Dates & Prices
Dates: 29th June – 6th July 2019 Places available
Single Room Supplement: £150
Deposit: £150 per person
Price Includes: All meals, accommodation with private facilities and air-con, ground transport, services of guides
Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items
Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to Butterfly Conservation
Leader: Gabor Orban
Group Size & Travel: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 guests plus 1-2 leaders. Comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles will be used for all travel
Grade: Gentle pace, easy terrain and short walks – Ideal for photography
- Enjoy a good number of the near 200 butterfly species in Hungary
- Special species include Hungarian & Common Glider, Pallas’s Fritillary, Poplar Admiral, Woodland Brown,Large Blue, Iolas Blue & Turquoise Blue!
- Visit two stunning National Parks in some of the best butterflying areas in Central Europe
- Enjoy some of the 3,000+ moth species and 65 dragonfies found in the area!
- Visit unique & wonderful locations such as the Hortobagy Region (a birders mecca!) & some amazing cave systems
- In support of Butterfly Conservation
Join us in one of the best areas in Central Europe to go butterflying! Explore two National Parks in northeast Hungary for what will be a butterfly bonanza!
An exciting two centre tour, designed to discover some of the best and most hidden places in northeast Hungary for butterflies and other wildlife!
One of the best areas in Central Europe to go butterflying is in the Bükk and Aggtelek National Parks in Hungary. This exciting two centre tour is designed to discover some of the best and most hidden places in northeast of the Country for butterflies and other wildlife!
Hungary is in the Carpathian Basin surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains with many attractive mountain species while within the huge basin you can find an amazing variety of different habitats ranging from special wet meadows, alkaline marshes, steppes through extensive oak, beech, evergreen woods, limestone slopes and volcanic hills. No wonder that Hungary is one of the richest countries in the Old Continent in terms of butterflies and dragonflies.
Hungary has almost 200 butterfly species and about another 3,400 moth species, including some endemics and special variations found only here. The Dragonfly list also contains an impressive 65 species. The main reason for the abundance in biodiversity is an extreme richness in diverse habitats and thus plant species. More than 55 species of orchids feature amongst the 800 protected plant species, just an example of the unique natural heritage Hungary boasts.
During the week we will visit Bükk and Aggtelek National Parks. We may also venture to either Hortobagy or Kiskunsag National Park for a short visit, depending on our schedule. The scenery is excellent and you will be able to experience some of the local culture of the areas visited as well. Our local guide will be Gábor, a talented and experienced local zoologist and a specialist in the natural history of the areas we plan to visit. We will use a small, rural hotel, literally in the woods within the borders of the National Parks with plenty of great butterfly and moth species just around us! We place a great emphasis on supporting local communities and National Parks by using these services. The hotel offers quality rooms and excellent local cuisine plus a caring service. We hope to see very good number of species including many rarities, check the detailed itinerary for more of the highlights!
We shall explore a mixture of habitats ranging from very dry hillsides to wet valleys. In one of the valleys alone, all nine Hungarian Hairstreaks occur and there is also a long list of Blues including Chequered, Chapman’s and Turquoise, with an outside chance of picking up the rare Iolas Blue. Amongst the Satyrids are Woodland Brown, Dusky Meadow Brown and Dryad. Eastern Dappled White and Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow have both been recorded at this time of year, while the valezina form of the Silver-washed Fritillary and False Heath Fritillary are both common in the area. One of our target species, the beautiful Pallas’s Fritillary should be one of many highlights of the week. In addition we’ll look for Map, Camberwell Beauty, Hungarian and Common Glider, Purple and Lesser Purple Emperor and the enigmatic and amazing Poplar Admiral!
The whole region is of outstanding natural beauty and is famous for its huge cave systems: over 700 caves have been discovered so far! An optional extra programme could be a tour of the amazing Baradla dripstone cave system, which is now a designated World Heritage Site, with a music and light show in the “Giants Hall” which comes highly recommended. Picturesque valleys with meadows still cut by hand and attractive small villages characterize the region where the traditional way of life remains pretty well intact.
Day 1: On arrival at Budapest Airport you will be met by your English speaking guide, who will accompany you throughout the trip. From the airport we head North-East towards the Aggtelek National Park. It is a long drive, but depending on your arrival time we either can take our time, using roads which cross excellent habitats so we can stop at suitable butterfly-rich sites as many times as we wish or we hit the highway and stop just once or twice to admire Imperial Eagle or other highlights. We stay at an excellent hotel owned by the Aggtelek National Park in the middle of picturesque woods.
Day 2: Over the next few days, we shall explore a mixture of habitats ranging from very dry hillsides to wet valleys. In one of the valleys alone, all nine Hungarian Hairstreaks occur and there is also a long list of Blues including Chequered, Chapman’s and Turquoise, with an outside chance of picking up the rare Iolas Blue. Amongst the Satyrids, Woodland Brown, Speckled Wood and Dusky Meadow Brown occur and Dryad is another possible new species here. Eastern Dappled White and Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow have both been recorded at this time of year, while the valezina form of the Silver-washed Fritillary and False Heath Fritillary are common in the area.
This day will be split between different sites. These areas boast a terrific list of butterflies and we should be in for quite a treat.
South of Josvafo village at a remote hiking trail among many nice species such as Scarce Swallowtail, Pale Clouded Yellow, Purple Hairstreak, Scarce Copper, Purple-shot Copper, Meleager’s Blue, Duke of Burgundy we will find some rarities as well like Eastern Short-tailed, Osiris, Mountain Alcon, Large, Chapman’s and Anomalous Blue. Fritillaries will be represented by Silver-washed, Dark Green, High Brown and Heath Fritillary, but the main highlights would be to find Lesser Spotted and Pallas’s Fritillary.
A few miles north we will look for Hungarian Glider. Purple Emperor, Duke of Burgundy, Camberwell Beauty, Peacock, Map, Silver-washed Fritillary, High Brown Fritillary, Chestnut Heath will be all around and in this place we have a second chance for Pallas’s Fritillary.
Day 3: We will start our day with a walk from our hotel to a nearby stream coming from the cave system. In the water and around at the wet forest habitats we will hopefully find Fire Salamanders which are the symbol of the national park.
We cross Josvafo, a cosy village with many traditional 100-year-old houses surviving and a stream running through the middle. Along the stream there are usually “clouds of butterflies”. We follow the path alongside the stream through a nice little gorge up to a wet meadow.
We will eat our packed lunch at a marvellous upland. This is a perfect site not just for butterflies, but birds as well. Raptors are widespread, so we will have a chance to witness hunting of a Honey Buzzard or even an Imperial, Golden or Short-toed Eagle. One of the main food-source for raptors is the locally common Souslik (European Ground Squirrel).
During our day we should find many species such as Sooty Copper, Mountain Alcon Blue, Meleager’s Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Lesser Purple Emperor, Common Glider. More common will be Camberwell Beauty, Large Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Map Butterfly. Fritillaries will be around in good numbers again including Weaver’s, Heath, Lesser Spotted and Spotted Fritillary. Dryad, Pearly and Chestnut Heath are also possible. Finally we will walk back towards Josvafo village and up to our hotel.
Day 4: Again, not far from the hotel, we will try to complete our list from this area. First we will visit a pretty valley where Sloe Hairstreak, Scarce Copper, Eastern Short-tailed, Chequered, Meleager’s, Chalkhill Blue, Lesser Purple Emperor, Marbled, Lesser Marbled, Spotted, False Heath and Heath Fritillary, Woodland Grayling, Dryad, Pearly and Chestnut Heath, Woodland Brown all can be found!
At least 6 Skipper species are around including Lulworth Skipper and Safflower Skipper. White-letter Hairstreak, Camberwell Beauty, White and Red Admiral are also common.
A good range of warblers, tits, shrikes and woodpeckers are present. Other bird highlights of the region include Ural and Eagle Owl, Rock Bunting and Rock Thrush. Brown Bears, Wolves and Lynx are occasionally reported but we would indeed be lucky if any of these came our way.
After eating our packed lunch we can continue our butterfly-quest around Aggtelek or the highly recommend cave tour into the Baradla dripstone cave system, which is now a designated world heritage site, with a music and light show in the “Giants Hall”. All of our former guests agree that it is the highlight of the tour!
During the afternoon our journey to the Bükk National Park takes us through the Uppony Mountains, where we will visit a spectacular valley in search of the elegant Hungarian Glider and White Admiral, together with some interesting Blues and Skippers, including possibly Safflower and Orbed Red-underwing. We shall be staying in a small and tranquil village at the border of the Bukk National Park.
Day 5: Lesser Purple Emperor, Lesser Fiery Copper and Silver-washed Fritillary are species around the accommodation. Apart from butterflies, the region boasts four species of Eagle including Imperial Eagle which is regularly spotted above our hotel. Other interesting birds include Collared Flycatcher, Black, White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Barred Warbler and Bee-eater. The southern part of the national park is generally well grazed with areas of longer grass, rocky outcrops and scrub. These variations in vegetation and an abundance of wild flowers mean high insect diversity. Glanville, Knapweed, Spotted and Lesser Spotted Fritillary are all common, together with Silver-studded Blue, Marbled White, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and False Grayling. An early Bath White is possible and, providing that spring was not too advanced, a late specimen of the beautiful Scarce Fritillary or Southern Festoon, which both occur in the area, would be a real bonus.
Day 6: Over the course of our stay, we will visit a number of key sites within the national park. The heart of the Bukk Hills is famous for its karst plateau with geological forms such as sink-holes, dolinas, limestone crags and caves. The edges of the plateau form huge cliffs with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. These cliffs attract hilltoppers like the Common and Scarce Swallowtails with a possible late Clouded Apollo. Southern Small White, Mountain Green-veined White and Fenton’s Wood White will be among the more challenging species to seek out, while Chalkhill, Alcon, Reverdin’s and Eastern Short-tailed are amongst several species of Blue that also occur. Both species of Marbled Fritillary are also recorded in this area together with Twin-spot and Nickerl’s Fritillary. Other potential highlights are Eastern Pale and Berger’s Clouded Yellow, Sooty Copper, Small spotted Blue.
For those feeling like a break from butterflying, or if the weather lets us down, an optional trip to the world famous Lipizzaner stud can be arranged. These celebrated white horses are bred for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and are considered the finest riding horses in the world. Their ancestry can be traced right back to the early 18th century and their individual pedigrees are on display by each stable. Around 250 of these horses are kept at the stud and some are bred for carriage driving as well as dressage. There are even opportunities to have a go at riding a Lipizzaner yourself or trying your hand at coach driving. As an alternative, a delightful narrow gauge railway goes from the nearby town of Szilvasvarad into the picturesque Szalajka Valley. This is around a 5 km journey following a mountain stream, with several small waterfalls, through beech and alder woods.
For dedicated butterfly buffs, we will continue our quest in the fields around Repashuta and the humid Hor Valley which form a rich combination of habitats. Several Copper species fly in this area including Purple-shot, Large, Scarce and Purple-edged, joined by Small, Chestnut and Pearly Heath. Duke of Burgundy, High Brown and Niobe Fritillary are all common species, while the Hor Valley is a good place for Cardinal, Poplar Admiral and Camberwell Beauty. Charcoal burners are still found working some of the local woods and we will have a chance to look in at one of their sites. This is also an area where local lime-burners still produce high quality chalk through traditional methods dating back thousands of years.
Day 7: Today we’ll take a day-long circle trip to the Hortobagy Region where we will spend our final full day.
This part of Hungary is very different scenically to what we have experienced so far, being part of the great plain or “Puszta”. This is the westernmost part of a typical Eurasian Steppe, unique in Europe. This area is the birders’ Mecca with its amazing variety of birds, but we might add some new species to our list if not seen before like Lesser Fiery Copper and Knapweed Fritillary. There are also many other great butterfly species as well such as Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail, Eastern Bath White, Pale and Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow, Small and Large Copper, Silver-studded Blue, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Silver-washed Fritillary, Small Heath, Chestnut Heath, Grizzled Skipper and Small Skipper.
Day 8: Today, we travel to Budapest for our flight home. Depending on our flight schedule there are two options for the last day:
- We might visit one of the largest remaining populations of Great Bustards in Europe just an hour drive from the capital. It is also possible to arrange a visit to a bird ringing session close to Ocsa village. This should be a great opportunity to both see and photograph birds at close quarters. Ocsa is home to one of the most impressive Romanesque churches in Hungary. The very simple building dates back to the thirteenth century and contains a number of frescos which have been recently restored.
- We offer you a professional sightseeing tour by bus stopping at the main highlights of the capital. Budapest is among the finest cities in Europe, no wonder a large part of it listed by the World Heritage List.
Paul & Nancy 2015…Nancy and I just received the “Holiday Report” from the butterfly trip we were able to take with you in Hungary in late June and early July. Wow!! It is truly a beautiful reminder of our time and it is a book that we will not only keep but cherish. Indeed, we are looking forward to being able to show to our children and our friends. You have done such a careful job of not only showing us so many of the fantastic butterflies that we saw but also of creating such a well-developed narrative of the trip itself. Many, many, MANY THANKS.