An incredible photography tour you won’t want to miss! Bulgaria is blessed with a long, colourful Autumn, its forests literally lighting up with a blaze of brilliant golds, reds and oranges. The days are shorter, making for later sunrise shoots and earlier sunsets and the weather is cooler—quite possibly it is the best time of year to photograph this beautiful country. The Colours of Bulgaria Photo Tour is an extensive travelling tour through two dramatic mountain ranges at the peak of this most colourful time of year. Daily intensive on-location instruction, as well as rigorous post-processing tuition will ensure you come away with some of the most spectacular images you have yet created.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|DEPARTURE TIME||11 October, 2017|
|RETURN TIME||23 October, 2017|
Day 1: October 11th - Sofia
Book your flight to arrive any time today. You will be greeted at Sofia’s International Airport and, following a short car journey, will soon have your feet up at your hotel in the heart of Sofia. There is time in the afternoon for rest or to join in on a short stroll to three of Sofia’s most picturesque and well-known churches and cathedrals… only walking distance from your hotel. Get to know your instructors and the other group participants at an early evening meeting in the hotel. Then: A delicious and entertaining dinner at a nearby traditional Bulgarian restaurant.
Day 2: October 12th - Belogradchik
Following breakfast this morning, you begin a rather long but stunning drive up the Iskar Gorge, finally arriving at your guesthouse in the heart of the Belogradchik cliffs. Sunset will be out on the extraordinary rocks of Belogradchik and for a bit of extra fun, you may want to try a full moon shoot over the rocks after moonrise. With the full moon acting as your light source, you should be able to get daytime-like shots of the rocks, but with stars in the sky…something a little different, like the surreal surroundings of Belogradchik itself.
Day 3: October 13th - Belogradchik
For the early-risers, there is the option of a sunrise shoot over the rocks. Following breakfast you will travel to the nearby, exquisitely lit Venetsa cave for an onsite workshop on low-light photography. Known for its exceptionally colorful stone formations and crystals, you will have plenty of opportunity to experiment with low-light exposure techniques. Lunch will be back at Belogradchik and then your afternoon is free for relaxing, editing and lecture time. Sunset will be yet another cliff location.
Day 4: October 14th - Vratsa
For the early-risers, there is the option of a sunrise shoot on the cliffs again. Following breakfast you depart for the mountain town of Vratsa. Before sunset you will head out by 4×4 for the summit of majestic Kobilini Steni, your stunning setting for tonight’s sunset shoot.
- Stunning Panorama
Day 5: October 15th - Veliko Tarnovo
Being beautifully situated amidst lofty mountains, Vratsa is a charming town and welcomes early risers to discover what sunrise shots they might find from vantage points above the town. Today will be a wonder-filled (and busy) beginning with a photo shoot of the dramatic Devetashkta Cave. Huge holes in the ceiling of this vast cavern allow light to stream in and create reflections on the bubbling streams and quiet pools inside. Occupied over the centuries by humans, the cave is now home to over 30,000 bats. Just down the road will be your picnic lunch at the enchanting Krushuna Waterfalls. The largest travertine cascade in the country and famous for its babbling little pools and emerald waters spilling over rounded terraces, Krushuna falls are a virtual fairyland and a perfect place for an onsite workshop on long-exposure watershots (“silkies”). After sunset at the falls you will complete the transfer to Velieko Tarnovo, historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
Day 6: October 16th - Zrebchevo Dam
A great place to greet the sunrise this morning is in front of the imposing gates of Tsarevets Fortress followed by an early morning photo-walking tour of the charming old town before breakfast back at the hotel. The rest of the morning is yours to enjoy in our favourite town in all of Bulgaria. There are many wonderful restaurants here so today lunch is not included and you are free to choose from the varied fare available to you. You will depart by bus in the late afternoon, heading up the steep and winding Shipka Mountain pass, over the ridge of the Stara Planina. Sunset and a picnic dinner will be in the rather surreal setting of the sunken, ancient church St. Ivan Rilski at Zrebchevo dam. Tonight will be a full moon, so there is the option for another moonlight shoot with the church as foreground before heading to your hotel beside the dam.
- Ancient Sunken Church
Day 7: October 17th - Kitnitsa
For those who wish, sunrise this morning will be over-looking the dam right outside your hotel. Following breakfast you depart for Kitnitsa where you will have lunch, an editing workshop and some free time. Sunset tonight will be from a stunning lookout high above the river.
- More Dams
Day 8: October 18th - Yagodina
This morning is going to be an early one so that you can enjoy a magical sunrise at the enchanting Devil’s Bridge. Dating from the early 1500’s, Dyavolski Most (the Devil’s Bridge) is part of an ancient Thracian road and is the largest and best known arched bridge of its kind in the Rhodopes. A morning shoot here will ensure that the sun is at your back allowing for spectacular reflections in the waters in front of this extraordinary, stone bridge. Given the October timing, the trees should be a riot of colour and you will soon forget about dragging yourself out of bed so early. Hot coffee and a picnic breakfast by the bridge should also ease your pain. After your pleasant morning by the bridge, you will head west for lunch at our favourite restaurant in Smolyan. On the way to your hotel there will be a stop at Devil’s Throat Cave–rumoured to be the entrance to Hades through which Orpheus passed in his efforts to retrieve Eurydice. You will have time this afternoon to catch up on any sleep or editing. The hotel is beautifully situated high in the mountains so sunset photography is an option for those with energy to spare. There is also an intriguing wood-fire hot tub at the hotel for those wanting to unwind.
- Magical Bridge
- Mythical Cave
Day 9: October 19th - Yagodina
Today you will have some time to catch your breath and relax a little in this truly beautiful mountain setting. It will also be a great time to catch up on final edits of photos for your critique after lunch today. Then it is into 4×4 vehicles for a memorable and very steep and bumpy ride up the mountain to the incredible Eagle Eye Lookout. Here, 1560m above sea level, atop St. Ilia peak, a jutting observation platform affords jaw-dropping views of the Rhodope, Pirin and Rila mountain ranges: An unforgettable photo opportunity and, if conditions are right for a dramatic sunset, then very likely the highlight of your whole tour.
- Stunning Panorama
Day 10: October 20th - Kosovo
You can skip sunrise this morning and sleep a little bit later. However, breakfast will be earlier today because you have a truly memorable day in store for you and you are going to want every minute available to enjoy it. Your morning will begin at The Canyon of Waterfalls. Six kilometers of water trickling, pounding, seeping, dripping and dancing through no less than 46 waterfalls. It is a remarkable place and worth taking your time. Lunch will be a picnic alongside one of the many waterfalls. In the late afternoon you will depart for the tiny village of Kosovo where you will be spending your last two evenings.
- 46 Waterfalls
- Authentic Mountain Village
Day 11: October 21st - Kosovo
Kosovo is a charming and picturesque mountain village so you may want to get up with the sun to capture some memorable sunrise moments in the village. But take it easy today, get some rest, work on your editing and prepare for a long shoot this evening at the so-called wonderful Bridges. These remarkable arched rock formations will make for a spectacular shoot both as the sun sets and before the moon rises. With any luck you will be able to capture the rocks in the foreground and the Milky Way streaming overhead.
- Rock Formations
Day 12: October 22nd -Kosovo
Today you depart for Sofia, but not before one last photo opportunity. So it’s going to be an early morning departure before breakfast so you can enjoy a morning picnic from the stunning viewpoint of “Evo’s Rock”. From here it is a short ride to the Old Town of Plovdiv where there will be time for an interesting exploration of the Old Town and some lunch before completing the transfer to Sofia. You will have free time when you arrive at your hotel in Sofia to pack or shop or finish off edits for your final presentation of work before the farewell dinner tonight.
- Old Plovdiv Town
Day 13: October 23rd -Sofia
This morning you are on your own to wake and eat and take any photos as you like. Your hotel is again near the city center and the morning sun of the churches and cathedrals is breathtaking. If you are leaving us this morning, we will ensure you are transported to the airport in time for your flights home.
WHAT TO BRING
The following gear is essential:
- Good solid camera bag (preferably as backpack)
- Digital SLR camera
- Extra memory cards
- Camera battery charger and international adaptor (all sockets are European 2-pin 120volts)
- Laptop with photoshop or lightroom—we will teach these programs if you haven’t used them before
- Lens cleaning kit including several lens cloths
- Small light weight absorbent towel for drying camera in wet conditions
- Wide angle lens preferably with zoom and/or additional lenses
- USB flashdrive for passing in images to instructors
- Variety of additional lens (35-70, 70-200, 18-24/50’s)
- Flash, preferably off camera (Spare AA batteries if needed)
- Back-up storage device/solid state hard drive for image back-up
- Sturdy Tripod
- Cord release or remote control release
- Rain cover for camera
Temperatures are cool lows of 5-7℃ (40-45℉) and highs of 12-16℃ (55-60℉). Please bring appropriate clothing.
- Good pair of comfortable walking shoes with ankle support water resistant if possible (already broken in)
- Good quality warm socks for walking shoes
- Sufficient undergarments for the length of your tour
- Warm underlayer tops and bottoms–quick dry, non-cotton, breathable
- Breathable, light-weight, quick-dry long-sleeve shirts
- Breathable, light-weight, warm long trousers (eg. fleece or lined)
- Fleece or light-weight jacket/hoodie, perhaps down vest
- Windproof /waterproof top and bottom layer for warmth and rain
- Gloves and warm hat (fingerless gloves or thin synthetic gloves are good for handling the camera)
- Sun glasses, sun hat, sunscreen
- Spare camera
- ND and NDGrad filters and Polarizing Filters
- Sensor cleaning device/kit
- Photo vest (with pockets)
- Swim suit
- Casual clothes for around hotel
- Small basic first aid kit
- Additional snacks or treats
- Pens, pencils notepad