- On arrival in Krakow, we will be met by our tour leader and then drive to a nearby area for a picnic lunch. As we explore the meadows, dotted with an array of wildflowers, we look for our first butterflies of the trip. We focus our attention on the beautiful great burnets, as these often attract violet copper, scarce large blue and dusky large blue, and marsh gentian, which attract the stunning Alcon blue.
- After lunch, we take another short drive to Trzebinia, which has an impressive list of 100 butterfly species. During our time in the dry meadows we learn how to differentiate between the many species, and can also enjoy an abundance of spectacular wildflowers.
- Accommodation: Niepołomice Forest, 2-nights on full board basis
- Today, we visit an intensive agricultural area, consisting of dry meadows and shrubs. It is a paradise for the blue family, where we may spot large, chalk-hill, little, short-tailed and common blue. Other highlights include brown argus, ilex hairstreak, blue-spot hairstreak, large, sooty, scarce and small copper. Fritillaries are also common here, and species include geranium argus, large copper, false heath, lesser marbled, silver-washed, dark green and Niobe.
- The meadows also give rise to a splendour of orchids, including single-leaved bog orchid and early marsh orchid.
- Following breakfast, we drive to Kielce Upland, stopping en route in an area of chalk hills with interesting geological structures and steppe species. The butterfly species found here are particularly spectacular, and include Ripart’s anomalous blue, which only occurs in a handful of locations in Poland. A number of butterfly species from the Lycaenidae family are also found here, including Chapman’s, chalk-hill, Meleager’s, short-tailed and eastern baton blue. It is also the best place on the tour to spot Lulworth skipper and scarce swallowtail. This area is also known for an abundance of pale clouded yellow, and if we are lucky, we may also see two migrants - clouded and eastern pale clouded yellow.
- Aside from the diversity of butterflies, the birdlife is equally as impressive with Ortolan bunting, hoopoe, Syrian woodpecker, grey partridge and quail.
- After dinner, we explore our hotel’s surroundings to look for numerous hawk-moth species visiting the flowers of viper’s bugloss. During our stay here, we will set up moth traps at night to attract lime, poplar and eyed hawk-moths to the light.
- Accommodation: Kielce Upland, 2-nights on full board basis
- We spend half a day in a wetland area to look for the beautiful Pallas’s fritillary, as well as dryad, purple and lesser purple emperor, Camberwell beauty, yellow-legged and large tortoiseshell.
- We also visit a charming area consisting of mixed forest, rivers and streams, which is set against a backdrop of the spectacular Pieniny Mountains. This region is botanically-rich and the diverse habitat gives rise to a colourful range of butterflies and orchids.
- The Pieniny Mountains also offer incredible birdwatching opportunities, and we will keep an eye out for lesser-spotted eagle and black stork soaring overhead.
- Accommodation: Pieniny Mountains, 3-nights on full board basis
- After breakfast, we take a short drive to Orawa peat bogs where we can enjoy impressive views of the dramatic peaks of the Tatra Mountains. We enjoy a walk through the beautiful butterfly-rich habitat where we may see cranberry fritillary, large heath, arran brown and moorland clouded yellow. All of these species occur here thriving on plants such as northern bilberry, cranberry, bog rosemary, marsh tea, cotton grass, common butterwort, sundew – many of which are food for caterpillars and butterflies.
- After lunch, we go in search of any species we may have previously missed. Highlights include wood and Real’s wood white, fire salamander and a variety of dragonflies such as alpine emerald, sombre goldenring, white-tailed skimmer, blue eyed hawker and lesser emperor.
- This morning we take a 30-minute drive to Tatra Mountains National Park - a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which forms a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. The Tatra Mountain range is the highest in the Carpathians, and is home to an extraordinary diversity of life, including 43 mammal species, 200 birds and three endemic arthropod species.
- We explore the scenic alpine landscape further as we take a cable car to look for the high altitude butterflies that will be emerging at this time, including Shepherd’s fritillary, mountain green-veined white and numerous ringlets. We will be visiting the Tatras during the peak season for wildflowers, and can hope to see Carpathian snowbell, Edelweiss, mountain avens, alpine butterwort and alpine aster, as well as orchids such as lesser twayblade, creeping lady’s tresses, dwarf alpine, short-spurred and frog orchid.
- There is also a good chance to see some of the area’s popular mammals, including Tatra chamois, marmot and - if we are lucky - brown bear. Birds we may encounter here include alpine accentor, water pipit, dipper, wallcreeper, grey wagtail, golden eagle and peregrine.
- Accommodation: Tatra Mountains, 1-night on full board basis
- We drive back to Krakow and, depending on the time of our flight, we may have time for a short stop in the city before our return flight to London.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- Guided activities
- All meals
We stay in three comfortable hotels, located in the picturesque Pieniny Mountains, Kielce Upland and in Niepołomice Forest. All rooms have en suite facilities.
All meals are included.
Breakfasts and dinners are taken at the hotel. Lunches are a mix of picnics and leisurely sit-down meals taken at one of the region’s traditional restaurants.
Visiting Poland during the summer months should reward us with up to 90 species of butterfly, including many rare and sought-after species. By travelling to a range of scenic locations, we hope to encounter Apollo, Pallas’s fritillary, marbled white, yellow-legged tortoiseshell, Camberwell beauty and a range of blues, skippers and ringlets.
- Pallas’s fritillary
- Violet copper
- Lesser purple emperor
During the evenings at Kielce Upland, we will set up moth traps. Highlights include a diversity of hawk-moths, such as elephant, small elephant, spurge, bedstraw and pine hawk-moth, which frequent the region.
- Hummingbird hawk-moth
- Elephant hawk-moth
- Eyed hawk-moth
- Lime hawk-moth
Although we will be focusing our attention on Poland’s smaller species of wildlife, we will also keep an eye out for any interesting birds, such as lesser-spotted eagle, soaring overhead.
- Spotted nutcracker
- Black stork
- Lesser-spotted eagle
- Ortolan bunting
Our main focus will be the butterflies, however we may also come across a few of Poland’s resident mammals during our time in the Pieniny and Tatra Mountains.
- Alpine marmot
- Tatra chamois
- European brown bear
- Red squirrel
During the summer months, a spectacular array of flowers will be in bloom. On this tour, we will spend time observing the colourful orchids which attract many of Poland’s beautiful butterflies.
- Great burnet
- Marsh gentian
- Single-leaved bog orchid
- Early marsh orchid
Photographic opportunities on this trip are good to excellent, with plenty of vibrant butterflies on which to focus.
Mainly easy: most of the walks take place along well used trails, are not strenuous and are taken at a gentle pace.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Krakow – London.
Ground transportation is by minibus with driver.