A 14-day tour in search of dragonflies and damselfies.

Dragonflies of Bulgaria

Wednesday 7th - Tuesday 20th June 2023

Sixty seven species of dragonflies are recorded in Bulgaria up to now - a considerable part of the total European number. This variety is determined by the geographical position of the country as well as the well preserved habitat around the many wetlands that exist here. Within our tour we should see more between forty and fifty species, including rare and endangered species. The pick of these will be: Bulgarian Emerald, Odalisque, Black Pennant, Bladetail and Turkish Goldenring. The tour has now been extended, with one full day in Greece, where Lake Kerkini will offer not only more special dragonflies, but also excellent birding. Overall we have widened the focus of this holiday out to butterflies and birds. Needless to say due to the well preserved habitats in Bulgaria, almost all of the prime dragonfly sites here are also excellent spots for birds and butterflies. We will be able to see not less than a hundred species of butterfly and over a hundred and fifty species of bird. Among them will be: Eastern Imperial Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Wallcreeper, both pelicans and many more. While the butterflies will be represented by: Purple Emperor, Freyer's Purple Emperor, Apollo, Camberwell Beauty, Balkan Copper, Little Tiger Blue, Large Chequered Skipper and many more. This will be a slow paced, relaxed holiday, with time enough during easy to moderate walks to enjoy, admire and explore nature. We will be covering the whole of southern Bulgaria, making our way through the mountains from west to the east, reaching the Black sea. The two weeks of the holiday will bring many highlights, with memorable sightings of wildlife as we build an excellent all round checklist of what these two countries can offer.


Day 1 Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer to Gabarevo. Before accommodation we will explore meadows and forest close to the village. We expect to found more than 10 species of dragonflies and damselflies: Eastern Spectre, Balkan and Blue-eyed Goldenrings, Southern Migrant Hawker and more.

Day 2 Transfer to the Black Sea coast. Today we will explore Thrasian Valley. Highline species for today are Black Pennant and Bladetail. Except these two species we will see more than 20 other species. Accommodation for 4 nights, just outside of Burgas.

Day 3 Today we explore Burgas wetlands. Here we can expect more than twenty species of dragonfly including Southern and Dark Spreadwing, Winter, Dainty, Blue-eye Damselfly, Greeneyed Hawker, Lesser Emperor, Vagrant Emperor, White-tailed Skimmer, Scarlet and Southern Darter and Black Pennant. Birds will include White-tailed Eagle, Gull-billed, Black, White-winged and Whiskered Terns, Mediterranean and Slender-billed Gulls, Ruddy Shelduck, Little Bittern, Penduline Tit and many more.

Day 4 Drive south where we will visit several protected areas and coastal wetlands - marshes and river mouths near the Black Sea coast. Species include Small, Western and Eastern Willow Spreadwing, Lesser and Vagrant Emperor, Blue-eyed and Turkish Goldenring, Balkan Emerald, Scarce Chaser, Keeled Skimmer and Red-veined Darter. Butterflies will include Balkan Green-veined White, Iolas Blue, Lattice Brown, Freyer's Purple Emperor, Tree and Freyer's Graylings, Southern White Admiral and Camberwell Beauty. Picnic lunch on the coast. Back to our hotel in the evening.

Day 5 Today we will explore Strandzha Mtn. Highline for the day is one of the rarest species in the world - Bulgarian Emerald. We will be looking too for Odalisque, Blue-eye Damselfly, Southern Migrant Hawker, Small Pincertail, Eastern Spectre, Turkish Goldenring, Common Clubtail and many more. Not to forget butterflies: Large Chequered Skipper, Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell, Lesser-spotted Fritillary. Birds will include Semi-collared Flycatcher, Hawfinch and many other woodland species.

Day 6 Transfer to the Eastern Rhodopes Mnt. пїЅ one of the richest for biodiversity spot in Europe. Along the road we will explore beaches of the biggest river in Bulgaria пїЅ Marista river. Here, over the stream and marshes we will found - Common Clubtail, River Clubtail, Green Clubtail and Small Pincertail, Ornate Bluet. We will see and a lot of butterflies, insects and vertebrate animals. Accommodation in family hotel in the town of Krumovgrad for 3 overnights.

Day 7 Day trip to Krumovitsa and Arda river valleys for Small Red-eyed and Dainty Damselfly, Odalisque, Eastern Spectre, Balkan Emerald, Lesser Emperor, Southern Darter, plus many more. Many butterflies will be seen too. We will also enjoy Rock Nuthatch, Orphean, Sardinian and Olive-tree Warblers, Nightingale, Black Stork, Levant Sparrowhawk, Black-eared Wheatear (both western and eastern races), Wryneck, Roller, Rock and Blue Rock Thrushes, Chukar and many others. Great Spotted Cuckoo is also possible. Late in the evening, after dinner we look for the tiny Scops Owl in the poplar trees around our hotel.

Day 8 Day trip to Biala reka river valley for Blue-eye, Small Red-eyed and Dainty Damselfly, Scarce, Southern and Western Willow Spreadwing, Bulgarian and Balkan Emeralds, Turkish Goldenring, Eastern Spectre, Blue-eyed Hawker, Ruddy Darter and many more. Fritillary and Blue butterflies will add to the variety, while birds will be Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

Day 9 Today we will head to Trigrad Gorge in Western Rhodopes Mountain with several stops on the way for Northern Damselfly, Four-spotted and Scarce Chaser, Balkan Goldenring, Banded Darter and Yellow-winged Darter; Green-eyed Hawker, Lesser Emperor, Downy and Balkan Emerald. We arrive in the gorge, which is famous for its Wallcreepers, other birds are Rock Bunting, Black Woodpecker, Alpine Swift. Our hotel is situated in a village ten minutes from the gorge. Accommodation and dinner.

Day 10 Morning walk for Apollo, Chequered Skipper, Balkan Copper, and another look at the Wallcreepers. Latter on we continue West to the Lake Kerkini with longer stops on the way in Pirin Mnt. to see Balkan and Somber Goldenring, Large Red Damsel. Lunch on the way and late in the afternoon we arrive in the hotel on Kerkini Lake (Greece), where we have one overnights.

Day 11 We will explore Struma river for Common, Green and River Clubtails. We will loking for Bladetail, Black Pennant, Spoted Darter, Scare Chaser and Whitetailed Skimmer around Kerkini lake. Butterflies may include Iolas Blue, 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 Grizzle Skipper, Persian Skipper, Southern White Admiral, Hermit, Anomalous Blue and Grecian Anomalous Blue. There will be a variety of birds at the lake too. On way back to Bulgaria we will explore a forest river valley for Balkan Goldenring and Yellow-spotted Emerald. We arrive in the hotel of the town of Melnik, where we have three overnights.

Day 12 Day at the foothills of Pirin and Alibotush Mtns. in searching for Balkan Goldenring, Eastern Spectre, Southern Skimmer and other species. This region is also famous with great number of butterfly species - more than 70 species occurs here - all the Anomalous Blues, Purple-shot Copper, Balkan Marbled White, Hermit etc.

Day 13 Today we explore the area near Struma River and here we expect: Eastern Willow Spreadwing, variable Blue-eye, and Small Red-eyed Damselflies, Green-eyed and Blue-eyed Hawkers, River Clubtail, Scarce Chaser and Whitetailed Skimmer, Scarlet, Southern, Red-veined and Marshland Darters, and other species. This region is the only known Bulgarian locality for Black Pennant and the recently discovered Bladetail. Birds will include Rock Nuthatch, Black Stork, Masked Shrike and Levant Sparrowhawk. While the butterflies will be represented by Freyer's Purple Emperor, Map butterfly, both Gliders etc. Evening, free program in the town - an architectural reserve with several houses designated as culture's monuments. The region is also famous with its excellent local wine.

Day 14 Transfer to Sofia with possible stops in Kresna Gorge, if time permitting.


Photo and video gallery

Dragonflies of Bulgaria

Dragonflies of Bulgaria

Dragonflies of Bulgaria tour gallery