This tour is based in the beautiful Abruzzo National Park, set in the heart of the Apennines in a protected area of 400 Sq Km and only 2.5 hours from Rome. This tour is therefore perfect if you wish to extend your visit and either start or end the tour with a city break sight seeing in the wonderful city of Rome.
The tour spends a total of 4 nights in the wonderful mountain town of Pescasseroli, in a lovely recently converted Guest House. It is just a stone’s throw away from our main bear watching area! This tour also gives you an excellent chance of finding one of the Western Palearctic’s hardest species, Rock Partridge!
See videos below, taken during our May 2012 and 2013 tours!
After meeting at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, we shall begin our short journey east towards the lovely Abruzzo NP. It is only a couple of hours travelling until the edge of the park and we shall then find ourselves winding up the mountain roads surrounded by mixed beech woodlands and montane calcareous grasslands. It will not be long until we arrive in the heart of the park, passing one of the key bear hotspots! We then descend into the valley bottom and arrive in the wonderful historic village of Pescasseroli, which shall be our base for the next four nights. After checking into our beautifully converted Guest House set in the old narrow cobbled streets of the village, we shall take a short drive to one of our bear watching viewpoints. If we are lucky, we may even get our Apennine adventure off to a great start with our first sighting of a lumbering Marsican Brown Bear grazing on fresh shoots of grasses, trees and shrubs in the valley below us!
During the next three days our time shall be spent routinely visiting favoured Bear and Wolf areas at dawn and dusk, scanning meadows and woodland edges from vantage points. Patience is essential, if we are to be successful with our quest to see these fantastic animals. Bears are generally nocturnal grazers, but are quite often seen in open meadows and nearby hills, either in the early morning, returning to the forest after a night of foraging, or in the late evening, emerging from the forest to begin feeding. This is also the start of the mating season and a time when bears can be more visible in the meadows. Wolves tend to be much less predictable in their habits, compared to those of bears and although not the best time of year to see them, we do have a chance. We shall head out each morning, before breakfast, returning to our guest house during the late morning to enjoy a well earned late breakfast. The days shall be spent exploring other parts of the Abruzzo NP, enjoying the birds and other wildlife that we find each day. The last couple of hours of each day, shall again be spent scanning for bears and wolves, before taking advantage of the great restaurants in Pescasseroli.
During our stay in the park, we shall spend some of time focusing our efforts in trying to find some of the speciality birds of the area. Golden Eagles are a a fairly regular sight over one of the main bear viewing areas, but we shall also take some short walks into the Beech woodlands. Here we should be treated to singing Wood Warblers, Redstarts and beautiful male Collared Flycatchers all recently returned from their wintering grounds in Sub-Saharan Africa. Woodpeckers are certainly a speciality of the forests here, with good chances of finding the much sought after White-backed Woodpecker, considered by some to be a full species, the Lilford’s Woodpecker. We had excellent views of this species during our 2015 tour. We shall also hope to find the commoner Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers as well as Lesser Spotted and possibly Middle Spotted Woodpecker too.
On one of the days, if the weather is kind to us, we shall take a longer walk to a higher altitude near to the impressive and dramatic Camosciara Mountain. Here we have a good chance of connecting with some of the more “alpine” specialities such as Alpine Chough, Water Pipit, Rock Bunting and maybe Alpine Accentor. We shall also make an effort to find one of the many Apennine Chamois that live in the rugged terrain and which, like the Marsican Bear is an endemic race (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata). Walks to the higher parts of the park are quite demanding and so shall very much depend on the fitness levels of the group. It is possible to do only part of the walk or remain in one of the nearby cafes. We shall also visit a nearby mountain range where there is a good population of Rock Partridge where we have been successful in seeing birds well on our 2013 and 2015 tours. En route we shall look for Red-footed Falcons that can often be found passing through the area. Of course, butterflies and orchids are also an important part of the Abruzzo biodiversity and although it is not the best time for such species, if the weather has been warm, we may find something of interest, such as Grizzled Skipper, Pearl-bordered Fritillary or Scarce Swallowtail and orchids such as Lady Orchid and Burnt Tip Orchid.
We shall make one last pre-breakfast visit searching for bears and wolves, before returning to our guest house for breakfast. We shall then have a little time to look around Pescasseroli before heading back to Rome either to the airport or onto Rome for a city break!