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COMNAP Annual General Meeting XXXI
28–31 July 2019 
       COMNAP-Plovdiv-Logo.png           BAI Logo.jpg

The Bulgarian Antarctic Institute (BAI) & the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria will host the COMNAP Annual General Meeting (AGM) XXXI (2019).​ 

On-line pre-registration is now closed.  All delegates must be pre-registered in order to attend.

AGM Venue

The COMNAP AGM XXXI will be held at the Grand Hotel Plovdiv.

The address is Zlatyu Boyadzhiev 2, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The telephone number is +359 32 934444.​

You can find more information about the hotel at the following link:    https://grandhotelplovdiv.bg/en/.


Picture of Grand Hotel Plovdiv.jpg

The meeting will be held in the city of Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. It is situated on both banks of the Maritsa River, in the central part of the Upper Thracian Plain. Plovdiv is an important administrative, economic, tourist and transport center for the country. In addition, Plovdiv is the oldest city in Europe, whose history dates back to 4000 years BC. Plovdiv has a modern vision and, at the same time, an ancient atmosphere that attracts many tourists with its cultural and archaeological heritage.

More information on Plovdiv can be found here and here.
Plovdiv landscape.jpg

Pre-registration (on-line)  & Registration (upon arrival at venue) 

On-line pre-registration for all COMNAP Member National Antarctic Program delegates opened by way of the COMNAP Members Only webpage on 1 April 2019. Pre-registration for Observer National Antarctic Programs, invited organisations and exhibitors opened on 15 April 2019. Pre-registration for everyone closed on 1 July 2019. Only those who have pre-registered, and who then complete registration at the Welcome Event on Sunday 28 July or at the AGM venue from Monday morning, will be allowed access to the AGM and associated events.    

Welcome Event / Icebreaker Reception 

The meetings will begin with a Welcome Event/Icebreaker Reception on Sunday 28 July, 7:00pm-9:30pm, at the Grand Hotel Plovdiv. 
The registration desk will be open at the venue on Sunday from 10am.  

The formal opening of the AGM will be on Monday 29 July beginning at 8:30am. 

AGM & Associated Events: Overview schedule

Below is an overview of the COMNAP meetings and events schedule. Regular updates of this schedule and the AGM agenda will be made available from the COMNAP Member’s Only webpage (Username and password required). Further information was provided when you completed the on-line pre-registration. 

In addition, SCAR EXCOM and other SCAR delegates will hold their meetings in parallel to the AGM sessions.Full information on those SCAR-related meetings can be obtained from the SCAR Secretariat info@scar.org. 


Education & Outreach Workshop

Within COMNAP and COMNAP Member National Antarctic Programs, we all understand the importance of Antarctica and the work we do there. As part of our programmes’ routine activities, we must ensure we communicate this importance to a broad range of stakeholders, including the public, our governments and our funders, the Antarctic Treaty System delegates, the broader science community and the global policy development community. The theme of the Workshop “Communicating the importance of our Antarctic activity” articulates the principle objective of the workshop, that is, to showcase and share the best practices used by National Antarctic Programs to promote their Antarctic work. 
The first announcement / call for expression of interest for the Education & Outreach Workshop can be found below.

First announcement- education and outreach workshop 20.01.2019.pdf

The programme of presentations and abstracts for the Education & Outreach Workshop can be found below. 

COMNAP Education and Outreach Workshop 9July19.pdf

AGM Meeting Papers

All AGM Meeting Papers will be made available on the COMNAP Member’s Only webpage as they are received. Your username and password will be required in order to access the papers.​ They will also be made available by way of a dropbox link (no username or password required) closer to the time of the meeting.

For those of you wishing to submit a Meeting Paper and/or wanting to make a presentation at one of the sessions, please send your request to the COMNAP Executive Secretary as soon as possible.  All AGM Meeting Papers shoudl be received by the Executive Secretary on or before 15 July 2019. 


Delegates are responsible to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements. If you are travelling from overseas, the closest airport is Sofia International Airport. From there, getting to Plovdiv from Sofia is easy. Here are the common ways/suggestions:

To Plovdiv by BUS:

There is a bus leaving from the Central Bus Station at every hour (or every 30 minutes in the middle of the day). It takes around two hours and costs around 14 BGN one-way. Check out the timetable on the webpage of the bus station: http://www.centralnaavtogara.bg. The website is available in German, English and Bulgarian.

To Plovdiv by TRAIN:

In general, trains in Bulgaria are not to be recommended! Unlike some other countries, trains here are slower, older and not so convenient as the buses. However, most of the times they are cheaper, especially if you use some kind of discount and they give you more flexibility (at least to stretch your legs). The train to Plovdiv takes a bit longer than the bus. Check out the timetable on the website of the Bulgarian State Railways: http://www.bdz.bg/en/.

To Plovdiv by CAR:

Once you arrive at the Sofia International Airport, you can rent a car and self-drive to Plovdiv. Get out of Sofia from Tsarigradsko shoese, Bulvd. and follow the A1 -  Trakiya highway. A car would also give you the flexibility to see some of the gorgeous places around Plovdiv.

To Plovdiv by TAXI:
There are several taxi services that will provide transfers to/from the Sofia Airport to Plovdiv:

YES Trans Taxi Company https://yestrans.eu/ +359 898 60 82 76 cost is 50EUROS each direction

Taxi for YOU Taxi Company http://taxiforyou.eu/ +359 895 710 841; +359 898 736 715 / Viber / WhatsApp cost is 45EUROS each direction

GS Travel https://gstravel-bg.com/en/ +359 894 86 60 04 cost varies from 69EUROS to 142EUROs in each direction depending on number of seats/passengers

True Drivers https://truedrivers.net/bg/  +359 89 72 27 771 cost is 61EUROS per car each direction


For the convenience of their guests, GRAND HOTEL PLOVDIV offers direct transfers from Sofia International Airport to the hotel and back. One-way transfer (Sofia Airport –Grand Hotel Plovdiv or Grand Hotel Plovdiv to Sofia Airport) for up to 4 people with one piece of luggage each at the price of 100 Euro.  Return transfer for up to 4 people with one piece of luggage each is 190 Euro.​ 


In order to make a reservation at the AGM venue Grand Hotel Plovdiv with early bird discounted price, please fill the special reservation form that you will automatically receive when you complete the on-line pre-registration and send it to reservation1@grandhotelplovdiv.bg​ with subject "COMNAP AGM 2019". Any reservation that is made and then amended or cancelled by 15 June 2019 will be entitled to a 50% refund of the deposit.  After that, no refunds will be made by the hotel.

There are a few other hotels located within walking distance of the venue.  We recommend the following:

The Maritza Hotel (6  minute walk)   https://hotel-marica-plovdiv.eu/  +359 (0) 32 621450

The Holiday Inn Plovdiv (11 minute walk)   http://hiplovdivhotel.com/  (+359) 878 433 278. This hotel offers transfers to/from Sofia Airport. The cost is 90EUROS in each direction for 4 people. If you require a transfer indicate this when you book your room state the number of people, the time and date for pick-up.

The Sankt Peterburg Hotel (13 minute walk)  http://www.sphotel.net/

The Hotel Hebros, in Old Town (16  minute walk)  http://www.hebros-hotel.com/index.php.  This hotel offers transfers to/from Sofia Airport. The cost is 75EUROS in each direction for 4 people. If you require a transfer indicate this when you book your room state the number of people, the time and date for pick-up.

Letter of Invitation

Visitors from some countries will require a visa to visit Bulgaria. Please see:


 If you require a letter of invitation for whatever reason, please email the AGM Local Organising Committee (see below) with a cc to sec@comnap.aq. Please allow plenty of time to receive the letter of invitation - do not wait until the last minute to make the request.​​

Our hosts have worked with their local travel agent, Penguin Travel, to prepare a selection of interesting tours you might wish to take in your own time and at your own cost.  There are several to choose from below:

Penguin travel contact details:
Website: www.penguin.bg 
Phone: +359 2 400 10 50

Additional information

Time zone

Bulgaria is currently on Eastern European Time (UTC/GMT +2 hours). Daylights Saving Time starts on Sunday 31 March 2019 and ends on Sunday 27 October 2019.



Bulgaria is located in Southeast Europe, in the northeast part of the Balkan Peninsula. It falls within the southern part of the temperate climate zone with subtropical influence. Its location on the transition line between two climate zones influences the climate, soils, vegetation and animal species. All of them are characterized by great diversity. The country’s geographic position also determines the relatively wide angle of sunlight that falls on the country, making the country predominantly sunny. The Black and the Aegean Sea also influence the country’s climate. The average winter temperatures are around -2/-3 degrees C and the average summer temperatures are around +24/+25 degrees C. Peak summer temperatures may reach +35/+38 degrees C.  Plovdiv has a humid subtropical climate with considerable humid continental influences. There are four distinct seasons with large temperature jumps between seasons. Summer (mid-May to late September) is hot, moderately dry and sunny, with July and August having an average high of 33 °C (91 °F). Plovdiv sometimes experiences very hot days which are typical in the interior of the country. Summer nights are mild.



The national currency in Bulgaria is the Lev - BGN. Approximately exchange rates are:

1 EUR = 1.9558 BGN

1 USD = 1.7119 BGN

1 BGP = 2.1734 BGN

Money can be exchanged in banks and change bureaus. Ask your liaison officer or at the hotel reception to recommend a bank or bureau nearby. Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diner’s Club cards are accepted at almost every establishment that accepts payment by credit card. If any of the following logos appear on your card: MasterCard, VISA, AMEX, Diners Club or Discover you will be able to withdraw money from the ATMs in Sofia. It is important to check whether your home bank has authorized your card for international use if you plan on using a debit card. Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere, however, in general, taxis do not accept credit cards, it is recommended to have cash.



In Bulgaria the power sockets are of type F. The standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.


Country Code

To make an international call to Bulgaria, the country code is + 359. The city code for Plovdiv is (0)32.  For emergency calls while in Bulgaria 112.


Contact information

Further information can be obtained from the Local Organizing Committee:​​


Christo Pimpirev     polar@gea.uni-sofia.bg              +359 2 930 8531

Dragomir Mateev   dragomir.mateev@gmail.com     +359 2 930 8531

Marta Blunt            m.blunt@gea.uni-sofia.bg           +359 2 930 8331 or +359 878 111 245 ​


See also the Member’s Only area of the COMNAP website for information and all Meeting Papers as they are submitted or email sec@comnap.aq. ​​