- Transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only)
- English-speaking mountain guide
- Cable car tickets
- Caves and museums entry fees (appr. 20-25 Euros/pers.)
- Extra food and drink
- Mountain maps
- Travel/medical insurance
- SPA procedures
WHAT TO EXPECT
This hiking tour visits some of Bulgaria’s remotest and least-known parts, many of them until recently out of bounds for foreigners, and taste traditional local cuisine and hospitality. Famous sites of cultural importance are also included: Koprivshtitsa (museum-town, housing well-preserved architecture from the Revival Period), Plovdiv (the second biggest town in Bulgaria), Bachkovo Monastery, Rila Monastery (the most famous UNESCO attraction in the country), Shiroka Laka (architectural reserve), etc. An exceptional kaleidoscope of beautiful caves, deep gorges, alpine meadows, glacier lakes, monasteries, and museum villages with authentic old-time architecture.
The hiking program is moderately difficult and designed for people who would not be comfortable on very long and tiring treks, who would yet like to savor the best the landscape and local culture have to offer. Steep but short stages also occur along the trails.
Day 1 - Arrival
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 colors with expansive verandahs and picturesque eaves. Note that a group transfer is arranged to the overnight destination. In case you arrive early in Sofia we will meet you and offer you an option to explore the city on your own.
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 we will visit some of their museum-houses to learn more about the local history. Later, continue towards the second biggest Bulgarian town – Plovdiv.
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 we 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 (stay overnight in one of them, fully restored and cozy).
Day 3 - Shiroka Laka village
After delicious breakfast at the terrace of your house, overlooking the whole village, we transfer further deep to the heart of the Rhodopes. Your 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, continue further to the SPA resort Devin. The afternoon is left to relax when you can try some of the local SPAs. In the evening you head for a short transfer to Lyaskovo village – rustic and fairly typical mountain village, where you have a traditional dinner with a local family. Transfer back to Devin for overnight. (1,30-2 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 50m/170ft)
Day 4 - Yagodinska Peshtera Cave
A short transfer takes you to the entrance of the Yagodinska Peshtera Cave, where you will have the opportunity of enjoying its unique formations. From here, the hiking route takes you through the pretty village of Yagodina and over the hills above it with their smallholdings, on to a thick fir forest that takes you to the edge of the Trigradsko Zhdrelo Gorge. Stay overnight in the village of Trigrad. (3hrs of walking; 9,30km/5,78miles, climbing 563m/1847ft and descending 354m/1161ft)
Day 5 - Pirin Mountains
Time to leave the Rhodopes and head for Pirin Mountains. Meandering roads bring us to Bansko at the foot of Pirin National Park. The tour drops the luggage in the accommodation and transfers up to the trailhead at Vihren Hut, where you set off on a hiking trek through the pretty Cirque of the Banderishki Lakes. Loop walk among the lakes in the Cirque will take us to some of them, where you can have rest on their shores. Dinner will be organized in a traditional tavern (“mehana”), where you can try some of the local delicacies and home-made spirits. (3,30-4hrs of walking; 7,8km/4,85miles; climbing and descending 700m/2300ft)
Day 6 - Popovo Lake
Today, visit one of the Pirin’s greenest parts near the Bezbog Hut. An open cable car and a picturesque ramble take you to the largest and deepest of all lakes in Pirin – Popovo Lake (30m/100ft deep). Later in the afternoon, you can have free time to explore on your own the cobble streets of Bansko or maybe try some of the local thermal SPAs around Dobrinishte and Bansko. (4hrs of walking, 7,60km/4,72miles; climbing and descending 396m/1299ft)
Day 7 - Rila Mountains
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. 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). Base for the evening and enjoy our last dinner in the capital – Sofia. (4-5 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 400 m/1330ft)
Day 8 - Mount Vitosha
A couple of options for the last day:
> Those of you who have an early flight will be transferred to Sofia Airport.
> If your flight departs in the evening you can opt for a hiking trek in Vitosha Mountains (included in the package price).
The day begins with a walking trek across the Mount Vitosha, including crossing the Torfeno Branishte Nature Reserve and climbing the local summit of Cherni Vrah (2290m/7513ft). (5hrs of walking; 13,5km/8,39miles; climbing 554m/1818ft and descending 977m/3205ft.). Transfer to Sofia Airport in the afternoon. Or you can, of course, extend your stay in Sofia with one more night, which will allow you to have a look and explore the city on your own (contact us for details).
Accommodation: Three-star hotels and family guesthouses; en-suite facilities; breakfast and supper included.
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.
Rent of hiking poles:15 €/person