Bulgaria: Seven days in the Rhodope Mountains

An incredible seven day adventure in the heart of the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. This birders paradise is home to some of the most interesting birds of prey in Europe as well as beautiful blue water lakes, dreamy meadows and magical forests.

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

In this seven days tour  you will discover the unique wilderness of the Eastern Rhodope Mountains, combined with outdoor activities and traditional food. Enjoy a great mixture of guided activities as you explore this magical region with your personal guide. Days are filled with hiking, kayaking, bird watching and wildlife photography.

 

 

Hiking, bird watching and kayaking in the Rhodopes

DAY TO DAY PROGRAM 

Day  1 - Arrival in Madzharovo in the Eastern Rhodope mountains where the accommodation will take place for the next three days. You will be staying at the Wild farm which is a special organic farm, combining farming and operating as a guest house. Dinner will be consisting of  self produced food and traditional recipes. 

Day 2 – Early wake-up to visit the wildlife hide where you can feed birds of prey. Some species that can be seen from the hide are Griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, Black vulture, White-tailed eagle, raven, Black Kite, jackal, fox & wolf.

Around lunch time: visit the Madzharovo vulture center 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.  In the afternoon – short walking tour (3 km) to the impressive rocky cliffs to “Patronka” nature site for bird watching. Dinner and overnight at Wild Farm.

Day 3 - Momina skala hiking tour (Madzharovo area) - all day (6 hours walking). This area is one of the most impressive wildlife territories in the Eastern Rhodope mountains. It has a beautiful landscape with various elements like rock complexes, precipices, forests, and pastures. It is rich in rare species including Orchids , and Land tortoises. The density of birds is very high. Free ranging herds of autochthonous short-horned cattle and local horses can also be seen. Thracian rock monuments together with massive rock fragments can be seen our way.  

Day 4 - Kayaking & bird watching in Studen Kladenets lake. Morning travel 40 min by car to reach a beautiful blue lake water surrounded by picturesque shores and rich flora which welcomes you to jump into the kayak. Lake kayaking gives you the opportunity to admire nature from a completely different perspective. 

Rare birds like griffon vulture and black stork roam in the sky.  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. A small waterfall and short hike tour in nice broadleaved mixed forest complete the tour making it an amazing experience. Dinners and overnight stays for the next three days are at Mihaela Lake Retreat.

Day 5 – Hiking in Studen kladenets reserve – all day – it is a wild territory located on the Southern bank of the lake. We reach it by motor boat.

The walking safari includes chances to observe these key species: Birds of prey, Black stork, Chukar, Golden eagle, Imperial eagle, Raven, White tailed eagle, Land Tortoises, lizards, fox, Red & Fallow deer, European bison. 

Day 6 - Hiking in the area of Yumruk skala (Fist rock) – it is a protected area situated on the Northern bank of the lake Studen kladenets on a walking distance from the lake retreat.

The tour combines walking in mixed broadleaved forest with Mediterranean grass including hairy rockrose (cistus incanus), open meadows, and single cliffs together with bird watching of flying Griffon vulture, Black Stork, and Peregrine Falcon. 

Day 7 - Travel back to Sofia for your departure flight or train. 


TRIP DETAILS

 

  • Days: 7 days/ 6 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 Madzharovo areas are about 3hrs drive from Sofia.
  • Languages: Bulgarian, English

PRICES

  • 2-3 people: €1240,- pp
  • 4-5 people: €1020,- pp
  • Single room supplement: €60,- pp

The prices include:  6 overnights: bed and breakfast. 6 dinners. 6 lunches / package / picnics. Vultures feeding and renting the hide at Madzharovo. Kayaking tour – rental of the equipment and professional instructor included. Transfer by boat to Studen kladenets reserve and back. Bulgarian wildlife guide, fluent in English –meet the guide in Madzharovo and say “good-bye” at the Lake retreat. 5% rewilding levy.

Excluded from the prices listed above: Flights to Bulgaria and back. Rental car. Personal expenses. Insurance.

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

CONTACT OUR SAFARI EXPERT


Aukje Van Gerven

OUR LOCAL PARTNER

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