Secrets of the Rhodope

Walks, birds & mammal ecology



(ask about custom groups)






(+£50 single supp.)




02 Nov - 09 Nov 2019

26 Sep - 03 Oct 2020

31 Oct - 07 Nov 2020

same weeks in 2021


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.

Day One:


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


Day Seven:


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’.

Hotel in Thessaloniki for one night


Day Eight:


Fly home

Depending on people's flights out, we'll have coffee and a stroll.

Guests could also take a flight out late on Day Seven, if needs be.

But we'd recommend you stay to enjoy Thessaloniki with us.

Previous guests have stayed a few days, combining trips into

Meteora, Phillip IIs tomb or to Athens.



1. Thessaloniki

Fly in, meet for dinner and introductions.


2. Nestos Riverine Forest

Travel to Nestos & explore the forest.


3. Nestos Delta

Early morning at delta & in riverine forest.


4. Gorge and Macedonian Tomb

Ascend to Haidou via an ancient tomb.


5 & 6. Walks around Haidou

Great views from the top of Haidou forest  


7. Lagoons, Thessaloniki, Feet up

Kalochori lagoons & afternoon in town.


8. Fly home

Fly out as early or late as you like.

Click to enlarge




0044 (0)7506 381757



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




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