Entering the embrace of Italy’s Central Apennines feels like stepping into a realm where nature reveals its most guarded secrets. This is an invitation to the adventurers and nature enthusiasts who seek more than just a journey—it’s a call to immerse oneself in the tales of the elusive Marsican Brown Bear, the mysterious Appenine wolves, and the myriad of fascinating species that inhabit this enchanting region.
Discovering Italy’s Oldest Park
As I arrive in Pescasseroli, a warm welcome awaits from a passionate team of nature guides. Settling into my lovely historical accommodation, we embark on a short walk, unveiling the history of Italy’s oldest park. As the sun sets, a dinner featuring local products sets the tone for a night cocooned in nature’s tranquillity.
Day 2: Immersed in the Ancient Forests
With the sunrise, my day begins with a wildlife-watching session, offering glimpses into the lives of the region’s inhabitants. I’m lucky. As I lead the way, we come over the edge of a hill and come face to face with a (later it turns out to be two) red deer. We are both rooted to the spot. He stares at me for several minutes. An incredibly beautiful, intense experience I’ll never forget.
After a hearty breakfast, our trail leads through a UNESCO heritage old-growth forest. While wildlife sightings are not guaranteed, our experienced guide reveals the signs left by lots of wildlife such as bears, wolves, and pine martens, creating an intimate connection with the ecosystem. The first signs are promising: A trap cam shows a female bear that crossed our path earlier this morning!
While the sun sets, we arrive at a pristine place. Our private catered mountain hut in the middle of the park. Surrounded by wilderness and its wildlife we have an amazing dinner, gaze at the stars and sleep like marmots.
Day 3: Wolf-Howling at Dusk: Nature’s Symphony
The adventure continues with an early morning exploration along the southern slope, a territory frequented by wolves. Today is different, though – luck is on our side! All of sudden our guide freezes and points in a direction. OMG, we catch a magnificent sight of a pack of Appenine wolves gracefully traversing the early morning forest in front of us. This encounter is a sure lifetime memory. At that moment I think it’ll be the highlight of this European wildlife safari…
The day unfolds with an evening walk, capped off by dinner featuring local delights.
Day 4: Unveiling New Rewilding Territories
Today we venture into another direction. I am greeted by steep limestone mountains, karst plateaus, and valleys adorned with deciduous forests. Discovering the allure of semi-open landscapes and natural forests, encountering species like the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, and lanner falcon. But the best was yet to come in the late afternoon…
In the midst of Italy’s Central Apennines, the enchanting moment unfolded as I stood in silent awe. A distant meadow, bathed in the golden hues of sunlight, unveiled a pristine sight – a female Marsican Brown Bear accompanied by adorable cubs. The family, gracefully traversing the lush expanse, added a touch of magic to the landscape. Against the backdrop of rolling hills and untamed wilderness, the sight of these majestic creatures, a testament to the region’s conservation efforts, etched a memory of wild beauty that will forever linger in my heart.
The evening brings me back to the hotel for a well-deserved dinner and overnight stay.
Day 5: Farewell Amidst Nature’s Beauty
As the journey concludes, I savour a final wildlife-watching session at dawn. After breakfast, I bid farewell to my guide and fellow nature enthusiasts, carrying with me the memories of an immersive wildlife tracking experience in Italy’s Central Apennines.
In every footprint, I find a story, and in every rustle of leaves, a connection to the wild. I highly recommend to explore this Wild Heart of Italy. I was lucky, but even without sightings, this is an extraordinary adventure. Nature’s secrets unfold with every step, and the spirit of the Central Apennines and the rewilding of these Nature Parks and others in Europe captivates your heart. Become part of the untamed beauty that defines Italy’s hidden gem.
Bart Schutz – Ulaya Safaris