You will be greeted by your guide at Sofia Airport and transferred to your hotel in central Sofia. Your guide will brief you shortly about the next day of birdwatching and provide you with any help needed (recommend restaurants for dinner, place to exchange money, etc.). For the rest of the day you will have free time to explore the Bulgarian capital at your own. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the Presidency, St. Sofia Church and all others major tourist sights in Sofia will be at a walking distance from your hotel. If you are more into doing birding from the first day in Bulgaria, you can take a walk to the South park or Borisova garden - both places provide opportunities to spot Great Spotted Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and Black Woodpecker.
A 30 minutes drive from Sofia's centre is Mount Vitosha - the first declared nature park in the Balkans. We dedicate the morning to birdwatch in its alpine zone, deciduous and coniferous forests. Expect Nutcracker, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Bullfinch, Ring Ouzel and other passerines. After lunch, we will head for some key wetlands in the Upper Thracian Plain and the steppes of the Besapara Hills. Our daily species list will grow swiftly with Lesser Spotted Eagle, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Black Stork, Long-legged Buzzard, Montague’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 town of Devin, which is located in the heart of the Rhodopi Mountains. Accommodation at a 3-star hotel.
After a short transfer, we will be at the realm of the Wallcreeper. This is the exceptionally scenic and dramatic-looking Trigrad Gorge. The majestic vertical cliffs, the fast-flowing streams and the nearby coniferous forests host a rich avifauna. We can spot 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 to the Eastern Rhopodi Mountain, where we will be spending the next two days. The eastern part of the Rhodopi Mountains has contrastingly different topography, geology and wildlife compared to the western part of the range. Overnight in a guest house or 3-star hotel in Madzharovo.
Probably the birdwatchers' paradise will resemble if not be exactly like the area of the Eastern Rhodopi. The timelessness and harmony are tangible in this land of rich birdlife. We will be admiring beautiful rock formations, which Griffon and Egyptian Vultures call their home, scenic river with Black Storks wading in the crystal clear water, a variety of enchanting bird songs, wild orchids and butterflies. There is no need to spoil your experience with а further verbal description of the region. 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, Black Stork, Chukar Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Nuthatch, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Sardinian Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, and many other more common species.
After a healthy breakfast, we will do a 2-hour birding in the vicinity of the town of Madzharovo. We continue to the Sakar Mountains, an area of extensive rolling hills and vast pastures. We will try on several spots to locate Imperial Eagles, Lesser Kestrel, shrikes (Maskes, Red-backed, Woodchat and Lesser Gray), Isabeline Wheatear, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Black-headed Bunting, as we move eastwards to the Southern Black Sea coast and the town of Bourgas, where we stay for 2 nights. The expected highlight of the day are 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.
The town of Burgas is surrounded by lakes with different salinity. Atanasovsko Lake is transformed into salt pans and is the place in Bulgaria where the highest number of birds has been registered. It is an important and safe (its northern part is a nature reserve) stop-over site for waterfowl and waders using the Via Pontica flyway. Vaya or also known as Burgas Lake is one of the largest wetlands in Bulgaria. It is shallow and rich in fish - a favourite place for Dalmatian and White Pelicans, Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes and different gulls and terns to feed. Another interesting with avifauna wetland complex is Madra Lake and Poda Lagoon - a mosaic of reedbeds and open water bodies. It will be slow-paced day of birding as we move from lake to lake and also watch out for heading north migrants. Highlights of the day: Dalmatian and White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Whiskered and Little Tern, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Squacco Heron, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Mediterranean and Slender-billed Gulls, Terek, Broad-billed, Wood, Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers, Shellduck, Great Reed Warbler.
In the morning you will visit Pomorie Lake - a site for sea salt extractions and a Natura 2000 site. Here we expect to see Collared Pratincole, Terek, Broad-billed, Wood, Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers, Red-necked Phalarope, Little and Temminck's Stints, Glossy Ibis, Gull-billed, Sandwich, Black, White-winged and Whiskered terns and many more. 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 and here can found the last steppes on the Balkans. Here we expect to see Pied Wheatear, Roller, Short-toed and Calandra Larks, Black-headed Bunting, Stone Curlew, Long-legged Buzzard and Shag, Eagle Owl, Red-footed Falcons (during the migration time). Rose-colored Starlings and Yelkouan Shearwater are also possible. We spend the night in the area.
In the morning we visit two small lagoons by the sea Shabla and Durankoulak Lakes – world-famous place in winter, when thousands of Red-breasted Geese concentrate here. We will make a circle around the lakes 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: Paddyfield, Savi's, Great Reed, Marsh, Reed, Cetti's and other Warblers, Caspian, Marsh and Little Terns, Purple Heron, Collared Pratincole, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck, Squacco Heron, Lesser Grey Shrike, Bearded Reedling, waders, Garganey and many more.
In the morning we visit the most famous Bulgarian wetland - Srebarna Lake. With a short walk we will see many species - Ruddy Shellduck, Ferruginous Duck, Red-crested and Common Pochards, Glossy Ibis, Great Crested Grebe, White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Squacco Heron, Gray Heron, Purple Heron, Bittern and Little Bitter, Little and Great Egret, Pygmy Cormorant, Savi's and River warblers, Great Reed Warbler, Penduline Tit, Roller, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Levant Sparrowhawk, White-tailed Sea-eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle and many more. At midday we will continue on west along the Danube river where will check two more coastal marshes where will looking for Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Whiskered Terns, Little Bittern, and more. Overnight in Veliko Tyrnovo – the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.
Transfer to Sofia airport. If the time permit some birdwatching stops are possible. Departure.