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In praise of Kiskunság National Park

Helen Crowder and other Honeyguiders give us reasons to visit this part of Hungary

"Those planning a Honeyguide holiday to Hungary's Kiskunság National Park are in for a real treat.

"Kondor Eco-Lodge, bordered by forest and the vast expanse of Lake Kondor's marsh and reedbeds, is in the heart of the protected area which conserves part of the once continuous Eurasian steppe called puszta. Rooms are in four comfortably rustic thatched buildings with en suite facilities and centred around the cosy restaurant where evening meals are home-made tasty Hungarian fare, served with local wines or beer.

"The wealth and proximity of wildlife is astonishing. In spring, rollers perch on telegraph wires at the end of the driveway and cuckoos, turtle doves, bee-eaters and golden orioles provide a soundtrack to this traditionally managed landscape where human habitations are few and far between and every arable 'weed' is a delight.

"The conservation contribution goes to the Kiskunság Bird Protection Association and a great privilege on this holiday is meeting with its group members at Lake Kolon Bird Observatory to hear about their work and to experience at very close quarters from a quiet electric launch the richness of the lake's flora and fauna.


Kiskunság Bird Protection Association

Cardinal butterfly on Dianthus diutinus. This sea of poppies was in among the wheat.

"As well as enjoying the variety of wildlife, much too extensive to list here, host and main leader Gábor is keen that local culture and history should not be overlooked.

  • A drive through Kecskemét took us past some wonderful architecture including the Cifrapalota (ornamented palace), a masterpiece of Art Nouveau which now houses an art gallery.
  • At Tiszaalpár, where the marsh which was once an oxbow of the river Tisza was teeming with birds, we viewed from the embankment of a Bronze Age fortress, and in the village there was a memorial to Greater Hungary, the huge country that existed before more than two thirds of it were divided up after WW1.
  • At Kun Hill we climbed the burial mound made by people who occupied the country long before the arrival of modern Hungarians and from the top there were panoramic views over the puzsta where great bustards were feeding.
  • At Kunadacs the ancient cemetery was full of interesting plants and alive with butterflies.

"Not only nature but history, both ancient and modern, was all around us in this most fascinating of countries."

firebugs (Helen Crowder)
Firebugs, a mixture of adults and nymphs.

Pat Boon adds: "Rural Hungary was as I remember England in the fifties and early sixties — quiet with little traffic and people travelling by bike, on foot or occasionally by horse and cart.

"An instance of the latter occurred on Sunday morning shortly after we left after breakfast when two horse and carts crammed with children dressed in their Sunday best came towards us, perhaps going to church. They waved and we waved back — a delightful moment.

"Nothing was too much trouble for Gábor the 'gentle giant', our proprietor and wonderful guide.

"The local food was excellent as were the wines, which were new to me. But be warned — the paprika paste is very hot indeed!

"The hotel was on the edge of the forest with accommodation in well equipped individual thatched blocks."  (More from Pat in the RH column.)

Click on Hungary to read details about Honeyguide's holiday here 24 - 31 May 2016.

roller (Martin Sabik)red-footed falcons, Gabor Orbanbee-eaters (Steve Fletcher)

Roller (Martin Sabik), red-footed falcons (Gábor Orban, as featured on the cover of Honeyguide's brochure for 2015) and bee-eaters (Steve Fletcher) - all seen close to Kondor Lodge.

Words on this webpage are from members of Honeyguide's Hungary group in 2013.


Photos, apart from the three bird photos at the bottom, by Helen Crowder. More of Helen's photos from the holiday in 2013 on Facebook here.

Lake Kondor's marshes, where Hungarian cattle (tethered!) graze.

Malcolm Crowder says:
"I loved the unspoilt countryside; the hospitality; swallows following the plough - actually a chain harrow disturbing insects, the local method of arable pest control; bee-eaters nesting at the edge of a sandy track; standing knee-deep in forking larkspur watching great bustards; a golden oriole feasting on ripe cherries; and so much more. A return visit is on the cards."

Sue Davy says:
"Hungary was a real surprise - there was a tremendous variety of wildlife to be seen.

"The landscape is fairly flat which meant that you got great views of birds and for me this increased my knowledge of how to distinguish between, for instance, buzzard and honey buzzard.

"Gábor was an excellent host - very knowledgeable, gentle and considerate."

Colin Taylor says:

"Bee-eater colonies on the ground were especially interesting. Early morning walks were exceptional: just wander over the road to Lake Kondor's marsh.

"I'd highly recommend the holiday to anyone - it was particularly good for birdwatching."

Pat Boon continues:

"It wasn't just the quantity of the birds, butterflies, plants and other wildlife but also the quality. What struck me most in brilliant sunlight under the clear blue skies was the beautiful vivid colours of everything especially the rollers and bee-eaters, not forgetting the most spectacular of all, the golden orioles.

"For those of you who remember Puskas and his footballing mates who inflicted England's first defeat at Wembley by a foreign side the newspapers called them "The Magical Magyars" and that adjective could be used to describe my Hungarian holiday — in a word MAGICAL."

Holiday reports

Holiday report, June 2013

Recce visit in June 2012: report here.

memorial to Greater Hungary

A reminder of relatively recent boundary changes. Today's Hungary (matching the shape in the map below) is the central part of the white area on this memorial stone; the rest is the former Greater Hungary.

Hungary map

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... where there are many holiday photos to enjoy.

Atol protected

The air holidays shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3253. ATOL Protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. Click on the ATOL logo if you want to know more.

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