Bulgaria is a small country situated on the Balkan Peninsula but the diversity of habitats and faunal complexes in the country is incredibly high. From vast plains, high mountains with alpine zones, old deciduous and coniferous forests, shrub communities, rivers, streams, lakes, rocky terrains, seashore and more, this diversity of habitat and the specific location of the continent leads to enormous diversity among plant and animal communities. Mediterranean species, typical continental and arctic species in the fauna, species from the Middle and Far East and more.
This itinerary is designed to visit some of the top locations in the country where we can see some of the most iconic species:-Masked Shrike, Rosy Starling, Wallcreeper, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Sombre Tit, Black-headed Bunting, Chukar, Hazel Grouse, Levant Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Golden Oriole and many more.
From the butterflies – Apollo, Purple Emperor, Poplar Admiral, Southern White Admiral, Yellow-banded Skipper, Little Tiger Blue, Eastern Rock Grayling, Balkan & Scarce Coppers, Cardinal, Silver-washed, Niobe & High-brown Fritillaries and many more.
Beside the incredible wildlife, we will stay in family hotels with incredible views, delicious Bulgarian food, nice people and the tranquillity needed for every wonderful holiday!
Tour Leaders: Dobromir Domushiev & Steve Grimwade
Maximum Group Size: 12
We take our flight from London to Sofia and transfer to the village of Koprivshtitsa, about a ninety minute drive for a one-night stay.
We will have an afternoon session along a small river where we can find Map Butterfly, Spotted, Niobe, Twin-spot & Marbled Fritillaries, hairstreaks, Freyer’s Purple Emperor, Southern White Admiral, Yellow-banded Skipper, Lattice Brown plus Large, Sooty, Lesser Fiery & Purple-shot Coppers and many more. The birding is pretty good too with European Serin, European Honey Buzzard, Grey-headed & Syrian Woodpeckers, Lesser Grey, Red-backed & Woodchat Shrikes, Eurasian Wryneck, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Sombre Tit, Crested Lark, White Stork & Black-headed, Corn, Ortolan & Cirl Buntings amongst others.
In 1952 the town of Koprivshtitsa was declared the only city-museum in the country and since 1971 it has been an architectural and historical reserve, with a total of 388 architectural, historical, artistic and ethnographic monuments. In 1978 it was recognized as a national architectural reserve of international importance and as an international tourist destination.
After breakfast and after a little time around the village we transfer to the village of Trigrad in the Western Rhodopes for two nights. During our journey we have a few stops for birding and butterflies.
Our main stop will be at the Besaparian Hills where we will be on the lookout for Calandra Lark, Rosy Starling, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-headed Bunting and Western Yellow Wagtail of the black-headed race feldegg. Eastern Imperial Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Roller, European Bee-eater, Eastern Black-eared, Northern & Isabelline Wheatears, Lesser Grey, Red-backed, Woodchat & Masked Shrikes, Spanish & Rock Sparrows plus many more.
Target butterflies of this great area may include Little Tiger Blue, Eastern Rock Grayling, Hermit, Anomalous Blue, Osiris Blue, Mountain Small White, Blue-spot Hairstreak, Great Banded Grayling, Lesser Spotted Fritillary and White-letter Hairstreak.
We reach our traditional hotel in Trigrad and settle in with a cold beer and a home-cooked meal.
After a good rest we explore the world-famous Trigrad Gorge, home of the Wallcreeper. 200 metre high Limestone cliffs provide home to several pairs and we hope to see them feeding at close range. Our previous tours to this area have produced stunning views of this beautiful Crimson-winged bird with the butterfly-like flight.
The typical high mountain species include Rock Bunting, Black Woodpecker, Alpine Swift, White-throated Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Eurasian Siskin, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Eurasian Bullfinch, European Honey Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Black Redstart.
A walk will be taken in the high meadows and with luck, we will have great chances of butterflies such as Apollo, Clouded Apollo, Camberwell Beauty, Mountain Small White, Zephyr Blue, Geranium Argus, Turquoise Blue, Escher’s Blue, Ripart’s Anomalous Blue and Pearly Heath.
Today we have a long transfer to the Eastern Rhodope Mountains making a stop along the way to look for Olive Tree Warbler, Masked Shrike, Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed & Calandra Larks, Black Stork and Black-headed Bunting as well as a good selection of butterflies. We arrive in the evening at the town of Krumovgrad where we will spend time relaxing with some good local food and drink.
After a good breakfast we will explore the picturesque Krumovitsa river valley. The valley is home to some exciting species and is well-known as a Balkan bird and butterfly paradise!
Species we will be on the look-out for include Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Levant Sparrowhawk, Eastern Orphean, Sardinian & Olive Tree Warblers. We will search for Western Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock & Rock Thrushes and both Eastern & Western Black-eared Wheatears amongst the many rocky outcrops, whilst the scrub-covered hillsides are home to Wryneck, Chukar, Great Spotted Cuckoo and European Roller.
Butterflies found in this diverse habitat are Little Tiger Blue, Hungarian Skipper, Yellow-banded Skipper, Black-veined White, Escher’s Blue, Kruper’s Small White, Small Bath White, Purple-shot Copper, Green-underside Blue, Eastern Baton Blue, Chapman’s Blue, Amanda’s Blue, Cardinal and Lattice Brown. Nearby rivers and streams are home to dragonflies that include Small Red-eyed & Dainty Damselfly, Odalisque, Eastern Spectre, Balkan Emerald, Lesser Emperor, Southern Darter plus many more.
After a fine evening meal we will spend some time looking for the tiny Scop’s Owl which breeds in Poplar trees around the hotel.
Days 6 – 7
We say our goodbyes to Krumovgrad and make a three hour drive to the beautiful Dobrostan plateau in the Western Rhodope Mountains. Our two night stay will take in the best of this area and we hope to connect with Common Rock Thrush, Rock Partridge, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Grey Wagtail and more, whilst in the forests we can look for White-backed Woodpecker, Common Rosefinch and maybe Hazel Grouse.
The plateau is a Lepidopterists ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ with Apollo, Mountain Small White, Osiris Blue, Blue Argus, Turquoise Blue, Iolas Blue, Large Blue, Geranium Argus, Nickerl’s, Niobe, High-Brown, Twin-spotted and other fritillaries, Balkan & Scarce Coppers, Reverdin’s Blue, Northern Wall Brown, Chequered Skipper, Woodland Ringlet and Chestnut Heath amongst others.
Overnight: Near Dobrostan
After our last Bulgarian breakfast, we head to the airport in Sofia for our return flight home after what is sure to be a great tour!
Flights from London Gatwick to Sofia
Full board accommodation for 7 nights
All ground transport in Bulgaria
Full guiding throughout
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on day 1
Relaxed, two to three miles walking per day
Expect between 120 and 150 species
Expect between 70 and 90 species
Ground Price: £1340
*Air Price: £150
Total Tour Price: £1490
Single Supplement: £150
*Please see our tours page regarding flight costs1