The trip was booked through a specialist birding company (Birding) and was lead by Gerard Gorman. Gerard has lived in Hungary for many years and is arguably the foremost authority on birds of Eastern Europe. Unless you are a well-seasoned traveller I wouldn’t recommend doing Hungry by yourself.
Many of the rural road signs are in Russian-type hieroglyphics and bear no resemblance to what is written on the map. Secondly, many of the locations we visited can only be accessed by permit. Obtaining such permits can be a bureaucratic nightmare. Third, but by no means least, it’s easy to stray across the Slovak border and be confronted by border guards as we did. With Gerard’s assistance we were able to placate the guards who escorted us to an area where we could be observed from their watch tower.
Our trip was a two-centre job with the first part spent in the Aggtelek National Park; this was approximately a three hour drive from our point of debarkation (Budapest airport). The Aggtelek area is a mix of large tracts of pine forest interspersed with rolling hills and small villages with communal fields, where low intensity farming takes place.
Our accommodation was a Swiss-style chalet set deep in a forested ravine. The accommodation was comfortable with such luxuries as a mini bar and TV (Hungarian channels); the food was acceptable and the service prompt and polite.
The second part of the trip was to the Hortobagy National Park.
The Hortobagy is situated in central Hungary and consists of extensive rolling plains dotted with many shallow lakes and fish farms. This area is a haven for birds and one of the finest bird habitats I have visited in Europe.
Our accommodation here was a shock to the system to say the least. It comprised of several large thatched buildings, of which our party was assigned one; each building was subdivided into en-suite rooms with ill-fitting curtains, bed clothes that looked like hessian sacking and see-through towels. Our bed resembled an old fashioned bed-settee covered in knobbly moquette fabric. Meals were taken in the main building which was, to all intents and purposes, a truck stop for the heavy goods vehicles that plied between Moscow and Budapest. The food was basic and consisted of such delights as Borsht. Of such things are holiday memories made.
Locations visited were:-
- Ohat Carriage-sos-et
Pat and Judy Hayes