The Hula Valley Bird Festival & Negev Desert
AT A GLANCE
birds, mammals & photography plus two day desert tour.
Tel Aviv (Israel) – Hula Valley with day visits to other key sites in northern Israel – Western Negev Desert - Tel Aviv
a bird spectacle to rival anywhere in the world, up to 30,000 wintering Cranes, many other wetland birds including raptors and plus desert and other Middle Eastern specialities. 10+ species of Mammal possible too.
Mediterranean warm (cool in evenings).
transport by a/c minibus, very comfortable country resort hotel & comfortable desert inn, all rooms with private facilities.
The Hula Valley, located in the northern part of the Rift Valley, is home to nearly 300 bird species that migrate, winter or are resident in the area. This includes 20 globally threatened species and 16 near threatened. It is also close to other key birding sites in Northern Israel. This now established event for birders is organised by the same team as the proven Eilat Spring Migration Festival. For 2016, after four full days birding the Hula area, the whole group will head south and spend two full days birding the Western Negev Desert. Join us for a fantastic week’s birding with world class bird guides, with all your birding excursions included and for photographers, an almost limitless choice of subjects to keep you busy all week! We would expect at least 180 species of birds to be seen, and in excess of 10 species of mammals are also possible.
The first Hula event was held in November 2011 and was judged a great success by all who attended, from 12 countries around the world. Over 200 species of birds were recorded and 15 species of mammal including Wolf and Jungle Cat. This week suits birders of all levels, whether you are looking for a high species list or simply want to enjoy one of the bird spectacles of the Palearctic region. Opportunities for photography are superb with many hides on the main reserve. The second, third and fourth equally successful events took place in 2012, 2013 & 2014, with around 200 species of birds recorded, mammal highlights again included Jungle Cats.
Hula itself comprises of fields, wetlands, fishponds and savannah foothills and boasts two important reserves, both of which will be on offer daily from our comfortable hotel, with morning and afternoon guided birding excursions. You can also explore some of this area yourself, on bicycles, electric golf carts or join the mobile-hide tours. Up to 30,000 Common Cranes will be present in addition to waterfowl, pelicans and a large selection of raptors including Greater Spotted, Eastern Imperial , White-tailed and Bonelli’s Eagles plus Saker. There will also be excursions to other key birding sites such as the Golan Heights (Gamla Nature Reserve), Mount Hermon, Beit Shean Valley, Carmel Coast (Ma’agan Michael) and the En Afek Nature Reserve. Some of the many highlights from 2011 included Long-billed Pipit, Namaqua Dove, Black Francolin, Dead Sea Sparrows, Crimson-winged Finch and Sombre Tit to name a few. A family of Black-winged Kites were a particular favourite too, and bred again in 2012 whilst Crane numbers seemed closer to 35,000 birds! Our days in the Negev will add some classic desert species and we will explore the west, south and high part of this special region.
Our base for the first four nights will be the very comfortable Pastoral Hotel, all rooms with private facilities, set in lawned and landscaped grounds with a bar, restaurant, pool and spa. An excellent base for the region. Our base further south for three nights will be the Ramon Inn Mitze Ramon, another very comfortable property, all rooms with private facilities.
Availability is limited, the previous events all sold out weeks before they started so early booking is suggested.
A potential bird and mammal species list can be found on the WildWings website, 2016 yielded 200 sp of bird and 15 species of mammal.
More information about the event, including previous Hula Valley reports, photos and video can be found at the special website www.hulabirdfestival.org
Day 1: Arrive early morning at Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion). Group transfer to Hula hotel, departing at 0700, arrive and check-in around lunchtime. Introduction to the Hula Valley birding excursion 1500 until dusk.
Day 2: A full day’s birding programme in the Hula Valley, morning tour 0530-1300 (sunrise and mobile hides). Afternoon tour 1500 until dusk (reed-beds and raptors, Hula NR).
Day 3: Full day tour to the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon 0730 – 1700 (or stay in the Hula Valley)
Day 4: Full day tour Bet Shean Valley via the Sea of Galilee 0730 – 1700 (or stay in the Hula Valley).
Day 5: Early morning tour in the Hula Valley 0600 - 0800. Checkout and depart for the Negev after breakfast, with birding stops enroute. Late afternoon check into second hotel.
Day 6: Full day tour to the Western Negev 0730 – 1600.
Day 7: Morning tour, Nizzana & the high Negev, 0500 – 1300. Afternoon tour Mitzpe Ramon 1500 – Dusk.
Day 8: Early morning tour, 0600 - 0830, Southern Negev (wheatears and larks) Transfer back to Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion airport) for late afternoon flights back to UK and elsewhere.
Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.
Dates: 19th – 26th November 2017
Leaders: Jonathan Meyrav and team.
£1679 per person sharing a twin room
£599 per person single supplement.
£250 per person deposit (plus full payment for flights if required)
Price includes: Return group transfers to Hula festival hotel and desert hotel from Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion) Airport, accommodation on a half board basis (breakfast and evening meal) in twin-bedded rooms with private facilities, services of IOC staff and local bird guides, guided birding excursions as itinerary or local shuttle services in Hula Valley only, pre-trip information, day by day bird checklist.
Price excludes: Return economy class flights UK- Tel Aviv (see below), travel insurance, lunches, drinks and items of a personal nature.
London Heathrow with El Al – Depart 22.30 18th November arrive Tel Aviv 05.20 19th November return from Tel Aviv at 17.15 arriving back into Heathrow at 20.50 26th November, currently from £375 return.
19th – 26th November 2017