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.
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.
Paul is an award-winning nature photographer, featured in British Wildlife Photography Awards. He regularly leads workshops in the UK, Italy and Svalbard.
Growing up on the Adriatic coast,
Mattia has a close relationship with the local fauna and has tracked bears and wolves for many years.
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.
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!
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
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