BTA News

Bulgarian Antarctic Institute Chair Pimpirev: We Will Try to Reach Unexplored Smith Island

Once the last group of the 32nd Bulgarian Antarctic Expedition arrives at Livingston Island, the Bulgarians will try to reach the uninhabited Smith Island, expedition head Prof. Christo Pimpirev said in a BTA interview after the presentation of his book “The Antarctic Hitchhiker” in Lovech on Wednesday evening.

The group will leave for the icy continent on January 26. Pimpirev will be accompanied by Admiral Boyan Mednikarov, Head of the Naval Academy in Varna, which is part of the Bulgarian Antarctic Base and Research Vessel Consortium, together with the Sofia University and the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute.

Bulgarian News Agency Director general Kiril Valchev will also be part of the group. Several scientists will also be travelling and will continue to implement the scientific programme set for this year’s Bulgarian Antarctic expedition, said Prof. Pimpirev. Lyubov Kostova, former director of the British Council in Bulgaria, will make special materials for school and university students to popularize climate change and give answers on how to protect the environment, why Antarctica is the largest natural laboratory, and how our scientists explore the continent. “The whole programme is quite interesting, but the majority of scientists are in Antarctica at the moment. The ship leaves back on February 10 and there will be fewer of them at the base. Without the valuable support of the ship, we won’t be able to visit places that have not been explored,” Prof. Pimpirev said.

Pimpirev also said that with the last group the aim is to visit an almost unexplored island in the South Shetland archipelago – Smith Island. “It is relatively close to our own Livingston Island, but it is the highest in the whole South Shetland archipelago. It is very difficult to access. Our neighbours and friends, the Spaniards, who have had a ship for 20 years, have made several attempts to reach the shore by boats but have not been successful. The conditions are extremely unfavourable, and these are some of the best sailors in the world. If we succeed, it will be a great achievement. If nothing else, we will film it with a drone,” the researcher said.

He said that studying this island will be a goal of the next expedition, as it has a very unique geology in the whole structure of the South Shetland Islands. The rocks there have come up from 50-60 km depth, where diamonds form and the sicentists can expect to find anything on this island.

According to Prof. Pimpirev, this year’s expedition was a great success as some very in-depth research was done. He also pointed out that the construction of the new modern research laboratory at the Bulgarian base is going extremely well. The metal structure has been almost completed and the wall panels are already being put up. Soon the roof of the building will also be covered.

Prof. Pimpirev presented in Lovech his book “The Antarctic Hitchhiker” together with co-author Iglika Trifonova.


During the 32nd Bulgarian expedition to Antarctica, which started on November 8, 2023, the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) is publishing interviews with Antarctic researchers. The Bulgaria-Antarctica BTA’s Log again provides coverage of the voyage of the Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii to Antarctica and back and its stay there, as it did during the 31st expedition between December 27, 2022 and May 2, 2023. Back then, only BTA had a correspondent, Daily News Editor Konstantin Karagyozov, who covered the 127-day expedition with text, video and photos during the entire voyage (including across the Atlantic in both directions) and throughout the stay in Antarctica. In June 2023, BTA published in Bulgarian and in English an issue of its LIK magazine “To Antarctica and Back under the Bulgarian Flag” dedicated to the historic expedition. 

All of BTA’s information on the Bulgarian scientific research in Antarctica and the support provided by the Bulgarian naval research vessel, as well as on the other activities at the Bulgarian Antarctic Base, will be available to all media outlets in Bulgarian and in English on BTA’s website in the Bulgaria – Antarctica: BTA’s Log section.

BTA has a National Press Club on board the ship and is planning to open a National Press Club at the Bulgarian Antarctic Base on Livingston Island.