This was an excellent week of walking. The paths are steep in some places but well defined and Jose guided us with care and attention on the challenging ascents and descents of the Sierra Aitana. The walks were well-paced by Jose but the days are long so you do need to be fit. We trekked through a number of landscapes illustrating the historic and current use of the area and Jose with his local knowledge enhanced our understanding of how this area has evolved over the centuries as well as the current challenges. The views from the walks were amazing – one way you could see the coast from Alicante to Benidorm and beyond and the other the folding valleys and mountains of the interior. The skies were blue and the days sunny and warm and we experienced very little wind even on the summits. We were based at the Hostel Rincon de Pepe where we had a wonderful week being looked after by Raquel. The food was amazing and hearty (three courses plus wine). The terrace was also great place to have breakfast every morning as the sun rose out of the Med, as well as a beer or two after the walk as the sun disappeared behind the mountains.
Walking Holidays in Bulgaria
Bulgaria Walking Holidays
Top 5 Animals to Spot on Bulgaria Walking Trips
Brown Bears: Found roaming the forests and mountains, it’s estimated there are 700 brown bears in Bulgaria, with the majority of the population in the Central Balkans and Central Rhodope. The bear is one of the most iconic and captivating of Bulgaria’s animals and there are ongoing conservation projects to protect it. As you walk along ancient forest trails, there’s a chance you’ll see evidence of bear activity such as their tracks on the ground and where they’ve scratched at trees.
Griffon Vultures: While there are several species of vulture found in Bulgaria, the Griffon vulture is arguably the most impressive. Following near extinction just decades ago, the population now continues to grow, with many of them found in the Rodopi Mountains. Its distinctive ruffled neck, finger-like wings and beautiful colourings make it easily recognisable. Griffon vultures feed on carcases and tend to hunt in groups high up in the mountains where you’ll see their nests tucked into cliffs and rocky outcrops. They start to mate in December and then build their nests in January where they’ll lay just one egg in March.
Wolf: The Rodopi Mountains are home to one of the greatest populations of wolf in Bulgaria and their diet consists mainly of hoofed mammals such as roe deer, red deer, wild boar and chamois. There are believed to be around 1,200 grey wolves living in the mountains of Bulgaria and while you might spot one on Bulgaria walking trips, they are extremely shy and will stay out of the way of humans. Highly fascinating creatures, wolves are known for their intelligence, and you’ll most likely see them roaming the forests and mountains between October and May.
Red Deer: Mostly found in the Rodopi Mountain forests and pastures, the red deer is one of the animals you’re likely to see on Bulgaria walking trips. You’ll also see many paintings of
the deer inside ancient churches and monasteries. Rewilding teams have gone to great efforts to protect the animal and reintroduce them into the Rodopi Mountains. Autumn is the mating season and when you’re likely to see the males rut, which is a fabulous wildlife spectacle. Only the stags have antlers and they are the most distinctive feature of the red deer, measuring approximately 70cm.
European Bison: A relative of the North American bison, the European bison became extinct in the early 20th century, however, due to its reintroduction to Bulgaria in the 1960s and following huge conservation efforts, it can now be found in the Eastern Rhodopes. It is the largest surviving wild land animal in the continent and an adult male weighs between 400kg and 920kg. They typically feed on shrubs, trees and grass and play an integral role in the ecosystem of the forest.
Jane Hallett Sierra de Aitana Trek
Michael Dunford Sierra de Aitana Trek
This is a great week’s walking in a little-known (and underrated) part of Spain. The Aitana range is a compact set of mountains so you get to tick off almost all of it, and there are great views from the top of all the peaks, out to the coast and across to the surrounding peaks. Most of the walks are reasonably demanding, but also rewarding.
Being based in one location, with very short transfers (or none) for each walk makes for a very relaxing week aside from the walking. It’s also a fairly short transfer to/from Alicante Airport.
The vast majority of meals are included which makes it much better value than some other (apparently similarly priced) holidays.
Jose the guide is exceptional: hard-working, helpful, supportive and deeply knowledgeable about the area.
Sally James Sierra de Aitana Trek
Thank you to our leader, Chandra, guides Prasan, Sagar and Mingma and helpful group of porters for an amazing trek. Our group was also amazing, great company and full of interesting travel stories!
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