Being behind the iron curtain for so long, countries like Ukraine and Romania have maintained a more rural lifestyle than their western European counterparts. As a result, open landscapes and large tracts of un-developed land remain that host a great number of large mammals such as brown bears, wolves, red deer, and wild boars. On this great adventure, you will visit several different regions in the Carpathian Mountains to track and observe these majestic animals, while also getting to visit some of the most stunning medieval cities in all of Europe. As a bonus, you will also have the rare chance to visit the Chernobyl safe zone and see the wildlife paradise that has sprouted in its shadow!
Eastern Europe Wildlife Excursion
Eastern Europe Wildlife Excursion
August - September, May - June
Experience & Activity Level:
Previous tracking experience helpful but not required.
Participants should be in good physical condition.
2-3 star hotels & lodges
Starting at $2,990 per person ($175 single supplement)
- Mezhrechenskiy Landscape Park
- Synevyr National Park
- Piatra Craiului National Park / Bucegi Natural Park
- Brasov / Bucharest (optional extensions)
The temperate forests and mountain landscapes of Eastern Europe are still rich with fauna that at one time roamed over the entire continent. This is in large part due to the people living there who have maintained a rural lifestyle, and still utilize these lands as traditional hunting grounds or in a pastoral manner. Also playing a contributing factor are strict government regulations on hunting, logging, grazing, and poaching that ensured these lands have retained much of their original wild character. Even some manmade disasters have paradoxically helped create flourishing wildlife populations, making this region that a haven for large mammals like wolves, brown bears, bison, red deer, and many other smaller animals.
You will begin this grand adventure in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Standing on steep hills overlooking the Dnipro River for more than 1,500 years, it is known as the mother city for all Eastern Slavic peoples. You will have a short introductory tour the day of your arrival, and continue the following day visiting the highlights of the city including its wonderful, churches, walking districts, and outdoor museums. On day three you will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the Chernobyl zone, the scene of the catastrophic nuclear disaster that cleared the area of 50,000 humans, but as a result became ground zero for a massive wildlife resurgence.
Since radiation levels are now completely safe to accommodate people for short visits, the group will get to see the areas that were evacuated (including visiting the ghost town of Pripyat), the abandoned nuclear power station, the “red” forest of dead trees, and the remaining countryside that is now home to a thriving population of wolves, red deer, roe deer, lynx, and for the first time in over a hundred years, the return of the European bison and brown bear.
On the heels of your Chernobyl visit, you will spend the next two days in the adjacent Mezhrechenskiy Landscape Park. Here you will go on foot to look for tracks of the above mentioned animals and to explore this gigantic area that encompasses over 230,000 acres, along the way enjoying its breathtaking vistas and listening to what the birds have to tell us about nearby animals. Your expert naturalist guides you show you how to recognize and identify a variety of animal tracks, and they will also lead you in a series of bird language exercises to teach you how to understand what birds are saying about the presence of predators in the vicinity.
Next you will travel west across the vast Ukrainian plains until you reach Lviv, one of the architectural and cultural gems of Eastern Europe. Founded in the 13th century, the “City of Lions” is lined with multi-colored facades along old-world streets that are packed with picturesque churches, monuments, and museums. Your guide for the half-day tour will take you by through the narrow cobbled roads, explaining the history of this gateway to the east, while still leaving you several hours to explore the city at your leisure.
You will depart Lviv the following morning for Synevyr National Park, situated in the northern section of the Carpathian Mountains. Here among timber stands of beech, fir, and spruce are high densities of large mammals including wolves, brown bears, foxes, and several species of deer. You will spend three days tracking these animals and putting your bird language skills to use, attempting to get a glimpse of these magnificent creatures in the natural habitats. You will also pay a visit to the brown bear sanctuary, ensuring that you get to see the massive bruins up close and personal.
The group will then travel south for a day and cross the border into Romania, where you will again go tracking, this time in the southern range of the Carpathians near the lovely town of Brasov. You will spend three more days in Piatra Craiului and Bucegi Natural Parks, looking for sign and sighting of bears, wolves, and other small mammals, as well as participating in more bird language exercises. Finally, you will have one final day to go and explore the castles and other highlights of Transylvania before heading back with the group to Bucharest, where you can catch your return flight home or choose to stay one or more extra days (optional extensions) to see the sights and learn about the fascinating history of Romania’s capital city.