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A B R U Z Z O   A D V E N T U R E

O C T O B E R   7 - 12   2 0 2 4

O C T O B E R   1 4 - 19   2 0 2 4

Photograph elusive Apennine Wolves, Marsican Bears and other wildlife in Italy's Apennines this autumn

Rome, Italy

6 days

4 - 7 places 

From £1550

(Excluding flights)

If you would like to arrange a private workshop for an individual or group,

please get in touch above for available dates. 

Paul's workshop opened my eyes to a whole new world and way of seeing. Very inspiring!"

Martyna

(Macro Photography / Winter Wetlands)

Trip Overview

T R I P    O V E R V I E W

This 6-day workshop in the Abruzzo will offer you the chance to observe and photograph the region's "Big Five" - the Apennine Wolf, Marsican Brown Bear, Apennine Chamois, Red Deer, and Griffon Vulture - at the peak time of year. 

With rolling green mountain slopes dotted with medieval villages, crystal-clear rivers and lush beech woodlands, early autumn in Italy gives golden opportunities for nature photography. From late September, Red Deer rut alongside the azure streams of the Sangro River and in the valleys. Tired stags make easy targets for Apennine Wolves, which have just emerged from their dens with their cubs. The critically endangered Marsican Brown Bears (fewer than 60 left in Italy) come down to fruiting trees in village orchards; whilst on mountain screes, Apennine Chamois (a charismatic species of antelope) raise their young under the ever-present gaze of soaring Griffon Vultures. 

Target Species: Apennine Wolf, Marsican Bear, Apennine Chamois, Griffon Vulture, Red Deer. Also possibility of birdlife such as Golden Eagle, Rock Partridge, Hoopoe, Lilford's White-Backed Woodpecker, and Dipper. 

I T I N E R A R Y

Find out how the days will unfold and what activities make up the tour​ Day 1: After the group meet in Rome, we will transfer by car 1h30 to Pescasseroli, a picturesque village in the heart of the Abruzzo National Park. On our accommodation's doorstep are open plains and meadows where Apennine Wolf packs may be seen hunting Red Deer. We will spend our first evening looking for both species, until after sunset to catch the best light and maximise chances of late evening sightings. A hearty dinner with the group in a traditional restaurant in Pescasseroli, and a welcome presentation on the local fauna and our creative and respectful approach to photography. Day 2: We will leave before sunrise to look for Apennine Wolves and Marsican Bears, the two apex predators for which this park is well known, in the plains, meadows and fruit orchards. We will use all methods at our disposal to ensure success - from checking out the area before your arrival and keeping up to date with park warden sightings, to using field craft, camera traps, thermal imaging cameras, and spotting scopes. Whilst we wait, we should be in the company of other wildlife such as noisy Rock Partridge, rutting Red Deer and packs of Wild Boar. Towards midday, we will return to town for lunch. In the afternoon, we will look for herds of Apennine Chamois, a charismatic species of mountain antelope. Our search will take us on a beautiful, gentle climb through beech forest and into a valley that overlooks scenic Lake Barrea. Dinner in Pescasseroli. Day 3: The morning will be a repeat of Day 2, starting early and finishing around midday to maximise our chances of Marsican Bear and Apennine Wolf encounters and interesting light conditions. After lunch (either in town or on location), the early afternoon will be spent photographing Red Deer rutting and bathing in the crystal clear Sangro River. Birdlife such as Dipper, Hoopoe and Wryneck may also be observed along here, in the dappled light of the oak and beech forests. An evening session, with our party split into two groups looking for Marsican Bears in the meadows. Dinner in Pescasseroli.  Day 4: A more leisurely start, targeting Red Deer and birdlife around town. We transfer to our next base in Sirente Velino Regoinal Park, a 1h30 drive north. It is a short walk to the refuge on Monte Velino, our base for the next two nights. Unlike other parts of the Apennines, this is not a touristic area at all, so this is a rare chance to visit true untamed wilderness in comfortable peace and seclusion. A sunset walk for Apennine Wolves and Red Deer. We will scan the peaks above for Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Rock Partridge and flocks of Alpine Chough. Chef Fabrizio will prepare for us a warming home-cooked dinner at the refuge. We may fall asleep to the howling of wolves.  Day 5: We shall rise early to search for Apennine Wolves. We may not have to look far, as they may be on our very doorstep! At most, we shall walk between 30 to 60 minutes to our lookout spot. We know four separate wolf packs in this area, and we have very high chances of coming across them this morning. We shall again use all methods at our disposal to track them., until the sun is too high. After lunch, we'll ascend a little to photograph Griffon Vultures and Golden Eagles, which both nest on the cliff ledges above the refuge and may offer spectacular fly-bys at eye level. Dinner back at the refuge.  Day 6: A final sunrise/morning session for the Apennine Wolves and Red Deer, before our return to Rome and flight home.

H I G H L I G H T S

  • See and photograph the region's "Big Five" - the Apennine Wolf, Marsican Bear, Apennine Chamois, Griffon Vulture and Red Deer - as well as spectacular birdlife and landscapes

  • Develop a rich portfolio of images showing animal portraits and seldom seen behaviours

​​

  • Enjoy local cuisine and culture in beautiful, unspoilt medieval hilltop villages of the Abruzzo

  • Local photography and nature guides with intimate expert knowledge of the area

  • Excellent guide to client ratio, with lots of 1-on-1 tuition (lower group sizes if all photographers)

  • Optional editing and image review sessions 

  • Learn how to track and identify elusive wildlife with fieldcraft 

  • 3 nights' stay in a comfortable guesthouse in the Abruzzo National Park

  • 2 nights in a mountain refuge deep in the wolves' territory in Sirente Velino Regional Park

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To secure you space on my Abruzzo Adventure tour, please click the button above or use the form at the bottom of this page.

I will then get in touch with you to complete your booking.

Itinerary
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We will divide our time between two bases to maximise opportunities with the region's rarest mammals.

 

For the first half of the trip, we'll be based in the Abruzzo National Park at a lovely bed-and-breakfast. Equipped with private bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms, and a lounge area, this will be our gateway to one of Italy's most unspoilt wild regions. 

 

For the second part of your stay, we'll transfer to Sirente Velino Regional Park, staying in a fully-equipped refuge on Monte Velino with Wolves and Golden Eagles on our doorstep. This is a true immersion in the realm of the wolf. There are cosy dormitories (shared unisex), with running electricity, water, and wifi. Fabrizio the chef makes an excellent dinner for us on our arrival. The nests of Golden Eagles and Griffon Vultures can be viewed just above the refuge. 

O U R    B A S E

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Practical Info

P R A C T I C A L    I N F O R M A T I O N

Meals       

Breakfast (included at the guesthouse) will include pastries, yoghurts and toast with coffee or juice. Lunch will generally be either a light home-cooked meal or freshly prepared sandwiches made with local produce (vegetarian options available) that we can take with us into the field. Dinner will either be at a nearby restaurant or home-prepared, depending on our evening activities. Please make us aware of any dietary requirements. 

Walking       

We consider this light to moderate difficulty. We will be reliant on transport between locations, and may even photograph wolves from the car or roadside. At the refuge, there will be a 15 minute walk with some steep sections. For Chamois and Golden Eagle, there are optional longer walks across moderate to steep mountain terrain. Please contact us beforehand to discuss suitability and if you have any mobility issues, and we can adjust the itinerary accordingly. 

Finding The Animals   

Among our three guides, we have some of the best knowledge of this park's wildlife, with many years' experience tracking, photographing and working with some of the world's top film productions to observe Italy's rarest creatures. We use all methods at our disposal to ensure a high success rate - from checking out the area before your arrival and keeping up to date with park warden sightings, to using field craft, camera traps, thermal imaging cameras, and spotting scopes. Nevertheless these are wild animals, and we cannot always guarantee or predict where a wolf or bear may decide to go. 

Group Size & Tuition      

With a minimum of 4 and maximum of 7 participants (if more than 5, we will split our party into two groups), our small group size ensures everyone has a better personal experience. We will be on hand to answer your questions and help you with observing animals whatever your skillset.  

Photo Gear  

We recommend that you bring a DSLR with a zoom lens with magnification of at least 400mm range, and a teleconverter for extra reach when capturing rare wolf behaviours and bird flight shots. A wider angle lens, such as 24-105mm, can work wonders for landscapes and sunsets. Binoculars are handy for picking off animals at distance. 

Clothing      

It is important that participants wear appropriate dry and wet weather clothing. Comfortable loose-fitting clothing and trekking shoes are recommended. Please check the recommended kit list, sent upon sign-up. Participants will be advised nearer the time on the weather forecast for our trip. 

Insects       

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

Flights        

We recommend flying to Rome Ciampino or Rome Fiumicino airport, where the tour will commence and end. Please discuss with us so that we can recommend the best flight for you to take. 

What's Included

W H A T ' S    I N C L U D E D

Included

  

  ✓  Services of professional photography guide Paul Alistair

      Collins, as well as local nature and photography guides

      Mattia Cialoni and Gianluca Damiani

  ✓  Permits to photograph in the Abruzzo National Park

  ✓  Afternoon/Evening image reviews and edit sessions 

      (optional)

  ✓  A welcome presentation on the local fauna and sites 

  ✓  3 nights' accommodation at a B&B 

  ✓  2 nights' accommodation at a mountain refuge 

  ✓  All meals, taken at our accommodation or in town

  ✓  Use of guides' thermal imaging camera for wolf spotting

  ✓  Use of tripods (upon request) 

  ✓  Airport pick-up and drop-off from Rome Fiumicino or

       Ciampino

  ✓  Ground transportation

Not Included

   ✗  Return flights from London to Rome Ciampino or Rome

       Fiumicino (please contact us so that we can

        recommend the best flights)

   ✗  Any Visa charges or airport taxes

   ✗  Personal and cancellation insurance *

   ✗  Personal snacks and alcohol

   ✗  Personal expenses

   ✗  Laundry 

   ✗  Any additional overnight stays 

For full terms and conditions, including our cancellation policy and personal travel insurance, please click to see the Terms & Conditions 

* To take part in this 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. 

Contact Paul at paulalistaircollins@gmail.com or + 44 7342 983 581 for further information.

Once your booking has been confirmed, a £300 deposit will be required per person to secure your place.

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Paul Alistair Collins

Paul is an award-winning nature photographer, featured in British Wildlife Photography Awards and WildBird Photographer of the Year. He regularly leads photo and birdwatching workshops in the UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Svalbard, and produces  documentaries for the BBC and Netflix. 

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Mattia Cialoni

Growing up on the Italian Adriatic, Mattia has a close relationship with Apennine fauna and has tracked bears and wolves for many years. He directed award-winning film "My Neighbour Is A Bear" and is completing a film on the Apennine Wolf. 

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Gianluca Damiani

With a background in conservation biology, Gianluca is completing his PhD on urban birds in Rome. He has collaborated with the BBC, National Geographic, ARTE, Sky and RAI on nature documentaries. He has authored two books and several scientific papers on Apennine Wolves and Griffon Vultures.

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