Tour for families with different interests : You simply cannot find another European country where to get face to face with such a diversity and richness of avifauna, and ancient culture. When a tour like this is over, your checklist of birds you have seen will usually exceed the limit of 200 species. And what a checklist is that: listing such rarities as the Dalmatian Pelican, Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill, Pygmy Cormorant, Black stork, Ferruginous duck, Egyptian, Black and Griffon vultures, Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged buzzard, Golden and Eastern Imperial eagles, Lesser spotted, Booted and Short-toed eagles, Red-footed falcon, Chukar, Eagle and Scops owls, Black headed yellow wagtail, Pied and Isabelline wheatear, Paddyfield , Olieve- tree, Olivaceous and Barred warblers, Semi-collared flycatcher, Sombre tit, Rock nuthatch, Wallcreeper, Lesser Grey and Masked shrikes, Rose-coloured starling, Black-headed and Ortolan buntings, and the most ancient culture in Europe- the Thracians.
Day 1: Our program begins with a transfer from Sofia to mountain resort. Accommodation at local hotel, situated at altitude of 1500 m above sea level and surrounded by beautiful primeval coniferous forests. The hotel is with a breathtaking view of the pine clad mountains. This is a sight we hope you'll never forget from your stay. It is likely to see the birds of the high mountains like Crossbill, Rock Bunting, Pallid Swift. On the way we will have a few stops at the roadside to watch White stork, Honey Buzzard, Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike. Packed lunch. For the non-birders: Transfer to mountain resort with a stop and a visit to a nice Monastery and its surroundings. Lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon accommodation for two nights at local hotel. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 2: After an early breakfast we'll pack up and head for the magnificent Gorge. This area is part of the local Mountains but is something quite different form the rounded hills covered with coniferous forests at the resort, where we spent the night. The first thing that impresses the visitor are the huge cliffs towering above and the deep rocky valley, where the meandering the local river can hardly be seen. Strange trees of a local subspecies of Black Pine (Pinus nigra) grow right out of the rocks where there is no soil for their roots. All the time while we are there we cannot help but stand in awe before the nature’s grandeur.
Unfortunately, this is only a poor and sketchy description of this extraordinary place with its caverns and the rumble of its waterfalls. One can hardly imagine the gorge beauty if one does not see it with one's own eyes. This exceptionally beautiful area is 1200 m above sea level. Welcome to the Land of the Wallcreeper. This is simply the best and the most accessible place in Europe or maybe in the world to see this marvelous bird which reminds an enormous butterfly in flight. It is here where after a short and easy walk along the road for about 2 km that we hope to see this wonderful bird. Packed lunch. Night at the local hotel. Our non-birder group will also have an unforgettable day, beginning with a visit to a nice village.
After that we'll head for a cave , situated close to the birding gorge. The Cave is a very long underground formation. 1500 m of it have been made suitable for visitors. It Is a very beautiful cave with its inner halls, narrow corridors, and thousands-of-years-old stalactites, stalagmites and stalactons, descending and ascending from everywhere around us. The temperature down there is about 50 C so be prepared with some extra clothing. The walk is very easy and pleasant, we are accompanied by a local guide. After a lunch at a local restaurant we will also visit the Birding Gorge. We’ll have about 2 km long nice and unforgettable walk along the road, crossing the gorge. Packed lunch. Night at the same hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Transfer to the next main stop of our program. Accommodation at the local hotel which stands in the center of the town at an altitude of 350 masl. We will stay here for two nights. It’s a small town, and is only in a 5 minute walk one will oneself outside the town and along the picturesque local river where there are good opportunity to see Black and White storks, Spanish Sparrow, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Scops Owl.
While driving along the road we’ll stop at an very interesting nature spot to make some birdwatching. It’s a nice rocky country with the local river running at the feet of the rocky hills that form its valley. Packed lunch. For the no- birders: we visit an Old v town. Lunch at a local restaurant. After the lunch a transfer and accommodation to same town and accommodation at the same hotel for two nights follows. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: A visit to a local village. The area is of ancient volcanic origin with basalt stones scattered everywhere on the ground, huge rocks and basalt cliffs, small shrubs and an almost complete lack of mature trees. This part of the Mountains is well known as one of Europe’s most important regions for birds of prey. We will spend all day birdwatching around and hopefully we will spot Golden, Imperial, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Black, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures, and many other smaller birds like Pallid Swift, Rock Nuthatch, Rock and Blue Rock Thrushes, Roller, Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow, Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Somber Tit, Cirl, Black-headed and Ortolan Buntings, Barred, Subalpine, Sardinian and Orphean Warblers. Packed lunch. Night at local hotel. For the no- birders there is the opportunity to have a first-hand look at the history and traditions of the local people, which are of mixed ethnic origin and religion, Christian and Muslim. We will also have the opportunity to taste some local specialties for lunch. Night at the same hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Again a long but necessary transfer, to the lowlands along the Black Sea coast. We will spend 2 nights at hotel, which is just outside the local town close to very interesting nature reserve. This is the most important region for the large and small migrating birds from the huge region of Central and Eastern Europe for the spring and autumn migration. During the transfer we shall have plenty of time for stopping on the way for spotting such specialties as Masked Shrike, Olive-tree Warbler, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier. Packed lunch. This day the non-birders group will also have a transfer to the same sea town. But e we'll see the newest archaeological finds in Bulgaria, related with the most ancient culture in Europe - The Thracian one. We'll visit a sacred Thracian place, dated at least 7000-10000 years ago. The same day, up to the time, we'll visit other interesting spots in the region, including the archaeological museum. Dinner and night at the same hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: We will spend all the day long in the area around the local freshwater lakes, with the extensive reed-beds along their lake sides. There are flooded meadows, marshes, low hills, and oak forests in the surrounding countryside. These diverse habitats make this area one of the best such areas in Europe for wetland and other species of birds. Here we could see Pygmy Cormorant, Night, Squacco, Purple, and Grey Herons, Little and Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, White Pelican, Slender-billed, Mediterranean and Little Gulls, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Somber Tit, Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle. Packed lunch. Night at the same hotel. For our non-birding group a visit to an Old town-museum has been arranged. Lunch at a local beach restaurant in the town . Beach options. Night at the same hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: We head along the Black Sea coast. The next three nights we will spend at the local hotel. The hotel is just outside the local small town , on a hill above the sea. Two nice wooded valleys can also be seen from the hotel. Very good opportunities for spotting Golden Oriole, Bee-eater, Roller, Syrian Woodpecker, Hobby, Levant Sparrowhawk. On the way we will stop at nice forest, where we could concentrate on the Great, Middle and Lesser Spotted, Grey-headed, Green and Black Woodpeckers, and, if we have indeed some luck, the rather rare White-backed Woodpecker and Short-toed Treecreeper. Lunch at the local forest restaurant. For our group of non-birders there will be a visit to another old museum Town The town was built more than 2500 years ago. A great number of archaeological finds have been preserved and exhibited, among them the most interesting in Bulgaria churches from the Roman and medieval times like the Pantokrator, St. Stephen and others. . Lunch at the same forest restaurant. Beach options. Night at the same hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: A visit to the Cape Steppe Nature Reserve. This is a coastal headland with its white and reddish-brown limestone cliffs falling precipitously away into the depths of the surrounding sea from a height of over 200 m. Inland, the sky above the rolling steppe is dotted with the slow-flapping Calandra and Short-toed Larks. The habitat also suits the Isabeline and Pied Wheatears and Stone Curlew. Everywhere around us, perched on small shrubs the Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, Black-headed and Corn Buntings can be seen. Also here one can sometimes see the Rose-coloured Starlings during their periodic invasions from Asia. Lunch at the local cave restaurant. Night at the same hotel. This day the non-birders group will visit a neighboring town and the botanical garden. Lunch at a local restaurant. Beach options. Night at the same hotel hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: After an early breakfast follows a visit to a freshwater lake. It’s a very important wetland area for breeding and migrating birds with its extensive reed-beds and open water areas. Our main interest will be to spot the Paddyfield Warbler, Collared Pratincole, Spotted and Little Crakes, Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Ferruginous Duck, Little and Great Bitterns, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns, Bearded Tit, Red-footed Falcon, Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard. Packed lunch. Night at the same hotel. For the non-birding group a visit to local Cape with the fortress and the town Museum of the sea. Lunch at the local cave restaurant. Beach options. Night at the same hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Driving inland today, we’ll cross the steppes to reach a famous Lake Biosphere Reserve. Its extensive reed-beds give ideal shelter for the breeding of the globally threatened with extinction Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous duck and Pygmy cormorant as well as for a number of rare and endangered on a local or regional level birds like Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Purple, Squacco and Night Herons, Marsh harrier, Penduline tit. In the broad-leaved forests around the lake also breed the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawks, Goshawks. The Ruddy Shellduck breeds, too in the banks of the little dry valleys in the area. In the afternoon we will visit the Danube river proper. Birds likely to be seen there: Dalmatian Pelicans, Herons, Woodpeckers. Night at local hotel. For our non birding group a transfer has also been arranged. Accommodation at the same hotel.
A sightseeing tour will follow, with a visit to the ancient town. Massive fortified walls with gateways and turrets, some of them standing on the picturesque riverside. In the District Museum of History works of art and objects of the ancient material culture from the excavations are exhibited along with Thracian burial mounds from the region and exceptionally rich collection of golden decorations. The fortress was probably erected some 2500 years ago and was in use until as late as the 18th century AD. Three stone walls with gateways were erected to protect the ancient town. Antique vaulted tombs, Roman thermal bath, medieval church, two Thracian dome-shaped tombs and other items were preserved by the Museum workers. Lunch at the hotel restaurant. Night at the same hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Today we visit a local marshland. Initially it was a typical riverside marsh, turned into a fish farm during the communist regime, and turned again into a marshland nowadays. Good opportunities for spotting Whiskered Tern, Red-necked, Black-necked, Little and Great Crested Grebes, Pygmy Cormorant. In the afternoon we head south and reach an open-air museum. We will spend a night at the local hotel. (built in the traditional Bulgarian architectural style). The restaurant at the hotel offers Bulgarian national dishes and drinks.
At the open-air museum those interested can have a look at our old Bulgarian crafts and buy some typical Bulgarian souvenirs. Here we'll have one of the last opportunities in this trip to watch Dipper, Somber Tit, and more Woodpeckers. Packed lunch. Today our non-birder group heads inland and will visit an unique Thracian tomb. This is the biggest and most impressive Thracian tomb-temple in North Bulgaria, the only one having internal plastic decoration. In the central chamber there are 10 sculptural figures of caryatids who, with their raised hands support the vault. The area has been an important center fir the rulers of the Thracian tribe Gheti some 2500 years ago. Lunch at a roadside restaurant. Accommodation at the same hotel in the late afternoon. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Driving further west we reach Sofia where our tour will be over. For those who have a late afternoon or evening flight or will fly home the next day a visit to a Nature Park (close to Sofia) may be arranged. There we can finish our tour with watching Nutcracker, Crossbill, Coal Tit and, if we have indeed a good luck, also the Alpine Accentor. For the non-birding party there may be a visit to Sofia National Museum of History - the biggest treasure-house of historical records and artifacts (some dated more than 50 thousand years ago) which have been found in Bulgarian lands. There are hundreds of objects of scientific and artistic value from prehistoric, ancient and medieval times as well as from the time of the Bulgarian revival. There are exhibitions of works of the everyday life and material culture of one of the most ancient civilizations including the oldest hand-made golden articles dated at over 6000 years. In the show-cases one can look at the unique Thracian treasures from Rogosen - 165 pieces of silver vessels and other utensils, the similar one from Borovos, and the famous golden treasure from Panagiurishte. Includes: (B), (L).
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