- Transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only)
- English-speaking guide
- Chairlift tickets
- Entry charges to caves and museums
- Extra food and drink
- Mountain maps
- Medical insurance
- Personal expenses
WHAT TO EXPECT
This easy to moderate hiking trek is nicely combined with overnight stays in traditional villages and guesthouses, set in rolling landscapes. Enjoy the stunning panoramas and walking trails of the Balkan, the Rhodopes (Rodopi), Pirin and Rila mountains, exploring them on foot during the daytime. While in the evenings you will feel the spirit of a century-old life and sincere hospitality, combined with delicious local cuisine, based on organic food and home-made drinks (wine and fruit brandy among them).
Although the Bulgarian village is attractive all year round with each season having its own charm, the tour still has to comply with the hiking possibilities in the mountains, thus defining the period June-September as being the best one. If you wish to come in May or October the tour might still be able to confirm the trek but with slight changes affecting some of the hikes. The hiking program is easy to moderately difficult and leaves enough time to savour the life in each of the villages we stay in along the route.
Day 1 - Koprivshtitsa
The tour meets you at Sofia Airport and transfers you to Koprivshtitsa at the foot of Sredna Gora Mountains. Koprivshtitsa is a museum town unique with its cobblestone alleys, houses painted in bright colours with expansive verandahs and picturesque eaves.
Day 2 - Plovdiv
During the Ottoman rule, Koprivshtitsa withstood many attacks, it was burned down to ashes several times, its inhabitants were frequently robbed and driven away. Many Bulgarians who laid down their lives for the liberation of their motherland had been born here and today you will visit some of their museum-houses to learn more about the local history. Later, continue towards the second biggest Bulgarian town – Plovdiv.
Within 2-3 hours of walking along with the city, you will discover history and culture behind a 7000-year old settlement, written by the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Bulgarian civilizations. You can enjoy sightseeing in the Old Town with its museums, historical monuments, revival period houses, lined with souvenir shops cobbled streets or get impressed by the rich Ethnographic Museum and the ancient Roman Theater. In the afternoon, continue further to Bachkovo Monastery, which is also the second biggest monastery in the country. The day ends in the village of Kosovo, famous for its old stone houses.
Day 3 - Shiroka Laka village
After delicious breakfast at the terrace of your house, overlooking the whole village, transfer further deep to the heart of the Rhodopes. The next stop is Shiroka Laka village – architectural reserve, presenting some of the best examples of the local mountain houses. After a short walk along the cobblestone streets, you will continue further to the famous SPA resort Devin. An adventurous eco-path, weaving on wooden bridges over Devinska River, awaits us here as we make our way along the wild valley, crowned with steep rocks where Balkan Chamois (wild goats) may be seen resting. Later in the afternoon, stop overnight at Lyaskovo village – rustic and fairly typical mountain village, which you can explore on your own before dinner. (1,30-2 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 50m/170ft)
Day 4 - Trigrad
In the morning, continue to the stunning Trigrad Gorge and the village of Trigrad, which will be your base for the next night. Today, you enjoy a particularly pleasant walking trek to the village of Vodni Pad right by the Greek border, until recently within a closely guarded strip proscribed even for those living down the road. A circular trail takes us up panoramic crests, through pine forests dotted with green meadows and smallholdings, sheltered valleys, and traditional stone houses. At dinner time the tour will try domestic delicacies made of potatoes and will, of course, taste fresh grilled Rainbow Trout (5-5,30 hrs of walking, climbing 700m/2300ft. and descending 350m/1200ft)
Day 5 - The Devil’s Throat Cave
First on the list is the Trigrad Gorge, fenced by 250m high vertical cliffs, and its main attraction – The Devil’s Throat Cave. The sinister interior of the cave houses the highest underground waterfall on the Balkans (42m/140ft high). From here, take a path following the upper edge of the gorge in the direction of Yagodina village, encircled by lands cultivated in a traditional way. Very near is Yagodina Cave, which is one of the longest in Bulgaria (more than 10km/6miles) and for sure one of the most beautiful. After a cave tour here we board the bus towards Pirin Mountains, with a short stop on the way at the museum village of Dolen. The tour stays overnight in a house in one of the villages, located in the hollow, surrounded by Pirin, Rila and the Rhodopes. (4 hrs of walking, climbing 100m/330ft. and descending 650m/2100ft)
Day 6 - Banderishki Lakes Cirque
Today, you visit one of the most picturesque parts of the Pirin: the Banderishki Lakes Cirque. Depending on your fitness, you can choose from a variety of trekking options of different difficulty and duration. If you are very fit we can even attempt the marble pyramid of the local giant – Mount Vihren (2914m/9700ft), which offers remarkable panorama to a sea of summits and ridges above 2500m/8325ft. (4-7 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 400-900m/1330-3000ft).
Dinner will be organized in a traditional tavern (“mehana”), where you can try some of the local delicacies and home-made spirits.
Day 7 - Rila Monastery
Quite busy yet another stunning day expects us as you head towards Rila Mountains. First, transfer to the impressive Rila Monastery – UNESCO heritage listed site and one of the most famous tourist attractions in Bulgaria. This is also the largest and most significant Bulgarian Orthodox Church establishment. Next, continue to another renowned place – the Cirque of The Seven Rila Lakes, which you reach by chairlift.
These glacier lakes are set between 2100 and 2500m/6800 and 8200ft above sea level, with names fitting their shapes, like Babreka (the Kidney), Okoto (the Eye), and Salzata (the Teardrop). A scenic walk here will put the end of the active part of the holiday. Base for the evening and enjoy our gala dinner in the charming village of Govedartsi. (4-5 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 400 m/1330ft)
Transfer from Govedartsi to Sofia Airport.
Hiking time: hiking time only is mentioned on each day (not including stops for pictures, picnics, breaks, etc.); these are based on an average hiker’s speed of 4-5km/hr on flat terrain, additional 30min for each 300m elevation gain, and a backpack weighing not more than 10-15% of your body weight. Still, this varies a lot on the terrain and hiking experience of each client.
Accommodation: family hotels and guesthouses; rooms with en-suite facilities; breakfast and supper.