A unique holiday, one of the very few in Europe focused on bats and other cave dwellers in Bulgaria.
Bats and caves in southern Bulgaria
Saturday 6th - Saturday 13th May 2017
Bulgaria has a uniquely high diversity of bats. Out of the 35 species found in Europe, 33 species are known to inhabit the country. The major reasons for the great species richness and abundance of bats are the country's transitional geographic position, the mosaic of various habitats, the extensive farming activities in the semi-mountain regions, the high diversity of insects and last but not the least is the presence of over 5 400 caves.
Our tour is unique opportunity to learn and enjoy the secret world of the bats. The main focus of this tour is the cave dwelling bats and their underground roosts in the Rhodopes Mountain. All bats are strictly protected by the national and international legislation. This status impose many restrictions for their study and thus provides only limited but still rewarding opportunities to witness their spectacular swarming and foraging behaviour.
In addition to our activities we will also enjoy lectures and power-point presentations on bats - species, their distribution and biology, conservation, methods of researches etc.
Each of the caves we will visit in the evenings is situated not more than 30 minutes from the hotel where we will be based. The sites we will visit are rich in wildlife, so we will have plenty of options for birds, insects and flora.
Day 1 Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer to Dobrostan ridge (about two and a half hours of driving). Accommodation and dinner, followed by 20 minutes transfer to a cave nearby. Observation of an emerging colony of Schreiber's and Long-fingered bats.
Day 2 We will spend the day exploring mountain plateau (30 minutes of driving from the hotel) for its rich wildlife. Here we will visit small show cave with few bats. In the evening we can observe an emerging colony of Greater and Lesser Mouse-eared bats, Schreiber's and Long-fingered bats at the mouth of a cave. Back to the hotel for our second night here.
Days 3 and 4 After a breakfast we head to Eastern Rhodopes mountain (two and a half hours of driving) and will have two nights stay near Madzharovo . On the way we will pay a visit to the Seven Caves karstic complex. On the rocks near Madzharovo we can observe roost of a colony of the European free-tailed bat. In the evening we can see emerging and foraging behaviour of Daubentons bat, Greater and Lesser Horseshoe Bat, Geoffroy's Bat, Common and Pygmy Pipistrelle, Savi's pipistrelle bat.
Day 5 Short transfer to Krumovgrad town, where again we will stay for one night. Accommodation and dinner, followed by a transfer to a cave nearby. Here we can see emerging and foraging behaviour of Greater Horseshoe Bat, Blasius's Horseshoe Bat and Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat, Greater and Lesser Mouse-eared bats.
Day 6 Today we drive to Trigrad gorge (four and a half hours of driving). It is a long drive but we have plenty of excellent options for stops on the way at suitable bats habitats. Accommodation for two nights in small family hotel, in the village of Trigrad. After a dinner we will witness the spectacular emerging of thousands of Schreiber's and Long-fingered bats at the entrance of Devil's throat cave (twenty minutes from our hotel). Foraging behaviour of Daubenton's Bat, Long-fingered Bat and Whiskered bats at small pond near Trigrad.
Day 7 During the day we will visit two spectacular show caves: Devil's Throat and Yagodinskata Peshtera caves. In the evening foraging behaviour of the Whiskered bats, Lesser Noctule and possibly of the Giant Noctule above a calm mountain stream in a spruce forest near Yagodina village.
Day 8 Three and a half hours transfer brings us at the airport for your flight back home.
Additional information: All activities will be held with minimum (if any!) impact to the bats. The Bulgarian Biodiversity Act prohibits all kind of direct disturbance of bats in Bulgaria without a permit issued by Ministry of Environment and Waters. The Protected Areas Act regulates the access to all important bat underground roosts.
The caves to be visited can be changed depending on the occurrence/absence of bats. Foraging behaviour of at least five bat species during each of the evening walks is going to be observed.
Equipment: compact LED headlamp, long-range torch (optional), Bat detector and a recording device (optional), sturdy shoes/boots, warm clothes.
Greater Horseshoe Bat. Photo Boian Petrov.
Great Mouse-eared Bat. Photo Boian Petrov.
Lesser Noctule Bat. Photo Boian Petrov.
Long-fingered Bat. Photo Boian Petrov.