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Protected Landscape Area of Tápió-Hajta

Situated in the eastern part of Pest county, the Tápió Region is one of those special landscapes in Hungary that still have plenty of natural attractions to offer to nature lovers. Steep loess hills, desert-like sand dunes and marshlands recalling the ancient landscape of the Great Hungarian Plain welcome visitors here. Natural beauty coupled with the rich ethnographic traditions of the region and the genuine countryside hospitality of the residents all guarantee an unforgettable tourist experience.

The diversity of the Tápió Region derives from its particular location: as the transition area between three large geographical units - the area between the rivers Danube and Tisza, the Trans-Tisza Area and the North Central Mountains -, it has evolved a varied flora and fauna abundant in rare plants and animal species. The Tápió-Hajta Region Landscape-protection Area was created in July 1998 to protect and maintain this multifaceted habitat.

The Landscape-protection Area stretches out in a mosaic arrangement, consisting of three larger and seven smaller units. The area covers 4515 hectares, including 182 hectares which enjoy priority protection and which, for higher protection, can only be visited with permission and accompanied by a professional guide.

Main sites

Nyik-rét, reservoirs I-II
The largest coherent unit of the Landscape-protection Area lies between Farmos and Nagykáta. The marshlands supplied by the Hajta stream, including reservoirs I-II and two lakes, Virágkert and Disznótúrás, provide an excellent nesting and feeding area for a rich bird population. The highly protected great white egret and the grey-lag goose hatch here, with the black stork appearing throughout the year.   Nyik-ret features varied flora associations, such as alkali flats, loess grasslands and marshy meadows, as well as rare plants. The largest Hungarian reserves of Iris spuria, thousands of spring adonis plants, fields scattered with large milkworts as well as the Inula oculus-christi L. - both rare in the Great Hungarian Plain - can be discovered here. The presence of these species indicates that the area is still intact.   Certain sections of the romantically winding Öreg Hajta stream that luckily survived the water regulation activities of previous decades have been granted priority protection.

The Felső Tápió valley
The second largest unit of the region extends along the Felső-Tápió stream from Tápiószecső to Tápiószentmárton. The fishpond of Tápiószecső, the only aquatic habitat boasting large open waters in the Landscape-protection Area, is located in this area. In this region otters are still frequently seen, and the fish hawk shows up regularly at the time of migration.   There are old oak woods along the shores of the pond, and further on a beautiful white sea of narrow and wide leaf cotton grass [Carex lasiocarpa] appears in the distance in a spectacular swampy meadow. The biggest treasure of this area is the rich fish population in the Felsőtápió, a result of its excellent water quality.   The protected loach characteristic of mountain streams can also be found here, along with Umbra krameri (red), whose only other habitat is the river system of the Danube. Farther away from the bank of the stream surrounded by swampy meadows and willow bushes, steep sand dunes emerge, with numerous protected plants like the late pink, Stipa borysthenica, Corispermum nitidum Kit, Alkanna tinctoria L. Iris arenaria W. To preserve these valuable species, these areas, surrounding the Cseh Hill and the Gice Mountain, enjoy priority protection. The meadow of Erdőszőlős at the southern tip of this long geographical unit is the most important souslik habitat of the area.

The meadow between Tápióság and Tápióbicske and its stream valleys are situated at the edge of Monor-Irsa Hills. The loess valleys of Gombai and Úri streams are surrounded by beautiful marshy meadows and spots of reeds and willows. On the slopes of the valleys there are loess grasslands rich in various species, with rare plants such as the Ajuga laxmannii L., the wood anemone and the Hungarian doronicum. The highly protected bee-eater with its feathers of tropical colours nests in colonies in the steep loess walls.   The meadow is also a favourite hatching place for curlews in wet years - a rare sight as only a few dozens of this bird nest in Hungary. In the transient zone of swampy meadows and rising sand dunes, a small but very attractive orchid called Ophrys sphecodes grows, while the Iris sibirica blossoms in deeper sections.

The rest of the Landscape-protection Area comprises small, but equally valuable habitats.

Sós-tavak: On the boundary of Nagykáta, in Egreskáta there are natron lake basins, large reeds and small alkali pastures around a flat dune covered with oak woods. There are many couples of the blue feathered common roller hatching in the hollows of old trees, and a large number of waterfowls live in the reeds. The sad sound of the bittern can be heard frequently, and visitors can follow the low and seemingly unsteady flight of the duck-hawk

Székesrekeszi-legelő: Close to Szentmártonkáta, on the two banks of the Bíbicfészeki branch is the Székesrekeszi pasture, which is an important feeding area for different birds of prey, such as the kestrel, the common buzzard and the much rarer hobby, all nesting nearby.

Rekettyés: At a short distance from Farmos, in the river bed of the old Zagyva, a wonderful swampy meadow and a small alkali pasture are situated, whose grey willow bushes inspired the Hungarian name of the area. In May, the purple flowers of the marsh orchis, and in autumn the blue petals of Gentiana pneumonanthe L. make this site unforgettable.

Tápiógyörgyei-legelő: The Nagy-megyeri pasture in Tápiógyörgye and the grasslands near Újszász in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county resemble the alkali lands beyond the river Tisza. They have an outstanding role in bird migration in autumn and at springtime.   As part of an ambitious environment protection project, an artificial natron lake on 3 hectares was created to serve as a nesting place for species such as the long-legged stilt with its black wings and the avocet, which is highly protected and can be easily recognised from its beak curving upwards.

Recommended route

It is worth starting the tour of the area by discovering the natural and cultural sights of Nagykáta, the centre of the region. Here we can provide visitors with more detailed information on the sights that can be seen along the route they wish to follow - either on the telephone or at our regional office -, and upon request we can also provide a qualified guide.

From Nagykáta, you can set out to Farmos on road no. 311 in a southern direction. In Farmos, the local authorities have created a study path where the flora and fauna of alkali lands can be explored. Access to the study path is from the road connecting the railway station and the centre of the village. From the end of the study path, a 300-meter walk takes you to the dam of reservoir I, where - after getting acquainted with the alkali lands - visitors can admire the flora and fauna of the reeds. With a bit of luck, you will be able to see the great white egret, the purple heron or the duck-hawk in hunting. Finally, leaving Farmos, you may wish to visit the famous Blaskovich Museum in Tápiószele, which is the only mansion museum in the country which survived the Second World War unharmed including its complete furnishing.