One of the oldest states in Europe,Bavaria lies in the southernmostregion of Germany, along theborder with Austria, and covers 20% ofthe country's total land area. Rich inculture and home to some of Europe's mostbeautiful mountain scenery, there is a localsaying that Bavaria is 'not part of Germany,but near it'. Indeed the state has a verystrong and colourful identity of its own, withBavarians taking great pride in their traditions,which include playing the Alpenhorn andMaypole dancing, the regional dress oflederhosen for men and dirndls for women,such culinary specialities as white sausageand excellent local beers (served by thelitre!), and centuries-old folk music amongstthe many charms of the region.At the heart of the Bavarian Alps, theBerchtesgaden National Park, situatedbetween the Austrian city of Salzburg andthe historic spa town of Bad Reichenhal,conserves the very best of this unique regionand is the focus of this exciting Naturetrekholiday. Once a royal hunting reserve, thisnational park now protects over 200 squarekilometres of pristine mountains rising to2,700 metres. The park's spectacularscenery includes the deep glacial Königssee(King's Lake), glaciated valleys, deepgorges and mountains that are cloaked withforest beneath the 2,000-metre tree-line.We'll explore this wide range of habitats andaltitudes during daily walks in Berchtesgaden's fabulous mountains andvalleys, focusing on the area's rich variety ofalpine flowers, birds, butterflies and otherwildlife. Our comfortable base for thisholiday is a traditional family-run Bavarianhotel, enjoying magnificent views of themountains from the forested slopes near thevillage of Bischofswiesen, close to thenational park. Not far away, nestled beneaththe imposing and jagged WatzmannMountain range, lies the picturesque andunspoilt market town of Berchtesgaden -delightfully quaint and quintessentiallyBavarian!Within the national park we will explore thewonderful meadows and forests of theKlausbachtal Valley, rich in such wild flowerssuch as Lady's Slipper Orchid, White andRed Helleborine, Lily of the Valley and MayLily. We will also look out for birds such asGolden Eagle, Hazelhen and Capercaillie.On another day we'll explore the Königssee,scanning the surrounding area for mammalssuch as Chamois and Red Deer as well asthe many woodland and water birds to befound here. After exploring the lake, we willvisit the world-famous St. BartholomewChurch before searching nearby mixedforest and clearings along the lakesidebanks for interesting flora such as HerbParis, Twayblade and Bird's-nest Orchid.These woods are also home to a rich birdlife- including Crested Tit and White-backedWoodpecker - and abundant butterflies.At higher altitudes we'll look for birds suchas Golden Eagle, Alpine Chough, RingOuzel and Alpine Accentor, while descentsthrough the forests give us the chance ofBlack and Three-toed Woodpeckers,Nutcracker and Goshawk. One of thehighlights of a visit to the BerchtesgadenNational Park in early summer is the carpetsof alpine flowers in its high meadows; GlobeFlower, Arnica montana, Alpenrose, AlpineSnowbell, Primula auricula, and numerousgentians being among the many species wehope to see. We'll also keep an eye open forMarmots and Ibex. On one day we may offeran optional, more challenging walk onMount Watzmann, Germany's secondhighest mountain. Here, a winding forest trailleads to a high 'alm' (alpine grazingmeadow) and gives us the chance to lookfor a variety of special forest and alpineplants such as Martagon Lily and WhorledSolomon's Seal, as well as Griffon Vultures,Capercaillies and a wealth of butterflies.While our main aim on this new tour will beto enjoy the mountain scenery, wildlife andflowers, a visit to this region of Germanywould not be complete without the chanceto discover aspects of Bavarian history andculture. We will be based very near thebeautiful city of Salzburg - a WorldHeritage Site, birthplace of Mozart and,more recently, the setting for 'The Sound ofMusic' - and will pay the city a visit duringour tour. The area around BerchtesgadenNational Park is also known for itsassociation with Adolf Hitler and the ThirdReich, and you will have the chance to visitHitler's imposing 'Eagle's Nest', perchedhigh above Berchtesgaden town onKehlstein Mountain. Finally, after a week spent enjoying thestunning mountain scenery, wildlife, flowersand local Bavarian history and culture wereluctantly have to transfer back to Salzburgfor our flight home. However, if you havetime, and wish to extend your stay in thisspecial region of Germany, extra nights inSalzburg are highly recommended. The Bavarian AlpsAn 8-day programme of daily walks in search of the alpine flowers, birds, butterflies andmammals of the Bavarian Alps; plus a wealth of rich local history and culture. Sunday 3rd June - Sunday 10th June Cost: £1,195 Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Salzburg; transfer toBischofswiesen.Day 2/7A programme of dailynatural history walks inthe BerchtesgadenNational Park at theheart of the BavarianAlps.Day 8Transfer to Salzburg; flyStansted.AccommodationA delightful, and typically Bavarian,family-run hotel in the mountainsnear Bischofswiesen. The hotelenjoys stunning mountain views,flower-bedecked balconies andspacious grounds, and has its ownrestaurant serving traditionalBavarian cuisine. All rooms haveprivate facilities.Food All included in the price.Grading Grade A/B. Mountain day-walks at agentle pace (up to 6-8 kilometres aday).Focus Alpine flowers, birds, butterflies,mammals and reptiles; plusmountain walking and local historyand culture.Leaders Andy and Ingrid Patmore(naturalists); Dawn Nelson(botanist).Single room supplement£150.Web quick search: DEU0170Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.uk for your free Trip ItinerarySALZBURGKÖNIGSSEEBAVARIABISCHOFSWIESENBERCHTESGADENAUSTRIAAUSTRIAGERMANYBERCHTESGADENNATIONAL PARKRamsau Church, BerchtesgadenMartagon LilyWhite-backed Woodpecker
The Rock of Gibraltar is famous tosome for being a peculiar Englishanachronism: a 'little England'precariously holding on to its privilegedposition as a last great outpost of theBritish Empire, whilst steadfastly guardingthe gateways to the Mediterranean andNorth Africa. For the naturalist, though, itconjures up many other associations. Thismajestic limestone buttress forms a stagingpost for great numbers of migrating birds,for the Straits of Gibraltar are just 16kilometres wide and provide the migrantswith an ideal crossing point of theMediterranean. This is especially true forraptors, and other soaring birds, whichmake use of the thermals along this ruggedcoastline to gain height before one of themost perilous sections of their bi-annualmigration.We will arrive, during the peak of theautumn migration, on the southernmost tipof the European continent. Our holiday willcomprise a 5-day exploration of bothGibraltar and Cadiz Province, based for fournights in the small Spanish town of Tarifa,an ideal base from which to enjoy theregion's cetaceans and the bird migration. with minimum travel and maximumrelaxation! All the areas we plan to visit arewithin an hour's drive of our hotel, allowingus time both for gentle walks and to sitin the sun as we scan the skies for thenext wave of raptors. Our schedulewill be flexible, based on thepredicted weather for each day, whichis crucial if we are to catch both thepeak movements of birds and ensuregood sea conditions for our boat trips. On one or more mornings we will travel outinto the Straits from either Tarifa orGibraltar to look for cetaceans. Threespecies of dolphin - Common, Bottlenoseand Striped - are resident, and are oftenparticularly abundant in September. Thereare also several resident groups of Long-finned Pilot Whales in the area. Theseenchanting animals are usually extremelyobliging and unconcerned by theapproach of the small motor-vessel we willbe using. In addition, other species suchas Fin Whale, Sperm Whale and Orcaoccur in the area, and we are likely to seesuch migrant seabirds as Cory's andBalearic Shearwaters and European Storm-petrel, as well as other marine wildlife likeOcean Sunfish and sharks. Our boat tripswill be two to three hours in duration andwill be followed by lunch. There are anumber of migration watch-points in thenearby hills which double as handy picnicsites. During September the skies areusually dominated by soaring birds.Movements can include up to 18 species ofregular raptors, especially Booted andShort-toed Eagles, with another 10 or sopossible, together with Black and WhiteStorks. The views from the hills can be quitesuperb as raptors wheel around our heads.After lunch we may continue watching themigration or explore the local area. Thereare several different wetland habitats withineasy driving distance of Tarifa, where wemay find passage waders, terns and gulls,including regular species which can bescarce elsewhere, such as Audouin's Gulland Caspian Tern. If we have time, and ourschedule allows, the Bay of Cadiz area isparticularly good for a wide variety ofspecies, including such specialities asWhite-headed Duck and Purple Gallinule,and the coastline is excellent for migrantpasserines. We will also explore 'the Rock'itself. This is not just a migrant hotspot andthe only site in Europe for the famousBarbary Macaque and Barbary Partridge,but also offers a number of sites ofhistorical and geological interest, the mostimpressive of which is St. Michael's Cave, an enormous natural limestone 'cathedral'in the heart of 'the Rock' that provides awelcome break from the heat of the day. Part of our morning on 'the Rock' may bespent at Jew's Gate participating in amorning's ringing of the migrant birds thathave been caught overnight. This will giveus an insight into the rigours of migrationfor some of these birds, which will probablyinclude several species of warblers,flycatchers, chats and others. If we arereally lucky, and the weather is right forgrounding migrant birds, we may also beable to take part in an evening ringingsession, hoping for Red-necked andEuropean Nightjars and Scops Owls, whichoften make landfall here.The beauty of this area at this time of yearis that anything can and does happen. Apod of Orcas pops in to check out the localtuna boats, a day of inclement 'levanter'winds has migrants bursting out of everybush, a sky that was empty one day isfilled with eagles the next or a vagrantCream-coloured Courser is found on thebeach at Tarifa. Whatever happens, wewon't be far away when it does!Gibraltar & Tarifa:Whales, Dolphins &Autumn Migration A 5-day short break to observe autumn bird migration from 'the Rock' and Tarifa, and thewhales and dolphins of the Straits of Gibraltar.Thursday 20th September - Monday 24th September Cost: £995Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 280 for Booking InformationFRANCEPORTUGALSEVILLEGRANADARONDAGIBRALTARMÁLAGATARIFACADIZGUADALQUIVIRRIVERMADRIDATLANTICOCEANMEDITERRANEANSEASPAINOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Málaga and transferto Tarifa.Day 2/4Tarifa.Day 5Fly London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotel in Tarifa,all rooms with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.Grading A. A standard wildlife tour,including boat trips and gentlewildlife walks only.Focus Autumn bird migration, whales and dolphins.LeaderSimon Tonkin or David Morris.Single room supplement£95.Web quick search: ESP0271Pilot WhalesCommon DolphinView from 'the Rock'