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Travellers, not tourists - the new trend is gaining momentum in Bulgaria

People are now seeking for adrenline, authentic experiences and commune with nature

Photo: baatbg.org

The surge in travel following the end of the pandemic has led people to seek an alternative to the conventional idea of a holiday. The younger generations in particular are fed up with the standard trips to famous European cities or the conventional seaside and mountain holidays

The trend is now towards unknown destinations and new emotions, possibly with an element of surprise or adrenaline. These adventurous people call themselves travellers, not tourists. And their desire to immerse themselves in a radically unfamiliar environment, to commune with nature, or to voluntarily subject themselves to some kind of ordeal, is at the heart of a new industry that is gaining momentum in Bulgaria. 

"The biggest fans of alternative tourism are visitors from the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic, although Bulgarians have already started to opt for more unconventional experiences," says Eleonora Yosifova, chairperson of the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism: 

"Wildlife watching is something that is common for me and others, but still exotic for many Bulgarians. But in Bulgaria we can offer it in abundance - spotting birds, various dragonflies, rare plants and all kinds of wild animals. We have very good experts in these disciplines and they are taking more and more groups into the mountains and parts of the country where there are interesting protected species. There are people who will spend a whole day photographing a pelican, for example. So we have a lot to show foreigners and Bulgarians alike in this respect.

For example, if you are an apiarist, your destination will be the village of Kosharitsa in Nessebar, where a local honey producer welcomes tourists to his farm. You will visit the Bee Museum and get a glimpse of the microcosm of beehives. You can also opt for a hot air balloon ride over the Belogradchik Rocks or the Koprinka Dam. Or dive into the unknown by signing up for the popular "secret" trips to unknown places in Bulgaria. 

And instead of staying in a run-of-the-mill hotel or guesthouse, why not stay in an ancient Bulgarian yurt, the Flintstones' mud hut or the forest elves' village of huts? There are more and more alternatives to experiencing nature. But this type of holiday is associated with positive experiences, and the "trend" lately has been towards strong emotions with... a touch of fear. The symbol of this kind of dark tourism in Bulgaria is the monument on the peak of Buzludzha, which is visited every year by hundreds of fans of so-called dark tourism.

"There is a growing tendency to rediscover socialist remnants - Buzludzha is a top site in this respect - says Eleonora Yosifova. For example, at an exhibition I recently visited in Spain, people were very impressed by Buzludzha and kept asking me: 'Where is it, I want to go there! These places are interesting for people who have not lived under socialism and do not have such structures in their home countries. 

Others like the occult experiences, such as night visits to spooky places. For example, there are people who tour our abandoned factories at night to add an adrenaline rush to their trip. Others want to see the different cemetery parks and explore the cultural differences between the countries," concluded Eleonora Yosifova. 

Photos: the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism, Pixabay, Belogradchik Municipality
Translated and posted by Elizabeth Radkova

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