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Wolf Tracking In The Eastern Carpathians, December 2017

Wolf Tracking in the Eastern Carpathians, December 2017

Tour Leader: Łukasz Mazurek (Luke)
Participants: Béatrice, Claudia, Murray (CH), Olivia (AU), Sam (BE), Götz (DE)

Text by Łukasz Mazurek
Photos by Łukasz, Béatrice, Murray, Sam, Götz

Our group arrived into mildly cold and sunny Kraków with temperatures around 0°C. There was no snow yet, but one could feel winter in the air. Everyone arrived on time so after a quick and easy pickup at the Kraków airport we were on our way. We stopped for lunch at a traditional Polish restaurant and everyone enjoyed their portion of pierogi (traditional Polish dumplings) and hot soup.

A few hours later we arrived at our guesthouse in the mountains and had a fantastic dinner. We also met our local guide Zenon who introduced us into the area and the large mammals still abundant here. It started snowing as we finished our day and a true winter weather was forecasted for the next days.

At our guesthouse in the mountains, enjoying our drinks before dinner.
At our guesthouse in the mountains, enjoying our drinks before dinner.

We woke up (early) to well over 1 foot of snow and it was still snowing more throughout the day with a few degrees below zero. The landscape was breathtaking.

Our guesthouse in the snow early morning
Our guesthouse in the snow early morning

We left our minibus and switched to 4WD. Checked a few different lookout sites, saw a wolves prey from a few days ago and found some fresh wolf footprints from last night. They were very fresh and we tried to predict where we could possibly intersect this animal so we transferred in the cars and saw the tracks once again but the animal was gone in the dense vegetation. We chose another way back home for breakfast/brunch, a breathtaking off-road track that soon proved a good decision..

Snowy morning in the Eastern Carpathians.
Snowy morning in the Eastern Carpathians.

At some point we saw a lone wolf some 20 m next to the track. It was very close so it soon started to run away but gave us great views in the next minute having stopped and looked straight at us a few times. Just what we all wanted and it was our first morning!

A huge wolf was sitting about 20 m next to the track. Photo by Murray Forbes
A huge wolf was sitting about 20 m next to the track. Photo by Murray Forbes

Back at the guesthouse we had a hearty brunch and took a short break before setting out again in the afternoon. Snowfall was diminishing and visibility increased so we had a drive around several good vantage points in Poland and Slovakia and took our time at each of them. The views were truly breathtaking and we saw some Wild Boar, Red and Roe Deer. The highlight was watching a herd of ca. 200 Red Deer that felt like travelling back in time.

Red Deer in the Eastern Carpathians. Photo by Gotz Rahne
Red Deer in the Eastern Carpathians. Photo by Gotz Rahne

We had a great end of the day at a small pub in a Slovakian village bordering Poland where we tried local beer and hot tea with slivovica, a traditional Slovakian distillate. Back at the guesthouse we were welcomed with a usual substantial 3-course dinner.

Enjoying drinks at a Slovakian pub. A great end of the first day
Enjoying drinks at a Slovakian pub. A great end of the first day

The next day welcomed us with a clear sky and no snowfall, just a stunning winter scenery. We drove around a few sites and saw some more fresh wolf prints in the snow that we managed to follow for a while. We also had a fantastic observation of a Ural Owl perched up and hunting at daybreak.

Ural Owl hunting at daybreak, Eastern Carpathians. We saw it getting a vole!
Ural Owl hunting at daybreak, Eastern Carpathians. We saw it getting a vole!

After brunch we decided not to take a break but make the best use of this fantastic weather and go on exploring. Very soon we had a good view of an adult Golden Eagle, Grey-headed, Black and Green Woodpeckers. We drove through Poland and Slovakia and stopped for photo taking several times.. or more.. 🙂

Scanning for wolves in Eastern Carpathians
Scanning for wolves in Eastern Carpathians

We had a good view of a Red Fox and a brief one – of a Wild Cat that disappeared quickly in the bushes. Then a yet another Golden Eagle (immature) that was mobbed by several Ravens.

Golden Eagle mobbed by Ravens, Eastern Carpathians at wintertime. Photo by Murray Forbes
Golden Eagle mobbed by Ravens, Eastern Carpathians at wintertime. Photo by Murray Forbes

At the end of the day we chose to take a walk along one of the best wolves’ trails straddling the Polish-Slovakian border and saw more Red and Roe Deer in a gorgeous scenery but Wolves didn’t show up this time. It was another intensive day out with great wildlife and natural landscapes in abundance. Tired but happy we got back to our guesthouse on time for the usual hearty dinner.

Searching for Wolves at sunset in Eastern Carpathians
Searching for Wolves at sunset in Eastern Carpathians

Our daily trips were also adventurous in another, less expected way, but it really added an extra thrill to the whole tour, as everyone agreed 🙂

One of our cars in the snow. A pre-breakfast adventure. Photo by Beatrice van Nes
One of our cars in the snow. A pre-breakfast adventure. Photo by Beatrice van Nes

Please enjoy a few more photographs from this tour below. Click to enlarge (well worth it!):

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