Found along the northern coastline of the Black Sea, near Varna city, is the beautiful Kamchia Biosphere Reserve. The reserve itself, originally established in 1951, was added to UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage list in 1977. The reserve covers 1,200 hectares of the lower valley of the Kamchia River, including the Kamchia Sands Protected Area. The periodic flooding enables over 245 species of higher plants to thrive in the area, providing a habitat for more than 250 types of bird, such as black storks, hobbies, owls, nightjar and even some endangered species like the lesser spotted eagle and the rare half-collared flycatcher. Needless to say, it is an ideal spot for birdwatchers. Nearby Varna has plenty of accommodation and dining options as well as ample tourist attractions.
Especially famed for its plant diversity and beautiful glacial lakes, is the Pirin National Park in Southwestern Bulgaria. Spread over an area of over 40,000 hectares, in the Pirin Mountains, this breathtaking park comprises diverse limestone mountain landscapes with lakes, waterfalls, caves and predominantly coniferous forests. Because of the unique biodiversity and remarkable natural formations, Pirin is included in the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program. Forests cover 60% of the park, including Macedonian pine, some of which are famed to be more than 500 years old. The park is also home to Bulgaria’s oldest tree, the famous Baykuchevata tree, which comes in at a staggering 1350 years old. With its great hiking trails and routes, the park provides great opportunities for tourism and mountaineering alike and is home to Bansko, the world-famous ski resort, voted best in Bulgaria by the World Ski Awards last year.
World heritage site, The Srebarna Nature Reserve is located in the north-eastern part of the country, just two kilometres away from the Danube River and 120 km east of Ruse. The most prominent features of this reserve are its freshwater lake and numerous birds. Extending over 900 hectares, it is the breeding ground of almost 100 species, many of which are rare or endangered including, mute swans, great egrets, night herons, and the Dalmatian pelican. Some 80 other species also migrate and seek refuge here every winter. Roman and later remains have been found just north-east of the country’s biggest river lake at the fishing village of Vetren. Local people there preserve traditional customs and dress, and there is an old settlement of the ultra-conservative Old Russian Believers in Tatarista in the next village east. Discover more at the natural history museum in Srebarna.