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Botanical Holidays in Bulgaria

Orchids of the Western 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 Western Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains. Walking through a rolling landscape of traditional flower-filled hay meadows, stony pastures, sunlit glades in ancient forests, rocky karst limestone, and refreshing 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 Western 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 Western 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 Holiday in Bulgaria's Rodopi Mountains

Botanical Orchid Holidays in Bulgaria's Western Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains

Orchid Holiday in Bulgaria's Western Rhodope Mountains

Botanical Orchid Holidays in Bulgaria's Western Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains

Orchid Holidays in Western Rodopi Mountains

Holiday Highlights

- The stunning Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) growing in its most south-easterly outpost in Europe.

- Three beautiful Ophrys species: Horned Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax subsp. cornuta), Eastern Spider Orchid (Ophrys sphegodes subsp. mammosa), Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera).

- The elusive and mystical Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum).

- A bewildering variety of marsh orchids including: Kalopiss's marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza kalopissii), Baumann's Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza baumanniana), Heart-shpaed Orchid (Dactylorhiza cordigera), Sack-bearing Orchid (Dactylorhiza saccifera), Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina).

- Many beautiful and sought-after members of the Orchis genus such as: Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea), Military Orchid (Orchis militaris), Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia), Burnt Orchid (Orchis ustulata).

- Three attractive Cephalanthera species: White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium), Sword-leaved helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia), and the more restricted Red helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra).

- A variety of rare regionally endemic plants such as Haberlea rhodopensis, Tulipa rhodopaea, Scabiosa rhodopensis, Viola rhodopeia, Lilium rhodopeum, Secale rhodopaeum.

- Time to soak up the spiritual atmosphere and culture of the Bachkovo Monastery, one of the largest and most beautiful monasteries in Bulgaria.

- 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 Western Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, you will have the chance to explore a number of Bulgaria’s specially designated Important Plant Areas and Botanic Reserves. 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 for the Western Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains, and begin our orchid holiday in the ‘Chervenata Stena’ Biosphere Reserve. This was originally founded as a special botanic reserve and now forms the core of the Dobrostan Important Plant Area. The region is renowned for its orchids, with at least 25 species of orchid have been recorded here, including the Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium calceolus), which is critically endangered in Bulgaria. Another striking orchid that grows here is the Horned Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax subsp. cornuta), as well as White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia) and the more restricted Red Helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra). There are also plenty of Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) and Three-toothed Orchid (Neotinea tridentata).

The bulk of this orchid holiday in the Western Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains will be spent exploring the diverse orchid flora of the Trigrad-Perelik-Persenk Important Plant Area. This picturesque region is swathed in a patchwork of ancient forests and beautiful traditional hay meadows, also well as punctuated by large areas of karst limestone outcrops and gorges. Here some of the key orchids we will be searching for will include the photogenic Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera) and Eastern Spider Orchid (Ophrys sphegodes subsp. mammosa), as well as other sought after species such as Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum), Creeping Lady's Tresses (Goodyera repens), Pink Butterfly Orchid (Anacamptis papilionacea), Military Orchid (Orchis militaris) and Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia). The flora of the limestone rocks in this region also hold many interesting regional endemic plants such as Haberlea rhodopensis, Hieracium kittanae, Marrubium frivaldskyanum, Morina persica, Scrophularia bulgarica, Secale rhodopaeum, Scabiosa rhodopensis and the Tsar Boris Fir (Abies borisii-regis).

Our third area of focus during this holiday will be the botanic riches of the Western Rhodope (Rodopi) Important Plant Area. This region of the Rodopi (Rhodope) Mountains also holds many interesting endemic species such as Geum rhodopeum, Viola rhodopeia and Veronica rhodopaea. The lush meadows of the region also holds plenty of orchids, in particular an often confusing variety of marsh orchids including Baumann’s Orchid (Dactylorhiza baumanniana) and Heart-shaped Orchid (Dactylorhiza cordigera), as well as plenty of Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) and its much rarer relatives Marsh Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia densiflora) and Frivald's Orchid (Gymnadenia frivaldii).

Further Information

If you are interested in a tailor-made botanic holiday in search of orchids in Bulgaria's Western 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 Western 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.