beautiful area which is rich in species. You will also have a chance to take photos of a mediaeval fortress and we will search butterflies at the slopes and meadows around.

We will look for small groups of Gentians and if we find some then we should have really good chance for Large Blue and Alcon Blue as well.

This area gives a second chance for Danube Clouded Yellow, however population here is not so strong anymore, but with some luck we can encounter this endangered species.

We will have our accommodation at a beautiful surrounding, at the base of an attractive limestone hill surrounded by hand-mown meadows, a lovely Unesco World Heritage village and a mediaeval fortress ruin nearby.

Day 7: Today we will travel to a nearby area, the famous 1000feet or 300m deep Torda Gorge. Most of the local people and other tourists come mainly because of the scenery or just to walk across the gorge and cool down a bit between the large, shady walls of limestone and alongside the small stream.

But most of the visitors do not know that this area is considered as one of the richest nature reserves int he country with a long list of endemic plant species, rare insects and excellent birds.

We surely should be able to find dozens of butterfly species and hopefully some new ones as well. Without a full list we would mention among the potential species Southern White Admiral, Bath White, Lesser Clouded Yellow and Swallowtail.

Beside the common Fritillaries we should look for Nickerl’s Fritillary, Niobe Fritillary and Lesser Spotted Fritillary.

Of course on the huge limestone slabs we should regularly encounter Wall Butterfly, according to its name on the wall. We might have Rock Grayling, Hermit and Woodland Grayling as well.

The most exciting potential Hesperidae here would be Oberthur’s Skipper, Safflower Skipper and Silver-spotted Skipper.

Scarce Swallowtail should be actually common and at the flowery meadows we should find Lesser Fiery Copper as well. Some of the possible interesting Blue species are Meleager’s Blue, Turquoise Blue and Eastern Baton Blue.

If we still have time and energy we might climb up a high steep hill if we missed Hermit before. It is also a very good area for various blues as well such as Osiris, Long-tailed, Chapman’s and this site gives a second chance for Meleager’s, Mazarine, Turquoise and Eastern Baton Blues as well.

Day 8: We travel to Cluj Airport for our flight home.

Moth Recording – During the tour we can carry out moth trapping with Robinson-trap. We hope to get a few hundred species, hopefully including many attractive ones, perhaps even some rarities.

New holiday – testimonials will appear next year

New holiday – report will follow later

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Telephone from inside UK: 01473 254658 (Mon - Sat 9am - 6pm)

Telephone from outside UK: 0044 1473 254658 (Mon - Sat 9am - 6pm)