A wildlife tour focused exclusively on seeing wolves from special hide

On the track of the wolf pack

Saturday 21st - Saturday 28th April 2018

The Grey Wolf is perhaps the most appealing and misunderstood animal in Europe. Being on the top of the food chain it enjoyed a privileged life for millions of years before meeting its match - the human. Seen as a beast to be feared, the wolf was quickly wiped out from most of the Western European countries. While in the East, for various reasons it managed to survive, experiencing worse and better days. Even in Bulgaria, some thirty years ago, the wolves - population was lowered to as few as 100 individuals, mainly because of the widespread use of poison in the sixties. After its official ban, the law enforcement took place and the numbers have gradually increased, currently the population in spring is around 1200 animals. However, it is still hunted with no limits whatsoever; anyway, due to the lack of poison (which use was the real problem) it is now increasing.

Even in Bulgaria, where the wolf has never been extinct, most of the people are ignorant of the importance of the wolf for the ecosystem and biodiversity or they simply deny acceptance of it.

Things however are changing, not only in Bulgaria, but also in the whole of Europe. Although  the changes are happening slowly, what better way to accelerate the situation is there, than with the growth of ecotourism.  Captive wolves are one of the most photographed animals in Europe and this shows just how attractive to people the wolf now is. But photographing wolves in captivity is simple; the real challenge is to see one in the wild, let alone photograph one. Centuries of persecution have developed a deep rooted fear of humans and that, together with it its sharp senses, natural intelligence, amazing mobility and shy nature, all contribute to making the wolf one of the most elusive creatures.

For a number of years we have been trying to include the option to reliably see wolves into our program and finally we have succeeded. Last summer we built a hide, especially aimed at seeing them. It is situated in one of the best areas for the wolf in Bulgaria, and in order to maximize the chances to see them, it is designed to allow comfortable overnight stays. For a number of nights in the hide if needs be.

During the last winter season, we tested the hide 9 times and the wolves have been in front of it for at least 5 of them.

The best time to see the wolves is from October to May and for our tour we have chosen the end of that period. It is the time when the hunting is long over, the wolves are relatively relaxed, but it is also a time when they are actively feeding their cubs, so the baits we put out for them are a very attractive source of food.

Within the tour we will have two night stays in the hide, but we will also explore the surroundings for the wolves presence, signs and tracks of their activities. Most of the area is open mountain hills where we can have good visibilities at long distances. Our best chances of seeing the wolves however are from the hide.

ITINERARY

Day 1 
    Arrival at Sofia airport and an hour and a half transfer will bring us at the area where we will spend the following week. We will first check in at a local hotel, followed by an exploration trip in the area - by 4x4 and walking, in order for you to get familiar with the site.

Days 2 to 7
    After breakfast we will explore the area again and late afternoon we will enter the hide for our first overnight session. The hide is about 20 sq meters, including a proper toilet and small kitchen with a wood stove and gas heater. All the surfaces are made of wooden cladding to dampen down any sounds. There are beds, table and chairs, as well as shelves - all very cozy and comfortable. The observation area is 4 x 4 meters. On two of the sides there are two large windows 180x50 cm (so four in total) each with stopsol glass that allows you to watch and even photograph through it.

We will spend at least two nights in a row here, even better three. The hide is spacious; temperatures should be very pleasant, so staying in the hide will not be tough work. However, preparing yourself for spending long hours in the hide, keeping a low profile and being very quiet - could have unforgettable prizes.

The most likely time for the wolves to appear is the early morning, but of course they appear any time. All the participants, along with the leader ought to watch out together as much as possible, as there are not many signals that a wolf is approaching. There will be a long hours of nothing happening, but our efforts might be rewarded at any moment. There will not be many other animals around - a Golden Eagle also attracted by the bait, plus Ravens and may be a buzzard. If the wolves are around, there will be no Foxes, but a Wild Cat is possible, plus a Weasel which has its home near the hide.


We will leave the hide in the late morning of day 4, and explore another part of the area, looking for wolves and signs and tracks of their activities. In the evening we will stay in the hotel, for a shower and meal in the restaurant.

The next day we will further explore the area and in the evening we will enter the hide again, for another 2 nights stay, waiting for the wolves.

On day 7 we will leave the hide at a chosen time. This depends on the success of the previous days. Afterwards, we will either further explore the area or if it is late, head to the hotel for our last overnight stay within the tour.

Day 8   After breakfast, depending on the time of your departure flight, we can visit a wetland on the way to the airport, or have a sightseeing tour in Sofia. Departure.




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