- Full Itinerary
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- Travel Details
- Trip Reports
- Know Before You Go
- Other Trips You May Like
Join us to explore the heart of Europe in Austria and Hungary. Enjoy European birding at its best, and with our expert local guide, Gerard Gorman, we highlight the region’s other wildlife, plants, interesting heritage livestock breeds, and fine historic architecture. We enjoy local foods and even visit an old winery in Hungary!
Our route takes us from Vienna to Budapest, visiting the many different and wonderful birding habitats in between. Because of their past Cold War era isolation, many of these border zone places became refuges for wildlife and today some areas have indeed been designated as wildlife preserves.
We stay in small hotels and guesthouses with en-suite rooms and local cuisine, and of course good birding locations nearby. This is central Europe at its finest!
- "There were several birds that I have read about and wanted to see for years - hoopoes, all the cool finches, bustards, and 8 of 9 woodpecker species (especially the wryneck and black woodpeckers). We saw more birds than I had expected and the combination of interesting sites, cultural and historical context, excellent accommodations, and a terrific guide made this trip special and memorable. Eastern Europe is not on many people's radar as a birding destination, so it is a unique destination. (In fact, my local birding shop owner was very impressed that I had been on the trip.)" — James Serach, 2023 Traveler
- "Outstanding. Good birds. Great guide in Gerard Gorman. Good food and lodging. Good pacing. Very satisfied with my experience. More lifer birds than I expected to get, including great views of Wryneck, a species that I especially wanted." — Brian Elliott, 2023 Traveler
- Enjoy walks through scenic mountains, pastures, flower-filled meadows, and forests in search of Golden Eagle and a host of woodpeckers (Gerard Gorman’s specialty): Eurasian Green, Grey-headed, Black, White-backed, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted, and Syrian.
- Explore Neusiedler See-Seewinkel NP in Austria and Ferto-Hansag NP in Hungary that together protect the mixed wetland habitats around the scenic steppe lake of Neusiedler
- Discover cross-border habitats of both countries that include salt-lakes, saline-marshes, fens, traditionally managed pastures, grazing meadows, and wet woods, looking for breeding shorebirds like Kentish Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Pied Avocet, and Black-winged Stilt
- Bird through Hungary to Kiskunság National Park on the Hungarian Great Plain in search of Great Bustard
- Spend two nights in a rural village at a traditional, family-run guest house in the Bükk Hills
- Search for nine species of woodpecker in the Bükk Hills, as well as Roe and Red Deer, Red Squirrel, Imperial Eagle, and many butterflies on the wing
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Wed., June 19 : Vienna | Alpine Foothills
Welcome to Austria! Our tour begins in Vienna at Noon. From the airport/hotel we drive into alpine foothills, which begin after about an hour’s drive to the southwest. We bird as we go (be sure to pack your binoculars in your carry on!), enjoying a packed lunch in a suitably birdy spot. This evening we have a late afternoon check in at our family-run guesthouse where we spend the next three nights.
Accommodations at a family-run Gasthof Vralpen Eschenau guest house in the foothills (L,D)
** This is an ideal time to explore Vienna ahead of the tour, you might consider coming early to explore a bit and rest up from your travels.
Thurs., June 20 & Fri., June 21: Foothills Birding
Enjoy the next two full days to bird the surrounding scenic mountains, pastures, meadows, and forests outside of Vienna on moderately-paced and scenic walks. Montane and conifer forest birds here include Golden Eagle, Stock Dove, Eurasian Green, Grey-headed, Black, White-backed, and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers, Common Crossbill, and Spotted Nutcracker. Smaller passerines are lovely and represent a great mix of European breeding species: Western Bonelli's, Wood and Willow Warblers, Crested, Willow, and Coal Tits, Common Treecreeper, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers, Fieldfare, Ring Ouzel, Black Redstart, Tree Pipit, European Greenfinch, Hawfinch should be raising young and announcing their presence with song. Walking along local streams, we hope to spot Common Kingfisher, White-bellied Dipper, and Grey Wagtail. Wildflowers should abound!
Accommodations at a family-run Gasthof Voralpen Eschenau guest house in the foothills (B,L,D)
Sat., June 22 : Neusiedler See-Seewinkel & Ferto-Hansag National Parks
After a lovely few days in the mountains, today we move eastward and down in elevation to the plains along the Austro-Hungarian border. Here two cross-frontier National Parks – Neusiedler See-Seewinkel in Austria and Ferto-Hansag in Hungary – meet to protect the mixed wetland habitats around the large steppe lake of Neusiedler. A large, shallow, saline closed basin or terminal lake, the Neusiedler See covers over 122 square miles, though on average is no deeper than 5 feet. This is very productive bird habitat and also a great place for butterflies and wildflowers. Additionally, we take an easy birding walk on the grounds of Eszterházy Palace at Fertöd, known as the Hungarian Versailles. This beautiful palace is near our hotel, as well as some “Iron Curtain” remains, giving us time to enjoy birds, butterflies, culture, politics, and history all in one area.
We spend three nights just over the border in Hungary at the heart of this great area, a fine example of a former border zone that became a wildlife paradise.
Accommodations at the Polgarmester Guesthouse (B,L,D)
Sun., June 23 & Mon., June 24 : Exploring Cross-Border Habitats
We spend the next two days exploring the cross-border habitats of this diverse region – salt-lakes, saline-marshes, fens, traditionally managed pastures, grazing meadows, and wet woods. Breeding shorebirds here include Kentish Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Pied Avocet, and Black-winged Stilt.
Vast reed-beds are a haven for nesting bitterns, grebes, herons, and rails. This is also a particularly good area for finding wetland songbirds like Penduline Tit. We should also see White and Black Storks, Little, Black-necked, and Great Crested Grebes, Gadwall, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common and Red-crested Pochards, White-tailed Eagle, Green Sandpiper, Whinchat, Common Stonechat, Bluethroat and Icterine, Savi's, Sedge, Marsh, and Great Reed Warblers, Common Cuckoo, Eurasian Wryneck, Syrian Woodpecker, Golden Oriole, Woodlark, Red-backed Shrike, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, and Yellowhammer. Raptors include Western Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Hobby, Honey Buzzard, and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. These are sure to be bird-filled days! We will also visit the impressive gardens of the spectacular Eszterhazy Chateau where Haydn and other composers played.
Accommodations at the Polgarmester Guesthouse (B,L,D)
Tues., June 25 : Birding Through Hungary to Kiskunság National Park
Today we move on eastwards, deeper into Hungary, birding as we go. Our final destination is Kiskunság National Park on the Great Hungarian Plain, a flat and fertile lowland that extends into Croatia, Serbia and Romania as well as southeastern Hungary where we spend the next three nights.
Before we reach our destination, we make stops in areas where two very special eastern European raptors reside: Eastern Imperial Eagle and Saker Falcon – Hungary has the strongest population in Europe of both.
Other birds en route should include Turtle Dove, European Roller, the blue-headed race of Yellow Wagtail, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, and more White Stork on their roadside nests. We arrive in Kiskunság in the late afternoon.
On one of our evenings here we search for Eurasian Scops Owl and European Nightjar.
Accommodations at the Kunsagi Major Ranch (B,L,D)
Wed., June 26 & Thurs., June 27 : Kiskunság National Park
Over the next two days we explore in the Kiskunság’s grasslands, marshes, and reed-fringed fish-farms. A UNESCO biosphere reserve, the park provides refuge for tens of thousands of migratory birds as well as resident species. The wetlands here host some birds which we may have seen in the previous days, but also some others of a more easterly distribution such as Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, and Little Crake. Ponds have colonies of Whiskered Tern and marshes host Black and White-winged Terns in most years. Purple Heron and Little and Great White Egrets are fairly common. Some Mediterranean Gull breed amongst the Black-headed Gull, and both the recently split Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls can be compared here.
The other main habitat is puszta (lowland grazing land) and we explore it for the magnificent Great Bustard, Hungary's national bird. Other species include Collared Pratincole, Stone Curlew, Little and Long-eared Owls, and Lesser Grey Shrike. Raptors include Long-legged Buzzard, Montagu’s Harrier, Saker Falcon, and Red-footed Falcon, the latter breeding in colonies at this time.
Accommodations at the Kunsagi Major Ranch (B,L,D)
Fri., June 28 : Bükk Hills
Today we move northeast to the Bükk Hills, one of a series of forested hill ranges that run across the north of the country. As usual, we stop for birds as we go. We spend two nights here in a wonderful, family-run guesthouse in a rural village. The food, drink, and hospitality here is tremendous – don’t expect to lose any weight on this holiday! This was our favorite place on past adventures and we look forward to a return.
Accommodations at Hotel Nomad in Noszvaj, a fine country hotel in the Bükk Hills (B,L,D)
Sat., June 29 : Bükk Hills
We spend the entire day in the pleasant rolling country of the Bükk, a limestone region typified by orchards, vineyards, and woodlands with clearings. The most diverse mountain system in Hungary, the Bukk Hills and associated valleys are rich in biodiversity, rich with wildflowers, butterflies and other insects along with birds.
Nine species of woodpecker are here and we search in particular for any that we may have missed on the previous days. As author of Woodpeckers of the World, our local guide Gerard Gorman knows where to find them!
Birds around our country hotel include Tawny Owl, Spotted Flycatcher, Serin, Black Redstart, Long-tailed and Marsh Tits, Hawfinch, both Common and Short-toed Treecreepers, Eurasian Nuthatch, and Song Thrush. There are colonies of European Bee-eater nearby and raptors above the hills include Lesser Spotted and Short-toed Eagles and Common Goshawk.
Other wildlife includes Roe and Red Deer, Red Squirrel, and Wild Boar and many butterflies on the wing.
Accommodations at Hotel Nomad in Noszvaj, a fine country hotel in the Bükk Hills (B,L,D)
Sun., June 30 : Departures
After breakfast we head for Budapest, a two-hour drive. We take you to your Budapest hotel if you are staying on in the city, or to the airport if you are flying home today. Again, it’s a grand time to extend your vacation with some city time if you wish to explore. (B,L)
Cost of the Journey
The cost of the journey, $4390 DBL / $4950 SGL from Vienna, Austria, is based on double occupancy and includes: airport transfers, accommodations for 11 nights, meals as noted in the itinerary, professional guide services, local guides, local park and reserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. It does not include roundtrip airfare to Vienna and from Budapest, or items of a personal nature such as: laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities. With fewer than six participants, a small group surcharge (typically $100 – $300 per participant) may apply.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival Airport: Vienna International Airport (VIE)
Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive June 19, 2024 no later than 12:00 PM.
Departure Airport: Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)
Departure Details: Plan flights to depart June 30, 2024 after 1:00 PM. We will be driving back from the Bukk Hills this morning, a two hour drive, and we will reach the airport by 10:00 AM.
Travel Tips: We highly recommend you arrive early to rest up from your travels. If you arrive early, we recommend the NH Vienna Airport Conference Center Hotel, which you can book online. Monument-rich Vienna is a spectaculary beautiful and fun city to explore and it’s easy to access via train or taxi from the airport hotel in about 20 minutes. If you would rather stay in the city, we have a list of suggested hotels from our travel agent that you can request. If you want to explore Vienna, there is no shortage of things to do and see! The Schönbrunn Palace, the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, is an enormous Baroque palace with 1,440 rooms, an expansive garden area and one of the most popular things to see in Vienna. There are several art musuems including the Belvedere Museum, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Albertina, and the MuseumsQuarter Wien. The Volksgarten is a public park famous for it’s beautiful roses and a great place to go for a stroll. The city is easy to get around via taxi and Uber and also has a terrific and easy-to-use system of trams.
If you would like to extend your stay in Budapest at the end of the tour, we recommend the Hotel Victoria, which you can book online. The hotel is located on the Danube River and Budapest is a fascinating city and easy to explore on foot. The Buda Castle and nearby Fisherman’s Bastion are two great things to see while in the city. Buda Castle was built in the mid 1700s and also has a huge network of caves and tunnels underneath that can be toured and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Fisherman’s Bastion, built in the late 1800s, is a monument representing the seven Hungarian tribes that founded the city. It also provides stunning views across the Danube River. Both sites are a 10-15 minute from the hotel. If you want to relax, take a soak in one of the world renown thermal baths. The most popular one is the Széchenyi Baths located in City Park. The park, which used to be a private hunting ground for royals, is one of the world’s first public parks. It’s also a good spot for birding and can be reached via taxi.
U.S. citizens do not currently need a visa to stay in Austria or Hungary for stays of this duration. Please note: expected changes to entrance requirements in Europe have been delayed until 2025. More information is available at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Gerard Gorman is a deeply experienced birding and wildlife guide, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe where his knowledge of the wildlife sites of the region is second to none, having visited every country from the Baltic to the Black Sea. In recent years he has led several Naturalist Journeys groups across Europe and Africa. Gerard is also an author, and his books include Central and Eastern European Wildlife (Bradt, 2008) and Birding in Eastern Europe (WildSounds, 2006). His main ornithological interest focuses on woodpeckers, and he is regarded as an authority, authoring an unprecedented seven books on the family, including the acclaimed Woodpeckers of the World (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Woodpecker (Reaktion, 2017). His latest works include, The Wryneck (Pelagic Publishing, 2022), is the definitive monograph on this fascinating species and The Green Woodpecker (Pelagic Publishing, 2023). Gerard is also interested in wildlife tracking, and his Pocket Guide to Tracks and Signs of European Wildlife (Bloomsbury) was published in 2014.
Photo credit: probirder.com
Other trips with Gerard Gorman
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Make sure your passport will be in good condition and valid six months AFTER the date of your scheduled return to the U.S.
- U.S. citizens do not currently need a visa to enter into Austria or Hungary for stays of this tour's duration. Expected changes to entrance requirements in Europe have been delayed until 2025. More information is available at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.
- Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Austria and Hungary, and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Plan your flight reservations arriving into Vienna International Airport (VIE). Departing from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Arrival into Vienna International Airport (VIE)
Please plan to arrive before noon. Upon arrival at the airport, you will pass through immigration and customs and exit to the main terminal area. Your emergency contact sheet will be helpful at Immigration when they ask where you are going. At the airport, there is an ATM to withdraw money and change desks where USD can be changed for Euros.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Departures from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)
After breakfast, we will have a two-hour drive to Budapest. For those flying home that day, please plan your flights for 1 PM or later.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Passports, Visas & Documents
It is recommended to check for changes 60-90 days before your tour departs but, at the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required of US citizens for stays of this length. Your passport should be valid six months AFTER the date of your scheduled return. If you are from another country, please contact the Austrian and Hungarian embassy websites for guidelines.
Requirements requiring visitors from more than 60 visa-free countries (including the U.S.) to get a travel authorization when entering Europe for brief stays have been delayed until 2025. Learn more at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.
Conditions can change. We recommend you check for updated information 6-8 weeks before your tour. Information for U.S. Citizens can be found at:
As a precaution in the event of lost or stolen travel documents you are carrying, we highly recommend you keep electronic backup copies on your phone (either color photo or PDF scan) and/or paper copies packed in a separate location from the originals, as well as a copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), vaccination records, travel and health insurance cards, and even the airline barcode on your luggage. Having these copies kept in a separate location will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary, including evacuation if needed. We hope everyone will keep their primary travel documents close at all times (such as in an under-clothing document pouch) to reduce this risk.
General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!
We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency.
Vaccinations: Bring copies of your current vaccination records with you. The CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. Check the CDC websites for Austria and Hungary for helpful information or reach them by phone at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
Prescriptions and Allergies: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.
Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).
Altitude sickness can affect some and, if there is a concern, be prepared.
Weather & Climate
June tends to have nice weather in Austria and Hungary, though some years it can be cooler than average, with thunderstorms and rain. Average temperatures range from high 70’s to mid-50’s, with comfortable to high humidity. Come prepared with layers of clothing, including a light rain-jacket that can double as a windbreaker, and an umbrella.
Food & Drink
Menus at lodging and restaurants are varied, sustainably based on the wonderful local ingredients available, and delightfully prepared in a sanitary environment. As with any case when traveling we urge you to consider what your body is used to before you eat something. Trust your common sense when consuming food and beverages. This is the best way to avoid any unwanted problems. Ask for recommendations from your hotel or refer to a guidebook such as Frommers.
Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles. Your guide will let you know when bottled water is preferable.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Dress is very informal. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day.
Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot. Please do not bring anything more than you must.
TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!
Laundry services can be arranged at some of our hotels. Your guide will provide information when you arrive.
The Euro is the currency in Austria and credit cards are widely accepted in Austria, with American Express, Visa and Diners Club most commonly recognized. A EUROCARD or ACCESS sign displayed means the establishment accept MasterCard.
The official currency in Hungary is the Forint. Euros may be accepted but seldom at a reasonable exchange rate. Credit cards are commonly, but not universally accepted, so it makes sense to obtain some Forints for your visit.
We find that use of an ATM card is much easier than use of Traveler’s Checks, but you must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey. It is wise to bring one MasterCard and one Visa if you have the option to do so, as while some machines are set up for both, others will only service one or the other. Some cards charge a foreign exchange fee, while others do not, so if you have multiple cards, call and check this out ahead of time. ATM’s will give you a better rate when changing money. Hotels, lodges and camps can change money, but at a lower rate.
We recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be travelling in Europe to avoid questions on charges.
Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Typical items people purchase include: local souvenirs and T-shirts, carvings, beads, textiles, artworks, drinks before or with dinner, maps and natural history books.
Tipping throughout the tour is at your discretion. Some guidelines follow. At larger (mostly city) hotels, tip maids and bar service as you would at home. At eco-lodges, there is typically a staff tip box in a public area; the going rate per person is $6-$10 a day, which is shared among staff for maid service, and general staff service at the lodges. Gratuities for group meals are already included. Your Naturalist Journeys host will take care of smaller tips such field trip services by boat drivers, night drive outings, single activities. Your additional tip is encouraged for birding tour guides and drivers who are with you for several days or the full trip; $10-$15 per day per guest is standard for guide service, and half that for a driver. If you have more than one local guide at a location, they will share the daily amount. We encourage tipping for the local teams hosting you; anything extra for your Naturalist Journeys host is at your discretion.
*Please note that these suggested tips are quoted in U.S. Dollars. You will want to convert and tip in local currency.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
You can make international calls from most of our Hotels. The country code for the USA is 1.
International calls to the United States: Dial 00 + (1) + country code + area code + number.
If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be activated on your phone. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one).
If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.
Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.
Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.
Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.
The standard voltage in Austria and Hungary is 230V, higher than in the United States (120V), with frequency of 50 Hz. Electrical sockets (outlets) in the Republic of Austria are primarily "Type F" German style Schuko while in Hungary you can find Type F and Type C:
You will most likely need to bring a power plug adapter, and a voltage converter in order to use appliances or devices from the U.S. To be sure, check the label on your appliance. More information can be found at www.power-plugs-sockets.com.
Hungary and Austria are in the Central European Time Zone, which is 6 hours earlier than New York (Eastern Time). Both countries observe Summer Time (or Daylight Savings Time). A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please Pack Light!
- Soft luggage is easiest for us to pack in the vehicles – duffle bags are a great choice
- Include your name and address on the inside of the bag and the luggage tag
- Most airlines charge for checked bags over 50 pounds
- We recommend that you double check with your airline a week or so before departure to verify luggage size and weight restrictions
- Pack identifications, medications, airline tickets, binoculars, camera, emergency contact information, and other essentials in your carry-on - you’ll want a daypack for field trips, so this can serve a dual purpose
- Dress is very informal
- The weather during your stay should be pleasant, with highs averaging in the mid- to high-70’s, and lows in the mid- 50’s with mild to moderate humidity. Come prepared with layered clothing, including a light rain-jacket that can double as a windbreaker, and an umbrella as rain is possible in June.
- Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing; they protect you from sun, insects, and vegetation
- Choose clothes you can get dirty and things that are comfortable and easy to wear and launder - layering is your best strategy for comfort
Clothing and Gear
- Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
- Shorts (optional)
- Lightweight long-sleeved shirts (2-3)
- T-shirts or equivalent (3-4 – remember you may be buying some anyway!)
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
- Bathing suit (optional)
- Hat with broad brim
- Bandana (gel bandanas work well to keep you cool)
- Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
- Lightweight hiking boots
- Sandals for evenings, travel days (optional)
- Lightweight sweater or jacket; fleece fabric is ideal, but a sweatshirt will do
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho (great if this doubles as windbreaker)
- Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets
Equipment and Miscellaneous
- E-ticket verification
- Passport, visa (if required), health and travel insurance info, current vaccinations, money & credit cards.
- A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
- As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the ID and entry stamp pages.
- Umbrella (a great option for occasional rain as you can keep using your binoculars)
- Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
- Small flashlight with fresh batteries
- Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
- Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Insect repellent
- Toiletry articles
- Walking sticks (optional, but if you’re used to using them)
- Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
- Camera and extra batteries/battery chargers, film or digital chips, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
- Tablet or laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos, USB cord and charger (optional)
- Chargers for cameras and/or phones, and three prong adapters if needed
- Water bottle (or you can use one of ours and refill during the journey)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Earplugs (if hotel noise or roommates snoring may bother you; these are optional)
- Cell phone
- Laundry soap for hand washing, travel sewing kit
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
- Power plug adapter and voltage converter
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!
Medical and First Aid Items
- Personal medications (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses)
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
- Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Foot powder, lotions for dry skin, general “comfort” items
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer
- Health Insurance information
- Vaccination records
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Austria and Hungary; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Europe.
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Birding Austria and Hungary - Fatbirder
Species of Austria
Species of Hungary
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
“Biodiversity Conservation of Native Forests in the Austro-Hungarian Border Region” – 2021 Article, INTERREG Project/REIN-Forest
State of Conservation Report – Austria and Hungary, 2022 UNESCO Document
Neusiedler See-Seewinkel National Park
Ferto-Hansag National Park
Kiskunság National Park (UNESCO)
Bükk National Park
Geology & Geography
Alps Mountain Range
Geology of Austria
Geology of Hungary
Geography of Austria
Geography of Hungary
History & Culture
Austro-Hungary Empire History
History of Austria – Encyclopedic Overview
History of Hungary – Encyclopedic Overview
Eszterházy Palace at Fert?d (Hungarian Versailles)
- German (12.5-minute video): https://youtu.be/dvvh8sqIXl8
- Hungarian (Magyar): https://omniglot.com/language/phrases/hungarian.php
Helpful Travel Websites
Vienna International Airport (VIE)
Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)
National Passport Information Center
Homeland Security Real ID Act
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Foreign Exchange Rates
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories
Travel Health Pro (UK)
Electricity and Plugs
Date and Time
Photo credits: Banner Photo: Great Bustard by Gerard Gorman; Hungarian Gray Cattle by Gerard Gorman; Hungarian Home by Peg Abbott; Hoopoe by Gerard Gorman; Imperial Eagle, Hawfinch, European Bee-eater, Common Rosefinch, Syrian Woodpecker, European Suslik, Black Woodpecker, Orchards. Photos by Gerard Gorman; Purple Heron, Gerard Gorman; Border Poppy Fields, Gerard Gorman; Hoopoe, Gerard Gorman; Great Bustard, Gerard Gorman; Hawfinch, Gerard Gorman; Pygmy Cormorant, Gerard Gorman; Horse & Cart, Peg Abbott; Black Woodpecker, Gerard Gorman; Group Birding with Gerard, Peg Abbott; Common Rosefinch, Gerard Gorman; European Bee-eater, Gerard Gorman; Hungarian Greg Cattle, Gerard Gorman; Iron Curtain Trail Sign, Gerard Gorman; Saline Steppe Neusiedlersee-Seewinkel NP, Gerard Gorman; Syrian Woodpecker, Gerard Gorman; Mediterranean Gulls, Gerard Gorman; Blue Tit, Tom Dove; Collared Flycatcher, Gerard Gorman; Crested Tit, Tom Dove; European Bee-eaters, Gerard Gorman; European Kingfisher, Tom Dove; Little RInged Plover, Gerard Gorman; Rock Bunting, Gerard Gorman; Swallowtail, Gerard Gorman; Brown Hare, Gerard Gorman