Secrets of the Rhodope
Walks, birds & jackals
100s of bears & 1000s of 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 finest forest.
1. This isn't a mammal photography trip and we don't use hides or give a percentage chance of seeing the large carnivores.
2. As with all our tours, it's for lovers of walks, history and landscapes, with a lot of fine birds around and a fair chance of seeing jackal. But hazel grouse and capercaillie require luck. The chance of seeing a bear on a walk in a group is very slim, even from distance.
3. Most days involve early morning visits to meadows and into forests when nature is at its best.
4. 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.
Below are the main natural and cultural highlights.
To view or download the full, detailed itinerary, plus other documents, have a look in the orange download box.
Day 1 - Arrive in Thessaloniki
Fly into Thessaloniki (SKG) anytime during the day.
Meet for dinner and introductions.
The tour uses modern 4x4s
Hotel in THESSALONIKI for one night
Days 2 & 3 - Nestos Riverine Forest
Discover Greece's largest riverine forest, home to eagles, woodpeckers, wildcat and jackal.
Porto Lagos lagoons - waterbird paradise.
Evening in historic Xanthi
Hotel near Xanthi for two nights
Days 4 to 6 - The Rhodope Mountains
Walk inside an ancient Macedonian tomb
Stay in the secluded Forestry Village of Erymanthou.
Explore the Haidou forest. Ecologically some of the most interesting forest in Greece.
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 7 - Philippi, Deltas & Thessaloniki
Philippi - where Octavian defeated Brutus and St Paul the Apostle was imprisoned
Axios Delta National Park and wildlife rescue centre.
Walking tour of and castle district of Thessaloniki.
Hotel in Thessaloniki for one night
Day 8 - Fly home
Morning coffee and a stroll.
Archaeological museum (optional - free morning if you like)