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  • Photograph of Marsican Brown Bears

    'Marsican' Brown Bears in Abruzzo National Park by Chris Townend.

    ABRUZZO NATIONAL PARK, ITALY

    Best Wildlife in Abruzzo

    Mammals
    (Marsican) Brown Bear, (Apennine/Abruzzo) Chamois, Wild Boar, Red Deer and Red Squirrel. Also an outside chance of Pine Marten and (Apennine) Wolf.

    Birds
    Rock Partridge and Italian Sparrow, as well as Golden Eagle, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, Wryneck, Red-backed Shrike, (Red-billed) Chough, Alpine Chough, Crag Martin, (White-throated) Dipper, Firecrest, (Western) Bonelli’s Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, (Western) Black-eared Wheatear, Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit and Cirl Bunting. Also a chance of Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Black, Middle Spotted and White-backed (lilfordi) Woodpeckers, Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes, Rock Bunting, Citril Finch and (White-winged) Snowfinch.

    Plants
    In spring the spectacular alpine flowers include the Marsican Iris and a large variety of bellflowers, saxifrages and orchids.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Abruzzo

    Best Times for Wildlife in Abruzzo

    In spring the peak time for bears is the second half of May when they have usually just woken up from their long winter hibernation and are hungry. The best times of day to look for them are early mornings when they return from the meadows to the forests for the day, and evenings when they emerge from the forests to forage. Finding them may involve long hours of patient and persistent scanning of hillside meadows between and below the Beech forests. There is also a chance of seeing them during mid-August to mid-September when they forage on Rhamnus alpine berries on the higher slopes above the Beech forests.

    Recommended Books etc. for Abruzzo

    Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.

    Mammals of Britain and Europe by D McDonald and P Barrett. Collins, 2005.

    Wild Italy by G Ielardi. Lulu, 2011.

    Wild Italy: A Traveller’s Guide by T Jepson. Sheldrake Press, 2005 (Second Edition).

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Italy by L Ruggieri and I Festari. Lynx Edicions, 2005.

    Where to Watch Birds in Italy by the Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli. Helm, 1994.

    Collins Butterfly Guide by T Tolman and R Lewington. Collins, 2009.

    Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide by H Aarnio et al. A & C Black Publishers, 2009.


    Apps etc.

    Collins Bird Guide.

    Trip Reports for Abruzzo

    Many trip reports, some for Abruzzo, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Abruzzo. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Abruzzo' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Abruzzo

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Abruzzo

    Some Organized Tours to Abruzzo

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Abruzzo include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.