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Botanical Holidays in Bulgaria

Orchids of the Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains

Balkan Trek's unique and highly rewarding botanic holiday in Bulgaria, will take you on an exploration of the orchids of Bulgaria's Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains. Walking through a dramatic landscape of unimproved grasslands, stony hillside scrubs, dappled deciduous woodland, rugged volcanic outcrops, and lush river valleys, we will go in search of some of the rarest and most beautiful orchids and endemic plants in Bulgaria. By the end of this botanic holiday in Bulgaria's Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, you will not only have had the chance to find and photograph a large variety of orchids and endemic plants, but also have had a memorable insight into both the outstanding flora and fauna of the Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, as well as the traditional way of life and rural heritage which helps to preserve the delicate wild flower habitats in this part of Bulgaria.

Orchid botanic holiday in Eastern Rodopi Mountains

Orchid Holiday in Eastern Rodopi Mountains Bulgaria

Botanic Holidays in the Eastern Rodopi Mountains

Botanic Holidays in search of Eastern Rhodope Orchids

Botanic Holiday in Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains

 Holiday Highlights

- Four species of Cephalanthera including Red Helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra), White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia), and the rare and localized Spurred Helleborine (Cephalanthera epipactoides).

- Three beautiful Ophrys species: Horned Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax subsp. cornuta), Eastern Spider Orchid (Ophrys shpegodes subsp. mammosa) and Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera).

- The extremely striking and recently separated Balkan Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum jankae).

- An interesting variety of other unusual and sought after orchids including Violet Limodore (Limodorum abortivum), Ploughshare Orchid (Serapias vomeracea) and Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis paplionaceae).

- An exciting search for the regionally rare Provence Orchid (Orchis provincialis).

- An amazingly rich diversity of other rare plants including Salix xanthicola, Haberlea rhodopensisLathraea rhodopea, Polygala rhodopaea, Potentilla regis-borisii, Campanula rumeliana, Campanula phrygia and Onobrychis degenii, as well as beautiful species such as Fritilaria pontica, Silene compacta, Anemone pavonia and Iris graminea.

- Opportunities to witness a traditional rural way of life that appears unchanged for many generations.

- A chance to soak up the timeless atmosphere of remote villages that still preserve unique vernacular architecture.

- Delicious traditional Bulgarian cuisine.

- An experienced, knowledgeable and highly informative botanic guide.

NB: Unlike many other wildlife holiday companies in Bulgaria who attempt to cut costs by making their guides have to double up as drivers, we employ separate professional drivers with licensed vehicles for all our botanical holidays in Bulgaria as we believe it is not only safer to have a driver fully focused on the road, but also allows our guides to concentrate fully on looking after you and finding you the wildlife!

Further Inspiration

During the course of this orchid holiday in Bulgaria’s Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, you will have the chance to explore a number of Bulgaria’s specially designated Important Plant Areas. These Important Plant Areas and Botanic Reserve, incorporate a wide variety of orchid habitats, providing excellent opportunities to observe and photograph some of Bulgaria’s rarest and most beautiful species.

Having been met by the guide and driver in Sofia, we set off on the long drive into the heart of the Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, making our way into the dramatic Arda Valley. Here, over the coming days, we will visit a string of Important Plant Areas, where some of the orchid species we will be looking for include Balkan Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum jankae), Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis paplionaceae) and Lady Orchid (Orchis pupurea), as well as several more common species such as Green-veined Orchid (Orchis morio), Lax-flowered Orchid (Anacamptis laxiflora) and Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia). Whilst in this region we will also be looking out for a wonderful selection of other attractive rarities such as Haberlea rhodopensisLathraea rhodopea, Polygala rhodopaea, Potentilla regis-borisii, Campanula rumeliana, Fritilaria pontica, Silene compacta, Anemone pavonia and two beautiful irises Iris graminea and Iris reichenbachii.

Tucked away in the far south-eastern corner of the Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, the Byala Reka Important Plant Area holds a whole host of unusual plants, including the rare willow Salix xanthicola and endemic bellflower Campanula phrygia. Here too we can find the rare and localized Spurred Helleborine (Cephalanthera epipactoides), as well as the two other similar looking species White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium) and Sword-leaved (Cephalanthera longifolia), and also Red Helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra). The beautiful Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) also grows in this region.

Further north, the hills around the town of Ivaylovgrad have also been designated an Important Plant Area. Here amidst a mosaic of coppiced deciduous woodland, dry grasslands, and rocky hillsides, one can find an outstanding variety of orchids, which includes both familiar widespread species such as Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) and Lesser Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera bifolia), as well as more unusual and restricted species including Violet Limodore (Limodorum abortivum) and a significant population of Balkan Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum jankae). It is also a good region for both Horned Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax subsp. cornuta) and Eastern Spider Orchid (Ophrys shpegodes subsp. mammosa).

 Further Information

If you are interested in a tailor-made botanic holiday in search of orchids in the Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, then please email Balkan Trek with more details of your own special requirements and plans, and we will be happy to design and organize for you a rewarding and memorable botanic holiday exploring the orchids of the Eastern Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains!

Responsible Tourism Promise

All our botanical holidays in Bulgaria are operated in accordance with our strict Responsible Tourism Policy, ensuring that the botanic holidays we offer in Bulgaria are not only of the highest quality but also help preserve the natural habitats and traditional way of life of the local Bulgarian people.