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Bulgaria in Autumn

Tour Code: BGR02

A 9-day tour in search of the resident and migrant birds of the Rhodope Mountains and Black Sea Coast.

9 days from £1495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1245 SRS: £195

Each autumn huge numbers of raptors, waders, warblers and other migrant birds follow the Black Sea coast south through Romania and Bulgaria towards their wintering grounds. This region is one of Europe’s migration hotspots and the focus for this mid-September tour. From Sofia we spend 2 nights in the beautiful Rhodope Mountains, home to Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture and Rock Nuthatch. Heading east to the Black Sea we split our remaining 6 nights between Burgas and Kavana, whilst we explore Lakes Durankulak, Mandra and Atanasovsko, the Kaliakra Headland, Goritz Hills and other key birding sites. Species to look out for include Dalmatian Pelican, Marsh Sandpiper, Levant Sparrowhawk, Masked Shrike, Isabelline Wheatear and many many more!

  • Visit one of Europe’s migration hotspots
  • Beautiful mountain & coastal scenery
  • Vultures & raptors at Studen Kladenats
  • Coastal migrants on the Kaliakra Headland
  • Wader-rich saltpans near Burgas
  • Around 180 species typically recorded
  • Masked Shrike, Rock Nuthatch & Imperial Eagle amongst highlights
  • Expert guidance by Naturetrek ornithologist & local guides


All included in the price.


Simple but comfortable hotels with private facilities throughout.

Black Stork (David Morris)

Black Stork (David Morris)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Sofia and transfer to Krumovgrad

Day 2 Krumovgrad

Day 3/5 Pomorie

Day 6/7 Kavarna

Day 8 Sofia

Day 9 Fly London

Red-backed Shrike (Tom McJannet)

Bulgaria remains one of the most under-visited corners of Europe and yet its broad range of habitats and geographical position mean that it supports a very diverse and exciting range of both breeding and migratory bird species. The western shore of the Black Sea naturally acts as a major migration corridor and our tour is timed to witness the peak passage of huge numbers of raptors, storks, pelicans, waders and other species that pass south along the Bulgarian coast at this time of year. In the course of an action-packed week, we will explore the meadows and gorges of the Rhodope Mountains before travelling across country to the extensive coastal wetlands around Pomorie, the woodlands of the Goritza Hills, the cliff-bound headlands near Kavarna and the lakes around Durankulak close to the Romanian border. In addition to providing a broad introduction to the dramatic scenery and diverse culture of Bulgaria, the week should also bring us into contact with an excellent range of exciting bird species, including some real east European specialities and all, hopefully, in warm autumn sunshine!

Our holiday begins in the rugged Rhodope Mountains, where we will be based in the small town of Krumovgrad in the wooded Arda River Valley. The Rhodope Mountains are justly famous for their impressive raptor populations and in the ancient, volcanic landscape of jagged peaks, towering cliffs and sparsely vegetated boulder-strewn slopes, we will look for such spectacular species as Golden, Eastern Imperial and Short-toed Eagles, Black, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Long-legged Buzzard, and Saker and Peregrine Falcons. Black Storks are common here too, and small birds include Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush, Sombre Tit and the elusive Chukar.

Transferring north-eastwards to Pomorie on the Black Sea Coast, we will pass close to the meeting place of the borders of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. This interesting drive will take us across wooded hills, fertile valleys and stony plains and we can hope to see passage raptors such as Lesser Spotted and Booted Eagles, Honey and Steppe Buzzards, Montagu’s Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk and both Red-footed Falcon and Hobby. We should also look out for Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Bee-eaters and perhaps a late Roller or two on the roadside wires, together with migrant larks and wheatears in the more open areas.

At Pomorie we will explore the extensive wetlands nearby. Between the saline Lake Atanasovsko, with its surrounding saltpans, and the reed-fringed Lake Mandra, with its water meadows and adjacent wooded hills, we can expect to encounter a huge range of birds. Highlights may well include both White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorant, Black Stork, Great Egret, Squacco, Purple and Night Herons, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Ruddy Shelduck, Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gulls, Gull-billed Tern and almost any European wader. Amongst the commoner raptors passing through, we will need to keep an eye open for scarcer species such as Spotted Eagle and Pallid Harrier, whilst on the ground we are likely to encounter large numbers of migrant wagtails, pipits and larks.

Leaving Pomorie behind, we will travel north to Kavarna, passing the quaint old Byzantine port of Nesebar, with its numerous churches and ruins, and stopping in the wooded Goritza Hills where Black, Middle Spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers all occur and where we might also find a Short-toed Treecreeper or a late migrant Red-breasted or Semi-collared Flycatcher. From Kavarna we will explore the dramatic cliff-bound headland of Kaliakra with its spectacularly positioned castle. On the dry, open, stony steppe-land here we can expect to find Calandra Lark, Stone Curlew and a range of migrants including Bee-eaters, Pied and Isabelline Wheatears, more raptors and various larks, pipits, shrikes and buntings.

Further north still is the shallow, reed-fringed Durankulak Lake where we will spend our last full day. With its reputation for the rare and unusual, we are unlikely to be disappointed. Large numbers of birds are likely to be present here and may well include Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck and Caspian Tern, plus Paddyfield, Savi's, River, Marsh and Moustached Warblers in the fringing reedbeds and scrub. We end the holiday with a flight from Varna back to Sofia and a morning exploring the pine forests of the Vitosha Mountain National Park on the edge of the city. Here we will be searching for Nutcracker, Crossbill and Black Redstart before retracing our steps back to the capital to catch our return flight home.

Poroy Woodland (David Morris)Pomorie Saltpans (David Morris)Bulgarian horse and cart (David Morris)Naturetrek group watching Grey-headed Woodpecker in Goritza Woodland (Assen Ignatov)Turnstone (David Morris)Black Stork (David Morris)Lesser Spotted Eagle (David Morris)Slender-billed Gull (David Morris)Northern Wheatear (David Morris)Spanish Sparrows (David Morris)Birding at Pomorie (David Morris)Large Whip Snake (David Morris)Corn Bunting (David Morris)Squaco Heron (David Morris)Mount Vitosha (David Morris)Yellow-legged Gull (David Morris)Hummingbird Hawkmoth (David Morris)Marsh Frog (David Morris)Eagle Owl (David Morris)Black Sea (David Morris)(David Morris)Grayling (David Morris)Eagle Owl watching (David Morris)Bearded Tit (David Morris)Lake Mandra (David Morris)Isabelline WheatearKaliakra CastleNaturetrek Group at VitoshaRinging demoSwallowtailPelican Birding Lodge restaurantPelican Birding LodgePelican Birding LodgeGolden JackalPelican Birding Lodge
Washington, USA
The tour leaders and driver were the reason this tour was so successful! They were unfailingly patient, knowledgeable and energetic. They knew their birds and helped us constantly. I enjoyed the fact it was low key and not terribly intense and it was fun. We laughed a lot!
Tyne & Wear
Richard was outstanding - very knowledgeable, very patient and helpful with us as beginners, good humoured, well-organised - the perfect leader!
This was a superb trip - a good balance of knowledge within the group. Informative and interesting guides. Great birds. Plenty of laughter. Geoff Carr was knowledgeable, friendly and great fun. I shall soon be on the phone to you to book our next trip!
Leaders worked well together, providing expert knowledge and guidance. Birds - wonderful! Group size and mix was superb - lots of laughs and chat. I really enjoyed every aspect of this trip and would consider revisiting again.
F. & P.W.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first Naturetrek holiday. We cannot fault your excellent arrangements.
The trip was thoroughly enjoyable and the guides, Geoff and Christine Carr, were excellent - both from the skill point of view and good company as well. Our local guide, Nikolay, was first class and, all in all, everything was totally enjoyable.
Wouldn't have missed this holiday - it was great!

I would like to express my thanks to Paul Stanbury for his arrangements for my extension...I had a wonderful time.
G. & J. H.
Many thanks to Andy for his excellent leadership and vast knowledge of not only birds but mammals, reptiles, butterflies, plants and every creepie crawlie!
East Yorkshire
Cliff Waller is a lovely chap with an impressive record in achievements in the wildlife field.
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Sat 8th September 2018 - Sun 16th September 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1245 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Sat 7th September 2019 - Sun 15th September 2019



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1245 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Bulgaria

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Paul Stanbury
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01962 733051

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Tour Reviews

The tour leaders and driver were the reason this tour was so successful! They were unfailingly patient, knowledgeable and energetic. They knew their birds and helped us constantly. I enjoyed the fact it was low key and not terribly intense and it was fun. We laughed a lot!
M.M., Washington, USA