Bulgaria: Highlights of the Rhodope Mountains

Discover the Rhodope Mountains’ highlights in this 4 day experience that will take you to watch amazing wildlife, kayak through pristine lakes, hike across green forests and meadows and discover an undiscovered side of Bulgaria. 

 

The Rhodope Mountains have a huge variety in species and habitats, and have become one of the bird watching hotspots in Europe. They are home to not only amazing birdlife but also to wolves and bears as well.  This natural hotspot is a  great destination for hiking, biking and kayaking. 

In this four day experience you will get to see the highlights of this natural paradise by kayaking, hiking, bird watching and staying at local accommodations where you will enjoy local Bulgarian cuisine. 

You will be staying two nights at Mihaela’s Lake House,  an environmentally friendly accommodation in the heart of Eastern Rhodope Mountains. The remaining night you will stay at the Wild Farm- a sustainable concept that works as a farm and guesthouse- and enjoy farm to table local dishes.

Kayaking, hiking and bird watching in the Rhodopes

DAY TO DAY PROGRAM 

Day 1 – Arrival at Mihaela's Lake House, overnight and dinner.

This house is located in the Studen kladenets area - an important area for the protection of rare birds, but also mammals & reptiles.

Day 2 – Breakfast. Kayaking & bird watching in Studen kladenets lake. A great combination of outdoor activity & enjoying nature. Blue lake waters surrounded by picturesque shores and rich flora that welcome you to jump into the kayak.

Rare birds like griffon vulture and black stork roam in the sky. Many herons and cormorants also share this lake adventure. We arrive on the shores of a small island where the Follow deer is the host - dozens of them live freely on the island and give birth to their babies here. This is a land of absolute peace, managed by nature itself.  

A small chapel with 300 hundred years old trees and spectacular views will add a special emotion to this kayaking venture. In the afternoon you’ll go  hiking in the area of Yumruk skala. Second night & dinner at Mihaela’s lake retreat.

Day 3 – Early wake-up to visit the wildlife hide nearby the town of Madzharovo (1 hour driving to the beginning of the forest road, then 20 min more off road). 

Feeding for the birds of prey is preliminary organized and they will be expected to show up in the morning. Some species that you can see are: Griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, Black vulture, White-tailed eagle, raven, Black Kite, jackal, fox & wolf.

Around lunch time we will visit the Madzharovo vulture center (1 hour transfer back from the hide to Madzharovo) which is a Bird Life international center. Lunch is organized in a beautiful garden surrounded by oak forest where Spanisch sparrows, Sombre tit and Eastern Bonelli’s warbler live. Accommodation & dinner at the Wild farm (8km) in the village of Gorno pole. 

Day 4 – Breakfast & departure. 


TRIP DETAILS

  • Days: 4 days/ 3 nights
  • When: April - October
  • Accomodation: Mihaela’s Lake Retreat and The Wild Farm
  • Guide: Mihaela Kircheva
  • How to get there: You can fly or train into Sofia. The Student Kladenet and Madzarohvo areas are about 3hrs drive from Sofia.
  • Languages: Bulgarian, English

PRICES

  • 1 person: €540,- pp
  • 2-3 people: €420,- pp
  • 4-5 people: €370,- pp
  • 6-7 people: €340,- pp
  • It is also possible to book this tour with a car and driver/guide included.
    • Price for 2-3 people: €690,- pp
    • Price for 4-5 people: €570,- pp

The prices include:  3 overnights: bed and breakfast.  3 dinners. Half a day kayaking tour – rental of the equipment and professional instructor included. Self guided map for the hiking to Yumruk skala.  Vultures feeding and rent the hide at Madzharovo, plus 4x4 off road car included.  5% rewilding levy

Excluded from the prices listed above: Flights/train to Bulgaria and back. Rental car, fuel, transfers to Eastern Rhodopes. Personal expenses. Insurance. Guiding, this tour is self guided. Note: you can also book this tour with a car, driver and guide.

What to bring: We recommend you to dress in layers. Hiking shoes, sun hat, water bottle, daypack, long pants, hat and wool gloves, jacket, raincoat or poncho, sun protection cream, non smelling mosquito/tick repellent and camp shoes (sandals). Binoculars, personal toiletries/medicines and a sense of adventure!


OUR RESPONSIBILITY

Rewilding Europe Levy: 5% of your booking sum goes to the local Rewilding Europe organization.  

Restoring food chains: Vultures are perhaps the most iconic examples of European scavengers; the sight of these majestic birds soaring overhead on thermals or feeding at a carcass can be truly captivating.

Thanks to reintroductions and species protection, threatened European vulture populations are slowly but steadily recovering.

 

Restoring natural food chains in the Rhodope Mountains is a flagship project of Rewilding Europe, supported by the European Commission through the LIFE project “Conservation of black and griffon vultures in the cross-border Rhodope mountains”.

Boosting biodiversity through mosaic landscape creation: Together with partners, Rewilding Europe is creating space for natural processes like forest regeneration, free flowing rivers, herbivory and carnivory to impact ecosystems. Across the continent, the interaction of these processes leads to constantly evolving landscapes rather than fixed habitats – this dynamic is the key to preserving Europe’s rich biodiversity.

Restoring Balkan steppe habitat: Natural grazing is also a tool to increase the populations of the endangered souslik (or European ground squirrel). This keystone species benefits globally threatened species like the Eastern Imperial eagle, Saker falcon and the Marbled polecat, which all prey on the squirrel. 

Read more about our work in the Rhodope Mountains here

Meet Mihaela

Mihaela has the vision to establish the brand of the Eastern Rhodope region as a tourist destination for eco-tourism with distinctive character and personality.

She emphasises the importance of working together, of forming partnerships and joining efforts with other businesses with the same motivation and purpose to achieve these ambitious objectives.

Mihaela has a bachelor in tourism management, is a digital marketing specialist and advisor for tourism entrepreneurs. With more than 20 years experience in the tourism filed, Mihaela is an inspiring example of how people can turn hobbies and passions into a successful business.

Mihaela Haty

Mihaela's Lake House

OUR LOCAL PARTNER

Meet Umberto

Umberto Esposito was born in 1982 and took up the interest in photography when he was just a kid.

After finishing his studies he started his career as nature guide, working between Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, thus merging two big passions in his profession: nature and photography.

The experience he had at the end of the nineties when he encountered his first bears, and the emotion that the first images he made evoked, drove him to what is nowadays his profession.

In 2009 he started Wildlife Adventures, a company engaged in spreading the emotions he had as a youngster to those who visit the mountains of the Central Apennines.

He is a hiking instructor registered with the Alpine Guides of the Abruzzo region and also a nature photographer. He is convinced that the environment has a very important role for people and for society and he works every day on this principles.

He is an author of various education and environmental communication projects and regularly works together with the local authorities and various NGOs.

He is co-author of Forest Beat a multimedia projects of photography, focused on the ancient Apennine beech forests and he has published articles and images on various magazines.

"It would be fitting, I think, if among the last man made tracks on earth would be found the footprints of the great brown bear"

Earl Fleming

Umberto Esposito
Wildlife Adventures,Italy