100s of bears & jackal roam Balkan forests and rivers.
Inhabit their home for a week, treading quietly through the forest in the mornings and late afternoons. Learn about their habitats, diets and how to recognise their tracks and signs from a local and expert birder, mountain guide and photographer.
You'll also dine with the loggers, hunters and shepherds who live in the mountains and encounter the mammals.
And we hope to run into capercaillie, black woodpecker and hazel grouse in what is some of Europe's most unspoilt forest.
1. This isn't a photography trip and we don't use hides, so we don't give any percentage chances of seeing the large carnivores. It's a tour for lovers of walks and landscapes, with a lot of fine birds around and a fair chance of seeing jackal. But hazel grouse and capercaillie require luck. For us though, it's not about seeing them. That's just a bonus.
2. Most days involve early morning and evening visits to meadows and into forests, so we hope to see or hear what's around us, whether that be a fox, tortoise or jackal.
3. We wouldn't call it a hiking trip either. It's an ecology tour, where visitors learn about the forest ecosystem - the beautiful nature and the human pressures exerted on them. Each day does involve walking, between 2 and 4 miles, but split over the day - not all in one go. The walking is never technical (you won't use your hands) and whilst we take it at a very easy pace - we try to keep quiet and often stop to examine some insect or fire salamander - you will need to be in good health to comfortably walk for six days.
Arrive in Thessaloniki
Fly into Thessaloniki (SKG) anytime during the day.
Meet us at Hotel Pefka (or similar) for dinner and introductions.
The tour uses modern 4x4s
Hotel in THESSALONIKI for one night
Day Two & Three:
Sunday & Monday
Nestos Riverine Forest
Early morning, afternoon and evening walks in Greece's largest riverine forest, home to eagles, woodpeckers, wildcat and jackal.
Short walks in and above the Nestos gorge, with an eye on circling raptors.
Visit the Porto Lagos and Thracian lagoons. Water bird paradise.
Hotel in, or near, Toxotes for two nights
Days Four to Six:
Tuesday - Thursday
The Rhodope Mountains
Drive to an ancient Macedonian tomb
Lunch in the mountain town of Stavroupoli.
Continue the ascent to the secluded Forestry Village of Haidou.
Various morning, afternoon and evening walks in the Haidou forest. Ecologically some of the most interesting forest in Greece.
Impressive bridges were built to cross swelling rivers. We check
around them for prints... and British gold.
Lunch at an old camp of nomadic Sarakatsan shepherds
Dinner with Pomak loggers (Muslim minority)
Ottoman & Cold War history.
The cabins and restaurant are now run by a retired army engineer, who worked on the border here.
Cabin in Logger's Village for three nights
Lagoons, Thessaloniki & Feet Up
The Kalochori lagoon is a great place for coastal birds and we
visit a wildlife rescue centre too.
Then a relaxing evening in the
Upper Town and castle district of Thessaloniki.
A fascinating city, best described in Mark Mazower’s ‘Salonica, City of Ghosts’.