Аfter being greeted at Sofia Airport, you will be transferred to your hotel in Sofia’s center. For the rest of the day, you will have free time to explore the Bulgarian capital on your own. All must-see tourist sights are packed in the center of Sofia and can be reached easily on foot. Don’t forget to take your binoculars with you as the green areas of the city can offer delightful birding surprises.
Your Bulgaria birding will commence with a visit to Mount Vitosha - the oldest nature park in the Balkans. We will explore different habitats for the following species: Nutcracker, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Bullfinch, Ring Ouzel and other passerines. From Vitosha Nature Park we will take a 1.5-hour drive to the Upper Thracian Plane and dedicate our afternoon to the steppes around the town of Pazardzhik. Without much effort, we will enjoy sights of Lesser Spotted Eagle, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Black Stork, Long-legged Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, Black-headed Bunting, Stone Curlew, Ortolan Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Hoopoe, Common Bee-eater, European Roller and others. Late afternoon transfer (about 2 hours) to the SPA resort of Devin located amidst old-growth forests and fast-flowing streams. Accommodation at a 3-star hotel.
After a short morning transfer, we will reach the Trigrad Gorge - an area of jaw-dropping beauty and … Wallcreepers. We will be exploring the sheer cliffs of the gorge for the elusive Wallcreeper, but also keep a sharp eye on species such as Peregrine Falcon, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Black Redstart, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Coat Tit, Goldcrest and other forest specialities. In the afternoon we will take the long ride from the Western part of the Mountains to the Eastern. The landscape will be changing dramatically as will the wildlife. Overnight in a guest house or 3-star hotel in Madzharovo.
The Eastern Rhodopi is the wildest and most unspoiled part of Bulgaria. An area that provides a last great refuge for some of Europe’s most spectacular birds. This is also undoubtedly the best place in Western Europe for raptors, and the density is truly impressive. The species we will try to see within the day are: Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Black Kite, Golden Eagle, Eleonora's Falcon, as well as Black Stork, Chukar Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Nuthatch, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, and many other more common species.
In the morning we will head toward National Park Dadia in the Greek part of the Eastern Rhodopi. We will have a short birding stop for Eastern Imperial Eagle and Lesser Kestrel, just before the border crossing between Bulgaria and Greece. NP Dadia is a mosaic of meadows, bare rocks and оак forests, a true biodiversity hotspot. We will have a walk in the forest and along one of the streams in the area to try to observe Black, Griffon and Egyptian vultures, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted and Bonelli’s Eagles, Lanner Falcon and Peregrine Falcon. We’ll explore the forests and meadows around Dadia and look for more birds of prey, Red-backed and Lesser Gray Shrikes, Olivaceous, Orphean, Sardinian and Bonelli's warblers. Overnight in the village of Soufli.
It will be a day dedicated to the prime wetlands in Northern Greece. First, we will visit the Evros Delta National Park, a declared Ramsar site due to its year-round importance for wild birds. Located almost on the crossing point between three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa - the delta of the second largest river in Southeastern Europe is an important stop-over site for numerous migrants. Your guide will set your route in the nature park according to the water levels in the lagoons, wet meadows, marshes, shallow lakes and reedbeds. We will try to enjoy sites of Dalmatian and White Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorant, Great Spotted Eagle, Spur-winged Plover, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck, Short-toed Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon, Black Stork and various waders. In the afternoon we will head towards Keramoti, but will make a lot of birdwatching stops at lake Vistonida and the nearby golden beaches, saltwater, freshwater, and brackish water lakes, marshes and lagoons. We will also visit the famous Kodza Orman forest at Nestos River Delta. We can expect Spur-winged Plover, Stone Curlew, various migrating waders, Common, Gull-billed and Caspian terns, Mediterranean and Little Gulls and many more species. Overnight in Keramoti.
Today we will be heading to Kerkini Lake, but on the way, we will explore Mt. Pangaion and the surrounding area for some higher-altitude species such as Alpine Accentor, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Alpine Choughs, Rock Partridge, Black Redstart and Water Pipit. In the afternoon we will be exploring the western part of Kerkini Lake with the sun on our backs. The lake is declared a national park and often makes it to the headlines as one of the best places for birdwatching and wildlife photography holidays. We will be accommodated for two nights in a 3-star hotel with a fabulous view of the lake and its surrounding.
The lake and the surrounding forests are valuable for a myriad of birds and are internationally renowned. Spring is a particularly good season when migrants and local breeders can be observed and provide exceptional birding experience. We will be enjoying fabulous sights of Dalmatian and White pelicans, Flamingoes, Great Spotted Eagle, Whiskered Tern, Slender-billed Gull, Garganey, Glossy Ibis, Little Bitterns and Squacco and Night Herons, Cattle Egret, Syrian Woodpecker, Subalpine Warbler and numerous passerines in the bushes.
After crossing the near to Kerkini border point between Bulgaria and Greece we will have an exciting day of birding and wine tasting. First, we will birdwatch the volcano crater and riverine forest of Rupite. Usually, the birds like Long-legged Buzzard, Eleonore Falcon, Levent Sparrowhawk, Masked Shrike, Rock Nuthatch, Spanish Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Black Stork, can be observed from a close distance. At noon we will visit the picturesque town of Melnik - well-known for its wine production and sand pyramids. We will sample a glass or two of the local brands of wine and have lunch on the base of some of the most imposing sand pyramids. In the afternoon we will take short walks in the scenic area of the Melnik Pyramids, where we can come across. An overnight stay in the town of Melnik, where we can explore further options for wine tasting. On this day we will visit different habitats to provide variety and make as much as possible of every precious minute of your birding holiday. The route traces part of the Via Aristoteles flyway and during the spring and autumn migration rarities could be expected as well. Highlights for the day Common Kestrel, Little Owl, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Olivaceous Warbler, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Calandra Lark, Great Reed Warbler, Rock Nuthatch, Golden Oriole, Roller, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Calandra Lark and more.
Another full day of birdwatching during which we will familiarize ourselves with other birdwatching gems in Southwest Bulgaria. We will spend all of the morning at the area of Kresna Gorge, where we will take short walks to points with a great panoramic view. From there we will be searching the sky and the nearby rocks and meadows for Griffon Vultures, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Snake-eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Red-backed Shrike, European Bee-eaters, Rock Sparrows, Short-toed Lark Rock Sparrow and many more. Kresna Gorge is on the Via Aristotelis flyway and is a natural funnel for all migratory birds heading north during the spring passage. In the afternoon we will be transferred to Rila Monastery - a famous Bulgarian UNESCO site right at the heart of an old-growth forest. The monastery complex and its natural surroundings have exceptional beauty. You will tour the complex with your guide and also spend some time exploring the surrounding forests for White-backed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Rock Bunting, Pallid Swift and more. Transfer back to Sofia. Overnight in a 3-star hotel.
Breakfast. Transfer to the airport according to your flight schedule.