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Bulgaria: Mammals and Birds NEW!

AT A GLANCE

FOCUS

Mammal & bird tour: Mammals and birds, photography.

WHERE

Sofia – Rhodope Mountains – Lake Srebarna - Bucharest

SAMPLE WILDLIFE

Potential mammals include Brown Bear, Wild Boar, Wolf, Marbled Polecat and European Souslik plus a multitude of central European birds including Wallcreeper and Dalmatian Pelican.

CLIMATE

European spring, cool to warm.

ACCOMMODATION

comfortable country hotels, travel by minibus and 4x4, all rooms with private facilities.

Bulgaria is home to more than 100 species of mammal including some of Europe’s most sought-after species such as Brown Bear, Wolf, Golden Jackal and Marbled Polecat. It has one of the largest and most stable populations of the Brown Bear in Europe and the species occurs in almost all of the Bulgarian mountains. Wolves also occur widely and in good numbers and Golden Jackal has spread across most of the country in the last 20 years. There are also good populations of Eurasian Wildcat, Beech Marten, Pine Marten, Badger and Marbled Polecat. Smaller mammals that we hope to see include European Souslik.

During this new small group tour, we will cross Bulgaria from Sofia in the west, initially heading south-east to the Rhodope Mountains and then across to the Danube River which forms the border with Romania in the north-east of the country. We hope to find many of the key mammals and birds such as Wallcreeper, Hazel Grouse and a good variety of birds of prey.


Day 1  

We will depart from London Stansted at around 0630 and after landing at Sofia Airport late morning, we transfer to the small village of Trigrad, in the very heart of Rhodope Mountains. For the next four nights we will be staying in a local hotel situated in a fabulous setting in a quiet and remote area, where much of the food is sourced locally. After an early dinner, we will make the 20 kilometre transfer with 4x4 vehicles to our observation hides, where we expect to see our first mammals of the trip. Our observations will continue till 2200, after which we will head back to our hotel for the night. 

The Rhodopes are well known as one of the regions in Europe with the richest and most varied mammal fauna.  This is the main refuge of Brown Bear in Bulgaria and the main purpose of our visit here. The Rhodope Mountains are also home of Eurasian Wildcat and Wild Boar, which occur here in significant numbers. We can also expect to see Roe and Red Deer and with some luck we may even see Wolves.  

Days 2 & 3  

Over the next two days we will visit further hides at various locations in the area. As our visits to the hides will be in the late afternoon, during the day we will have the opportunity to explore some other parts of this fascinating region. The Rhodopes are also famous for their bird diversity, with nearly 150 breeding species recorded there. The area around the village of Trigrad, and particularly the spectacular Trigrad Gorge, is well known as one of the best and the most easily accessible places in Europe to see Wallcreepers in the breeding season. This spectacular bird, will be our main goal during the day. Our lunch will be at local mountain hut, where we will taste delicious local fare including trout. An early afternoon dinner follows prior to the transfer to the hides. During our time in the area we hope to see Brown Bear, Wild Boar, Roe and Red Deer, and hopefully Wolves. Likely birds include Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Alpine and Pallid Swifts, Red-rumped Swallow, Crag Martin, Peregrine, Nutcracker, Hobby etc. 

Day 4 

We will have an early breakfast after which we will drive for around an hour towards the town of Devin. From here we will continue on foot and expect to walk 5-6 kilometres during the day. We will visit remote areas where we expect to see Alpine (Balkan)Chamois, Roe Deer, Red Deer, Wild Boar, and again if we are lucky Wolves. We will have a picnic lunch.  There should also be good opportunities to see  Black Woodpeckers, Hazel Grouse, occasionally Golden Eagle, and Crested Tit alongside a range of more common and widespread species.  During the late afternoon we will drive back to our hotel in Trigrad village for our last night here. 

Day 5  

After breakfast we will take a long drive to the small village of Vetren in the north-east of the country. Vetren is situated two kilometres from the River Danube, and close to the internationally important nature reserve at Lake Srebarna, a UNESCO heritage site. For the next three days, our main targets will be Golden Jackal and the rare and secretive Marbled Polecat, as well as European Souslik. The flat and endless fields of the Dobrudzha plateau are preferred habitats for both the polecat and the souslik. Bulgaria has the largest jackal population in Europe, and they are particularly common in the north-east of the country.  We will again use purpose-built permanent wooden and portable hides for our evening observations. Depending on the time of our arrival we may make have time to make our first visit to the hides. Our three nights here will be spent at Pelican Birding Lodge, in a rural setting adjacent to a small, bird-filled wood. 

Days 6 & 7  

We will spend these two days visiting the internationally important nature reserve at Lake Srebarna which is world-famous for a colony of the globally threatened Dalmatian Pelicans, along with Pygmy Cormorants, Ruddy Shelducks, Ferruginous Ducks, a variety of herons and woodpeckers and much more.  We will also visit the nature reserve at Nova Cherna to look for European Sousliks. We will have early dinners in order to spend the evenings visiting the hides for the Golden Jackal and to spotlight for Marbled Polecat around the burrows of European Sousliks.  We might also see Badger and Red Fox

 Day 8  

After breakfast and depending on the timings of our flight home, we will spend our last morning around the lodge before our transfer across the border to Bucharest in Romania, where the tour will end. Our late afternoon flight from Bucharest is currently due to arrive back at Stansted around 1730.

Exact itinerary subject to weather and local conditions on the day. 

Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

Dates:    21st – 28th April 2018

Leaders: Nigel Goodgame & local guides.

Cost: The basic cost is £1895 per person sharing a twin room

Single supp: £60 per person.   

Deposit: £350 per person

Group size: Maximum 4-5.

Price includes: Return economy class flights London – Sofia/Bucharest, all airport taxes, all ground transport, accommodation on a full board basis (some lunches will be packed) in twin-bedded rooms with private facilities, services of WildWings leader, excursions and hide sessions as set out in the itinerary, pre-tour information pack including a day by day mammal and bird checklist. 

Price excludes: Travel insurance, drinks, tips to local guides and bus driver and items of a personal nature.  


    Photo

    Tour Leader

    Nigel now lives in Norway, has been a keen birder since childhood. He is one of the founder members of the Neotropical Bird Club.

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