Dates & Prices

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Dates: 9th – 16th October 2022

Price: £1,295 Places available

Single Room Supplement: £150

Deposit: £150 per person


Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transport, services of guides & holiday report

Not Included: International travel, travel insurance, drinks & other personal items

Leader(s): Georgi Krastev (a second leader may join – TBC)

Group Size: Minimum 3 & maximum 7 guests + 1-2 leaders.

Grade: Generally easy walking at a gentle pace.

Holiday Highlights


  • Visit the magnificent and wildlife rich Kresna Gorge and Struma River valley, as well as exploring the adjacent Pirin and Malashevska Mountains;
  • Led by the top local herpetology guide Georgi Krastev;
  • Special herpetofauna – Balkan Stream Frog, Balkan Spadefoot, Yellow-bellied Toad, Kotschy’s Gecko , Balkan Green Lizard, Balkan Wall Lizard, Erhard’s Wall Lizard, Eurasian Sand Boa , Dahl’s Whip Snake, Four-lined Snake, Leopard Snake, Eastern Montpellier Snake, Nose-horned Viper, Balkan Terrapin, Spur-thighed Tortoise, Eastern Hermann’s Tortoise, etc.;
  • Single-based holiday in a lovely hotel in the town of Sandanski;
  • Relaxed pace & very well-suited for photography of the Bulgarian herpetofauna.

A new & exciting tour to discover the reptiles & amphibians in Bulgaria!

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A new & exciting tour to discover the reptiles & amphibians in Bulgaria!

New! A delightful week in Bulgaria’s richest herpetological area – Struma River valley, with its magnificent gorges, separating the plains along its flow and the adjacent mountains, it provides a big variety of habitats and rich biodiversity to explore during this trip.

The southwestern corner of Bulgaria is distinguished by some of the highest mountains in the Balkan peninsula – Rila and Pirin – and the deep river valleys of Struma and Mesta, that carve theirs ways through the mountains towards the Aegean coast of Greece. This combination guarantees not only diverse habitats, flora and fauna, but also tremendous landscapes and views to be admired and photographed.

Struma River Valley  and the adjacent mountain slopes of Pirin, Slavyanka, Belasitsa, Osogovo and Maleshevska are the prime herpetological area of Bulgaria, which holds some of the most notable and sought-after species in the country. In the wetlands of the area we’ll look for Balkan and European Pond Terrapins, Dice Snake, Eurasian  Sand Boa, Balkan Stream Frog, Balkan Spadefoot and Yellow-bellied Toad. In steppe-like habitats of the area we can expect to find Spur-thighed and Eastern Hermann’s Tortoises, Balkan Wall, European Glass and Balkan Green Lizards, Nose-horned Viper and Eurasian Worm Snake. The low mountains and gorges of the area holds jewels like the Leopard Snake, Dahl’s Whip Snake, Caspian Whip Snake, Four-lined Snake, Eastern Montpellier Snake and Erhard’s Wall Lizard, while if we venture into the high mountains of the area we can find Balkan Cross Adder and Sand Lizard. Some of the evenings we will also look for Kotschy’s Gecko around our hotel in Sandanski.

Early October is excellent time of the year to do this tour as we will miss the heat of the summer that makes both people and reptiles to look for deep shade and will give us longer hours to look for snakes and lizards in the field.

We are working with Georgi, an experienced zoologist, herpetologist and leader of herpetological and natural history tours. He has graduated from Sofia University with MSc in zoology of vertebrates. his master’s thesis is in herpetology. Georgi has more than 20 years of experience as herpetologist and conservationist. He has been guiding herp tours since 2010. He is specialist of captive breeding of reptiles and currently working at Sofia Zoo.

Our only hotel during this trip will be in the town of Sandanski, famous with its thermal mineral waters and spa resorts. The area is also famous with its Roman and Byzantine archeological sites and is believed to be the homeland of Spartacus – a Thracian gladiator and one of the leaders of the slave uprising against the Roman Empire in the Third Servile War.

          

Day 1 (9th October)

Arrival at Sofia Airport and transfer (~ hour and a half) to Sandanski. (If it is a late flight we can arrange the first night in Sofia)

Day 2 & 3 (10th & 11th October)

Kresna Gorge and Struma River Valley.

The 17 km long Kresna Gorge is one of the biodiversity-richest areas of Bulgaria. It is protected both by the Bird and Habitat Directives of the EU. The gorge is formed by the Struma River and separates Pirin Mountain to the east and Malashevska Mountain to the west and besides its rich wildlife, there will be plenty of splendid views and landscapes to be enjoyed in the area.

Kresna Gorge is home to 31 species of amphibians and reptiles and some of our targets. Among them will be Balkan Stream Frog, Yellow-bellied Toad, Balkan Green Lizard, Balkan Wall Lizard, Erhard’s Wall Lizard, Dahl’s Whip Snake, Four-lined Snake, Leopard Snake, Eastern Montpellier Snake, Nose-horned Viper, Spur-thighed Tortoise, Eastern Hermann’s Tortoise, etc.

In the evenings we will look for the only species of gecko that occurs in Bulgaria – Kotschy’s Gecko.

 Day 4, 5 & 6 (12th, 13th & 14th October)

Kozhuch Hills

In the next three days we will explore the foothills of the extinct volcano of Kozhuch. The area is popular among locals with its hot mineral springs and as a place related to the local prophet Vanga, which has built a small monastery complex in the area. The diverse habitats of the area – volcanic rock formations, steppe grasslands and flooded riverine forests – in a combination with the Mediterranean climate explains the richness of the biodiversity in the area.

Species of interest here will be Balkan Spadefoot, European Glass Lizard, Balkan Wall Lizard, Eurasian Sand Boa, Dice Snake, Eastern Montpellier Snake, Nose-horned Viper, Eurasian Worm Snake, Balkan Terrapin, European Pond Terrapin, Spur-thighed Tortoise, Eastern Hermann’s Tortoise, etc.

Day 7 (15th October)

Southwestern foothills of Pirin Mountains.

Today we will explore the areas of Sandanski and Melnik in the foothills of Pirin Mountain. The area is famous with its rock formations, which consists of up to 100m tall sandstone pyramids shaped in various forms by the water erosion. It is also one of the major wine production areas in the country, popular with its local Broadleaved Melnik wine grape variety.

Our target species in this area will be Yellow-bellied Toad, Erhard’s Lizard, Caspian Whip Snake, Aesculapian Snake, etc.

Day 8 (16th October)

Transfer to Sofia Airport for departure.

If time allows on the last day we can visit Vitosha Nature Park to the south of Sofia – to look for Balkan Cross Adder and Sand Lizard.

New holiday so reviews to follow later

New holiday so reports to follow later