A 15-days holiday in search of south-east European butterflies.

Butterflies of the Balkans - Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece

Sunday 8th - Sunday 22nd July 2018

This unique trip is combining three countries and allows us to explore some of the prime butterfly habitats on the Balkan Peninsula. Within the fifteen days we will visit Bulgaria,  Macedonia and Greece looking for rare and hard to see anywhere else butterfly species. We expect a total number of over 130 species, from attractive ones such as Cynthia's Fritillary, Apollo, Poplar Admiral, Purple Emperor and Large Copper to very local and difficult to see species like Bulgarian Ringlet, Macedonian Grayling, Dill's Grayling, Freyer's  Fritillary, Freyer's Grayling, Phalakron Blue, Higgins's Anomalous Blue and many more. Additionally we will enjoy many rare and endemic flowers and plants as well as other wildlife.
Our route goes in a circle, starting and ending in Bulgaria, exploring areas of Macedonia and Greece in between.
We will also enjoy the beautiful scenery and the different habitats of the region, as well as cultural landmarks like Rila monastery in Bulgaria.  It is also an excellent opportunity to taste the local food and drinks as well as to feel the local lifestyle in three different, but still closely related countries. 

ITINERARY

Day 1     Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer (less than two hours, with stop on the way - Lesser Fiery Copper,  Short-tailed  Blue, Great Banded Grayling)  to our hotel, situated near Rila monastery. Accommodation and dinner.

Day 2     Explore the  nearest  river  valley  for Poplar Admiral,  Purple Emperor,  Balkan Copper,  Scarce Copper,  Hungarian and Common Gliders, Yellow-banded  Skipper, Eastern Bath White, Map Butterfly, Niobe Fritillary, Clouded Apollo, Chequerred Skipper and many more. Optional  afternoon visit to the Rila monastery - the most visited cultural landmark in Bulgaria.

Day 3     Three hours of driving brings us into the Republic of Macedonia. We will explore Kresna Gorge on the way and our destination is Prilep town where we will stay the next two nights. Possible species  to find are Little Tiger Blue, Krueper's Small White, Southern White Admiral, White-banded  Grayling, Eastern Rock Grayling, Yellow-banded Skipper, Nettle-tree Butterfly.

Day 4     Today we will visit a river valley south-west of the town, having few stops on the way. Species we expect are Macedonian Grayling, Great Sooty Satyr, Eastern Greenish Black-tip, Camberwell  Beauty,  Alcon Blue,  Little  Tiger Blue, Balkan Marbled White, Large Tortoiseshell,  Eastern Baton Blue, Lattice  Brown and many more.

Days 5 and 6     Less than two hours of driving brings us to Galitchitsa Mountain which we will explore both days. Species to be seen here are  Damon Blue,  Grecian  Anomalous Blue, False Eros Blue, Russian Heath, Purple and Brown hairstreaks, Esper's Marbled White, Apollo, Freyer's, Marsh and Twin-spot Fritillary, Dusky Grizzled Skipper,  Lesser Lattice Brown. We will be based in a hotel situated near Prespa Lake for two nights.

Day 7     Today we drive to Greece and will have two nights near Sidirokastro. On the way we will check Kerkini Lake for Large Copper, Lang's Short-Tailed Blue, Lattice Brown, Nettle-tree Butterfly etc.

Day 8    We will explore the area for Iolas Blue, Grass Jewel, Eastern Baton Blue, Balkan Grayling, Eastern Knapweed Fritillary, Zephyr Blue, Mediterranean Skipper. If time permits we will check the river valley for Freyer's Grayling, Sandy Grizzled Skipper, Persian Skipper, Southern White Admiral, Hermit, Anomalous Blue and Grecian Anomalous Blue.

Days 9 and 10     Short transfer brings us  to Phalakron Mountain, which we will explore both days. Here we can see  Phalakron Blue,  Dils' Grayling, Eastern Rock Grayling, Balkan  Grayling, Hermit, Great Sooty Satyr, Eastern Greenish Black-tip, Black  Ringlet, Ripart's and Higgin's Annomalous  Blue, Apollo, Dusky Meadow Brown, Southern Comma, Lesser Marbled Fritillary and many more. Two nights in a small, family run hotel in the village of Volakas.

Day 11     Transfer to Predela, just west of Bansko on the foothills of Pirin mountain. On the way we will have two main stops for Large Blue, Turquoise Blue, Spotted and Lesser Spotted Fritillary, Twin- spot Fritillary,  Cardinal, Large Wall Brown, three species of Short-tailed blues etc. If time   permits we will check the mountain slopes for Bosnian Blue. Overnight near Bansko for two nights.

Day 12     Today we explore the mountain meadows over Vihren  hut looking for  Arran Brown, Large Ringlet, Nicholl's Ringlet, Common  Brassy Ringlet, Ottoman Brassy Ringlet, Pearl-bordered and  Small  Pearl-bordered fritillaries,  Clouded Apollo, Alcon and Large Blues, Blue Argus etc.

Day 13     Long transfer to the northern slopes of Rila mountain. On the way we will stop at Belmeken dam and check the area for Bulgarian Ringlet, Ottoman Brassy Ringlet, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Shepherd's Fritillary, Balkan Fritillary etc. Arrival at village of Govedartsi late in the afternoon. Here we will accommodate for two nights.

Day 14     The cabin lift  brings us high in the northern slopes of Rila Mountain. Here we will look for  Cynthia's Fritillary,  Balkan   Clouded Yellow,  Dusky Grizzled Skipper,  Dewy Ringlet, Nicholl's Ringlet and Eastern Large Heath etc. In the afternoon we shall explore the meadows behind our hotel for Brown Hairstreak, Nickler's Fritillary, Scarce Copper etc. Farewell dinner.

Day 15   One hour of driving brings  us to Sofia airport.  Stop on the way for a Purple Emperor, Lesser Purple Emperor, Chequered  Blue, Hungarian and Common Gliders, Purple-shot Copper and other species, depending on the time. Departure.



TOUR MAP



 

PHOTOS


Balkan Fritillary

   Balkan Fritillary by Dobromir Domuschiev.

Cynthias Fritillary

   Cynthia's Fritillary - the most colorful race is found in Bulgaria.
   Photo by Dobromir Domuschiev.

Grey Asian Grayling

   The Grey Asian Grayling has very limited distribution in Europe, but we shall
   see it in Macedonia. Photo by Dobromir Domuschiev.

Higgins-Annomalous-Blue

   Higgin's Annomalous Blue is another Balkan endemic, found in only a few
   sites in Bulgaria and Greece. Photo by Dobromir Domuschiev.