Bulgaria – spring on the Black Sea coast

Spectacular displays of spring flowers, with bird migration at its peak along the Via Pontica.

This trip will take in some of the highlights of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, an area amazingly rich in wildlife. In the south we will take in the lakes and wetlands around Bourgas. Here we will find many wetland birds, including Squacco Heron, White and Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant and Spoonbill. Northbound migrants should include all three marsh terns in smart breeding colours; Red-footed Falcon, Honey Buzzard and Lesser Spotted Eagle, sometimes in large flocks; both White and Black Stork; and a variety of waders heading up to the wetlands of Scandinavia, Poland and Russia.

 

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This corner of Bulgaria is amongst the richest areas in Europe for reptiles and amphibians, and we will be joined by a local expert to help us track down some of the area’s specialities, perhaps including the beautiful Leopard Snake or Reddish Whip Snake and two species of tortoise. Heading north we will spend time on the flower-rich steppe around Cape Kaliakra, where a staggering 450 species of plants include splashes of red Paeonia tenuifolia, yellow Adonis vernalis, and carpets of abundant dwarf irises in a range of shades of purple and yellow. In this area we have a better chance than almost anywhere in Europe of catching sight of a Wild Cat.

This area is famous for several breeding birds with very restricted ranges in Europe, and we hope to find Pied Wheatear, Paddyfield Warbler, Levant Sparrowhawk Sombre Tit and Semi-collared Flycatcher all on their breeding territories.

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Wildlife Travel Bulgaria spring 2015

Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.

Dates

25 April – 2 May 2017

Leader

Laurie Jackson with local guides

Price

£1,545
Single Room Supplement – £95

Included

Return flights from UK. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary. Seven nights’ accommodation, full board basis.

Not included

Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

This holiday is suitable for anyone with an all round interest in natural history. Spring flowers and a great range of birds may be among the main focus, but we also hope to find some interesting mammals and herptiles, with plenty of Balkan specialities promised. We will be visiting some interesting archaeological sites and learning something of the history of this interesting country.

Day 1 – Our flight takes us to Bourgas on the Black Sea coast from where we transfer to our hotel.

Day 2 – We will spend our first day around the internationally important wetlands in the Bourgas area, home to both European species of pelican, as well as a variety of herons, waders and wildfowl.

Day 3 – We will be joined by an expert Bulgarian herpetologist, who will help us to track down some of the special reptiles and amphibians of the area; Reddish Whip Snake, Blotched Snake, Leopard Snake, Meadow Lizard and Eastern Slow Worm are all possible, as well as two species of tortoise and European Glass Lizard.

Day 4 – We travel north towards Varna, stopping en-route in the forested foothills of the Eastern Balkan Range. The woods are home to Wild Boar, Red Squirrel and several species of woodpecker, and north-bound, passing migrants are funneled into the passes over the mountains.

Day 5 – We explore Cape Kaliakra and the nearby coastal steppe; an area famous for its displays of wildflowers. The area is also home to a healthy population of both Golden Jackal and Wild Cat… fingers crossed!

Day 6 – We travel to Lake Durankulak; one of the few places in Europe where Paddyfield Warbler breeds and we hope to track down this charismatic bird, alongside a cacophony of Savi’s and Great Reed Warblers and Marsh Frogs. Migration should be in full swing, with flocks of White-winged Black Tern, Whiskered Tern and Little Gull feeding over the reeds.

Day 7 – We start the day at Lake Shabla, where Ferruginous Duck, Squacco Heron and Ruddy Shelduck may be amongst the highlights. From here, we go on to visit the archaeological reserve of Yailata, a mysterious clifftop site with more than 100 troglodyte dwellings from the 5th century BC, and home to many wildflowers, including several local endemics.

Day 8 – Today we head back to Bourgas, where we may visit more of the wetlands before we head to the airport and our flights home.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.

Our accommodation will be at good three-star local hotels, all with en-suite accommodation.

Meals provided during the stay will be a mixture of Balkan and International dishes, with an emphasis on local cuisine and plenty of salads. Requests for special diets can be accommodated.

Transport will be by small bus, minibus or smaller vehicles if necessary.

 

The group flights are with Wizz Air from London Luton.

25 April depart London Luton 08.10, arrive Bourgas 13.35
2 May depart Bourgas 14.05, arrive London Luton 15.50

Bulgaria is two hours ahead of UK time.

If you hold a UK passport, you do not currently need a visa to travel to Bulgaria. If you do not have a UK passport, please check with your local consulate.

The weather in Bulgaria should be pleasantly warm, even hot: rain is always a possibility, as is cooler weather, particularly in the evenings and on the coast.

On most days, we are out and about for much of the day, albeit walking a relatively slow pace and making several stops each day. It is necessary to walk on rougher ground and up some slopes, although none of the walking is strenuous. Walking boots are essential. There are steps at our hotels, often with no lift, as well as up/down into the vehicles.