A biodiversity hotspot where Europe meets Asia
The Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria are a birders’ paradise. It is the only breeding area in the country for griffon vultures, the most important breeding site for the globally threatened Egyptian vulture on the Balkan peninsula and rare black vultures can also be seen circling overhead.
This is a trip for those specially interested in birds. The trip is designed so that you might see a high number of species and find some high mountain and Eastern European specialities. Such species to include wallcreeper, masked shrike, sombre tit, and imperial eagle. It takes you not only to the Eastern Rhodopes …
This is a trip focused on the eastern part of the Rhodope Mountains. It is for those with more general interest in nature. You will discover the wildlife of the Rhodopes from land tortoises to vultures. The highlights include majestic eagles and vultures. You will have the opportunity to experience the unique local atmosphere, find …
What to see
It is hard to explain the appeal of the natural and cultural landscape of Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria. To understand it, one needs to experience its wild wonders first-hand. One thing should be acknowledged – once you visit the area, you are bound to return. Situated at the edge of Europe its wildlife treasures have so far remained hidden and outside of top nature travel destination. Taking off on a short trip in the area can easily lead to a fascinating journey full of nature explorations and rare wildlife encounters. In the Rhodopes you can get the unique chance to reconnect with nature and wildlife with relatively small, even negligible human disturbance. What is also typical for the Rhodopes is the tranquil living style of local inhabitants. The hospitality and warmth of the native people can make everyone feel more like a friend rather than a tourist.
Located at the ecological crossroads between Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean region, the Rhodope Mountains have a rich variety of habitats and species. Rolling hills and wide valleys, beech and oak forests, patches of agriculture land and pastures dominate the landscape. Due to millennia of pastoralism, the area is a hotspot for birds of prey and a breeding haven for more than 70% of all European species. The long list includes Griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, Lesser spotted eagle, Golden eagle, Short toed eagle, Booted eagle and Levant sparrow hawk. Furthermore, the area is also a paradise for herpetologists. No place in Europe has a better variety of lizards, snakes, turtles and tortoises. Madzharovo and Ivaylovgrad in Eastern Rhodopes are orchid lovers’ paradise, offering over 26 species of these beautiful flowers, with some listed in the Red Book of Bulgaria and only found there.
The Eastern Rhodopes are probably one of the few areas in Europe where great numbers of fallow deer are living together with large predators such as wolf and golden jackal. Throughout the year, one can find herds of wild Konik and Karakachan horses, playing their role in maintaining the unique mosaic landscape. Several hides in the area provide an excellent base for wildlife watching, nature photography and wilderness experience. The brown bear has begun to recolonize the eastern part of the Rhodopes while in the western part bear watching is already becoming an exciting wildlife experience with some 200 bears living in the area.
In short, this is an incredible place to discover and the area is growing in popularity among bird watchers and wildlife lovers. Our safaris here cater to all interests, whether strictly birding, on the lookout for iconic predators such as bears and wolfs, seeing the magnificent wild flower fields or even horse riding.
Airport access: Sofia, Plovdiv or the coastal city Burgas, from there you travel to Kardzhali or Haskovo, two district towns of the Eastern Rhodopes and the main entries to the area by bus, train or a rental car. The distance from Sofia to Kardzhali is 241 km (around 3-3,5 hrs driving) and Sofia – Haskovo is 225 km (2.30 hrs driving), The rental car option is most recommended when you travel through the area, if you would like to see more from the area independently from the not very regular public transport in the wildlife areas.