BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa
BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa is a sanctuary in Bulgaria that provides a second chance and lifelong care to rescued brown bears and is a cooperation project between the FONDATION BRIGITTE BARDOT and FOUR PAWS. Most of the bears in this sanctuary were former 'dancing bears' from Bulgaria, as well as some from Serbia and Albania. In addition to them, bears from other various forms of poor captivity have also found a lifelong home here.
Our tours run every half hour and take between 30–40 minutes on average. The first tour starts when the sanctuary opens, at 10:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m., depending on the season. A guide will always be on-site during the tours, to give information about the bears, the sanctuary, and our mission. The tours are run in Bulgarian and English.
During our guided tours through BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, you will hear interesting stories about the bears, as well as have the time and opportunity to take photos. Visitors might see a natural den made by our bears and learn a lot of facts, for example, about hibernation. While observing the bears during the tour, visitors will get to understand the unique stories of each one. Most of the bears in this sanctuary were former 'dancing bears' from Bulgaria, as well as some from Serbia and Albania. The dancing bears were captured at an early age or bred in captivity and then used to entertain people by performing tricks. Now, rescued bears can splash around in the pond, search for food, take an after-lunch nap in the shade, or simply enjoy their life as a bear. To have the best experience at the sanctuary, we recommend planning to spend around an hour and a half.
*Please bear in mind that we cannot guarantee that a certain number of, or any bears will be seen. Our sanctuary is 12 ha, and the bears are free to choose how and where they spend their time – just as it would be for them if they lived in the wild.
|April – June||July – August||September – November||December – April|
|12 p.m. – 6 p.m.|
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
|12 p.m. – 6 p.m.||closed for visitors|
*The last entrance to the sanctuary is at 5:30 p.m.
|Regular tour||Groups (more than 9)*|
|Children (6 and under)||free||free|
|Children and youth (7-18 years old)||3 leva||2 leva|
|Adults (19+)||10 leva||6 leva|
|People with disabilities**||free||free|
Please pay in cash at the sanctuary entrance.
* It is mandatory for large groups who plan to visit to book in advance by phone: +359 888 00 23 58
** Please bring suitable documentation with you. Please note the sanctuary has steep areas not suitable for people with limited mobility.
Do you have further questions? Please contact us!
Location of Sanctuary
Address: Andrianov Chark, 2780 Belitsa, Bulgaria – find us on Google Maps.
The sanctuary is situated 180 km from the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia. From Sofia to the BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa – drive in the direction of Belitsa, which is situated 20 km from the town Bansko.
- Drive in the direction of Yakoruda
- Turn left for the town of Belitsa
- See next steps from the town of Belitsa
- Drive in the direction of Razlog
- Turn right for the town of Belitsa
- See next steps below
From the town of Belitsa:
- From the town of Belitsa, you will see signs directing you. From there, it is a 12.4 km drive to the sanctuary
- Please note: From Belitsa to the sanctuary – There is a 10 km asphalt road and 2.4 km of unpaved road.
- For the last 2.4 km turn right. There you will find the unpaved road.
- Cars can drive on this road
Keep in mind if you are a group traveling in a big bus, the bus cannot drive right up to the main entrance of the sanctuary. You will need to walk about 30 minutes from the bus parking to the main entrance.
Important to Know About Your Visit
- The sanctuary has steep areas not suitable for visitors with limited mobility.
- The sanctuary’s terrain as well as stairs (over 100 steps) make it impossible to walk with strollers. We recommend bringing babies in carriers.
- Dogs are welcome at the sanctuary, but it is mandatory that they always stay on a leash.
- We kindly ask visitors to be respectful and quiet when in the sanctuary, as many bears have been abused and we do not want to disturb them.
- If you are a group traveling in a big bus, the bus cannot drive right up to the main entrance of the sanctuary. You will need to walk about 30 minutes from the bus parking to the main entrance.
- Tip: Please be sure to wear hiking appropriate clothing, especially comfortable sport, or hiking shoes. (No flip flops or high heels).
- Tip: Please check the weather conditions prior to your visit and prepare yourself accordingly. (E.g., Umbrellas for rain, and warm clothing for cooler days).
- Please note: If you bring food items for the bears, you cannot feed them yourselves. Please give your food donations to a staff member.