Photography tour focused on reptiles and amphibians in Bulgaria

Reptiles and amphibians photography in Bulgaria

Sunday 7th - Monday 15th April 2019

Bulgaria offers excellent photography opportunities due to its rich biodiversity and variety of habitats. Our main targets on this tour will be the amphibians and some reptiles. Here occur 20 species of amphibians and 37 species of reptiles. Many of the species that occur here can be seen only in that part of the continent. The reason for this richness is the bio-geographical situation of the country, as well as the well-preserved habitats. Within the nine days of the tour we expect to see most of the amphibian and the reptilian species. The period of our tour coincides with the beginning of all the species reproduction cycle and this gives us more chances to find them. Our tour will cover the three best areas for reptiles and amphibians in western Bulgaria.
We will have early starts and late evenings in order to take advantage of the best light and it is also the time when amphibians and reptilians are normally motionless. Early afternoons we may have siestas to rest, avoiding the harsh midday sun.
Our tour will start with a one night in Western Balkan Mountain close to Vratsa town. We will explore the area in Vrachanski Balkan Mountain where will take pictures of Fire Salamander, Northern Crested Newt, Green Toad, Agile Toad, Green Lizard and other species. On the second day we will visit the same spots for more early morning pictures. In late afternoon will travel to next destination town of Lom on Danube river coast, where will spent 1 night. In day 3 will looking for species as Danube Crested Newt, Fire-bellied Toad, Common Spadefoot, Common Tree Frog, European Pond Terrapin, Northern Slow Worm and other low-land and river species. Late in the afternoon will drive to Sofia City with a few stops in karst region on the road for some reptiles.  Next 3 days (2night) will explore a Vitosha Mountain and habitats there. We will be accommodated in hotel at low parts of the mountain. Here in Vitosha Mountain we will take pictures of some specialized and rare high mountain species - Fire Salamander, Common Frog, Slow Worm, Sand Lizard, Viviparous Lizard, Adder, Alpine Newt. Transfer to Kyustendil town. In day 6 will explore Osogovo Mountain for a Fire Salamander, Alpine Newt, Common Newt, Balkan Crested Newt, Slow Worm, Sand Lizard, Green Lizard, Smooth Snake, Grass Snake, Aesculapian Snake. From the day six to the end of the tour will be in Kresna Gorge, SW Bulgaria. For four days will take pictures of many species around in different situation - Syrian Spadefoot Toad, Yellowbelly Toad, Stream Toad, Kotschy's Gecko, Balkan Green Lizard, Erhard's Wall Lizard, Worm Snake, Dahl's Whip Snake, Leopard Snake, Four-lined Snake, Montpellier Snake, Cat Snake, Horn-nose Viper. We can also find both species of tortoises - Hermann's and Spur-thighed, as well as the Balkan Terrapin.

ITINERARY

Day 1 Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer to town of Vratsa, about an hour and the half drive for one-night stay. If time permits, we will have an afternoon session close to the town. Will spent the night in near Vratsa.

Day 2 Early morning short drive will bring us to Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park. Here will take pictures of Northern Crested Newt, Fire Salamander, Green Toad, Agile Frog, Snake-eyed Skink, Green Lizard, Common Wall Lizard, Grass Snake. Late afternoon transfer to the town of Lom, situated on the Danube river, where we stay overnight.

Day 3 From very early morning we will explore river flows, canals and shore of the Danube river. In this time of the year there are many flooded agricultural areas in the region, where we can find many species. In this day will looking for good pictures of Danube Crested Newt, Fire-bellied Toad, Common Spadefoot, Green Toad, Common Tree Frog, Agile Frog, European Pond Terrapin, Northern Slow Worm, Blotched Snake. Late afternoon transfer to Sofia city for two nights, just outside. During the transfer we will have few stops in karst region of Lakatnik for some species as Green Lizard, Common Wall Lizard, Large Whip Snake and Nose-horned Viper.

Day 4 Today will explore mountain plateau of Vitosha Mountain, at 2000 meters above the sea level, on short driving from the hotel. Here will take pictures of typical high mountain species as Fire Salamander, Common Frog, Slow Warm, Sand Lizard, Viviparus Lizard, Adler. 

Day 5 Return to the plateau in the morning, then transfer to Kyustendil town close to Osogovo Mountain. If the time permit will explore the suitable habitats around the town.

Day 6 Early morning session, taking pictures of Fire Salamander, Alpine Newt, Common Newt, Balkan Crested Newt, Slow Worm, Sand Lizard, Green Lizard, Balkan Lizard, Smooth Snake, Grass Snake, Aesculapian Snake. Late afternoon transfer to Kresna Gorge, about one and a half hours of driving. Accommodation for the next three nights.

Days 7 and 8 Two full days will be spend exploring different sites in the area. We will visit various habitats - gorges, rocky and sandy terrains, big river valleys and small streams, wet meadows, small ponds and forest patches in order to find as much as possible species. We will have short transfers driving to the sites, but most of the time we will walk in search of reptiles and amphibians. Beside the common species, here we expect to find also some rare and species with limited distribution - Syrian Spadefoot Toad, Yellowbelly Toad, Stream Toad, Kotschy's Gecko, Balkan Green Lizard, Erhard's Wall Lizard, Worm Snake, Dahl's Whip Snake, Leopard Snake, Four-lined Snake, Montpellier Snake, Cat Snake, Horn-nose Viper. We can also find both species of tortoises - Hermann's and Spur-thighed, as well as the Balkan Terrapin.

Day 9 Depending of the departure time, short walk in the surroundings. Two hours transfer to Sofia airport. Departure.

Additional information: springtime in Bulgaria is rainy and sometimes cold.  Please bring waterproof boots and raincoat.

Photographic equipment: You need macro lenses and tripod.