Tour Details

Dates:18th of May - 25th of May 2024
Availability:9Guaranteed departure
Group Size:Minimum 4, maximum 12 guests
Grading:Easy to moderate
PricesFull price: £1,475.00 / person Single room supplement: £150.00 / person Deposit: £150.00 / person
Price includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transportation, services of your guides, and a holiday report
Not included: International travel, drinks and other personal items, holiday insurance

Tour Highlights

  • Searching for the enigmatic and rare Danube Clouded Yellow
  • Opportunities to see additional scarcities, including Bavius Blue, Fenton's Wood White, Scarce Fritillary, Spinose Skipper and Zephyr Blue
  • Visit to dedicated hides for potentially unparalleled views and photography of Carpathian Brown Bear
  • A donation will be made to the European Butterfly Group, supporting proactive research and conservation

Tour Description

Transylvania! An area most people associate with dark coniferous forests, castles and vampires but in our case, it is more about traditional land use, warm flower covered slopes and some very special butterflies! The mighty Carpathian Mountains border Transylvania and it offers amazingly diverse habitat for visitors and nature lovers. It is one of those ‘wild’ places in Europe where large carnivores still roam the forests!

We will also learn about the long and turbulent history of this fascinating area while visiting various parts in search of its special early flying butterflies. Indeed, we will be searching for one of Europe’s rarest butterflies: the Danube Clouded Yellow Colias myrmidone which has disappeared from so many countries in the last decade. There are still some populations found in Transylvania and we will make sure to maximize our chances to locate this rapidly declining European rarity.

Other targets will include the ‘Transylvanian Blue’ which is an endemic race of the patchily distributed Bavius Blue Pseudophilotes bavius and often suggested to be a valid species in its own right. It is associated with Nodding Sage and a very early flyer. Violet Copper Lycaena helle is another fast-disappearing species and although it can still be seen at various locations in Europe we will make special effort to visit one of its strongholds in Transylvania.

We could see a nice selection of other butterflies while searching for our main targets - the likes of Clouded Apollo Parnassius mnemosyne, Chapman's Blue Polyommatus thersites, Eastern Baton Blue Pseudophilotes vicrama, Osiris Blue Cupido osiris, Glanville Fritillary Melitaea cinxia, Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia, Scarce Fritillary Euphydryas maturna, Fenton's Wood White Leptidea morsei, Provençal Short-tailed Blue Cupido alcetas, and Southern Festoon Zerynthia polyxena. If weather conditions are favorable 55-65 species are possible.

There will be plenty of other wildlife and flowers (including orchids) around and, from dedicated hides, we will also have a good opportunity to observe wild Carpathian Brown Bears Ursus arctos. There will be chance for a selection of special birds too like Corncrake, White-backed Woodpecker, Wallcreeper, River Warbler and Eurasian Scops Owl to name but a few.

Tour Leaders

Jon is a natural history writer, photographer and experienced wildlife tour leader based in the Shetland Isles, but with strong links in Europe and the Americas that see him travelling widely in search of memorable wildlife encounters.

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An experienced tour leader, János is an ecology graduate from the University of Debrecen. A lifelong birder, he maintains a keen interest in other varied aspects of the natural world, including butterflies.

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Tour Location


Tour Itinerary

  • DAY 1

Arrival at Cluj*

and transfer to our first hotel near Dej (2 nights)

  • DAY 2

We will visit a woodland area and try to locate the beautiful Violet Copper, a real ’jewel in the mist. This captivating butterfly is certainly one of the smartest and rarest of the coppers in Europe! In the afternoon our attention will turn towards another localised species, the Bavius Blue. The Pseudophilotes bavius hungarica (Dioszegy, 1913) aka ’Transylvanian Blue’ is an endemic subspecies from Transylvania with a distribution restricted to steppe-like habitats. It is an early flier using larval host plant Salvia nutans. Depending on the season we still have a chance to find some females on the wing.

  • DAY 3

Depending on our success we will devote some more time to locate Bavius Blue and later we will make our way towards the tranquil and picturesque Rimetea Valley at the base of the Székelykő Mountain for two nights. This area is in the Bihar (or Island) Mountains which is an isolated range within the Carpathian wreath and has a selection of relict species. A small detour will take us to the Turda Gorge Nature Reserve en route. The Rimetea Valley has been studied by lepidopterists for many years, and the key factor for its diversity is traditional land use. Night in Rimetea.

  • DAY 4

All day looking for butterflies in this wonderful and diverse valley. Amongst the more common butterfly species we will be looking for are Southern Festoon, Scarce and Marsh Fritillaries, Osiris Blue. There are some even more localised butterflies in the area and with luck we could find Woodland Brown, Zephyr Blue or even the rare Spinose Skipper (this one of the few locations where it is found in Transylvania). Night in Rimetea.

  • DAY 5

After a morning butterflying in the Rimetea Valley we will travel towards Hargita stopping at a few locations to look for butterflies and particularly check locations for Fenton’s Wood White. In the late afternoon we will arrive at the base of the Hargita Mountains, and we will visit some special hides to see the wild Carpathain Brown Bear. Night in Hargita area.

  • DAY 6

We will visit the mighty Bicaz Gorge, a fantastic area in the Hasmas National Park. Today we will be looking for Danube Clouded Yellow and hope to find this beauty. It is also our best chance to see the butterfly-like Wallcreeper. Night in Hargita area.

  • DAY 7

Today we return to western Transylvania and visit yet another area for the Danube Clouded Yellow to hopefully enjoy this fantastic butterfly once more. We will also have more chances to look for butterflies in the Rimetea Valley again. Night in Rimetea.

  • DAY 8

Transfer back to Cluj airport where the tour ends - if time permits, we will indulge in some final butterflying en route.

As with all of our tours, we want our guests to enjoy the very best views of the very best wildlife and, as such, we think it’s important to retain a little flexibility in the holiday itinerary. This means that we may choose to swap days around to take into account local weather conditions, or the timing of the flight or flowering season we find upon arrival at our holiday destination. Rest assured, we will ensure you visit all the best sites, and we have your best interests and comfort at heart!

*We’ll meet at the airport as this is a convenient travel hub for many. However, we appreciate that some guests may have chosen to come overland via rail to Cluj. The main railway station in town is Cluj-Napoca, and there is a bus service linking the city centre with the airport.

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