Frequently Asked Questions - Bulgaria: Birds PLUS

 

 

Terms and Conditions

You can find our full legal terms and conditions here. Below are the answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

 

 

Travel Insurance

Insurance is not just about losing your luggage. You must, must, must take out travel insurance before coming on this tour. Do not just rely on the E111, which may be affected or invalidated by Brexit. If you did have an accident, the health care services in the Balkans may not match what you expect or are used to at home. Anyone can slip and fall, whether walking in the city or on a mountain.

 

You may wish to investigate whether your travel insurance covers the cost of your own termination of the contract with us, or as to the cost of assistance, including repatriation, in the event of accident, illness or death.

 

 

What's included in the price

 

- Full-board, three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner

- Juice, coffee or tea at breakfast (sometimes hotels provide one glass of alcohol with lunch and dinner, but it is not the norm)

- Accommodation (3-star equivalent. Every hotel is warm, clean, cosy and with Wi-Fi at least in the dining area and/or reception)

- Transport to and from the airport

- Transport during the full itinerary

- Financial Failure Insurance (see section on Package Tour Regulations)

- All expert and local guides

- Entry to any museums, archaeological sites or monuments

- Water and fruit in the minibus

 

 

What's not included in the price

 

- Flights (further information on flights below)

- Travel insurance (do not forget this!)

- Drinks in hotels, or at lunch and dinner

- Snacks

 

 

*Cost, deposit and payment

The cost at the top of the page is for this particular itinerary, including (and not including) everything mentioned in the two paragraphs above.

If you were to customise it, reducing days and activities, naturally the price will change. We'll work with you to keep the trip inside your budget, maybe by enabling you to self-guide yourself.

 

To reserve your place and book onto the tour we request a deposit of £250.00 per person. The remaining balance is due at least 8 weeks before the first day of the tour.

 

 

Termination

Guests may terminate the contract at any time before the start of the package in return for payment of a termination fee. For full details of circumstances for termination by you, us or force majeure, please have a look at our Terms and Conditions.

 

You may wish to investigate whether your travel insurance covers the cost of your own termination of the contract with us, or as to the cost of assistance, including repatriation, in the event of accident, illness or death.

 

 

**Dates & Flexibility for Personalised tours

If you can’t make or don’t fancy one of our set tours, we have a lot of experience customising our tours for private groups.

Nature is best in spring, which is more or less April to June. In July you'll enjoy hot weather and you can still see species such as bee-eaters and a good selection of butterflies, but not like in the core months of April to June. Spring here, like in northern and central Europe, can bring rain.

 

So the itinerary here is our suggestion, based on our experience and trying to balance "seeing everything", with still being relaxed and having a holiday. But we're equally happy to do more or fewer days, or to focus on your favourite species.

 

 

Flights

You will most likely be able to find more convenient flights from your local airport than us. But we do have a list of common flights and connections, so do ask us if you're wondering when and where to fly to.

 

The flexibility from booking your own flights also means that you or your group could fly into another regional airport, such as Burgas, Varna, Bucarest or even Thessaloniki, and meet us in Sofia. 

We aim to depart from Sofia by 14:00. This allows for people to arrive on morning flights from Gatwick and Luton. If these flights don't work for you, then we can recommend hotels and things to do in Sofia (incredible city, with fine museums and nearby birding) and suggest you arrive a day earlier.

 

 

Group size

For us, responsible tourism doesn't work with large or even medium sized groups. We run exclusive tours where you get as much access as possible to the people we meet and the sites we visit. This tour will run with 4 guests at a minimum, and 7 as a maximum.

 

For customised tours, our preference is for couples or small groups of friends, from 2 to 7 people, but we would discuss tours for slightly larger groups.

 

In line with the 2018 Package Tour Regulations, if a guest books on and pays a deposit and/or payment in full, we reserve the right to cancel the tour if we do not receive at least 4 guests on this tour. This will not be later than 20 days before the start of the package. We would write to you to terminate the package travel contract and provide you with a full refund of any payments made for the package.

 

 

Accommodation

If you're interested in eco-tourism in the Balkans you probably don't expect 5-star accommodation, golf clubs or Spa Hotels. The guest houses in our region are small, cosy and family run, and, where possible, we use traditional stone houses converted to accommodation. We have stayed as guests ourselves in all the places on this tour, and we know that they are clean, warm, with hot water, en-suite and have Wi-Fi. If you would like further information on any accommodation used on the tour, please do contact us.

 

Transport

The cost includes a 9 seater minibus (usually 1 driver plus a maximum of 7 guests), which is used exclusively throughout the tour, from picking you up at the airport until dropping you back at the airport. On occasions, with private tours, if there will be more than 8 guests we will either hire a 12-20 seat minibus and driver, or consider whether to bring a second car with us. This will impact a touch on the cost, to be spread of course by all participants.

 

 

Language

The tours are in English, which allows us to translate between the various Balkan languages. But don't worry if you're not a native English speaker, you won't need a high level of English yourself. The many local guides that we use are not native English speakers, so they won't be using complicated words or speaking fast. They will be happy to speak slowly and repeat when necessary. We can also provide printed materials every morning that give detailed information about what you will hear during the day.

 

 

 

Responsible Tourism - how you give back to the region

 

You can read about this in 'Our Philosophy' section or watch our two-minute video about this here.

 

 

Weather

 

In the cities, plains and Eastern Rhodope, it is warm from April, and then very hot in high summer. But in the high mountains, such as around Trigrad and the Western Rhodope, whilst the summers are warm, at altitude there are snowy winters, and similar springs and autumns are similar to those in northern Europe. 

 

Nature in the region is best seen in spring, before the sun scorches the land and birds begin to migrate back.  There's still a lot to see and enjoy in July, especially birds and butterflies, but it can reach 30-35C in mid-July, so you need to consider if that's too hot for you to be walking around.

 

Spring in any mountains can be wet, and any eco-tour in Europe runs the risk of rain. There's nothing we can do about it, although it would be extremely unfortunate to have 7 days of continuous rain. April is the wettest month at altitude, May is fairly mild, June is warm and can see showers, and July is quite hot.

 

 

 

 

What to Bring

  • Good walking boots. When it's wet, walking shoes won't be enough. We may also walk on the sand by rivers and streams. Boots are best

  • Plenty of good walking socks

  • Waterproof coat and trousers (in really bad rain we will alter the itinerary, but bring them just in case)

  • Hats and gloves.  Even in June and July, if we are above 1,000m, it can get cold very quickly. Not icy cold, but you'll appreciate some light hats and gloves.

  • Phone chargers

  • Plug adapters for UK guests

 

 

Meals

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the cost.

 

Breakfast is Continental, with the occasional, regional addition of pastry pies (cheese pie, spinach pie etc.).

Lunches alternate between packed lunches from the hotel or a local tavern.

Dinners are in the hotel or a local tavern.

 

We try our best to use small, family-run hotels and restaurants, but even when we can't, we agree on the menu in advance and try to ensure that it's local recipes.

 

Meals are "Balkan style". This means that all the food is in the middle of the table and we share.  So, if you have any requests or allergies, or prefer to have your own plate, you must advise us at least 4 weeks in advance so that we can arrange different menus with each venue.

 

Vegetarians can be catered for, as the region is rich in meze and salads. Vegan has been done a few times too, but we'll contact you to get some ideas for what you'd like to eat each day. It's a more limited menu, as even without meat the regional food revolves around dairy products. But it's possible. We've also done the tour for people with glucose or lactose intolerances.

 

 

Pace, difficulty, mobility

We’ve tried to design the tours so that each day feels like a gentle ramble at a pace that allows people to enjoy what they see, and for those who like to photograph things, to feel that they’re not rushed. It’s not a photography tour though, so very keen photographers won’t necessarily have the time to wait for the perfect shot.

 

Whilst we don’t tend to stray too far from the minibus, we can be walking on dirt roads or through meadows for anything from twenty minutes up to two hours before returning to the vehicle. As we go at a very slow pace, we aren’t going to do more than a couple of miles or three kilometres even in two hours.

 

The region is mountainous, but we won’t be doing any hikes and will do most of the climbing by minibus. One could imagine walks to be similar to a ramble in the Downs, Peaks or Lake District; there won’t be any sections where you need to scramble or use hands, but the gradient can vary. We recommend walking sticks for those who would use them for walks back in the UK.

 

One should also bear in mind that some of the mountain villages can have steep roads inside the village; they’re not long, but the gradient is noticeable. Again though, we’d be patient and wait for anyone who wanted to see it but needed to ascend and descend at their leisure.

 

For further information on each day’s walking, please do email or call us.

 

 

Visas and Passports

 

The UK Foreign Office recommends that no British citizen travels without at least 6 months remaining on their passports (this is their advice in light of Brexit on 29 March 2019, regardless of whether there is deal or no deal Brexit). Citizens of other countries should speak to their government department for specific advice.

 

All citizens, UK and otherwise, are responsible for having the correct travel documents to enter Bulgaria. It is especially important that EU citizens check whether they are able to cross all three borders with their ID cards instead of passports. Either way, we strongly recommend that you bring passports. Old identity cards, especially those which are still handwritten, have been rejected at certain border crossings.

 

Brexit

Even in the event of a no deal, soundings from the UK and EU tell us that neither side wants months of chaos for holidaymakers, so we do not expect any obstacles such as visa requirements or grounded flights. However, we'll be keeping abreast of the situation.

 

Contact Details

The tour is run by Balkan Tracks Limited of 60 Featherbank Lane, Leeds LS18 4NW. Any questions should be fielded to Christopher at info@balkantracks.com and 0044 (0)7506 381 757.

 

 

BALKAN TRACKS

CONTACT

FOLLOW US

info@balkantracks.com

0044 (0)7506 381757

 

 

Unit 8A, Red Lane Mill, Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley, LS28 5UJ

UK

 

 

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