Bulgaria: Realm of the Brown Bear

8 days
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4.7/5 Excellent
100+ reviews  
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Small Group Tour
Join European brown bear expert Julian Perry for a wildlife-watching adventure in the mystical mountains of Bulgaria. We’ll go on daily hikes, recording tracks, scats and other signs of bear activity as part of vital conservation work by local NGO, Wild Rodopi. On two evenings, we visit a bear-watching hide for a good chance to see the animals we have been mo...
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Trip type
Small Group Tour
Lodging level
Standard - 3 star
Physical level
Trip pace
Balanced schedule


    • Engage in a vital brown bear conservation project
    • Join daily bear-tracking walks with a brown bear expert
    • Hunker down in a hide to observe wild brown bears
    • Spot other elusive mammals, birds, butterflies, reptiles and rare orchids
    • Explore remote landscapes in the Rodopi Mountains
    • Sample delicious traditional local cuisine

What's this trip about?

    Join European brown bear expert Julian Perry for a wildlife-watching adventure in the mystical mountains of Bulgaria. We’ll go on daily hikes, recording tracks, scats and other signs of bear activity as part of vital conservation work by local NGO, Wild Rodopi. On two evenings, we visit a bear-watching hide for a good chance to see the animals we have been monitoring. We will also be collecting images from several camera traps set up in the forests. By the end of this trip, we hope you will have seen wild brown bears and gained an understanding and appreciation of these mysterious, often misunderstood, animals.Scour the remote Rodopi Mountains for wild ‘ursus arctos’


Itinerary focusClassic Highlights
Group sizeIntimate group - max of 12 people
Age range16 years and up
Flights and transportN/A
Start CitySofia
End CitySofia

Travel Themes

  • Birding
  • National Parks
  • Nature & Wildlife


  • Europe
  • Bulgaria


  • Sofia


  • Bird watching
  • Wildlife viewing

Trip includes

    • All breakfasts, six lunches and seven dinners included
    • All accommodation
    • Free group arrival and departure transfers available

Popular Trips


Travel Map

Day 1 Start Sofia Airport; transfer to the village of Yagodina in the remote Rodopi Mountains

Setting off from Sofia Airport, we begin an interesting four-hour transfer to the Rodopi Mountains. Our destination is the remote mountain village of Yagodina, our home for the next six nights. During dinner, our leader will give a welcome briefing about the week ahea...

Day 2 Introductory bear tracking walk in the forests above Yagodina; evening visit to bear hide

After breakfast, we set off on our first bear tracking walk, which will lead us into the surrounding forests searching for, recording and interpreting evidence of Brown bear activity such as scats, prints and various feeding signs. During the walk, there will be an in...

Day 3 Bear tracking in the border zone; evening visit bear hide

After breakfast, we drive to a neighbouring village, where we set off on foot through the border zone. Access to this region was once tightly restricted, and the border itself closed off with a barb-wire fence that was impenetrable to wildlife. With the fencing now re...

Day 4 Exploring where carnivores roam; evening visit bear hide

Today we make an exciting exploration of a core region for brown bear and grey wolf. Red fox, European badger, pine marten, stone marten and European wildcat are also common here, and recently, during his research, the tour leader Julian has also discovered the presen...

Day 5 Panoramic walk in rugged and rocky karst terrain, home to Balkan chamois

Setting off on foot from our hotel, we make a steep, steady climb up the stony flank of the mountain ridge above the village. Here in spring and early summer, there are several interesting species of orchid to be found, as well as numerous butterflies. On reaching the...

Day 6 Circular bear tracking walk through remote carnivore habitat

After breakfast we set off from the hotel on foot, beginning a long and strenuous, but highly rewarding bear tracking adventure. Having left the village pastures behind, we begin a long steep climb that sees us enter a forested region that is regularly patrolled by br...

Day 7 Forest and riverside walks in search of orchids, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians; transfer to Sofia

Leaving Yagodina on foot, we start the day with a short walk along a beautiful forest path, which in spring and early summer sprouts an exceptional variety of orchids. An ancient Thracian packhorse route, this path is often used by bears feeding in the surrounding for...

Day 8 End Sofia

This trip draws to a close after breakfast. If you want to spend a bit more time in the city after our wild adventures, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay.

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Dates & Availability

Price From $2,175
Price per day$272
Last Updated: 4/12/2024
Start Date
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Double Standard
27 Apr 2024
04 May 2024
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18 May 2024
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07 Sep 2024
14 Sep 2024
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12 Oct 2024
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Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Exodus Travels.

The total tour cost includes the tour price (regular or promotional) and the compulsory local payment. The promotional price is subject to change. Check directly with the operator for the latest price offer. The tour operator requires you to pay only the tour price to purchase your travel. The compulsory local payment will be paid when you join the trip. All prices are based on double, twin or triple share occupancy. Solo passengers will be accommodated in a double, twin or triple room according to availability with a passenger(s) of the same gender. Single supplement only needs to be paid if the passenger does not want to share and requests their own room. Discounts can only be applied at the time of booking and cannot be added at a later date, regardless of any changes made to the original booking.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

Exodus Travels Reviews & Ratings

4.7/5  Excellent


Aug 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

A great introduction to the wildlife and way of life in the Rodopi mountains

A brilliant and unusual combination of great walking and wildlife interest. On holidays these are usually separated but this worked so well, as you really came to ...



Aug 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Wonderful wildlife adventure

This was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had, combining walking in the mountains with the opportunity to see and learn about bears in the company of a true expe...



Aug 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Rodopi bears!

A brilliant trip in all respects! Scenery, group leader, wildlife, hotel, food all get top marks Great walking and was lucky to be with a lovely group of just 6 of...



Aug 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Bulgaria Bears. Excellent walks at a steady with informative breaks

Inspiring views with Julian who was very well informed and put the information across in any easily understood and entertaining way. Only saw one other group in t...



Aug 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

A wonderful walking and wildlife experience!

This really is the best walking and wildlife combination I've ever been on. Loved that we did good mountain walks in the day time through varied and stunning scen...

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Tour Operator

Exodus Travels

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It is all about adventure. That is what Exodus was founded upon and what the company is still all about. Discovering countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles; exploring this amazing planet we all live on.

At Exodus, we know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, we always remember that we are only guests. So we travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise our impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.

This is a philosophy we take with us around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across over 90 separate countries. We also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as we possibly can, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.

Exodus started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments.

All our office staff have a passion for travel and adventure, and between us we’ve notched up experience that spans 171 different countries. That’s not all. In their former lives, our team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – so no-one is better placed to create tours that appeal to a wide range of specialist interests.

Their care in putting all the details in place really shines through too. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are a sign of our commitment to providing a holiday where your enjoyment, value for money and safety come first. It’s a telling reason why we remain one of the leading worldwide adventure tour companies. It is no exaggeration to say that our tour leaders can make a world of difference to the enjoyment of your holiday – so we choose them carefully. The result is that, in 2013, 93% of our clients stated that their leader exceeded their expectations. Where possible, we train and employ local leaders because they can provide invaluable insights that enrich the trip. What’s more, this investment in local staff really helps us benefit both them and their community.

Why we love this operator
With a huge range of trip styles and themes, they cater to basically every type of traveler out there- even those with super specific interests.
What they’re known for
Global trips to both classic and exotic destinations with a focus on themed adventures, exciting physical activities and discovery of local culture.

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What's excluded

    • Travel insurance
    • Visas and vaccinations
    • Single Supplement


Travel by private minibus, 4WD and on foot Normally 4 to 12, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs 7 nights hotel, all rooms en suite All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners included,Our base for six nights is Yagodina, a traditional rural village known for its self-sufficiency and the hospitality of the inhabitants. It’s isolated and tucked away in the Trigrad Karst region, one of the most remote parts of the Rodopi Mountains. Here we stay in the Yagodina Family Hotel, a small hotel offering comfortable twin and single rooms with wifi. It’s owned and run by a local family and most of the food (including milk, cheese, butter, jam and honey) is either home-produced or locally sourced.
Cancellation policy

The cancellation policies of this trip when booked through Travelstride are determined by the stated policies of the tour operator - Exodus Travels.

If you or any other member of your party decides to cancel a confirmed booking you must notify Travelstride in writing. Your notice of cancellation will only take effect when it is received in writing by Travelstride and will be effective from the date on which we receive it.

If You Cancel Your Holiday
You, or any member of your party, may cancel your travel arrangements at any time. Written notification from the lead name or your travel agent must be received at our offices. 

Since we incur costs in canceling your travel arrangements, you will have to pay cancellation charges as follows (see also the exceptions below): 

  • More than 42 days - No cancellation fee. Deposit can be transferred to a new booking departing within 2 years of date of travel of original booking. Any remaining balance will be refundedThis excludes all non-refundable costs as set out in clause 4 above (for example international and domestic flights and local services).
  • Between 41 and 21 days (inclusive) - No cancellation fee. Balance and deposit can be transferred to a new booking departing within 2 years of date of travel of original bookingThis excludes all non-refundable costs as further explained in clause 4 above (for example international and domestic flights and local services).
  • Between 20 and 15 days (inclusive) - 80% of the holiday cost
  • 14 days or less; or failure to join the holiday (inclusive) - 100% of the holiday cost

Certain trips may involve different cancellation charges; you will be advised if this is applicable to your holiday during the booking process.For Polar holidays, the following cancellation charges will be made for all Polar holidays. Period before departure in which you notify us: 

Cancelation charge

  • More than 133 days - Deposit only
  • 133 days or less (or failure to join the holiday) (inclusive) - 100% of the holiday cost

Notes (i) Your deposit is non-refundable, even if the cancellation charge calculated is lower than the deposit amount paid; (ii) If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges; (iii) certain travel arrangements may be subject to higher cancellation charges and could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements from the moment the booking is confirmed.

If You Change Your Booking

If, after our Booking Confirmation has been issued, you wish to change your travel arrangements in any way, for example your chosen departure date or accommodation, we will do our utmost to make these changes but it may not always be possible. Any request for changes to be made must be in writing from the lead name or your travel agent. You will be asked to pay an administration charge of $60, and any further cost we incur in making this alteration (including those charged by third party suppliers who provide the component parts of your booking).  You should be aware that these costs could increase the closer to the departure date that changes are made and you should contact us as soon as possible. Note: Certain travel arrangements may not be changeable after a reservation has been made and any alteration request could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements.

You can transfer your booking to another person, who satisfies all the conditions that apply to this booking, by giving us notice in writing at least 7 days before departure provided that the new lead passenger accepts the transfer and these Terms and Conditions. Both you and the new traveler are responsible for paying all costs we incur in making the transfer. Please bear in mind that certain airlines and other transport providers treat changes as a cancellation and charge accordingly, up to 100% of the cost for that part of the arrangement. Where applicable these charges will be passed on to you.

If We Cancel Your Booking

Exodus reserves the right to cancel an itinerary before departure for any reason whatsoever, including too few participants ,logistical problems, a Force Majeure Event (as defined in Section 8), or any other circumstances that may make operation of the trip inadvisable. All trip payments received will be promptly refunded, and this refund will be the limit of Exodus’s liability without any further obligation on Exodus’s part. Exodus is not responsible for any expenses incurred by trip members in preparing for the trip, including non-refundable or penalty-carrying airline tickets, special clothing, visa or passport fees, or other trip-related expenses.

If We Change Your Booking

  1. Changes to the price. We can change your holiday price after you’ve booked, only in certain circumstances. Changes in the price of the carriage of passengers resulting from changes to the cost of fuel or other power sources, the level of taxes or fees imposed by third parties including tourist taxes, landing taxes or embarkation or disembarkation fees at ports and airports, or exchange rates mean that the price of your travel arrangements may change after you have booked.

  2. Changes other than the price. It is a term of your booking that we are able to make changes to any aspect of your booking. If the change is insignificant, we will ensure that you are notified about it. Examples of insignificant changes include alteration of your accommodation to another of the same or higher standard. If we are forced by circumstances beyond our control to alter significantly any of the main characteristics of the travel services that make up your package you will have the rights set out below.

    2.1 - We will contact you and you will have the choice of accepting the change or having a refund of all monies paid. You can also accept an alternative holiday, where we offer one (we will refund any price difference if the alternative is of a lower value). We will tell you the procedure for making your choice. Please read any notification of changes carefully and respond promptly as if you do not respond to us within the timescale given your booking may be canceled.

    2.2 - If you choose to accept a refund then that is the only liability we have and we will not be liable for any further sums, compensation or otherwise and you are advised to adequately insure yourselves against cancellation for any reason

Please note that insurance premiums and amendments charges are not refundable in any circumstances. 

Once you have put down a deposit for a tour, you are unable to cancel and re-book within a promotional period and we reserve the right to amend the pricing on any new booking you make within that time. If you cancel a tour and book the same tour under a promotional code, we reserve the right to decline the booking.

Important Note: Certain arrangements may not be amended after they have been confirmed and any alteration or cancellation could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements in addition to the charge above.

If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges.

Where possible, we will deduct the cancellation charge(s) from any monies you have already paid to us.

For more additional details, see the booking conditions of TruTravels at the following web address: https://www.exodustravels.com/us/about-exodus/exodus-booking-conditions.

Travel Insurance
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance alongside your travel package to safeguard against unforeseen circumstances such as medical expenses, trip cancellations, and other contingencies. It offers you peace of mind and ensures you are prepared for unexpected events that may occur before or during your journey
Visa requirements
Visa requirements vary depending on your country of origin and your country of destination. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the relevant requirements. For a handy tool that can help you quickly find the requirements, please visit this link .
Meals Included
Hotel Yagodina is renowned for its delicious traditional local cuisine, offering generous servings of hearty, healthy food, much of it made from home-produced or locally sourced products. Typical meals in the mountains will comprise of: Breakfast: Tea, coffee and milk, with bread, jam, honey and cheese, supplemented in Yagodina by fresh home-made yoghurt and traditional local specialities such as katmi (thick pancakes) and rodopski klin (a rice-based dish). Lunch: Picnic lunches in the mountains typically include bread, cheese, salami, salad, a chocolate bar and fruit. Many guests also like to bring an extra portion of the local speciality served at breakfast. Dinner: Will be in the hotel restaurant, and will normally include three courses comprising either a salad or vegetarian soup, followed by a main course, and a dessert of fruit, ice cream, or cake/pudding. The cuisine reflects a mixture of Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish and Slavonic influences. We sample many traditional local specialities including smilyanski fasul (a delicious bean soup) and patatnik (made with grated potatoes, onions and cheese, then seasoned with mint and other herbs). Jugs of tap water will be provided on the table with the evening meal. Bottled mineral water, soft drinks and alcohol are not included but can be purchased. There are several Bulgarian wines you may wish to try, including an excellent red Mavrud from vineyards on the northern slopes of the Rodopi Mountains. Vegetarians and vegans: Bulgaria produces excellent fresh vegetables and fruit, so vegetarians are usually well catered for, although in the mountains the variety may by limited to what is seasonally available. Eggs and dairy produce, especially cheese, form the staple part of the diet in the Rodopi region, and are included in most traditional meals, so vegans may find their daily menu more restricted and less varied. Likewise special gluten-free products are not available, so clients with a wheat/gluten intolerance should, if needed, bring something to replace the local bread and pastries that make up the breakfasts and picnic lunches.
Age Requirements
16 years and up
Additional Information
Seven hotel nights, all rooms en suite Travel by private minibus, 4×4 and on foot Six days with bear-tracking walks Group: Normally 5 to 12, plus leader. Minimum age: 16 Option to travel by train to your adventure
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