Some of the most majestic creatures in Europe, herds of red and fallow deer can be seen throughout the Rhodope Mountains. Having been reintroduced to the region, the population is small but thriving in this wildlife hotspot, and with patience and the help of a guide, you’re in with a solid chance of spotting some alongside your search for bears and wolves. To experience the main event (mating season!), visit in autumn. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a flurry of clashing antlers and tossing heads as stags roar and compete for their mate.
Lying between Rhodope and nearby Xanthi, the beautiful Lake Vistonida sits amid vast wetlands, fusing the emerald of the forest with the azure glow of the sea. No surprise, then, that it’s also home to a marine resident or two. Here, and in the narrow strait between the lake and sea, 37 fish species can be found – from the common carp to eel, mullet and bream. European otters also make the lake their home while, on the shores and amid the shrubs, you might just spot a wild cat. Combine that with the 300+ species of bird that live in this unique ecosystem, and you’ve got a marine paradise.