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JUNE 20th to 29th 2009 A tour with Naturetrek .      Click to enlarge photo; "back" to return. 

We went via Sofia to Vitosha National Park to Rila, to Bansko and to near Pamporovo in Rhodope Mountains. See red underline.

Ex Communist Party Hunting Lodge now the Hotel Studena, in the Vitosha National  Park for two nights stay.

The last few yards to the Hotel Studena after walking round the lake.

The coach picks its way through road works

Owl Fly

Blue and Red Chafer

Fritillaries on "Saltlick"

Cow wheat

Soldier Beetle

The morning view from the terrace

The Dining Room, there cannot be many stags left around!

The walk round the Sudena Lake seems much longer than 4 miles!

Embarrassed Lizard

Two Burnet Moths

Rose Chafer

Green Chafer on Hawkweed

Bee Orchid

On the hills and we found just one orchid left

Marbled White

The Driver lunching on cherries

Painted Archway Rila Monastery

The "Toalet" (misspelt) entrance at Rila Monastery

Monks accommodation, I think, plus our coach.


Rila Monastery  defensive tower

The Monastery Church

Rila Monastery Courtyard

Lunch was in Restaurant behind the Umbrellas

The Courtyard

Covered balconies

A short stop for marsh flowers

A Small Holding

Village and Mosque through coach window

Edible snail, about 4inches across

Hill Village

Another ruin

Photo stop for viewing storks, the village centre

A derelict house used  by storks.

This house has become used as a barn

The outer wall has gone

Stork's nest

Village Lad wanting a tip.

Little Blue

Local Stones plus Icons

Black winged Damsel Fly

Closed Fritillary Butterfly

A Cricket on Daisy

Local Hero

Lunch Break by the meadows

Flower Meadow

Roesel's Bush Cricket

Fritillary Butterfly 

Spring fed drinking trough

Uncultivated Flower Meadows

War Memorial in the countryside

Botanising in the Meadows

Pirin Mountains from Bansko Spa Hotel where we stayed for three nights

Copper & Emerald Butterflies on Vicia varia

Bansko Street in Pirin Mountains National Park

The gardens were for grapes or vegetables

Dreaming of a balcony?

Garden Goats in Bansko, some people grew corn or vegetables and many have grapes shading a terrace.

Bansko Street towards the Pirin mountains

From our Window

Mum off to work early

Grandma sunning herself

A Roma scouting around. We failed to find the Post Office, it looked just like a new bank! There were no post boxes

Off to work early

 Workers' Cafe was open at 7am

Roma sorting rubbish

Road to Bansko Spa Hotel

The view from our Bansko Spa Hotel window

Pirin Mountain and ski runs

These goats lived opposite our bedroom

Bansko Church Tower and Stork

Pub aimed at British Skiers "Asda Prices"

Pub in "local" style


Local roof style

Menu for the British Ski-ers

Urban Tractor Park

The friendly local dogs who accompanied us around Bansko

Another local

Old Factory

Shiroka Loka

Roses grow well in Bulgaria, wild or cultivated.

Shiroka Loka  Town Centre

Shiroka Loka back street inspected by Helen etc

Wild Rose

Wild Rose

A drunk addressing the bus queue

Political Discussion?

We have most things you might want

Spring Gentian



Dawn from our room in the Elitza, note Suicides' Cliff to the right

The Israeli owned ski lodge, Hotel Elitza, near Pamporovo in the Rhodope Mountains for two nights

Looking down a ski run, without the snow Roma women had been clearing stones.

Roadside Cafe

Rhodope Mountains Tourist Centre

Chafer with copper false face

Chimney Sweep Butterfly

Orchid Meadow




Snow Melt near which we found crocus, gentians, squills, iris etc.

Snow Glacier, forest and a glimpse of the Mountain Refuge

A mountain stream, pretty wet to cross!




Pirin Mountains

Spring Squill

Mountain Refuge

Mountain Farm, can you see the old ladies?

Laundry Line

Lunch out of the bad weather in the Refuge. It was very cold and wet.

Mitko, botanist, and our singer/driver warming themselves up.

And the rest drinking mountain tea for    1/2 lev

Pink and White Dianthus Microlepsis

Birdsfoot Trefoil


Large Copper

Marbled White

Where is that man?

What is he doing with that camera?

Old mates



Haberlea, remnant from before the ice age.

Trigrad Gorge & our group

Trigrad River before going underground for a while

Bear tours hut.

A cave

Bush Cricket, Poecilimon thoracicus

Acres of Sunflowers on the Central Plain on our way back to Sofia

Black Veined White

Farm Cart 

Happy Bar & Grill Comfort stop

Iskar River near to Sofia

Sofia Cathedral


Latin names of plants are on Helen's website  http://fands.org.uk/1.FANDSBulgaria.htm