Essential Bulgaria, Oct 13 - 27, 2020
A 14-Day Photographic Journey with Jeremy Woodhouse & Dancho Hristov
(14 days – 13 nights)
Mountains & Forests
Bulgaria’s untamed landscapes quicken the pulse of hikers, mountain bikers and skiers. Seven mountain ranges ripple across the country; glacial lakes sparkle between these snow-dusted peaks, and tangles of forest conceal wolves, bears and lynx, a glimpse of Europe’s primeval past. Networks of trails and hizhas (hiking huts) allow access to such raw beauty as mist-cloaked panoramas in the Stara Planina range and sunrise from Bulgaria’s second-highest peak, Mt Vihren (2915m). Between trekking among Rodopi villages, thundering across ski fields in Bansko or birdwatching in Pirin National Park, Bulgaria has much to delight (and exhaust) lovers of the great outdoors.
Churches & Religious Art
No visitor to Bulgaria can fail to be impressed by its religious art, from vast gold-domed churches to miniature icon paintings. Sofia’s Aleksander Nevski Church and 10th-century Rila Monastery draw visitors and pilgrims galore, while Tryavna’s wood carvings and Bachkovo’s apocalyptic murals are gathering fame. But Orthodox churches in even the tiniest villages have much to admire: emotive paintings of saints, often set in carved wooden screens (iconostases), appear magical when bathed in flickering candlelight. Almost as spectacular are the settings of many sacred buildings: granite cliffs, thrashing streams and lonely mountain passes.
Whispers of history emanate from Bulgaria’s fortresses and ruins. Caves secreted in Bulgaria’s river-sculpted wilds hold traces of Neolithic settlements. The mysterious Thracians left behind dazzling hauls of gold and silver, and tombs that can be explored to this day. The Romans built cities of breathtaking scale, the bathhouses, walls and amphitheatres of which sit nonchalantly in the midst of modern cities such as Varna and Plovdiv. Successions of tsars strutted along the ramparts of Tsarevets Fortress at former capital Veliko Târnovo. And these histories are no less relevant today, with Thracian art and Bulgaria’s victory over the Ottomans continuing to inspire
Day 1 – Oct 13: Sofia
Arrival and overnight in a centrally located hotel in Sofia. Evening walk around the capital city for blue hour shots and a welcome dinner.
O/N Hotel Les Fleurs
Situated in the heart of Sofia’s main shopping, business and historical attractions, Hotel Les Fleurs is only 20 minutes away from Sofia's airport by car. The hotel features exquisite decor, intuitive service and an extraordinary blend of luxury and convenience in style with its floral surroundings.
Day 2 – Oct 14: Rila Monastery and Sand Pyramids
Early for a morning blue hour and photography and a breakfast before we start our journey. We head south to wine region of Bulgaria. First, we stop at one of the UNESCO sites in Bulgaria, Rila monastery. With its colorful paintings and its situation at the bottom of a valley in Rila mountains it presents superb opportunities for photography. After that we head to Melnik, the smallest town in the country. Its position amongst majestic sand pyramids and the Mediterranean vegetation around the town create a very special and relaxing atmosphere. Sunset at Melnik pyramids.
O/N Hotel Elli Greco
Day 3 – Oct 15: Sand Pyramids and Melnik Town
Sunrise shoot at the vineyards followed by a visit of a local village to photograph people and the rural lifestyle. Walk around Melnik town and free time for leisure and shopping of the local crafts. Sunset shoot from a viewpoint above Melnik town with great views on surrounding pyramids.
O/N Hotel Elli Greco
Day 4 – Oct 16: Western Rhodopes
Today we head east towards Western Rhodopes region where we spend next two days. On the way we stop at Pirin village: a very remote village with less than 100 people making their living with forestry activity. Check in at our hotel in Ognyanovo. In the afternoon we visit a mountain village with well-preserved traditional houses.
O/N Hotel TBA
Day 5 – Oct 17: Pomak People and Traditional Life
Today we explore the villages and rural mountain views of the area. This region features an interesting mix of Muslim and Orthodox Christian cultures. People known as “Pomak” are originally Bulgarian but of Muslim religion are usually dressed in colourful clothes. They are usually happy to pose for a photo. The sunset session will be at the rock formation “The Wedding”.
O/N Hotel TBA
Day 6 – Oct 18: Plovdiv
Today we travel to Plovdiv: the economic capital of the country and a city applying for a European Capital of Culture for 2019. On the way we can stop at small towns along the way to photograph local life and landscapes. For a part of the trip we take a narrow-gauge train, often used by local people to visit nearby towns. Evening arrival at Plovdiv and check in at our hotel for 2 nights. Evening photography in the old town with coble streets and traditional high wall houses.
Day 7 - Oct 19: Autumn Colors and Waterfalls
After breakfast we visit one of the most picturesque waterfalls in Bulgaria. Cascades and a stone bridge are an amazing backdrop to autumn colors to the Sitovo waterfall. In the afternoon we visit a small hilltop fortress for sunset shoot before returning to Plovdiv for dinner.
Day 8 – Oct 20: Plovdiv to Devil's Bridge
Blue hour photography in the old town of Plovdiv, breakfast and drive to Devil's Bridge. Constructed between 1515 and 1518 in the early 16th century by a builder Dimitar from the nearby village of Nedelino, Dyavolski most, the Devil’s Bridge or also known in Turkish as “Sheytan Kyupriya”, is the most stunning of the humpbacked bridges that cross the Arda River in Bulgaria. Sunset shoot at Devil's Bridge
Day 9 – Oct 21: Devil's Bridge to Veliko Tarnovo
After a sunrise session at Devil's, breakfast and drive to the former capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo. On the way we photograph a colorful Russian church and an old UFO-looking communist building situated on the top of the Central Balkan. We arrive at Veliko Tarnovo for an early dinner and a light show illuminating the historical fortress. Our hotel overlooks the fortress and allows sunrise shots from the balcony of the hotel.
O/N Studio Hotel
Located in the heart of the historical city of Veliko Tarnovo, the hotel captures the spirit and the unforgettable atmosphere of the old town.
Day 10 – Oct 22: Veliko Tarnovo and surrounds
Early morning blue hour and sunrise shoot in the city. After breakfast we visit a monastery or two, explore scenic views and photograph local life. optional visit to the outdoor archeological museum or a local market with crafts shops where everybody can try his skills in pottery, silvery or woodcarving. Evening photography at the old fortress.
O/N Studio Hotel
Day 11 – Oct 23: Monasteries and Caves
Today we start our way north. Our first stop is the beautiful Glozhene monastery, situated on top of the hill. The monastery is very picturesque and with a little bit of luck we can photograph local priests at their daily life. The main attraction today is the open-air Prohodna cave, nicknamed “God’s Eyes”. We can experiment with light painting techniques to capture stunning night shot of the cave. The area is also great for starry sky photography as there is almost no light pollution.
O/N Diplomat Plaza Hotel
Day 12 – Oct 24: Belogradchik Rocks
Today we travel to the amazing Belogradchik town. Belogradchik is known for the out-of-this-world landscapes with rock formation rising out of the forests up to 200m. Some of them are easily climbed and offer elevated views on the area which offers great landscape photography opportunities. With a little bit of luck, we hit the best autumn colors.
O/N Hotel Skalite
Day 13 – Oct 25: Belogradchik Rocks
We have the whole day to explore the area. After a morning session at the cliffs we can one of the nearby caves or a waterfall. In the afternoon we visit the Belogradchik Fortress, built into the rocks – an unforgettable view.
O/N Hotel Skalite
Day 14 – Oct 26: Return to Sofia
Today we return to Sofia with a few stops en route. We drive along the picturesque Iskar river gorge where Cherepish monastery is situated right by the river. After arrival to our hotel we have our last photoshoot in the city and a farewell dinner.
O/N Hotel Les Fleurs
Day 15 – Oct 27: End of Tour
Transfer to the airport to catch your flight home.
Arrival, Departure & Visa
Arrival & Meeting Place
Most international visitors enter and leave Bulgaria via Sofia Airport, and there are frequent flights to the capital from other European cities.
Visas are not required for EU citizens. Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA can visit visa-free for up to 90 days.
Spring and autumn have warm weather and a calendar of cultural celebrations. Spring melt can be hazardous; otherwise, weather is ideal for outdoor exploration. Sights and attractions open again after winter, with fewer tourists than high summer.
Bulgarian, an Indo-European language is the official language of Bulgaria and is spoken by a majority of the country’s population. The language is a close relative of the Macedonian language and a member of the Slavic group of languages. The Cyrillic alphabet is used to write Bulgarian.
The Bulgarian lev is the official currency of Bulgaria, and its code in the international money markets is BGN. The currency derives its name from the Bulgarian term “lev,” which loosely translates to “lion.”
Before you pay your deposit, please register for this tour
Tour dates: Oct 11 - 24, 2020
Cost: Approx $TBA
Single Supplement: $TBA
Max Group Size: 6
1 SPOT OPEN
Photographer: Jeremy Woodhouse
Once you have made your flight arrangements, please fill in the form at the link below
Tour Fee Includes
Tour Fee Does not Include
Paying by check
If you would like to pay your deposit and/or balance with a check, please make the check payable to: Pixelchrome, Inc and mail it to:
605 Rouen Drive,
McKinney TX 75070
Paying by Wire Transfer
If you would like to pay by Wire Transfer please send the funds to the following bank account (please make sure that you cover the fee for the draft).
Please inform us by email once you have sent the draft.
Bank: Wells Fargo Bank, NA
Account #: 4428-000051
Routing #: 121000248
Swift #: WFBIUS6S
Wells Fargo Bank, NA
2851 South Ridge Road
McKinney, TX 75070
Phone: (972) 439-3416
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