Nature Bike Tour
Bookable from 8. 5. to 19. 5. 2024
For a long time, conservationists under the leadership of WWF have fought for the protection of the largely untouched river landscapes along the Mura, Drava, and Danube rivers. Since 2021, it’s official: the world’s first 5-country biosphere reserve, spanning parts of Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia, has been recognized by UNESCO. This “Amazon of Europe” is a European natural paradise of superlatives. Covering 9.300 km² over a length of 700 km, it’s the largest contiguous river conservation area in Europe, larger than Cyprus. Its floodplains are not only crucial water reservoirs and flood retention areas but also home to over 100 breeding pairs of Europe’s largest population of white-tailed eagles and provide resting places for more than a quarter-million water birds. With over 5,000 animal and 600 plant species, it’s one of the most species-rich habitats in Europe.
How best to experience and understand this natural gem? By cycling. That’s why we’ve designed this unique bike nature tour. It covers the entire Amazon of Europe with all its magnificent highlights, such as the confluence of the Mura and Drava or the Kopački Rit Nature Park. Often, we explore the wild floodplains and river islands on foot, paddle canoes on the rivers, and glide on picturesque old river arms through the floodplain jungle. We bathe on beautiful sandbanks and gravel islands and savor region-specific specialties in small private guesthouses. All of this in a small group of max. 8 participants, guided by highly qualified biologists or wilderness guides. Join us on a 12-day bike ride through endless floodplains and picturesque cultural landscapes in 5 countries, where nature knows no bounds.
What awaits for you
- Tour program as described.
- Small group tour with a maximum of 8 participants.
- All overnight stays (in typical regional, often simple guesthouses or small hotels in double rooms or multi-room apartments, occasionally with a shared bathroom).
- Meals as per tour program (10x breakfast / 8x simple lunch picnic / 2x dinner).
- All entrance fees (protected areas, cultural sights, …).
- Professional tour guidance in German by highly qualified biologists or wilderness guides from Experience Wilderness GmbH.
- Guided birdwatching tour at Sveti Martin.
- Guided 3-river canoe tour.
- Guided canoe tour on the Drava river with fish picnic.
- Wine tasting in Erdut.
- Motorboat trip with fish stew in Apatin.
- Guided boat trip in Gornje Podunavlje.
- Guided canoe tour in the Kopački rit.
- Guided motorboat tour in Kopački rit.
- Return transport from Osijek to Bad Radkersburg by minibus.
- “Cycle for Nature” donation (support contribution for nature conservation projects in the European Amazon): 40 € per person.
- Climate friendly travel (CO2 compensation for the kilometers driven at Atmosfair: 630km = 157kg CO2 = total €4).
- Solidarity contribution of 2% (to enable low-income people to participate).
- Kingfisher service: Amazon of Europe Booking Center 12/7 support by telephone.
- Booking and customer money protection via the tour operator “Amazon of Europe Booking Center”, Naj tura d.o.o.
The participation price does not include:
- Travel insurance.
- Gratuities for the guides and tour guides.
- Cycling equipment (Suitable normal trekking bikes and cycling helmets can be rented for a fee of 240 €, suitable e-bikes for 384 €. Luggage bags can also be rented for a fee of 77 €.).
- Meals not listed in the travel program.
We start our bike tour in the picturesque old town of Bad Radkersburg. Those who want to borrow a bike should meet at 9 am; for everyone else, the departure is at 10 am. On the first stage, we explore the Austrian part of the Mura before crossing over to Slovenia via the renowned small city Radenci, known for its mineral water sources. We traverse beautiful old floodplain forests and the Mura using a roll ferry, also visiting an old operational ship mill. We spend the night amidst a lovely wine landscape in the northern part of Croatia and casually discuss the upcoming tour over a glass of local “grape juice”.
Accommodation: Apartment near Sveti Martin
Early in the morning, we saddle up again to witness a special natural spectacle: the awakening of nature at the picturesque oxbow near Sveti Martin na Muri. On a guided birdwatching safari, we focus on the native birds and their enchanting songs. Then, we cycle directly along the Mura downstream to experience another natural highlight in Hungary: exploring the Mura and its tributaries from the water! We leisurely paddle down the streams and rivers in canoes, enjoying the silent gliding amidst the floodplain jungle (no canoe experience necessary). Later, we take a detour into the Hungarian hinterland and spend the night by a charming bathing lake surrounded by hilly woodland.
Accommodation: Simple private pension in Kistolmacs
After a longer bike stretch, mostly along the Mura dike with great views of the river and its wild floodplain, we reach one of the major highlights of this tour: the confluence of the Mura and Drava rivers. Wild and untamed, the two rivers meet, creating a chaotic mosaic of gravel areas, sandbanks with uprooted trees, small and larger islands, tributaries, and old river arms. This area is called the Amazon of Europe for these reasons, among others. We take ample time to explore this natural gem on foot. From here on, we follow the Drava and cycle initially through small Croatian villages in the hinterland. We stay in a simple apartment nestled in a small “cowboy village”.
Our overnight location, the small Croatian village of Hlebine, is also the central place of the famous Naive Art School. Numerous paintings are scattered throughout the village. Those interested can visit the local gallery in the morning. We cycle through the Croatian cultural landscape and an impressive oak forest to the Drava bridge, offering breathtaking views of the majestic wide Drava and its side channels. We observe numerous gravel and sandbanks constantly reshaped by the water, visited by terns, sandpipers, and occasionally cormorants and herons. Later, we continue cycling to the secluded Cambina landscape reserve, where we walk along a species-rich old Drava meander. As another highlight, we explore the small Croatian Sahara, an extremely rare sand dune area inhabited by highly specialized animals and plants.
Accommodation: Private pension
The Drava, now again a border river between Hungary and Croatia, impresses within the 5-country biosphere park with its wild and untamed nature. Although flood protection dams have been built on both sides, they leave plenty of space for the lowland river to meander freely and unfold its natural dynamics. Nowhere else in Central Europe can you find something comparable. During our bike tour downstream, we frequently detour through the floodplain forest to reach the river, allowing us to absorb the unstoppable force of the water. The landscape reserve around the remote village of Kriznica is particularly fascinating, being a Croatian exclave north of the Drava surrounded by numerous old meanders. We allocate sufficient time to explore this unique natural highlight and spend the night in a small hotel known for its local fish specialties.
Accommodation: Simple hotel in the landscape reserve Križnica
Today, we have a long but beautiful bike day ahead. We ride through one of the loneliest regions of Hungary, always along the Drava. Sometimes, we pass through the enchanting villages of the Ormansag region, mostly on the flood protection dike, offering fantastic views of species-rich dry grasslands and wild floodplain forests. Occasionally, we take breaks by the river and leisurely picnic on the banks of the Drava. Eventually, we stay overnight at the new visitor center of the Danube-Drava National Park, where old domestic animal breeds like the Hungarian Gray Cattle graze.
Accommodation: Hostel of the Danube-Drava National Park
In the morning, we trade our bikes for canoes and silently glide between water lilies and herons on a beautiful, natural old river arm. Is there anything more beautiful and calming than enjoying nature from the water? Perhaps, we might even spot the European pond turtle sunbathing on a tree trunk. Afterward, we paddle out into the main flow of the Drava, experiencing the untamed power of the river (no canoe experience necessary). Around noon, we refuel with a local fish picnic in a typical Charda before continuing downstream along the dam. We ride along wild floodplain forests and take breaks on beautiful, solitary sandbanks inviting us for a refreshing swim in the cool Drava.
Throughout the morning, we bike through completely uninhabited areas, gazing at the wild old arms and floodplain forests of the Drava. With some luck, we might observe white storks, colorful European bee-eaters, or perhaps even the hoopoe with its impressive crest. By midday, we reach the capital of Slavonia, Osijek, and bike along the attractive and lively Drava promenade downstream. We briefly cycle along a more heavily trafficked road before descending back to the river. Shortly afterward, we arrive at the confluence of the Drava into the mighty Danube. We conclude our bike day in the village of Erdut, a renowned wine-growing area with stunning views of the Danube flowing far below. There, we partake in a wine tasting, visit one of the largest wine barrels in Europe, and enjoy an excellent regional dinner in our simple but pleasant private pension.
We cross the Danube and cycle upstream on the Serbian side. From the dike, we relish impressive views of incredibly beautiful willow tree meadows and deadwood mosaics. This must be what the completely untouched floodplain forests looked like in ancient times. It’s quite possible that wild boars and deer cross our path in this secluded area. In the charming town of Apatin, we switch to a motorboat with locals and explore the beautiful, protected branches of the Danube. Later, we savor Apatin’s famous fish stew, cycling on field paths through lonely forest and meadow landscapes toward the north and take a break in one of the typical, secluded Chardas.
Accommodation: Simple private pension in Backi Monostor.
Today, we first cycle through the natural cultural landscape of the Serbian Vojvodina and explore the highly valuable nature reserve ‘Gornje Podunavlje’ with an excursion boat. On sunny days, the beautiful, clear side arm invites you for a swim. Back in Croatia, we have lunch in a lovely wine tavern before heading to the famous Kopacki Rit Nature Park, a significant area of extraordinary landscape beauty and vast biological diversity. Situated at the confluence of the Drau and Danube, it ranks among the largest preserved, natural wetlands in Europe. We reach our accommodation, a lovely old building on the edge of the nature park, early in the afternoon, allowing plenty of time to explore the unique surroundings independently.
Accommodation: Hostel on the edge of Kopacki rit
We dedicate the entire day to thoroughly exploring the largest inland delta of the Danube. In the morning, guided by a local biologist, we explore the northern part of Kopacki rit by canoe and on foot, visiting a large heron colony harboring up to 6 different species. Later, we cycle to the south, using a small motorboat to reach the center of the nature park. During high water, the area regularly floods entirely, forming new side arms afterward. Thanks to this dynamic, it has preserved its natural state since ancient times and is a true paradise in the heart of Europe. Nowhere else in Central Europe, for example, do more majestic white-tailed eagles live, and the elusive black stork also nests here in exceptionally high densities. Finally, we conclude our unique bike tour through the Amazon of Europe with an overnight stay in the beautiful old town of Osijek.
Accommodation: Private pension in Osijek
Over a leisurely breakfast, we reminisce about the great adventure. Those who wish can commence their journey back from Osijek (or optionally extend their stay here) or take the chartered minibus back to Bad Radkersburg (pure travel time approx. 5 hours), where we’ll return our rental bikes. Arrival in Bad Radkersburg around 4:30 pm.
Meet your guide
DI (FH) Bernd Pfleger MSc from Experience Wilderness
Bernd Pfleger is a biologist, wilderness guide and nature tour operator. As the founder and managing director of “Experience Wilderness”, he’s no stranger to leading nature trips and wilderness expeditions across the globe. While his explorations have taken him through Eastern Europe and Africa, he holds a profound passion for unveiling the hidden treasures of his native Austria.
This time, he’s exploring the world’s first 5-country biosphere reserve, spanning parts of Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia – the destination Amazon of Europe. Join him on his 12-day cycling adventure through the Amazon of Europe to forge an extraordinary bond with wildlife. Prepare for an inspiring journey into the heart of unparalleled natural beauty.
Request now without obligation
Prices are based on a number of participants of 7-8 people.
Automatic surcharge for only 6 participants (per person) 190 €.
Registration deadline: 3 weeks before the start of the trip. Registration is only binding after a deposit of 20% of the travel price has been paid.
Attention, limited number of participants! The free places will be allocated based on the date the deposit is received. The remaining payment is due 20 days before the start of the trip.
60 € discount for WWF members and sponsors as well as for children aged 12 to 14.
300 € discount for people with low income and assets.
Single room supplement 250 € (only limited availability and in some cases with a shared bathroom).
The general travel and cancellation conditions as well as the customer money protection from the tour operator “Amazon of Europe Booking Center”, Naj tura d.o.o. apply. Our standard information sheet informs you about your EU rights for package holidays.