Join one of the very few nature holidays focused on the European herpetology fauna, in search of reptiles and amphibians in southern Bulgaria!
Reptiles and amphibians
Thursday 4th - Monday 15th May 2017
Bulgaria is inhabited by 20 species of amphibians and 37 species of reptiles and the biggest majority of them are represented by healthy populations, thus being among the richest European countries in terms of herpetology. 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 twelve days of the tour we expect to see over of 35 species, including some rare ones or with restricted distribution.
Our tour will cover the three best areas for reptiles and amphibians in Bulgaria. Some of the rare species occur in all of them, so we will have more than one chance to find those. The period of our tour coincide with the beginning of all the species reproduction cycle and this gives us more chances to find them. The frogs can be located and identified by their calls. Some of the rare species (Syrian Spadefoot Toad, Leopard Snake, Cat Snake) are nocturnal and will be sought after dusk, so some evening observations are necessary.
Day 1 Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer to Kresna gorge, about two and a half hours of driving. Accommodation for the next four nights. Depending on the arrival time, short walk in the surroundings of our hotel.
Days 2 to 4 All the three 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 restricted 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 5 Today we have transfer (about three and a half hours) to Smolyan, in the Western Rhodopes, for one night stay. We will break the journey with few stops on the way where we expect to see mountain species - Fire Salamander, Alpine Newt, Spring and Common Frogs, Slow Worm, Sand Lizard, Viviparous Lizard, Aesculapian and Smooth Snakes, Adder. Late in the afternoon we arrive in the hotel.
Day 6 Today we continue further east with a transfer of about three and a half hours of driving to our next base for a night stay in Ivaylovgrad, next to the Greek border. Again we will have several stops on the way and upon arrival shall explore the southernmost part of the Eastern Rodopi Mountains - the only locality of the Snakeeyed Lacertid. Here we can see also some more common species like Yellowbelly Toad, Large and Dahl's Whip Snakes, Aesculapian Snake, Montpellier Snake, both species of tortoises and some orchids.
Days 7 and 8 Short transfer further north to the small town of Harmanly, where we accommodate for two nights. Both days we will explore different sites in the area, close to the hotel. The longest distance we will cover in a single day will be less than 50 km one way. The species we can see here are European Glass Lizzard, Worm Snake, Sand Boa, Leopard Snake, Dahl's Whip Snake, Blotched Snake, Montpellier Snake, Smooth Snake, along with many of the common species in Bulgaria.
Day 9 Transfer to the Black Sea coast, and our base for the next three nights will be Primorsko. Again we will have few stops on the way where will look for reptiles and amphibians.
Days 10 and 11 Both days we will explore the Ropotamo Reserve and Strandzha Nature Park. It is the largest protected area in Bulgaria and has extremely rich biodiversity, including 9 species of amphibians, as well as 23 species of reptiles. Again, we will make short trips every day. We will visit both Veleka and Ropotamo rivers, as well as the sand dunes near Arkutino reserve. We will also search the foothills of Strandzha mountain covered by deciduous forests.
If the weather is favourable, we can have another evening trip looking for the Syrian Spadefoot Toad. Here we have the option to look for most of the species we have seen so far, or those we have missed. The only species which can be seen only in this area is the Reddish Wip Snake, so we need to pay special attention to that species in order to find it.
Day 12 Transfer to Burgas airport. Departure.
Note: For those flying back home from Sofia airport, we continue to Sofia.
European Glass Lizzard by Mario Langourov.
Four-lined Snake juvenile by Mario Langourov.
Kotschy's Gecko by Mario Langourov.
Nose-horned Vipper. Photo Mario Langourov.
Snake-eyed Lacerdit by Mario Langourov.
Syrian Spadefoot Toad by Mario Langourov.