Not been in this part of Europe yet? Join us and you will be able to add a whole lot of impressive species to your list. This is not a typical birdwatching holiday, meant for large groups of 15+ birders. We have made this tour for small parties and even couples and individuals, who are flexible enough as this is crucial for this itinerary that is normally covered within 10-12 days. Not much time is spent at any of the hotspots in order to visit as much as possible places, each of them offering something new to add to the checklist. This maybe a little tiresome at moments, but in general this program is so well balanced, that it gives the best in terms of variety of birds and habitats for the limited time of its duration.
The route goes through the deep gorges, pristine valleys and meadows of Rodopi Mountains, the rolling hills of Sakar Mountains, the Black Sea coast with its wetlands and steppes, the Danube River and the plains spread among all of them.
The highlights include: Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Black Stork, Ferruginous Duck, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures, Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon, Mediterranean Gull, Whiskered Tern, Pallid Swift, Roller, Calandra Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Masked Shrike, Woodchat and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears, Blue Rock Thrush, Paddyfield Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Barred Warbler, Bonelli’s Warbler, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Sombre Tit, Rock Nuthatch, Black-headed Bunting, Rose-coloured Starling etc.
Day 1. Welcome meeting at Sofia Airport. Transfer to the hotel. Time permitting you will have some free time in the afternoon for a short stroll in the city center. Overnight in Sofia.
Day 2. Today we will visit the biggest natural wetland by Sofia – Dragoman Marsh, and the Karst hills surrounding it. The marsh is just 40km westwards from Sofia, situated along the Via Aristotelis migratory route, which is a premise for a good number of migrants and waterfowl in spring. After lunch we will be on our way in the Thracian Plain to another place, famous for its still preserved steppe habitats – Besaparski Hills. From there we enter the heart of Rodopi Mountains, where we stay overnight by Trigrad Gorge – world famous place for watching Wallcreepers.
Highlights of the day: Bittern, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Ferruginous Duck, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Bee-eater, Black-headed Bunting, Isabelline Wheatear, Tawny Pipit etc.
Day 3. A morning, dedicated to Wallcreepers. It may take a while until we see it on the 250m high cliffs of Trigrad Gorge, which no doubt will also be a hard exercise for the neck. After the gorge we head northwards back to the Thracian Plain, where we will make a short stop at Maritsa River before continuing further down to the eastern parts of Rodopi Mountains. This part of Bulgaria is known as the realm of the birds of prey (and not only!) and here we will spend 2 nights.
Highlights of the day: Wallcreeper, Levant Sparrowhawk, Black Kite, Pallid Swift, Masked Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Roller, Hoopoe, Olivaceous Warbler, Red-rumped Swallow, Crossbill, Spanish Sparrow etc.
Day 4. An active birding day in the valley of Arda River and the volcanic cliffs around the huge lakes along it. We are going to visit a number of places, perfect for raptors and passerines.
Highlights of the day: Black Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Egyptian and Griffon vultures, Honey Buzzard, Blue Rock Thrush, Olive-tree Warbler, Barred Warbler, Orphean and Sardinian Warblers, Subalpine Warbler, Crag Martin, Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Bonelli’s warbler, Ortolan Bunting etc.
Day 5. After a good-bye morning stroll below the cliffs of Madzharovo we continue to Sakar Mountains – the place with the biggest concentration of breeding Imperial Eagles in Bulgaria. We will try on several spots to locate them as we move eastwards to the Southern Black Sea coast and the town of Bourgas, where we stay for the night.
Highlight of the day: Eastern Imperial Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Isabelline Wheatear, Black-headed Bunting, Masked Shrike, Olive-tree Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting etc.
Day 6. The wetlands around Bourgas would not really surprise a European birder in terms of species composition but still we will spend some time to explore the lakes and lagoons in the area. Then we head northwards, making a short stop in a nice oak forest – a superb place for woodpeckers and Semi-collared Flycatchers. Eventually we arrive at Cape Kaliakra – probably the best place in Bulgaria for seawatching. We spend the night in the area, famous also for its maritime steppes with specific avifauna during migration.
Highlights of the day: Dalmatian and White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Mediterranean Shearwater, Whiskered and Little Tern, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Squacco Heron, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Shag (Mediterranean race desmarestii), Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker, Pied Wheatear, Bee-eater, Calandra Lark etc.
Day 7. In the morning we visit a small lagoon by the sea and also Durankoulak Lake – world-famous place in winter, when thousands of Red-breasted Geese concentrate here. We will make a circle around the lake and continue through the fields of Dobrogea northwest to the Danube River and probably the most famous Bulgarian wetland – Srebarna Lake, where we will spend the night.
Highlights of the day: Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco and Purple Heron, Great Egret, Little Bittern, Spoonbill, Red-necked Grebe, Ferruginous Duck, Whiskered Tern, Black-winged Stilt, Bee-eater, White-tailed Eagle, Levant Sparrohawk, Red-footed Falcon, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Rose-coloured Starling etc.
Day 8. More birding around the lake and long transfer back to Sofia (appr. 6 hrs). En-route (time permitting) we may stop for a short sightseeing in Veliko Tyrnovo – the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Overnight in Sofia or late evening flight back home (please advice what suits you best).
Day 9. Transfer to the airport for departure.
Accommodation: 3-star hotels (in Sofia and Bourgas) and guesthouse (rest places) with en-suite double rooms on bed & breakfast basis (ordering lunchpacks is possible for each of the days at the price of 4-5 Euro/person; good restaurant will be suggested for lunch otherwise where possible).
€ 980 per person for 2 persons;
€ 830 per person for 4 or more;
Single room supplement: 130 €
Group size: Min. 2 persons
Best period: May-June
The price includes: accommodation and boarding as mentioned above; private transfer to/from Sofia airport and throughout the tour; English-speaking guide/driver; entrance fees for protected areas; VAT and all local taxes.
The price does not include: maps (could be requested in advance when booking the tour), other meals, tips, alcohol drinks, cigarettes and other personal expenses.