Setting off on foot from our hotel, we make a steep, steady climb up the stony flank of the mountain ridge above the village. Here in spring and early summer, there are several interesting species of orchid to be found, as well as numerous butterflies. On reaching the ridgeback, we follow an eroded track to a wonderful cliff-top viewpoint. The rocks here are home to several typical cliff-dwelling species of bird including the beautiful wallcreeper, peregrine falcon, rock thrush, crag martin and alpine swift.
At certain times of year, it is also possible to spot other raptors gliding over, such as golden eagle, short-toed eagle, booted eagle, long-legged buzzard, Eurasian hobby and common kestrel. The wonderful views remain with us throughout the day as we continue our walk, zig-zagging steeply down into the depths of the Buynovsko Gorge on a rough and stony path that leads through a favoured feeding region for both brown bear and Balkan chamois. This evening, the second half of the group will have their second visit to the bear hide. Stay: Hotel Yagodina (or similar) (B/L/D).
After breakfast we set off from the hotel on foot, beginning a long and strenuous, but highly rewarding bear tracking adventure. Having left the village pastures behind, we begin a long steep climb that sees us enter a forested region that is regularly patrolled by brown bears and grey wolf. Especially exciting is the fact that Balkan lynx, a species considered extinct in Bulgaria for almost a century, has very recently been recorded here again! The forests here also harbour many secretive birds such as hazel grouse, black woodpecker and crested tit.
The midpoint of our trail leads us out onto a spectacular rocky crest, from where there are stunning views towards Greece, across waves of forested ridges that make a perfect trans-border corridor by which the large carnivore populations of Bulgaria and Greece can intermix. Having traversed the crest, our descent then leads us steeply down through more silent forest, and finally back out into the meadows and cultivations above Yagodina. Stay: Hotel Yagodina (or similar) (B/L/D).