Hungary Birding Tours focusing on Cranes & Geese
This 8-day long Bird Watching in Hungary Tour is a relaxed-paced trip with set departure and concentrates on the Autumn/Fall migration, a very special season on the Great Hungarian Plains. The number of Common Cranes can exceed 100-thousand, plus there are tens of thousands of different Geese which creates a real Carnival feeling especially during the late afternoons and evenings.
A long list of other interesting species wait for us at the lowlands and hills of Hungary. We spend time first at two flat areas, the less known, but unbeatable Kiskunsag National Park and the famous Hortobágy ‘Puszta’. Kiskunsag is the best for Great Bustards, Stone Curlews and a wide range of Herons, Egrets and waterbirds, plus a great variety of raptors such as Saker Falcon or Imperial Eagle.
At Hortobagy you can enjoy grandstand views of crane migration from watchtowers or alongside fishponds and fields. A nice addition can be to find a large trip of Dotterels in the grassland.
There is always a good number of Bean and Greater White-fronted Geese plus at the fishponds many interesting other birds such as Ferruginous Duck, Pygmy Cormorant and vast numbers of waders, herons, egrets and wildfowl.
The evenings are highlighted by thousands of trumpeting cranes flying low overhead. It is an unforgettable experience!
We also visit the Bükk Hills which is characterized by vast beech woods and open limestone meadows with different karst forms produced by erosion.
It is a perfect area for bird watching in Hungary, where raptors soar above the valleys and dense deciduous woodlands provide a home for woodland species such as owls and woodpeckers including Ural Owl, Long-eared Owl, Black, White-backed, Grey-headed, Green, Great Spotted, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted and Syrian Woodpecker.
Bird Watching in Hungary Tour highlights include:
- Around 100-thousand Common Cranes in the area
- Tens of thousands of Geese
- Visiting a huge oxbow lake of River Tisza with a large number of attractive bird species
- Special flower-rich meadows and incredible Autumn/Fall foliage season
- A strong population of Great Bustards
- Trip of Dotterels
- Visiting channels, alkaline lakes, ponds and rivers for various dragonflies & special birds like Bearded Tit, Ferruginous Duck, Squacco Heron and many more
- Watching East European raptor specialities such as Saker Falcon, Eastern Imperial Eagle and many more
- Several Woodpecker & Owl species possible including Black & White-backed Woodpeckers plus Ural & Long-eared Owls, the latter in large numbers
Please note: this set-departure tour is also available as a private or custom tour on request. Please submit an enquiry with your preferred dates and group size.
Like the look of this tour but want to see what else is on offer? Have a look here Birding Hungary Tour, Kondor Ecolodge & Bukk Hills
Alternative Tour Name: Carnival of Cranes and Geese plus Bustards, Dotterels, Raptors, Owls, Woodpeckers
After arrival to Budapest Airport we can start either with a quick 1-1,5-hour-long transfer to Kondor EcoLodge or start to travel through the upper part of the Kiskunsag National Park checking out habitats and finding the first birds, perhaps even Great Bustards.
We arrive to our home, the charming Kondor Ecolodge late afternoon, depending also on arrival time of your flights.
If time permits we show you the first garden species and you can also try one of our garden photography and wildlife watching hides.
Every evening we discuss what we plan to do next day. Please note that the following itinerary is a sample, depending on the interest of the group, local weather and birdnews we can exchange the order of the days or activities within a day.
Today we venture out making a driving-walking full day discovery at excellent habitats of the Northern and Middle part of the Kiskunsag National Park. We have excellent local knowledge regarding where to find different sought-after species with a good chance to be able to observe by each member of the group.
Kiskunsag grassland is the typical habitat for Great Bustard with the largest population not just in Hungary, but second largest in all Europe as well! Today we travel to the grassland area where we have a good chance of enjoying the view of the enormous males which is quite an unforgettable experience!
We also will look around from the top of an ancient man-made hill to check a perfect hunting area for some great raptors such as Eastern Imperial Eagle or Saker Falcon. We also can add Eurasian Kestrel, Hooded Crow, Eurasian Skylark and Eurasian Curlew.
Long-eared and Little Owl usually can be found at farmhouses.
We can eat our picnic at a small lovely local cafeteria where we could add some delicious cakes or handcrafted icecream to our fulfilling lunch.
During the afternoon we continue with a visit of a fishpond system where from a lookout tower we can check the birds around us. Some of the species we hope to see here: Pied Avocet, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common Snipe, Eurasian Curlew, Pygmy Cormorant, Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Gray Heron, Ringed Plover and European Kingfisher. Marsh Harrier is quite common and sometimes it is dwarfed by White-tailed Eagle. It is also a good site to find Reed Bunting or even Bearded Tit.
Beside the birds the local ancient breeds of Great Gray Hungarian cattle and Water Buffalos can be interesting.
On the way back to our Kondor Ecolodge we can make a small detour to visit an area where a pair of Saker Falcons had a successful breeding earlier during the year, so we can give a chance to find them.
Finally, we return to Kondor Ecolodge and prepare for a tasty homemade dinner.
Before breakfast we can find several species right in the garden such as resident Great Tit, European Greenfinch, Common Chaffinch but Woodlark and Brambling possible as well. The best surprise however can be the largest Woodpecker of Europe, Black Woodpecker.
Today after breakfast we drive about 1 hour to East to the floodplains of River Tisza and its several oxbow lakes which are also perfect birding spots. Alongside the river and its oxbow lakes, we will visit a so-called “gallery forest” or riparian forest where the old trees provide a perfect Woodpecker Paradise. We should find Lesser, Middle, Great Spotted Woodpecker, but will look for Grey-headed & Black Woodpecker as well. The forest is a nesting site for Black Storks and Tawny Owls as well.
Later we visit another nearby site where we will look down from the top of an ancient earth-fortress to the surrounding vast area with meandering oxbow lakes full of birds. It is a paradise for Great White & Little Egret, Great & Pygmy Cormorant, Black-necked & Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Common Snipe, Common Kingfisher and of course plenty of ducks, including Ferruginous Duck, Shoveler, Garganey.
We always see a couple of raptors hunting around, sometimes even White-tailed Eagle or Saker Falcon.
With a short walk we can visit the edge of a little lake and a marshy area. We have a good chance here for Bearded Reedling, Great Reed Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Sedge and Reed Warbler. Night Heron and Kingfisher are usually here as well.
We will have a picnic lunch here with might be Wryneck & Syrian Woodpecker around. After filling ourselves up we will have a long journey across the Great Hungarian Plain which we will brake at Lake Tisza, part of the Hortobagy National Park. It is a good place to catch up with any of the lakeside birds we might have missed before. Also gives a proper restroom possibility and stretch our legs. Another shortstop is a roadside site which during the afternoon can be good for spotting raptors flying around. Both Eastern Imperial Eagle & Saker Falcon possible here.
Finally, we arrive to our next family-owned small hotel is at the Western edge of the National Park. You will surely remember here not just the food but the evening crossing of Common Cranes as well.
Any of the mornings at Hortobagy can be like in a fairy tale with Common Cranes in the mist and some gaggling Geese. The garden of our simple accommodation is regularly full with plenty of Tree Sparrows and we can find a Goldcrest or a Little Owl as well.
After breakfast we drive to the headquarter of the NP, get our permits and tickets, shortly visit an exhibition and the famous Nine-arched Bridge over the Hortobagy River.
Later on we drive to a village where on a few trees scattered around some gardens we found dozens of Long-eared Owls.
After that we visit a huge grassland area on some deteriorated roads searching Dotterels. We might have our picnic literally in the middle of the Puszta which word has 2 meanings: one is a huge open grassland and the other is emptiness. Well, here it is easy to understand both explanation for sure. Let us hope that it will not be totally empty and we can find a nice trip of Dotterels, sometimes over 30 or even 60 in a group. Usually we have excellent views through the scopes.
Sometimes close to Nadudvar we have very good views of Great Bustards as well. Our final big goal is to witness the evening arrival of Cranes to their night roosts. With a less than a mile-long-walk on a dirt road we can reach the edge of a marshy area where with a bit of luck we can witness thousands of Cranes coming continuously with an incredibly coloured sky as a background. Let us hope neither wheather nor mosquitoes can not really spoil the magical moments with the trumpeting noise all over. This can be an unforgettable spectacular, a real Carnival of Crannes for sure.
This day we dedicate to explore the Hortobagy fishponds, including the famous Hortobágy Halastó.The ponds attract many waterbirds including Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Little Egret and many more. Some songbirds can be around as well such as Water Pipit, Black Redstart and Stonechat. White-tailed Eagle is regularly around and there is always some interesting, we had even Golden Jackal here before. The reedbeds are home to Penduline Tits and Bearded Reedlings as well so we will try hard to locate them for you.
We will walk among different lakes and channels, visiting a few lookout towers. From the top of these it is easy to check out large number of Greyleg Geese mixed with some White-fronts and Tundra Geese. We can have stunning views of European Kingfisher, Hen Harrier and Great Grey Shrike as well.
At the end of our walk we check out the last fishpond which usually offers Black-winged Stilt, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-tailed Godwit and some more species. Soon as the end of the day approach more and more Cranes should arrive in bigger and bigger waves and we will have again a beautiful evening with picturesque sky around with masses of Cranes flying overhead.
After breakfast we visit Northern Hortobagy, another typical Puszta grassland habitat to experience. It is a good site to have Little Owl and couple of raptors including Rough-legged Buzzard which we could compare with a Common Buzzard.
Later on we head towards the Bükk Hills and en route we stop alongside the River Tisza and search Syrian and Black Woodpecker but can find Great Spotted and Green as well.
We have a great picnic here and after that we use an interesting ferry to cross River Tisza on the way to Bukk which is one of a kind experience, almost like time traveling.
Upon arrival to the foot of the Bukk Hills we shortly visit the beginning of the Hor Valley before we arrive to our last hotel at Noszvaj.
We spend the full day in the Bükk National Park and visit beech woods, scenic valleys, old quarries and limestone meadows for raptors, woodpeckers, owls and woodland passerines.
Pre-breakfast walks around our hotel should be very productive. Several species of woodpeckers including Grey-headed Woodpecker, Common Treecreper, Common Crossbill, European Hawfinch are all can be found in this area of orchards and oak forests.
Later on we drive up to different points of the Bukk Hills. Where-ever we search birds we can walk among beautifully coloured beech trees. We should find several woodpeckers including lot of Great Spots, but also Black, Middle-spotted and perhaps Lesser Spotted as well. The hardest one is usually the secretive and localized White-backed Woodpecker but we know some of its favourite areas.
After picnic in the forest we drive up to the Bükk Plateau to explore extensive oak and beech woods, an excellent area for Hawfinch, Common Treecreeper and woodpeckers, including to have a second chance for the elusive White-backed. We visit the most famous forest with a nice walk. Here giant beech trees die naturally, hence the name “Ancient Woods”. During October Hawfinch, Mistle Thrush and Brambling is quite common here as well.
During our walk in this enchanting forest with all the glamour of the autumn coloures of the foliage with some luck we can even find a beautiful Ural Owl.
This would be a very nice finish of a lovely day in gorgeous forests.
After our last morning birding we have our breakfast and depending on your flight schedule can bird a bit more or travel back to Budapest. If there is time and interest we can do a drive through sightseeing tour as well, stopping at the most interesting parts of this lovely city.
After a lovely week spent together we hope to have a chance to organize another successful tour for you either in Eastern Europe or Latin America!
Some of the wildlife expected to see on this trip are:
Please note that during Autumn/Fall migration almost every week offers slightly different species. While in mid- and end-September you still might have a chance to see some of the species which are the last ones to migrate South, we also still have some special wildflowers and invertebrates such as butterflies, moth, dragonflies around. Number of Cranes and Geese start to increase after midSeptember and they are on the peak from beginning or latest midOctober. But hey, would you feel the difference between 10, 50 or 100 thousand Cranes? Dotterels are in Hungary usually till midOctober.
Change in the colour of the foliage is as spectacular as in New England, especially in October. By the end of October we should have the special Winter visitors as well from Lesser White-fronted Geese through Red-breasted Geese till Wallcreeper and many more.
So if you are interested in certain species please ask and we can suggest a date according to your needs.
Little Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Great Bittern, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great White Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill, Ferruginous Duck, Shoveler, Garganey, Rough-legged Buzzard, Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Saker Falcon, Goshawk, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Long-eared Owl, Eagle Owl, Ural Owl, European Kingfisher, Grey-headed, Black, Syrian, Middle- and Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers, Wood Lark, Common Redstart, Long-tailed Tit ssp. caudatus, Penduline Tit, Bearded Reedling/Bearded Tit, Common and Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Grey Shrike, Mistle Thrush, Brambling, Hawfinch, Tree Sparrow
From end of October, beginning of November Winter visitors including specialities from Lesser White-fronted Geese through Red-breasted Geese till Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor are all in good numbers.
European Roe Deer, European Red Deer, Wildboar, European/Brown Hare, Red Fox, Otter, Badger, Golden Jackal
What is included?
- All lodging based on double/twin occupancy
- All meals from dinner on arrival day and breakfast on leaving day.
- Generally buffet breakfast, packed/picnic lunch, 2 or 3 courses dinners
- Water when we are out in the fields
- Entrances to parks and reserves
- Local professional licenced guide(s)
- Airport pickup
- All internal transfers
- Airport drop-off
- Visits of garden photography hides and wildlife watching hides
- One night walk for Owls
- One Moth trapping session
- Bat detecting possibility
- Wifi at the main building
What is not included?
- Airfare to/from Hungary
- Alcoholic beverages and drinks during evenings
- Any personal expenses
- If we know in advance then we can cater vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free and any other dietary needs. Some of the above might force us to ask an extra fee since it is difficult and/or very expensive to provide.
- Anything else not mentioned in “What is included”
We are the only fully licenced professional photographer and tour guide couples in Hungary who are also owners and hosts at their own home, Kondor EcoLodge. Our life is sharing the knowledge and ethusiasm we accumulated about wildlife, history & culture of our homeland since our childhood. Several of our returning guests became our friends during the years. We spend our free time and profit on protecting habitats and species locally and also discovering new areas where we also lead tours, especially Latin America. We have more than 25+ years experience of organizing & leading tours not just locally but worldwide.
On any of our tours we choose accommodation on the basis that it should be surrounded by birds and wildlife with plenty of on site possibilities. We prefer family run small lodges or mini hotels with personal attention, always en-suite clean rooms and local food what you will surely remember. Details of our Kondor EcoLodge can be seen at www.kondorecolodge.hu
Depending on the size of the group we use different size and types of vehicle. For private tours for a couple we use large size cars or 4x4 if that is needed. For small groups we use elongated and elevated 9 seater minivans - Ford, Mercedes, etc. For larger groups we use 19 seater bus with a driver - Ford, Mercedes, etc.
We start with airport pickup, all internal travel is by land with vehicles specified above and we finish with a drop off at the airport. Price includes a collective pick up and drop off. If you need a separate timing we can arrange that but please note that is for extra cost.
We stick to both until it is possible so we change anything which is written just if there is a situation not possible to control by us like sudden illness, extreme weather situation, et. On the other hand we can change the order of the days within a tour if bird news or weather forecast suggest that. In any case if we are aware of a possible change we communicate that asap.
Private or customized tours can be arranged with any number of travellers starting with 1. General set programme and set departure tour group size starts at 6 person. Maximum group size is 12, except if it is a group of friends or a birdclub where people all know each other and there are 2 leaders of the group.
Breakfast Our "Full Kondor Kiskunsag Breakfast" generally includes juice, coffee or tea, local whole-meal bread, toast, cold cuts, cheese, yoghurt, muesli, vegetables, fruits, Hungarian pastry or scrambled eggs / ham&eggs / Frankfurter/Sausage. Lunch For our nature-lover groups we offer usually a nice picnic either at a butterfly & wildflower-rich meadow or at a birdfull forest, nice riverbank or shore of an alkaline lake. Or we put out even more food at breakfast, so you can make your lunch of your own style & amount of food, according to your needs. Snacks & drinks during the day When you are on a tour with us we try to pamper you with coffee/tea/cappuccino, salty and sweet bisquits, fruits and water. Dinner At the end of the day we offer local Hungarian food which range from the famous Gulyas Soup or the Catcher of the Guy Soup through substantial portion of main dishes till local desserts. Drinks at dinner are not included. BAR In our small, but attractive bar we serve juices and beverages, local and international beer, a great selection of local wine from Bull's Blood till Tokaj Aszu originating from different famous wine-regions, local fruit brandy which is called palinka and many more. WINECELLAR Our wine cellar offers a cool place to check the birdlist while enjoying a variety of our great wines. If we know in advance then we can cater vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free and any other dietary needs. Some of the above might force us to ask an extra fee since it is difficult and/or very expensive to provide.
from midSept till midNovember But please note each week offers a bit different chance for most of the species. Please read for more details the Wildlife section
We have had returning guests with 80+ years without difficulty. Kiskunsag is a perfectly flat area, here we refer a molehill as a mountain. :-) Most of our trails are sandy. In the Bukk Hills there are some trails which have a little elevation difference but it is always possible to split the group or even rest closer to the van/bus if you feel tired.
We should discuss any doubts, questions before the tour, the best to use emails, but you can call us as well. Durig the tour the most important for us that please tell us immediately if you do not understand something, if you need help or there is any smaller or larger issues to be solved. We will try our best and we strongly believe in open, honest communication. Wifi will be available at each accommodation. Phone coverage at rural areas during the day can be zero but should work at the accommodations.
Please provide in written any important relevant health issues you have what we should know so in case of a health situation we are aware. Also please travel with necessary travel and health insurance. In Hungary at certain areas including some of the areas like Bukk Hills tick-carried diseases are possible to encounter (Lyme, Encephalitis, etc). At certain time of year and areas mosquitoes can be a minor issue. Other areas with loads of farm animals can have horseflies and other bugs. Otherwise Hungary is a safe and pleasant country to visit.
Reservations If you wish register for a tour or trip you should complete a Reservation Form and send it to our address. https://www.ecotours-worldwide.com/booking-form Upon received the completely filled out booking form we send out a deposit invoice with full bank details. Reservations for tours require a deposit of 50% of the total price per person of which 25% is non-refundable upon receipt. Travellers will be notified of the amount which they must deposit and the deadline by which they register. We accept reservations with deposits in order of their receipt. Telephoned reservations are accepted provided they are followed by the appropriate deposit within 10 days. Payments Invoices for the balance of trip costs will be mailed about 10 weeks (70 days) before departure date. Payment is due on receipt of our invoice. We adjust the prices to the changes of the exchange rates if these exceed 0.05. Sorry, but we can not accept credit card or cheque payments. But you do not need to bring Gold Bars either :-) , neither to see Golden Oriole, nor to pay the Bar bill, partly because our prices are really affordable and also because we prefer bank transfers in advance. During your days in Hungary generally you can pay with credit card or local cash, HUF. Bar bills you can pay by cash, Ł, $, EUR and HUF are accepted. Cancellations & Refunds If notice of cancellation is received in writing more than 10 weeks (70 days) before departure of a tour of one week or longer, the deposit/payment is refundable. If notice of cancellation is received between 10 weeks and 5 weeks (35 days) before departure, half of the deposit/payment is not refundable. If notice of cancellation is received 5 weeks or less before departure the deposit/payment is not refundable.