Overview

Search for all 22 breeding raptors in Bulgaria, plus watch flocks of storks, pelicans and raptors following the Black Sea coastal flyway, while helping to conserve Bulgaria’s populations of rare and endangered bird species

Black Kite by Dimiter Georgiev.

Highlights

  • Excellent chances to see all the 22 breeding raptors in Bulgaria;
  • Exceptional biodiversity, concentrated in a small area;
  • Endless flocks of storks, pelicans and raptors following the Black Sea coastal flyway;
  • Beautiful scenery and fascinating landscapes;
  • Small groups, experienced and dedicated tour guides

Overview

On this 8-day tour you have excellent chances to see all the 22 breeding raptors in Bulgaria, plus several passing, non-breeding and vagrant species, including: Eurasian Black Vulture, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Saker Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard, European Honey Buzzard, Montagu’s Harrier, Red-footed Falcon and Levant Sparrowhawk.

Egyptian Vultures by Dimiter Georgiev.

About Our Partner

Conservation Careers has teamed up with one of the major tour operators in Bulgaria for travelers who come for specialised wildlife holidays. Run by experts with long experience in this type of tours, the company has built up a reputation for the quality of services offered.

One of their ultimate goals has always been to raise funds to help wildlife conservation in the different areas they visit during their tours in Bulgaria. Thanks to funds generated through their tours and the support of their tour participants, they have launched a special Wildlife Conservation Fund to help conserve the national populations of a number of rare and endangered species of birds, such as the breeding Egyptian Vulture and Griffon Vulture in the Eastern Rhodopes, the Eastern Imperial Eagle in the Sakar Hills, the Semi-collared Flycatcher in the oak forests of the Eastern Balkan Range, the wintering Red-breasted Goose in the Coastal Dobroudzha, and many others.

They also help local Bulgarian NGOs, and the Wildllife Conservation Society (WCS) in particular, in their crucial work for preservation of different biodiversity rich areas in Bulgaria and saving those areas from deterioration. Under WCS proposals several new protected areas have been declared and many others have been saved from destruction. By simply joining one of their tours, you will contribute to their conservation efforts, as much of their Wildlife Conservation Fund is generated through them.

If you register your interest below, we’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!

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Outline itinerary

Day 1
Transfer to the Eastern Rhodopes with a stop at the Pazardzhik Hills;

Day 2
A whole day in the Eastern Rhodopes;

Day 3
Morning – Eastern Rhodopes;
Afternoon – Transfer to the Sakar Hills;

Day 4
We spend most of the day in the Sakar Hills;

Day 5
Transfer to the Southern Black Sea coast with stops for birding between the Sakar and the Western Strandzha Mnts.

Day 6
Birding in the wetlands around Bourgas;

Day 7
Transfer to the Central Balkan Mountains with some stops for birding;

Day 8
Morning – birdwatching in the Central Balkan Mountains;
Afternoon – 2 hours transfer to Sofia, where we will finish the tour

Long-legged Buzzard by Mladen Vasilev.

Itinerary

We start from Sofia and our first destination on this tour is the Eastern Rhodope mountain, famous for its exceptional biodiversity, concentrated in a small area. The diversity of birds of prey here is amazing – 36 species of the 39 recorded in Europe. However, the most spectacular feature of the region is the colony of Eurasian Griffon Vultures, inhabiting the crater of an ancient volcano. Eurasian Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle and Eastern Imperial Eagle are also frequent visitors of the feeding tables.

We will spend a day and a half in the Eastern Rhodopes, including one morning at the main vulture feeding place in the area. Main birds to be seen here: Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Common Kestrel, Black Stork, Chukar, Eurasian Scops Owl, Pallid Swift, Sombre Tit, Black-eared Wheatear (ssp. melanoleuca), Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Western Rock Nuthatch, Ortolan Bunting, Black-headed Bunting, etc.

Egyptian Vultures by Viktor Vasilev.

Next come the Sakar Hills – the stronghold of the Eastern Imperial Eagle population in Bulgaria. The Sakar is a low mountain covered with broad-leaved forests and steppe-like grassland with scattered trees, bushes and agricultural land. Some of the rivers form steep valleys with beautiful cliffs. Most of the known Eastern Imperial Eagle nests in the country are here. In the Sakar Hills we will be looking for the Eastern Imperial Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Long-legged Buzzard, Masked Shrike, Olive-tree Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler, European Roller, European Bee-eater, Ortolan Bunting, Black-headed Bunting. In the foot of the Sakar Hills we will visit one of our best sites for observing the Levant Sparrowhawk.

Our tour continues with a drive to the Southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast with stops in the agriculture lands between the Sakar and the Western Strandzha Mnts., where the Montague’s Harrier regularly breeds.

In the next two days we will explore the Bourgas wetlands and the surrounding forests, shrub and grasslands areas. The city of Bourgas lies at the centre of a complex of extensive wetlands that form one of Europe’s richest bird areas. The numbers of soaring birds following the Black Sea coastal flyway in spring and autumn can rival those at the Bosphorus or Gibraltar – endless flocks of thousands of storks, pelicans and raptors pass overhead.

Key bird species to be seen here: White-tailed Eagle, European Honey Buzzard, Western Marsh Harrier, White Pelican,  Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Collared Pratincole, Black Tern,  Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Eurasian Penduline Tit, etc.

While in the area of Bourgas we have some chances to observe the Red-footed Falcon.

Then we transfer to the Central Balkan Mountains with some stops on the way for birding and lunch. The Balkan Mountains range, that crosses the whole territory of Bulgaria from west to east, is characterized mainly with its extensive beech and conifer forests, mountain meadows and enormous rock formations. This site is one of the wildlife-richest parts of Bulgaria. The birds we expect to see there include: Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Water Pipit, Ring Ouzel (ssp. alpestris), Whinchat, Bullfinch, etc.

Transfer to Sofia and end of tour.

Levant Sparrowhawk by Mladen Vasilev.

Tour details

Best Time: May – mid-July
Duration: 8 days
Grading: easy

Tour prices per person

2-3 persons: € 990

4-8 persons: € 780

Single room supplement: € 100

Prices for bigger groups – to be agreed;

The prices include: transfers from and to Sofia Airport, transport with a spacey vehicle, accommodation in  en-suite double / twin room in middle-standard hotels/lodges, all meals, guiding, entrance fees in the protected sites.

The tour prices excludes flights and travel insurance.

COVID-19 policy and safety

Our partner is very flexible and accepts last minute bookings and fully refunds clients if they are unable to come due to COVID-19 (for instance if they test positive right before the trip or are unable to travel for other COVID-related reasons).

As of April 2021, people from 58 countries may travel to Bulgaria for tourism with a negative PCR test and Bulgaria is a destination with a Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council.

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