Natural History Travel


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TOURS

Prices, Dates & Availability

Cyprus (south)

Chios, GREECE

Sardinia: the mountains and the south

FRANCE: The Cévennes and Vercors

ROMANIA: The Transylvanian Area

The Dolomites, north Italy

The Pontic Alps of north-east Turkey

South Africa: Drakensberg & Kruger


BOOKING

How to Book

Sunvil, Our Booking Agent


May 24th - June 1st, 2014

FRANCE: The Cévennes

and Vercors.

Price: £1495 inc. flights, £1125 ex flights

Leaders: Bob Gibbons

The Cévennes is one of the most attractive and spectacular areas of France. From our base at the point where two gorges meet, we can explore the rich and varied flora and fauna of the wonderful limestone plateaux and valleys. Then we transfer to the extraordinary Vercors mountains, spectacularly flowery, yet rarely visited. The total range of species to be seen on this 9-day trip is huge.


Mont Aiguille at dawn, with hay meadow. Limestone peak in Vercors, east France.: photo © Bob Gibbons
Mont Aiguille at dawn, with hay meadow. Limestone peak in Vercors, east France.
We leave Heathrow at lunchtime, arriving in Toulouse by late afternoon, to travel to our first base at Le Rozier. Le Rozier lies at the junction of the Gorges du Tarn and Gorges de la Jonte, amongst outstanding scenery. From here, we can walk straight out into the surrounding gorges and hills, and travel further afield onto the high causses (limestone plateaux) and mountain areas in the Cévennes National Park, visiting places with evocative names like the Causse Noir and the Chaos de Montpellier-le-vieux. We are only a mile from a large Griffon vulture breeding colony, and we should get good views of the birds on most days.

Lady's slipper orchids. Very rare in UK..: photo © Bob Gibbons
Lady's slipper orchids. Very rare in UK.
After 4 nights at Le Rozier, we move eastwards to our base in the Vercors mountains, in a lovely old chateau with the most spectacular views of the mountains. A swim in the pool, with birds of prey overhead, swallows dipping in for a drink, and the mountains in the background, is a magical experience! The Vercors mountains have a superb and easily-accessible flora and fauna, amongst the lovely flowery meadows, ancient beech-woods, high pastures and spectacular cliffs. On our previous trips, we have always seen huge clumps of Lady’s slipper orchids within half mile of the hotel, and another day ended with seeing a golden eagle flying over carrying a young marmot – it’s that sort of place!

Wood Anemones (Anemone nemorosa) and Wild Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) in montane grassland, Mont Aigoual, Cevennes, France. : photo © Bob Gibbons
Wood Anemones (Anemone nemorosa) and Wild Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) in montane grassland, Mont Aigoual, Cevennes, France.
The Cévennes has a wonderful flora and fauna, thanks to its diverse geology and unspoilt nature, bathed by the warm sun of southern France. There are orchids in abundance, including endemic specialities like the lovely Ophrys aveyronensis. We should also see at least two species of daffodils, several wintergreens including the delightful little one-flowered wintergreen, alpine asters, cornflowers and corn cockles, globularias, venus’ looking-glass, pasque flowers, may-lilies and many others too numerous to mention. The bird-life is rich and varied, from vultures and short-toed eagles, to nightingales, red-backed and woodchat shrikes, and ortolan buntings. The butterflies are also outstanding, and there are some interesting dragonflies along the river valleys. It’s the sort of place where there is always something of interest to see.

Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) on Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea), Cevennes, France: photo © Bob Gibbons
Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) on Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea), Cevennes, France
If the Vercors mountains were not quite so close to the alps, they would have far more visitors and admirers. As it is, they remain wonderfully unspoilt and undiscovered. The flora and fauna of our area, on the east side, is magnificent – a glorious mixture of southern, northern and alpine, in spectacular mountain scenery. In addition to seeing many of the species that you might expect in a limestone area of southern France, the presence of mountain species such as globe-flowered orchids, Orchis spitzelii and O. pallens as well as apollo butterflies and marmots is a marvellous bonus

Twin villages of Peyreleau and Le Rozier, in the Gorge de La Jonte, Causse, South France.: photo © Bob Gibbons
Twin villages of Peyreleau and Le Rozier, in the Gorge de La Jonte, Causse, South France.
After 4 nights here, we drive to Lyon for a late afternoon flight home.


The tour price includes return flights, transport throughout, half-board accommodation throughout; services of leaders, including pre-tour information and post-tour lists. All rooms have private facilities. We will buy picnic materials locally for lunch, or take a packed lunch from the hotel. ▲ tour grade.

Tour code: NHT/14/04

Price: £1495 inc flights

Single room supplement: £175

Deposit: £400 plus insurance

Bookings to Sunvil

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