General Wildlife Holiday Slovenia

Europe/Slovenia&Croatia Wildlife Holiday

From the peaks of the Julian Alps to the Adriatic Coast

Lake Bohinj, Mt Mangart, Mt Nanos, Plitvice Lakes, Paklenica NP, 8 days

Breathe the fresh mountain air of the Slovenian Alps and take in the unforgettable colour of the azure Adriatic Sea. If you are a nature lover and keen birder, the diversity of Slovenia and Croatia will surely fascinate you. After the breathtaking views and stunning Alpine birds of Slovenia we continue our exploration for the Mediterranean fauna along the Adriatic coast.
Slovenia and Croatia are situated in Central Europe between Italy, Austria and Hungary, being a historical heritage of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and more recently, Tito's Yugoslavia. Both countries gained their independence in the early 90s, and now they are new and shining jewels on the European birding horizon.

Slovenia offers breathtaking scenery, exciting Alpine and Mediterranean fauna and flora as well as world famous caves and a short but beautiful Adriatic Coast. Contrary to the vast forests and sharp, gorgeous craggy peaks of Slovenia, Croatia is different in many aspects. The sometimes very rough mountain ridges, the karst terrains, the huge alluvial forests, the very under-explored birdlife in combination with the fantastic sea-coast, the most translucent sea of the World, the fabulous insect and reptile fauna provide a great experience for every keen nature lover. Croatia, in particular, was among Europe's premier holiday destinations before the dramatic Balkan wars of 1991-1995 and now returns to be so once again, by virtue of its natural beauty and good infrastructure. Slovenia was always in a secluded corner of Europe, away from politics, resulting in wealth, tranquility and is now considered the safest country in all of Europe, a real piece of heaven for every outdoor-minded person and nature lover.

Latest Reviews

"We had a fantastic time on our vacation in Slovenia and Croatia! Milan was prompt, professional, flexible, polite and answered all our questions. He found us a multitude of wildlife to observe and photograph. He worked very hard to make sure we got good views of the wildlife. When the weather didn't cooperate, he was willing to take us to another location so that we had a better chance of seeing things and not wasting the day. He drove us safely to each location. He helped David keep an accurate list each day of all his pictures. We can not say enough good things about him as a guide and ambassador to your company.
Thank you for providing us with such a wonderful trip. We are very grateful for the opportunity."

Martha & David Goldstein, US

Facts

Highlights

Hotels

3 nights at Lake Bohijn
2 nights close to Postojna
3 nights in Paklenica NP

Departure Dates

May-August

Price

Ask for the actual price

Itinerary

1

After arrival in Ljubljana airport we drive to the wonderful area of Lake Bohinj 60 km northwest of the capital, where we will be based for three nights. On the way we can admire one of the gems of the area Lake Bled, and the imposant Castle Bled perched some 130 m above the lake on the north shore. Our hotel in Bohinj is situated next to Lake Bohinj, a fairytale location among the craggy peaks of the Julian Alps which includes the highest peak of Slovenia, Triglav. Night at Lake Bohinj 1

2

Our objective will be to walk the path along the north side of Lake Bohinj. This route will take us through pastures, natural woodland of Beech and Norway Spruce. Walking further along the path in the bottom of the rocky hillside we may see Grey-headed Woodpecker, Western Bonelli's Warbler, while White-throated Dipper breeds along the translucent mountain river, Red-backed Shrike, Yellow Wagtail are common in the meadows, and a nearby forest holds few breeding pairs of Red-breasted Flycatcher. Reptiles may include Eastern Green Lizard, while Yellow-bellied Toad can be a nice find for our amphibiant list. Butterflies are numerous as well Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Silver-washed Fritillary, Marbled Fritillary, Comma, Blue-spot Hairstreak, Wood White, Woodland Brown, Chequered Skipper, Holly Blue, and Large Skipper are probably the commonner ones depening on the season. If convinient, we can take a boat ride, back to where we started, enjoying the views of the lake surrounded by the Julian Alps. In the afternoon we will visit Pokljuka plateau. This is a forested karst plateau at an elevation of around 1,100 to 1,400 metres (3,600 to 4,600 ft). Here extensive Norway Spruce forests and some of the southernmost peat bogs of Europe hold diverse wildlife including a solid population of European Brown Bears, Capercaillie and a high density of Pygmy Owls. Other bird species of interest may include Common Crossbill, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Nutcracker, Ring Ouzel or perhaps even Three toed Woodpecker. Depending on the time of our visit we may encounter several species of orchids including Early Marsh Orchid, Marsh Fragrant Orchid, Bird’s-nest Orchid. Reptiles and amphibians can also be found in good numbers. One of the most interestig will most probably be the endemic oviparous subspecies of the Common (or Viviparous) Lizard. Common Frogs can be found in the area and with luck (or with rain) the strikingly looking Fire Salamanders might emerge. Alpine or Black Salamander is considered a critically endangered species, but can be abundant should we find ourselves in ideal habitat. Its most interesting aspect is that it is quiet stationary, sometimes not moving more than 10 meters in an entire summer. Alpine Newts might not be difficult to find in small ponds along the forest tracks depending on the time of our visit. Other species expected are Smooth Snake and Aesculapian Snake. We can also admire the traditionally managed hay meadows, and typical hay drying racks in this calm and inspiaring place. Night at Lake Bohinj

3

Mangart is a high mountain in the Julian Alps located on the border between Italy and Slovenia. The road to the Mangart pass at 2070 m is the highest road in Slovenia, a truly unique opportunity to get high into a real alpine habitat. It offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and into Italy and Lake Fusine below. Thanks to the unique composition of rocks one can encounter an extremely rich and diverse array of plants here. This is the place to watch and photograph the famous Edelweiss, Rhododendron, Primrose and Rose Cinquefoil, which symbolizes the glowing rosy-red droplets of the Zlatorog's (chamois) blood, as told by the old legends.Those with a keen eye will be able to spot Alpine Marmot, which thrives well in depressions with succulent grasses and luxurious mountain flowers. We will be strolling along the area admiring the variety of flora and fauna. Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit, Alpine Swift, Alpine Chough, Ring Ouzel, Rock Ptarmigan can be the avian highlights. Golden Eagle hunts for marmots and we also hold good chance to see Chamois. The site is excellent for butterfly enthusiasts during the summer, having a very high number of Ringlets and Brassy Ringlets, including the endemic Lorkovich' Brassy Ringlet. Russian Heath, Alpine Blue, Mountain Fritillary, Emperors and Poplar Admirals all occur here in high numbers, not to mention the abundance of the magnificent red spotted Apollos. Slovenia has a very high butterfly list for its small size (181 species). Green Club-tailed Dragonflies and Two-toothed Golden-ringed Dragonflies are also common along the streams. Descending down, we make a short stop hoping to see and photograph one of the rarest lizards of Europe, the Horvath's Wall Lizard. This attractive small species has a very limited distribution, and this location is one of the best sites for it. If time permits we will shortly stop by the emerald riverside of the famous Soca river. Visiting naturalists agree that the Soca is one of the most beautiful Alpine rivers which have retained their picturesque originality. The beauty of the Soca is enhanced by its milky blue-green colour, very deep river troughs and valleys, waterfalls, boulders, river terraces and the breathtaking magnificence of the surrounding mountains. The river is considered to be the best white-water rafting place in Europe, also the second best fly-fishing river in the world. It has a big, endemic trout, called the Slovenian Brown Trout. Night at Lake Bohinj

4

Leaving the Bohinj area we drive to Postojna for our next base. The spectacular Postojna cave belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage sites, and is the best known cave in the World. A fantastic web of tunnels, passages, galleries and halls, the astonishing diversity of Karst features as well as easy access are certainly the main reasons for such popularity of the cave and a large number of visitors, which has already reached 35 million in 200 years. 21 km of passages, galleries and magnificent halls offer a unique experience of the underground world. In the past people would see the cave on foot, while today they are taken around, a kilometre and a half deep into the underground world, by an electric double deck cave train. The whole underground journey is about 5 kms long. One of the highlights of the cave is a small pool, filled with pink Olms (fully aquatic, blind cave salamanders). These bizarre little animals are named also the 'human fish' (Proteus anguinus). This is a unique species, living only in few accessible caves along the Dalmatian coast. The afternoon will be dedicated to an easy paced exploration of the area, searching for butterflies and reptiles. Night in Na Meji Ranch

5

We explore the magnificent Mt Nanos a huge island rock, which stands like a secret garden above the surrounding plain full of amazing flowers and wildlife. The mountain has a very interesting flora and fauna holding many rare butterflies, including Poplar Admiral, Assmann's Fritillary (endemic ssp. mitchiellii), Marsh Fritillary, Alpine Mountain Argus, Scarce Large Blue, Alcon Blue, Amanda's Blue, Great Sooty Satyr, Large Grizzled and Large Chequered Skipper. The crags and woodlands are home to Golden Eagle, Chamois and Lynx too. On the high plateau of the hill we will look for Woodlarks, Rock Bunting and Rock Thrush. Rock Partridge is also possible. Our specialist guide will seek out to find Nose-horned Vipers with a special tool, making sure we can look at this wonderful snake perfectly safe! Other reptiles we might find here include Western Green Lizard, Dalmatian Wall Lizard and the almost totally black and very fast Western Whip Snake. Night in Na Meji Ranch

6

Today we leave this wonderful hilly country and drive to an increasingly different landscape. The area of Plitvice Lakes, declared a National Park in 1949, is a valley situated between high forested mountains in which lies, one below another, a string of sixteen beautiful lakes and tarns of crystal blue-green colour. They are fed by many small streams and brooks and spill into each other in foaming cascades and thundering waterfalls. Due to their unique evolution and beauty, in 1979, the Plitvice Lakes were entered in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The exceptional beauty of the lakes and waterfalls, rich plant and animal life, forests of incredibly contrasting colours and the pure mountain air attract nature lovers from all over the world. Among the old trees and amazing waterfalls we expect to see the classic forests fauna, including Middle Spotted, Grey-headed and Black Woodpeckers (White-backed might be here as well), Collared Flycatcher, Dipper and Grey Wagtail! The list of amphibians and reptiles found here is fairly long and includes Fire Salamander, Smooth and Italian Crested Newt, Yellow-bellied Toad, European Tree Frog, Common Toad, Edible Frog, Grass Snake, Dice Snake and Aesculapian Snake. Brown Trout is common and can be easily seen in the crystal clear water. After walking on the wooden trails and a boat ride in this amazing area we drive further South towards the Mediterranean coast line and arrive to our hotel in Starigrad. Night Starigrad Paklenica

7

Paklenica National Park covers the area of torrent flows of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica, and their distinctive canyons carved vertically into the south slopes of Velebit Mountains and the broader surrounding area. The relatively small area has an abundance of geomorphological phenomena and forms, diverse flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and intact nature. The crags are home to such species as Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and Black-eared Wheatear. Paklenica is a very good site for Rock Partridge with a healthy population. In the scrub Olivaceous, Eastern Orphean, Subalpine and Sardinian Warblers provide a soundtrack along with Lesser Whitethroat, Wryneck and Golden Oriole. Paklenica is home to a fantastic diversity of wildlife and we are likely to see many butterflies including Swallowtails, Festoon, Southern White Admiral and many whites, blues and hairstreaks. 31 amphibian and reptile species have been recorded here, from these 11 snake species. The most common ones in the Park are the non-poisonous Balkan Whip Snake, Leopard Snake, Aesculapian Snake and Dahl's Whip Snake. We have another chance to find the Nose-horned viper one of the most poisonous snakes in Europe, but Horvath’s Wall Lizard, the beautifully coloured Dalmatian Algyroides, Four-lined Snake, Cat Snake, Dalmatian and Italian Wall Lizard, Balkan Green Lizard, Common Wall Lizard, European Legless Lizard are all here, and with luck we might even find a Hermann's Tortoise (or Dalmatian tortoise ssp. hercegoviensis). Brown Bears, Wolves and Lynx also inhabit the park, the latter reintroduced to the Northern Velebit in 1973 and now spreading down to this area too but sadly, we have very small chance of seeing any of them. Night in Starigrad

8

Pag is the fifth largest island of the Croatian coast and the one with the longest coastline. Most of the island is rocky; while some areas are covered with Mediterranean shrubs. It is a typical Mediterranean landscape with vineyards, vegetable plantations and orchards. The northern area of the Lun peninsula is covered with olive groves among them some truly old ones. We will be spending the whole day here, as this place that looks a little desolate holds various spots of active birdlife as well as a huge variety of reptiles. Old saltpans, lakes, wet meadows, marshy shorelines are one of the hotspots for birds and other wildlife. We will look out for Rock Partridge, Little Egret, Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover, Montague’s Harrier, Bee-eater and Spanish Sparrow among commoner species. Many waterbirds can be found here during migration! Amphibians are rare here, reptiles are much more diverse. The hercegovinensis form of Hermann's Tortoise is quite common, also European Pond Terrapin. Lizards found are mostly Italian Wall Lizard and European Legless Lizard. Dalmatian Wall Lizard and Balkan Green Lizard are rarer. Balkan Whip Snake and Eastern Montpellier Snake may be found everywhere, but other snake species like European Cat Snake, Grass Snake, Leopard Snake and Nose-horned Viper are more difficult to find. Night in Starigrad

bird photography and birding tours Hungary and Eastern Europe - Bee-eater on a branch

Online brochure:

Viev brochure