At Natures Images, we always select the right time and the right locations, working with the best wildlife photographers and guides in the business.
The Dalmatian pelicans of Lake Kerkini in northern Greece are one of our guests’ firm favourites and a trip that we pioneered eight years ago. They have received plenty of dramatic photographic coverage recently, and with good reason as they are a stunning species to photograph and offer a huge variety of opportunities for building your portfolio. At this time of the year they are at their most colourful with the males in full beak and throat colour – add in some snow on the surrounding mountains and some lovely winter light and you will have an ideal combination for two full days of photography, kicking off a photographically jam-packed and truly diverse trip.
Bulgaria’s stunning mountain ranges in winter offer a harsh but dramatic beauty, and this is best personified by the raptors to be found here. We will have the opportunity to work from small purpose-built hides in the Balkan Mountains which will give us the opportunity for dramatic photographic encounters with the powerful and majestic Golden Eagle. Additionally, we will work from a small bird hide which offers some of the less common passerines, such as Hawfinch, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Tree Sparrow. And a final session with the characterful Nutcracker will round off an enjoyable and photographically diverse trip, showcasing the best of Bulgaria’s Winter bird species.
Itinerary Open +Close -
Day 1: Upon arrival at Sofia Airport in the early afternoon, we will travel to our base at Melnik in the Pirin mountains (near the Greek border) where we will check in and enjoy a lovely home cooked meal. Over dinner we will discuss what to expect over the coming days, and hints & tips will be provided.
Days 2-3: The format for these two days will be similar, with flexibility to ensure we maximise coverage of our main target, the beautiful Dalmatian pelicans. They will be at their vibrant best as the breeding season approaches, and this is the best time of year to photograph this stunning bird.
On both days we will cross the border into Greece and head for Lake Kerkini, where there is an established resident population and a stunning setting as well. We will have the chance for close-up portraits, wide-angle group shots, swimming, flying, and the chance to take to the water with one of the local fishermen to ensure a wide portfolio of images in a jam-packed couple of days. There’s plenty to work on each day before returning to our hotel for a well-deserved evening meal and the chance to look at the day’s images.
Day 4: First thing in the morning, we will have the option to photograph the stunning sandstone pyramids at our base in Melnik and make use of some additional small bird hide options. After this session, we will then travel from Melnik to Sliven in the heart of the Balkan Mountains, which will be our new base for the next four days.
Days 5 – 7: The hide setups at Sliven will allow us to rotate around in permutations that we will agree on a daily basis as they are all 3-person in their nature. The main one, and our main priority here, is focused on the magnificent Golden Eagle, photographable in a rocky mountainous habitat that completely compliments its nature. With the potential for snow, beautiful winter light and a truly dramatic setting, this is a great place to photograph these stunning raptors. A further hide offers an array of usually challenging small birds including Hawfinch, Tree Sparrow and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and hopefully some snowy conditions will add an additional dynamic to these setups as well. The days in the Eagle hide in particular will be long but potentially very rewarding.
Day 8: A final full day of photography using the hides at Sliven will give everyone a chance to complete their portfolios before a 3-hour drive to Sofia, where we will spend our last night in Bulgaria and be in a good position for our final photographic session the following morning.
Day 9: We will have a short drive to the Vitosha mountain on the outskirts of Sofia where we will enjoy the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with a characterful bird, the Nutcracker, in a location that is a true hotspot for them. After our session here, we will be able to quickly change our clothing at the hotel before making the final hop to Sofia Airport to catch our return flights back home.
What our customers say
“Far far beyond what I’d expect: it was better than perfect”
“An amazing array of opportunities”
“The guides were excellent – interested in photography and knowledgeable on the wildlife”
“Really wanted to see these Pelicans and this trip exceeded my expectations of them”