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Wildlife Photography: customised trip

wildlife photography in bulgaria

Wildlife Photography: customised trip

This 7 days wildlife photography trip was customized according to the requirements of 2 English naturalists and organised by They wanted to see Brown Bear and photograph Vultures and Storks. We divided the trip into two parts. First, we spent two days in the Western Rhodope Mountains and second, we visited the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. The drive to our first destination was along the very picturesque deep valley with several dams en route and steep cliffs. Steve and Fary really appreciated it!

Western Rhodope mountains

Once we arrived, we had a quick dinner and off we went to the hide to try our luck for Brown Bears. It was raining and relatively dark but we decided to try. We got on a very capable 4WD vehicle and drove along a rugged mountainous track. It was really fascinating how this vehicle managed to cope with the terrain.

The hide for wildlife photography

The hide is a very comfortable burrow under the ground with windows big enough to see what’s happening on the feeding site. We spent about 2 hours before the first visitors appeared: seven Wild Boars.It was getting dark, so I had to turn on a special lamp that resembles the Moon light and illuminates the feeding site. With the drop of the night, temperatures dropped as well and the rain turned into snow. Wow, what a fascinating moment!Boars were reading actively and didn’t mind the weather. Unfortunately, the bear didn’t turn up and we decided to leave the hide at about 9 pm.We repeated the visit on the following day but with the same success. The boars turned up a bit later and we couldn’t take better pictures.During the day we drove around the area and set up a portable hide for Dipper. It proved successful and produced a few images.

wildlife photography
Wild Boar, image: Iordan Hristov

Travel day

The travel to the Eastern Rhodopes was fairly quiet for most of the day. It was raining heavily and was very misty at the highest parts of the mountains. We stopped at one mountain pass where we got a fantastic Firecrest performing beautifully for us. We got some fantastic pictures.

Firecrest, image: Iordan Hristov

Eastern Rhodope mountains

Once in the Eastern Rhodopes, the rain stopped and we started seeing bird after bird: Golden Oriole, Cirl Bunting, Woodlark, Turtle Dove and many more. On the first day of our adventure in the area, we drove around to photograph Woodchat Shrike, White and Black Stork, Corn Bunting and Skylark. The landscape in the area is absolutely stunning. Arda river meanders at the bottom of a volcano with well-preserved walls. Steep cliffs are the home of many Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Black Stork, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. We visited the grassland of the adjacent village to photograph White Storks! They should be called Magnificent Stork! How majestic can they be. Later in the same day we tried photographing Scops Owl but it never turned up.

Skylark, image: Iordan Hristov

The accommodation: Vulture Centre

We stayed in a small lodge called the Vulture Centre managed by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of birds. Extremely cozy place with wonderful food and hosts. It is situated right in the middle of a forest on the Bank of Arda River which you can hear from your room.

Vulture and other wildlife photography

We spent two days of our trip in a hide for Vultures and Eagles. It was really amazing how we got to the hide and the first Egyptian Vulture arrived only 10 min after we entered the hide early in the morning and a few Griffon Vultures about 10 min later. Eventually two Black Vultures also landed in front of our cameras. We had all 3 Vultures! What a great privilege!

The same repeated on the second day which Was even more productive! Other than the vultures, we got the Golden Eagle, who turned up a couple of times and we managed to take fantastic flight shots. For the whole day, we God about 100 Griffon Vultures, 7 Black Vultures, 2 Egyptian Vultures, one Golden Eagle, two Golden Jackals, two Red Foxes and a flying over Montague’s Harrier and Sparrowhawk! What a great day full of excitement! The Griffons stayed for most of the day, the Black Vulture was showing constantly and Egyptian Vultures mated just 5 m away from us. Absolutely memorable day!

Black Vulture, image: Iordan Hristov
Golden Eagle, image: Iordan Hristov
Golden Eagle, image: Iordan Hristov
Red Fox, image: Iordan Hristov
Golden Jackal, image: Iordan Hristov
Golden Jackal, image: Iordan Hristov

Departure day

The very last day we spent traveling around the area trying to photograph Red-backed Shrike, Yellow Wagtail, Red-rumped Swallow. We enjoyed the beautiful landscape and appreciated the warm day. What a fantastic way to finish the trip. We arrived back in Sofia in the late afternoon for a nice and relaxing dinner! Stay tuned for my upcoming reports from other trips. I have quite a few lined up this season.


1 thought on “Wildlife Photography: customised trip”

  1. I was on this trip with a dear friend who is an accomplished wildlife photographer. My wife is Bulgarian and I have visited BG, a few times. The country is beautiful, the people are very hospitable and friendly. We had been looking forward to the trip which was fabulous and exceeded our expectations. There were so many highlights and the trip which Michaela arranged, and Iordan hosted was a great success. We saw so much, and Iordan was great company and generously shared his remarkable local knowledge and photographic skills with us. We cannot praise the trip too highly. It was a series of wonderful experiences, Waking in the Rhodope mountains seeing the wild boar, jackals, vultures, golden eagle, storks and my favourite the fire-crests in a pine wood on a misty slope behind a chapel. We will return in the not too distant future. Many thanks to Iordan and Michaela was there kindness.

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