A nine days tour exploring the meadows at Rila and Pirin - the highest mountains in Bulgaria.

Mountain Butterfly and Macro Photography -NEW-

Sunday 1st - Monday 9th July 2018

Our classical butterflies and macro photography tour, that proved so popular and successful, brought excellent results and indeed few winners! But we have been running it for a quite a few years now, and it is time for a change.  This new itinerary comes as a result of so many of our guests requesting a new tour covering different sites and targeting different species.
We will be visiting various sites in Rila and Pirin mountains, most of them well above 1000 meters above the sea level, up to 2700 m a.s.l. Our targets will be the rare and beautiful butterflies, such as Purple Emperor, Cynthias Fritillary, Shepherd Fritillary, Camberwell Beauty and Cardinal, but many other species will be seen and photographed - Apollo, Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Balkan and Large coppers, Great Banded Grayling, Lesser Purple Emperor, Large Tortoiseshell, Southern White Admiral, Common Glider etc. Good number of dragonflies will be also seen. Orchids will be encountered too as well as many other Bulgarian and Balkan endemics, such as Aquilegia aurea. Insects will be numerous and we expect near a hundred species of butterflies to be encountered.
Again, all the hotels we will use a small, family run and offer good homemade food. The best advantage is that all of them are situated right next to meadows rich in flowers and insects, allowing early morning and evening sessions - the best time to get beautiful photos of butterflies and other insects. We will be seeing a variety of good birds and will enjoy some magnificent views from the mountain peaks.

ITINERARY

Day 1     Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer (about two hours) to our hotel, situated near to the Rila monastery. Evening session in the rich meadow, 10 minutes from the hotel. Accommodation for two nights and dinner.

Day 2     Explore the  nearest  river  valley which is one of the best butterfly habitats in Bulgaria – mature deciduous woodlands with fast flowing, pure mountain river and meadows along it. Full day here can provide fifty plus species of butterflies. Purple Emperor can be very abundant here and as they spend lot of time on the ground, there are many opportunities for very good shots. Other species will be Balkan Copper,  Scarce Copper,  Hungarian and Common Gliders, Yellow-banded  Skipper, Eastern Bath White, Map Butterfly, Niobe Fritillary, Clouded Apollo, Chequerred Skipper, various fritillaries and blues, and Camberwell Beauty is often seen here. Optional afternoon visit to the Rila monastery - the most visited cultural landmark in Bulgaria. There are few more meadows beyond the monastery where we will be looking for more opportunities and subjects.

Day 3  After a morning session in the same valley we will drive further south, to Pirin Mountain, and stay near Gotse Delchev town for two nights. Several stops en-route will break the journey, which takes about two and a half hours. We will enjoy lunch at organic farm on the way, again, surrounded by meadows we will explore. We continue our travel south, and keep checking sites on the way. Accommodation and dinner.

Day 4   We spend the day in the area and will drive up higher towards Orelek peak. The nearly endemic, Higginss Anomalous Blue is found here, plus many other blues and fritillaries as well as Apollo, Mountain Argus, Great Sooty Satyr, Balkan Copper and many more.

Day 5  We will return north today, but surrounding Rila from the east. Our next base is a small hotel at Undola pass, where we stay for another two nights. En-route we will stop at several sites where we can find Purple and Freyers Purple Emperor, Purple-shot Copper and many more.

Day 6  We spend the day around Belmeken dam, at 2600 m asl,  and check the area for Bulgarian Ringlet, Ottoman Brassy Ringlet, Bright-eyed Ringlet, Shepherds Fritillary, Balkan Fritillary, orchids etc

Day 7  Morning session in the surrounding meadows, then we drive to the northern slopes of Rila mountan, where we will stay the last two nights of the tour. Few stops will provide more options Purple Emperor, Scarce Swallowtail, gatekeeper and many more.  Early evening we will arrive at the village of Govedartsi, where we will be staying in a small family hotel. There are vast extensive meadows just outside the hotel.

Day 8 Early morning session and after breakfast we will drive 15 minutes to get to the cabin lift that bring us high in the northern slopes of Rila Mountain at 2400 m a.s.l. Then we have about 3 km of moderate walk, on a wide dirt track as we need to reach 2600 a.s.l That walk is an optional – if you do not fancy it, you can stay around the lift station where butterflies can also be seen, or spend the whole day just next to the hotel, exploring the meadows .
There are not many butterflies up there, but one of the most beautiful and rare butterflies in Europe –  the Cynthias Fritillary. It has a restricted range on the continent - occupying only the high Alps, but also the two highest ranges in Bulgaria -  Rila and Pirin Mountains, starting from 2 200 meters above the sea level. The subspecies found in Bulgaria is arguably the most beautiful, being brightly marked. Being rare, very local and its habitat not the easiest to access, it is one of the least seen butterflies in Europe.  Here we will also 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 9  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.

Photo and video gallery

Mountain butterfly and macro photography

Mountain butterfly and macro photography

Mountain butterfly and macro photography tour gallery