Birds and SPA -NEW-

Saturday 2nd - Sunday 10th May 2020

This tour is specially prepared to give you opportunity for fine and relaxed birding in Bulgaria, combined with options to spa and relax at Velingrad and Pomorie two of Bulgaria's leading resorts. After landing at Sofia airport a two hour transfer will bring us to the beautiful Rhodope Mountains.  Velingrad is a small town, situated in the heart of the West Rhodopes, it is rich in thermal springs and hotels offering excellent spa services. Here we will have two full days.  In the mornings we will explore the forests looking for the elusive Hazel Grouse, woodpeckers, owls and woodland birds.  We will be back for a lunch and in the afternoon we can relax and take advantage of the spa procedures offered by the hotel.  The second half of our tour will be spent on the Black Sea coast - Via Pontica is the second biggest bird migration route in Europe. The four big lakes around Burgas are its bottleneck and the birds concentrate here in their thousands to rest and feed before continue north or south, depending on the season.  Some stay to breed here forming a dynamic atmosphere which brings out all emotions of birdwatching. Birds will be everywhere, and what a set of species: Terek, Broad-billed, Marsh and Curlew sandpipers, Red-necked Phalarope, Little and Temminck's stints, Collared Pratincole, Black-tailed Godwit, Garganey, Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Pygmy Cormorant,  Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Dalmatian and White pelicans, Gull-billed, Black, White-winged and Whiskered terns, Mediterranean and Slender-billed gulls. Along with: Little Bittern, Penduline Tit and Bearded Reedling and many more. Thousands of birds will be migrating over heads - Bee-eaters, Rollers, Golden Oriole, Levant Sparrowhawk, Red-footed Falcon, White and Black storks, Black-headed Bunting to name a few of the many.
The healing power of mineral springs has been recognized since the time of the Thracians. Few countries in Europe can rival Bulgaria's spa and wellness tourism, with its abundance and diversity of thermal mineral waters and curative mud deposits. There are more than 550 known sources with 1,600 springs. Bulgaria also possesses valuable deposits of curative firth mud and curative peat. The climate in the country is exceptionally favorable compared to that of traditional destinations for balneology tourism in Western Europe and the Mediterranean. The country is also known for its highly qualified personnel, excellent accommodations, and diverse programs and services that include massage, baths with mineral water, pearl baths, reflex therapy, traditional needle therapy, medicinal exercises, acupuncture, laser therapy, acupressure, paraffin treatment, physiotherapy, mud treatment, aroma therapy, anti-stress programs, balneo-cosmetics, sauna and medical cosmetics.

ITINERARY

Day 1 Arrival at Sofia airport and two hours transfer will bring us to a hotel in Velingrad - the first base for our tour where we stay for three nights. Time providing, we can start with the birding nearby or relax and swim in the hotel pool. Dinner will be followed by a discussion to plan the routine and program for the next days.

Days 2 and 3 Both mornings will be devoted to birding in the area, exploring the pine forests nearby, looking for the target species. Walking is easy to moderate and we will enjoy the beautiful and quiet nature, while looking for forest birds which are not easy species to spot: Hazel Grouse, Black, Grey-headed, White-backed, Lesser Spotted and possibly Three-toed woodpeckers, Crested Tit, Crossbill, Bulfinch, Hawfinch, Serin, Black Redstart,  Rock Bunting, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Honey Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle. Capercaillie is also possible as well as Tengmalm’s Owl.
Early afternoon we return to the hotel for lunch, SPA and relax. Later afternoon free program or birding. Dinners will be at the hotel's restaurant.

Day 4 After early breakfast we will pack and leave the hotel. An hour and a half driving will bring us to the Bessapari Hills. They are open pasture and agricultural lowlands and here we will be looking for: Masked Shrike, Stone Curlew, Common, Isabelline and Black-eared wheatears, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Sparrow, Calandra and Short-toed larks, Ortolan, Black-headed and Corn buntings, Spanish Sparrow, Red-rumped Swallow, Roller, Bee-eater and Hoopoe.  Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Imperial Eagle and Eagle Owl can be seen. While: Suslick, Red Fox and Golden Jackal are also possible.
Lunch will be at a small village restaurant and afterwards we continue to the Black Sea coast. Three and a half hours driving will bring us to Grand Hotel Pomorie, where will stay the next five days. The hotel is perfectly situated, between Pomorie Lake and the Black Sea.

Days 5 to 8 During these four days we will enjoy fabulous birding at one of the best ornithological sites in Bulgaria, spa procedures and the Black Sea. Mornings will be devoted to birding and we will explore one of the four lakes each day. They are Ramsar and IBAs sites, sustaining many migrant and breeding birds. Here we can observe: Terek, Broad-billed, Marsh and Curlew sandpipers, Red-necked Phalarope, Little and Temminck's stints, Collared Pratincole, Black-tailed Godwit, Garganey, Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Pygmy Cormorant,  Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Dalmatian and White pelicans, Gull-billed, Black, White-winged and Whiskered terns, Mediterranean and Slender-billed gulls, Little Bittern, Penduline Tit, Bearded Reedling and many more.
Thousands will be migrating over heads: Bee-eaters, Rollers, Golden Oriole, Levant Sparrowhawk, Red-footed Falcon, White and Black storks, Black-headed Bunting to name a few plus many more.
 On one of the days we may visit Strandzha Mountain to explore the old-growth beech and oak forests, riparian forest and pastures for: Semi-collared and Red-breasted flycatchers, White-backed Woodpecker, Icterine and Olivaceous warblers, Ortolan Bunting, Gray-headed Woodpecker, White-tailed Eagle and Lesser Spotted Eagle. We may also have the chance to take a look along the rocky Black Sea`s coast for Yelkouan shearwater and Shag.
After lunch we will back in the hotel to take advantage of the spa facilities and the sea beach in front of the hotel.  Afternoon free program and dinner in the hotel or in the nearby beach restaurants.

Day 9 Early start and transfer to Sofia airport. Departure after a relaxed week and great birding.


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