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Bulgaria Bird Watching Tour - 9 Days

Bulgaria Bird Watching Tour

Birding in Bulgaria in Search for Woodpeckers, Owls, Grouse & More

This 9-day Bulgaria bird watching tour gives you a great opportunity to see the nine (out of ten) resident species of woodpeckers occurring in Europe, plus some elusive species of owls and grouse, staying high in the wish-list of many birders.

Huddled in the south-eastern corner of the European continent, Bulgaria is little known to the foreign traveler. Yet, few countries can rival its scenic splendor and diverse nature. The landscape changes every 50 km to reveal alpine mountains, rivers with spectacular canyons, vast meadows and forests, wetlands, and coastal sand beaches. In this Bulgaria birding tour, the most valuable natural sites are preserved in 3 national parks and numerous wildlife and nature reserves.

On this bird watching Bulgaria tour, we explore four different mountain locations, including the Balkan Mountain - the longest chain on the Balkans that gives the peninsular its name.  Its core, the Central Balkan National Park hosts the largest protected European massif of beach forest, home to seven of all nine owls breeding in Bulgaria. The Rila, on the other hand, is the highest mountain on the Balkan peninsular. More than 200 lakes sparkle amidst the green alpine meadows and rocky screes, giving birth to some of the biggest rivers in the Balkans.

Quite different is the view in the western Rhodopes - rounded, pine-clad hills, occasionally cut by streams and rivers winding through deep gorges. One of them is the magnificent Trigrad Gorge - the realm of the Wallcreeper. On this Bulgaria bird watching tour, The three mountains provide refuge to the Brown Bear, the European Wolf, the European Wildcat, the Balkan Chamois and many other species of mammals and other wildlife.

Many traditional villages in these mountains are turned into open-air crafts and architecture museums, where one can feel what life used to be like a century or two ago. Medieval monasteries with magnificent murals and icons hide in the mountain recesses.

Bulgaria Bird Watching Tour Highlights include:

  • Opportunity to see the nine (out of ten) resident species of woodpeckers occurring in Europe;
  • Great chances to enjoy the elusive Rock Partridge, plus other species of grouse and owls, staying high in the wish-list of many birders;
  • Tour exploring mountain landscapes of exceptional natural beauty and biodiversity, including two of Bulgaria’s national parks;
  • Tour tailored to get the best out of the wildlife of each area;
  • Tasty local food and accommodation in cozy family-run hotels/ lodges.
Alternative Tour Name : Woodpeckers, Owls and Grouse Tour
Day 1
Day 1 - Arrival at Sofia Airport; One hour and a half transfer southeast to the northern part of the Rila Mountains

We begin this tour exploring the Rila Mountain. This is the highest mountain on the Balkan peninsula, boasting landscapes of exceptional natural beauty - towering peaks over 2500 m and fascinating alpine meadows dotted with glacial lakes, dense forests, spectacular rocky gorges and precipitous cliffs. During the first two days we will be checking the conifer forests for Eurasian Pygmy Owl and Tengmalm’s Owl and will be searching for the Hazel Grouse, as well as for the Black Woodpecker and the Grey-headed Woodpecker.

Day 2
Day 2 - Rila Mountains

Full day exploring the conifer forests of the Rila Mountains. We will continue searching for our target bird species. Other mountain birds that we may expect to see here include the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Nutcracker, Ring Ouzel (ssp. alpestris), Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Common Firecrest, Common Crossbill, Eurasian Siskin.

Day 3
Day 3 - Transfer to the area of Trigrad in the Western Rhodope Mountains

On the third day we move on to the area of the Western Rhodope Mountains. On the way we will check a few places for Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker (ssp. alpinus) and Eurasian Pygmy Owl.

Day 4
Day 4 - Easy day walks in conifer and deciduous forests

We will spend the day birding in the coniferous and deciduous forests of the Western Rhodopes, with good chances to see a Hazel Grouse, Grey-headed Woodpecker and Black Woodpecker. Other interesting birds we may expect to see here include the Wallcreeper, White-throated Dipper and Rock Bunting, plus Sombre Tit, Marsh Tit, Eurasian Bullfinch, etc

Day 5
Day 5 - Transfer to Central Balkan Mountains

Next we transfer to the Central Balkan Mountains with stops in the lowland deciduous forests and orchards, searching for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and European Green Woodpecker. While passing the settlements in the plains we will have excellent chances to observe the Syrian Woodpecker and Little Owl as well.

Day 6
Day 6 - The Central Balkan National Park

The Balkan Mountain Range crossing the whole territory of Bulgaria from west to east is characterized mainly with its extensive beech forests, mountain meadows and enormous rock formations. This site is one of the wildlife-richest parts of Bulgaria. This whole day we will explore the area of the Central Balkan National Park. Here our target species will be the White-backed Woodpecker (ssp. lilfordi). We can also expect to see here the Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. In the evening we will visit some of the beech forests in the area, where we have good chances to find the Tawny Owl.

Day 7
Day 7 - Transfer to Western Balkan Mountains

Moving on to the Western Balkan Mountains (to the north of Sofia), we will be searching for Eurasian Eagle Owl and different species of woodpeckers, concentrating on those ones which we have missed or not seen well in the previous days

Day 8
Day 8 - Full day in the Western Balkan Mountains

For the last two days we will be based in the vicinity of Sofia. We will spend a full day in the Western Balkan Mountains searching for Rock Partridge and again, we will try to find those species of birds, which we have missed or not seen well in the previous days. Some of the species of birds likely to be seen here include the White-backed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Alpine Chough, Golden Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Sombre Tit, Rock Bunting and Cirl Bunting.

Day 9
Day 9 - Departure

If we have time before departure we may visit some other birding sites in the vicinity of Sofia.

Wildlife Species Expected to see: 

During the tour our targets will be the Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Tengmalm’s Owl, Tawny Owl and Eurasian Eagle Owl, we will be searching  for the Hazel Grouse and Rock Partrige, as well as for the Black Woodpecker,  White-backed Woodpecker, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker (ssp. alpinus), Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker , Grey-headed Woodpecker. Other mountain species that we may expect to see include the Wallcreeper, Spotted Nutcracker, Alpine Chough, Golden Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Ring Ouzel (ssp. alpestris), Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Common Firecrest, Common Crossbill, Eurasian Siskin, , Sombre Tit, Rock Bunting, etc

What is included?

  • All accommodation or lodgings based on double occupancy
  • Single occupancy available for an additional cost
  • Professional English speaking guide
  • Local transfers and all ground transport throughout the tour
  • Entrance fees to all National Parks, Nature Reserves or use of Hides where applicable
  • All meals
  • Water throughout the tour
  • All activities as specified within the tour itinerary
  • Personalised checklists
  • All Applicable Taxes

What is not included?

  • All international or domestic airfares
  • Visa Fees (if applicable)
  • Travel & medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
  • Airport departure taxes or visa fees
  • Items of personal nature (incl. binoculars and telescopes), although the guide always has a telescope at the clients' disposal
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Laundry & telephone Charges
  • Optional tour extensions
  • Tips & gratuities
  • Alcoholic beverages or bottled drinks
  • Anything else not mentioned in “What is included”

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Join Our Fixed Tour Starting Date

Tour Dates Tour Availability From Price Spaces Left
15/10/2022 - 23/10/2022 guaranteed EUR 1,120
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29/10/2022 - 06/11/2022 guaranteed EUR 1,120
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9 Days

Price & Availability

EUR1,120 / per person
Single supplement EUR 130
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
Refer to Group Discount Terms
This tour is operated by: Neophron Tours Ltd

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Tour Facts

  • March - April & October - November
  • Moderate
  • Set Departure
  • 2 to 6 pax
  • Bulgaria
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 9 days, 8 nights
  • + 15 years
  • No
  • English
  • Sofia
  • Sofia