WALKING & WILDLIFE IN BULGARIA'S PAN PARKS
NATURAL HISTORY OF THE BALKAN & RILA MOUNTAINS
This unique private guided holiday offers individuals, couples or small groups the chance to explore the beautiful landscapes of Bulgaria’s two PAN Parks, the ‘Central Balkan’ National Park and ‘Rila’ National Park, and to discover more about the rich biodiversity of the region. During the course of the holiday there will also be visits to the Troyan Monastery’ Kalofer Monastery and Rila Monastery, three of Bulgaria’s most stunning and atmospheric monasteries, as well as time spent in Koprivshtitsa, an architectural reserve that preserves many exquisite National Revival Style houses.
Furthermore, this holiday has been organised in co-operation with the PAN Parks Foundation, the European wilderness protection organisation, and provides an opportunity to discover Europe’s wilderness in a way which respects the natural environment and supports local businesses. Staying in small family-run hotels and guesthouses, you have the chance to experience the country’s warm hospitality and delicious local cuisine. Also a proportion of the profits from this tour are donated to the PAN Parks Foundation as a direct financial contribution to their vital work in helping to preserve Europe's last remaining wilderness regions.
We begin our holiday in the 'Central Balkan' National Park. Here, amidst a landscape of towering green ridges, rugged cliffs, precipitous valleys and vast areas of centuries-old beech forests, one finds 59 species of mammals including stable populations of large carnivores such as Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) and Wolf (Canis lupus), as well as 123 species of breeding birds, 14 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians, and 2,387 species and subspecies of invertebrates of which 29 are local endemics. The flora of the 'Central Balkan' National Park is also outstanding, 1,900 species and subspecies of higher plants (over 50% of the Bulgarian flora), including 9 local endemics which are unique to the Central Balkans (Central Stara Planina) and can be found nowhere else in the world.
After our fascinating cultural interlude in the Sredna Gora Mountains, visiting an imposing Thracian tomb and spending two nights in the beautiful architectural reserve of Koprivshtitsa, we then enjoy several days of extremely rewarding days in the 'Rila' National Park. The Rila Mountains are the highest mountain range, not only in Bulgaria but on the entire Balkan Peninsula, Over 140 peaks top 2000 metres, including Mount Musala (2925m), the highest peak in South-eastern Europe. In 1992, a large part of the range was designated as the 'Rila' National Park. The flora of the 'Rila' National Park is exceptionally rich with over 1400 species of higher plants. Likewise, the fauna of the 'Rila' National Park is also very varied including 100 species of breeding bird, as well as large mammals such as Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) and Wolf (Canis lupus), the latter seen by clients on a previous trip.
During our explorations of the 'Rila' National Park we will also visit the Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is breathtakingly located in the heart of the range. This is one of the most important cultural and historic sites in the country, and there will be time to visit the Rila Monastery itself as well as walk in the surrounding forests which have been declared a specially protected territory known as the 'Rila Monastery' Nature Park.