Mammal Watching & Photography Tour in Bulgaria
This is a 7-day Golden Jackal & European Ground Squirrel Photography Tour where are our main focus will be on the Golden Jackal and threatened: European Ground Squirrel.
Both of these species survive in sustainable numbers within the borders of the country. Notably: Bulgaria maintains the largest Jackal population in Europe. Among these target species, we will also have the opportunity to observe, or photograph, other mammals common to the area such as; Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Wild Boar, Pine Marten, Stone Marten, and Badger - and if we are lucky to even the very rare Marbled Polecat.
Of approximately 180 species of mammal found that populate Europe: in Bulgaria, you will find over 100 of these, including numerous rare European examples.
During this Golden Jackal & European Ground Squirrel Photography Tour, we will be situated in a small but fruitful reserve surrounded by wild nature near the village of Vetren (North-Eastern Bulgaria). Vetren is located just a couple of hundred meters away from the mighty Danube River, and just a few kilometres from the highly important reserve of Lake Srebarna.
Srebarna itself now granted the protection of UNESCO as a unique ornithological world cultural and natural heritage site. This gives us another perfect opportunity, during the tour, to observe or take photos of some globally threatened species like the significant; Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck and Pygmy Cormorant - and a number of other rare and of course, more common birds.
If you'd like to try an alternative tour, take a look at this birdwatching one Birding Bulgaria Autumn Migration Tour
Landing at Bucharest airport (Romania) or Varna airport (Bulgaria) will be followed by transfer journey of 150 km approx. to the village of Vetren. Depending on the arrival time afforded to us we will take our first opportunity for observation and photography of the Golden Jackal. For observation of the Golden Jackal, we will use specially built permanent wooden hides. The hides are situated in front of known feeding sites also frequented by Roe Deer and Wild Boar. Observations from the Golden Jackal hides will take place twice daily: at the break of dawn at sunrise and thereafter: late afternoon.
We will have an early morning start to the day and head out towards the Jackal hides. We will spend around 3 hours there before coming back to base for breakfast. A short transfer journey then follows breakfast: a few kilometers only to the internationally important Lake Srebarna. Here we will search for such rarities as the; Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck, Pygmy Cormorant - and a number of other common and rarer birds such as: Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Purple, Squacco, Night Herons, Marsh Harrier, Penduline Tit , Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrow-Hawk, Goshawk and also Ruddy Shell-duck. The latter species breeds on the banks of the small dry inlets found around the lake. A late lunch follows and after a short break we will head out towards the Jackal hides for late afternoon observations.
Depending on ours success from the previous day, we will make an individual plan or we will have the same plan as per day 2
Over the next two days our efforts will focus mainly on the Golden Jackal and threatened European Ground Squirrel. Following the early morning photography session afforded to us at the Jackal hide, we will have a quick breakfast before then - heading to the nearby colony of European Ground Squirrel. Here we will use portable hides, or if circumstances are favorable, take photographs up close from outside the hides: sometimes these animals allow us to be as close as 2 meters away. During early afternoon we will head back to base for a late lunch and short break: returning to the Jackal hides again during late afternoon.
We will follow the same plan as per day 4 and we will spend more time there, where we had less success on the previous day.
Our day will start with morning Jackal photography before then visiting a couple of the most important ornithological sites in the area. First we will stop at Maluk Preslavets Marsh - which is just 20 kms away. Maluk Preslavets is an interesting place, not only for its rich bird diversity, but also for plant foliage as well.
The protected Marsh Malak Preslavets has the largest density of White Water Lily found in Bulgaria. Depending on the time of year we can observe: Squacco heron, Small and Great Egret, Gray Heron and Mute Swan – and even the Whiskered Tern can be seen here. Throughout the year: Met Cormorant, Western Marsh-harrier, Buteo, Montagu's Harrier, Common Blackbird, Falcon, Eurasian Coot, Ferruginous Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Garganey and Eurasian Bittern are common.
We will take a packed lunch for the day before continuing to a second important ornithological site with the name of: “Stenata” (The Wall). Here we find the biggest colony of European Bee-eater - usually more than 100 pairs. We can also use the opportunity for a late afternoon visit to see a European Souslik colony - before our last overnight stay of the tour.
Depending on your flight departure time/s we are more than happy to facilitate another early morning session at the Jackal hides - before your leave.
Wildlife species expected to see:
Mammal species: Golden jackal, European Ground Squirrel.
Additional possible mammal species: Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Wild Boar, Pine Marten, Stone Marten and Badger.
Very rarely: Marbled Polecat
Possible bird species & depending on the season: Golden Oriole, Bee-Eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Dalmatian and White Pelicans, Black and White Storks, Pygmy Cormorant, Ruddy Shelduck, Ferruginous Duck, all species of European Herons, Egrets and Bitterns (except the Cattle egret) Also, large birds of prey like Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Woodpeckers.
What is included?
- All the ground transport
- FB – full board with packed lunches, where is necessary
- Accommodation in hotels and guest houses
- English speaking professional guide
- Water when we are out in the fields
- All the taxes for reserves
- Airport pickup
- Airport drop-off
What is not included?
- Airfare to/from departure/landing airport
- Alcoholic drinks
- All the items of personal nature
- A single person supplement
- Anything else not mentioned in “What is included”
Pandion Wild Tours is the oldest Bulgarian company organizing wildlife holidays. We are state licensed tour operator with national license № PK-01-7122. We work as a ground agent for Bulgaria with one of the biggest European companies offering wildlife holidays. All our guides are professionals in their field with long year experience. We work in close relation with the local communities in every certain area of our tours in the country, our accommodation is mainly in small family hotels and guest houses thus contributing to the sustainable development of our wildlife tourism and contributing to the conservation of our biodiversity.
All walks during the tour are easy and of about 2 to 3 km per day.
In June: Daily temperatures are almost always above 20 C. During the period of the tour the weather is warm and steady, days are still quite long and rainfalls are far from being as frequent as in the spring. Temperatures sometimes reach 30C . In September: During September weather is steady and mostly warm to hot (20-27C) At end of September depressions occur very rarely and then temperatures fall down to 15 C
T-shirts and shorts rather than long trousers, It is advisable to have a pair of comfortable walking shoes and raincoats or jackets in case of rainfalls .It wouldn't be bad to take your sunglasses and even a hat.
Lenses: 400 to 600 mm lenses on full frame cameras. Best cameras: Full frame cameras with fast “frame per second” rate are preferable Teleconverters: 1.4x , 1.7x, 2x teleconverters could be very useful Do not forget: Tripods
As all the animals and birds around us are WILD, there isn’t any 100% guarantee that you will be able to make good photos or observations. The Golden Jackal is one of the most common animals in the area but their behavior is unpredictable. Toilet : A toilet is not provided in the area of the hides, please do not forget to use the toilet in your room before you leave for the hide.
Jackals are very common in the area, Bulgaria actually has the largest jackal population in Europe, and the biggest density of the animals is exactly in North-Eastern Bulgaria, but it should be noted that they are extremely wary animals. On our way to the hides and once inside we should try to be as silent as we can as they are even frightened by sounds that can not locate. Any noise could ruin the chance to see or photograph them. Entering the hide should be in complete silence. Do not forget to turn off your phone. Do not use any devices which emit light as this can be easily noted by the animals Talking should be only in a very low voice Smoking is strictly forbidden If the photographers are using the embrasures they should try to move their lenses very quietly and slowly while taking pictures. For a good success rate you must allow first any animals or birds to come closer to the bait and feel confident.
Yes, we had so far a lot of tourists with special dietary requirements. If we are told in advance there is no problem to organize your requirements.
Your guide will be waiting for your at your arrival airport for the tour.
If you choose to arrive in Bucharest airport, the border between Bulgaria and Romania will be crossed on your arrival and departure. Since both countries are members of the European Union, such a border crossing does not require any formalities but an ID card for the citizens of the EU. For citizens of countries outside the EU, requirements to enter and sojourn within the borders of EU shall be observed.
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