Saturday 26 November 2022

Bulgaria in October - Logistics and itinerary

Bulgaria, 4th-9th October 2022

This was a somewhat speculative trip to see what Eastern Europe in the late autumn was like. And on reflection, it is now rather obvious why everyone goes in the spring! I've previously enjoyed good results with the camera in Bulgaria, and as such I had this billed primarily as a photography trip. Mistake. As far as photography trips go this was up there with my least successful, a resounding failure! Five days of searching in vain for cooperative subjects saw us return home with virtually nothing to show for it. And as I had left the scope behind the backup plan of birding was also less successful than it might have been.

Plan A had been to stay in the western half of the country and bird the mountains. This was so dire, with such birdlife as there was flushing at absurd distances, that we gave up and travelled to the Black Sea coast. The area around Burgas had far more birds, but everything was equally wary, particularly waterbirds - there must be a lot of shooting. We recorded 131 species which I suppose is not a bad trip list, but on the photography front some decent images of Stonechat and Water Rail don't really count for a great deal vs the time spent there. You cannot win them all I suppose, and I have found out the hard way why there are no October trip reports from Bulgaria!

  • A five day trip in early October departing London on Tuesday morning and returning on Sunday afternoon.
  • Flights: from Heathrow to Sofia on British Airways.
  • Covid logistics: nothing whatsoever.
  • Car Hire: A cheap Opel from Avis.
  • Driving: Other than the main road across the country, the roads are not in wonderful condition, with potholes so deep you might not get the car out again, particularly in the mountains.
  • Accommodation: All booked whilst we were there, and a good thing too given our initial plan fell to pieces. Very cheap, as are most things in the country, but generally of a middling standard only.
  • Food: Very straightforward. Cheap and good.
  • Literature: The Collins and eBird. 


Day 1: Arrived in Sofia early afternoon and headed south into the mountains. Overnight at Malyovitsa.
Day 2: Morning walk up a track in the hope of finding alpine birds. Hah! Some more unfulfulling birding around Plovdiv in the afternoon convinced us to head as far east as we could go. Overnight at Kraimorie, just south of Burgas.
Day 3: All day birding Burgas and Pomorie, including a vizmig session at Atanasovsko. Overnight Pomorie.
Day 4: All day birding Burgas and Pomorie. Overnight Pomorie.
Day 5: Morning around Burgas and then a slow drive west back to Sofia. Overnight Sofia.
Day 6: Vitosha mountain in the morning, flight home mid-afternoon.