Abruzzo Adventure 2021

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Bear cubs, birds, butterflies and beautiful medieval villages 

await you in this 5-day Italian nature holiday.

Covid-19 Update: Before you book, please see here for our latest Coronavirus Update. This workshop will adapt to the developing situation, following the latest developments in government guidelines. If your booking becomes affected, we will be flexible and either shift travel dates or offer full refunds. 

Location          Villalago, Abruzzo National Park, Italy

Dates                 5 day trip                                               Day 1 - Fly to Rome

                      Trip 1: 21st - 25th June 2021                   Day 2/4 - Abruzzo National Park

                      Trip 2: 25th - 29th June 2021                   Day 5 - Fly Rome to London

Cost                £1499 excl. flights (deposit of £300 required on booking)         What's Included

Group Size       Private tours (for 1 or 2 people). Tours for up to 5 people can be arranged. 

This trip is perfect for nature enthusiasts and photographers who want to see the amazing wildlife that Italy has to offer. Places are limited to ensure the best tailored experience for everyone.

 

Trip Overview

With rolling green hills and medieval villages, crystal-clear rivers and lush beech woodlands, the Abruzzo National Park in central Italy offers you the chance to observe the country's most iconic animals in spectacular surroundings.

June is prime time for seeing the rare Marsican Brown Bears as they come to the town's cherry orchards to feed. An encounter with the cubs as they tumbled around and play is truly unforgettable. The lure of summer bird migrants and a mouthwatering variety of butterflies will appeal to all naturalists - but if a cool dip in the lake is more to your taste, you will be well accommodated! 

 

Highlights of this trip include:

  • Mother bear and cubs feeding on fruit - 4 evening & 4 dawn "bear watches" 

  • A high chance of seeing wild boar, wolf, red deer and apennine hare 

  • Chamois at sunset in the montane wildflower meadows 

  • Red deer and birdlife in the beech woodlands along the crystal-clear Sangro River

  • Panoramic views across spectacular valleys, with chances to swim in the lake

  • 30+ species of butterfly in the meadows around town

  • Traditional cuisine and cultural explorations of the medieval clifftop villages

A typical day may start with bears and birdwatching, followed by breakfast in the piazza. We'll then look for wildlife close to town, or head up the mountains for specific animal targets and cultural excursions. The day will round off with mammal watching at dusk and a traditional dinner. Combined with traditional cuisine and culture, this wildlife holiday offers a well-rounded Italian experience far from the tourist crowds.

 

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Your Guides

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Paul Collins

Paul is an award-winning nature photographer, featured in British Wildlife Photography Awards. He regularly leads workshops in the UK, Italy and Svalbard.

 

Mattia Cialoni

Growing up on the Adriatic coast, 

Mattia has a close relationship with the local fauna and has tracked bears and wolves for many years.

 

Our Base

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For the duration of the holiday, you will be staying in a lovely B&B in the idyllic hilltop town of  Villalago - regarded by many as one of Italy's most beautiful towns.

 

Overlooking the piazza, at the heart of this mountain community, this is a prime location to explore the town's cultural and culinary delights - there is an excellent gelateria across the street which we highly recommend! Many of our birdwatching and bear-viewing sites are within walking distance, allowing for repeat visits, gentle exploration and more intrepid wildlife viewing sessions if desired. 

 

The Bears

 

Until recently, the critically endangered Marsican Brown Bear (<50 in the wild) were difficult to see. Now, with the presence of a bold female called Amarena and her four cubs, sightings have increased and close encounters are very likely on any day of the summer. We should have many prolonged opportunities at dawn and dusk to observe them as they feed and play in the fruit orchards around town. If we are lucky like last year, we may even be treated to them swimming in the lake by moonlight!

Other Mammals

 

Mammals are plentiful and we are sure to encounter many species - from wild boar and red deer which are abundant on the hillsides, to the scarcer apennine hare and wolf. We will also make an afternoon excursion to a picturesque mountain site where chamois, a charismatic species of mountain antelope, often graze in small groups on the slopes above Lake Barrea.   

Chamois, Apennine Wolf, Apennine Hare, Wild Boar, Red Deer, Roe Deer, Badger, Hedgehog

Birds

 

The fruit orchards and pine forests on the edge of the town attract a colourful variety of bird species tricky to find elsewhere in Italy. On a dawn walk, we can expect to see many pairs of subalpine warbler singing from exposed perches, hoopoes undulating across olive groves on their zebra-barred wings, or an elusive rock partridge calling from the slopes. Further afield on the Sangro River, we will scan for riverine species such as wryneck, bonelli's warbler and bee-eater passing through on migration; whilst the beech forests support the collared flycatcher and the rare Lilford's white-backed woodpecker. 

Alpine Chough, Bee-Eater, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Bonelli's Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Collared Flycatcher, Dipper, Golden Eagle, Goshawk, Honey Buzzard, Hoopoe, Lesser Grey Shrike, Nightjar, Peregrine, Redstart, Red-Backed Shrike, Red-Footed Falcon, Rock Bunting, Rock Partridge, Rufous-Tailed Rock Thrush, Serin, Western Subalpine Warbler, White-Backed Woodpecker, Wryneck

Butterflies & Wildflower Meadows

 

Midsummer is the best time to see butterflies, and it is possible to find 30+ species around the meadows near our accommodation - from the striking Scarce Swallowtail to the delightful Sooty Copper. Day-flying moths such as Hummingbird Hawkmoth and Six-Spot Burnet are more common here than in the UK, so we can expect to see these in good numbers. Abruzzo's wildflowers bring colour to an arid landscape, and on the dry stony slopes, it is worth keeping a look out for sunning reptiles such as Italian Green Lizard or a rarer Orsini's Viper.

Butterflies: Adonis Blue, Apollo, Arran Brown, Blue-Spot Hairstreak, Chequered Skipper, Clouded Yellow, Comma, Common Branded Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Essex Skipper, Glanville Fritillary, Great Banded Grayling, Holly Blue, Large Skipper, Lesser Spotted Fritillary, Marbled Fritillary, Marbled White, Marsh Fritillary, Northern Brown Argus, Peacock, Red Admiral, Scarce Swallowtail, Small Blue, Small Heath, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Sooty Copper, Swallowtail. 

Cultural Sites 

 

In addition to the many wildlife-viewing opportunities on our doorstep, you may want to explore the historic villages and culinary delights that make this part of Italy so memorable - from the cobbled streets and trattoria of Villetta Barrea, to the fairytale hilltop village of Castrovalva, whose winding alleyways inspired many of M.C. Escher's artworks. 

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What Our Guests Say

"Huge thanks to Paul and Mattia for being so accommodating. They kindly adapted plans to suit our needs, and I learned so much in the process thanks to their guidance."

Matt - 2019

Trip Reports 

 

Practical Information

Food           Breakfast is typical of Italy, consisting of pastries and fresh fruit with coffee or juice.                              Lunch will generally be either a light home-cooked meal or freshly prepared                                          sandwiches made with local produce (cheese, meat, vegetables) that we can take with                        us into the field. Dinner will be at a nearby restaurant or home-cooked, depending on                          our evening activities. 

Walking       Light to moderate, generally on the flat with optional uphill mountain paths.                                            Comfortable walking pace with stops. For chamois, we may need to hike between 1                            and 4 hours to locate them. Please contact us to discuss the suitability and if you have                        any mobility issues. 

Driving        Travel between sites will be made in the guide's private vehicle, although guests                                  preferring to self-drive will be well accommodated. 

Group           The private tour allows flexibility and ensures a personal guiding experience.Paul and                          Mattia will be on hand to answer your questions and help you with observing animals                          whatever your skillset. 

Photo Gear  Whether you are an amateur or experienced photographer, you may wish to bring a                              camera. We recommend a DSLR or compact camera with reach of 300mm or more for                        photographing the bears and mammals. A wider lens magnification would be suitable                          for butterflies, reptiles and landscapes. 

Clothing      It is important that participants wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Comfortable                            loose-fitting clothing and trekking shoes are recommended around town and in the                             countryside. A list of recommended clothing will be sent upon booking

Weather      Very pleasant Italian summer weather can range from 20C to 30C in the midday heat.                          Warm but not humid, with lots of sunshine. Colder weather and cloud cover is possible                       at higher altitudes. 

Insects       Ticks and mosquitoes may be encountered in wildflower meadows, so insect repellent                         and bite cream is advised as a precaution. 

Flights        If flying from London, we recommend flying either from London Stansted to Rome                                 Ciampino, or London Gatwick to Rome Fiumicino. Please discuss with us so that we                             can recommend the best flight for you to take. 

Terms & Conditions

See here for our full Terms & Conditions, including our cancellation policy. 

Enjoy this little video of the Abruzzo's beautiful natural wonders - we hope you join us this summer!

What's Included

What's Not Included

  ✓  Services of local wildlife guides          (English/Italian speaking)

  ✓  4 nights' stay at the B&B 

  ✓  All breakfasts, lunches and                  dinners 

  ✓  Evening photo edit sessions for          photographers 

  ✓  A welcome presentation on the            local fauna and sites 

  ✓  Airport pick-up and drop-off from        Rome to our B&B in Villalago

  ✓  Ground transportation - self-               driving can be accommodated.

 

   ✗  Return flights from London to              Rome, and any connections

       (please contact us so that we              can recommend the best flights)

   ✗  Personal and cancellation                    insurance*

   ✗  Any covid tests required before          or after the workshop 

   ✗  Personal snacks and beverages

   ✗  Personal expenses

   ✗  Laundry 

   ✗  Any additional overnight stays 

* To take part in our trip, you must be covered by adequate insurance for its entire duration. The insurance must cover for cancellation, ​medical and emergency expenses. We recommend insurance against damage or loss of baggage, camera equipment, instruments and personal items.