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RHODOPE HEART


OVERVIEW

Explore the rural heart of Bulgaria’s Rhodope mountain communities – an ecotourism escape discovering the mountain range’s beauty and rural communities on bike, foot and horseback. Journey through pinewood hiking trails, waterfall painted canyons, legend filled caves, and village pastures. Stay in charming rural accommodation in traditionally restored villages, including Gela – birthplace of the mythical hero Orpheus. Join folklore performances and relax and relax in mineral spa pools before discovering the monasteries and heritage of the historically rich city of Plovdiv.


PRICE

 

£1300 per person


DATES

7 nights


YOUR EXPERIENCE


Day 1: Sofia - Kosovo Village
Arrival in Sofia to be collected for a 2 hour transfer to Kosovo village. Sunset walk through village before enjoying a welcome dinner welcome dinner. Overnight in traditionally restored houses.
Day 2: Wonder Bridges - Kabata - Orehovo
After breakfast we will have a 1 hour transfer to one of the emblematic nature phenomenon in Rhodope Mountain: the Wonder Bridges, two natural bridges of solid rock rising up to 45m, peacefully set among the pinewoods. You will first hike to Kabata – you will need a little more than an hour to reach the Kabata hut. From here descend to Orehovo to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with the local family of Stefka and Lyubo! We will learn how to cook banitsa, how to play bagpipe or pickup herbs. Orehovo is situated in the heart of Rhodope Mountains. The village has a wonderful location on Oreshitsa River with pinewoods surrounding it. The word “Oreh”, from Oreh-ovo, means walnut tree. Legends tell that the people who settled in these lands built their houses near a spring and a huge walnut tree. Several chapels are built in this area. Numerous paths head to the hills, pastures and villages above. Breakfast and dinner included. Overnight in Kosovo village. Walking time: 4 hours walk. 12 kms/8 miles. + 250 m – 700 m. Drive time 2 hours.
Day 3: Waterfalls Canyon - Shiroka Luka - Gela
Today we head to the heart of Rhodope Mountains and the Waterfalls Canyon, a 3-hour walking on a steep path through shadowy forests and wooden bridges over rivers and waterfalls. Before the end of this loop hike, we will reach a magnificent view point over the deep valley and learn more about the magic of Rhodope Mountains. Later, transfer to Shiroka Luka village and walk around the village. Shiroka Laka is declared an architectural and folklore reserve. The houses are built of stone and wood. The roof is covered with stone plates. Many of the houses rise to 3-4 floors. Old bridges cross the river. Revival period (18-19th century) architecture is also found at the church with marvellous frescos. Walking time: 3 hours. Drive time: 2 hours. Overnight in Gela village in 3* rural hotel. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 4: Predela Mountain Pass - Gela
After breakfast we will head for our next adventure: biking through villages and mountain passes. After a short transfer to Predela Mountain Pass, we will get on the so-called Panorama Road with some nice views over the hilly landscape. In less than 2 hours you leave this road and descend to Saint Pantaleimon chapel. From there you take the road to our hosting village of Gela – birthplace of the mythical hero Orpheus. In the afternoon: free time to enjoy the peaceful garden and relax. Special dinner with a folklore performance by a local folklore duet (bagpipe musician and a folklore singer). Overnight in Gela village, 3* rural hotel. Meals included: breakfast and dinner. Drive time: 0.30 hours. Biking time: 4 hours, 25 kms/+ 250 m; – 600 m
Day 5: Yagodina Cave - Devil’s Bridge Trail - Trigrad
Today we will visit two deep gorges famous for their caves and rivers. Yagodina cave, one of the biggest in Bulgaria and will continue with a walk pass pastures, flower meadows and pinewoods to the gorgeous Trigrad Canyon. From a viewpoint we will see the canyon from above. We end our walk with a visit to the Devil’s Throat Cave related to a legend with Orpheus and Eurydice – the search of Eurydice in the Underworld.  Optional: relax afternoon and mineral waters in some of Devin SPA Pools Overnight in Trigrad village, 3* rural hotel. Breakfast and dinner included. Drive time: 1 hour. Walking time: 5 hours
Day 6: Vodnipadska River - Vodni Pad
Early morning start from Arkan Han Equestrian Base, we meet our horses, spend some time in getting to know each other and get on them for a 3-hour ride through the meandering Vodnipadska River. Our aim is to reach the old and almost abandoned village of Vodni Pad, situated right on the edge of Bulgaria, on the border with Greece. Return on the same way. Free time to enjoy the serenity of Rhodope Mountains. Overnight in Trigrad village, 3* rural hotel. Breakfast and dinner included. Drive time: 0.00 hours. Horse-riding time: 3 hours
Day 7: Bachkovo Monastery - Plovdiv
Today we return back to the civilization. After a 2-hour morning drive we will get to Bachkovo Monastery, the second biggest monastery in Bulgaria, dating back to the 11th c. The monastery is situated right next to the “Chervenata Stena” Nature Reserve and is famous for its annual pilgrimage walks to a nearby cave where the Holy Icon of the Virgin Mary was found. We will also visit the monastic dining room with magnificent frescoes from the 17th century and will walk through the century-old forests above the monastery to the nearby holy springs and chapels. After lunch we head to Plovdiv. Plovdiv – the most beautiful and culturally rich Bulgarian city! Plovdiv is famous for its Roman amphitheater and Roman Stadium, built 2nd c. AD. But part of Plovdiv charm comes from its Old Revival-style town with cobble stoned streets and beautifully restored Baroque houses. Mostly built in the 19th Century, these houses typically feature overhanging upper floors with jutting eaves, porticos with colonnades, and brightly coloured facades. Overnight in Plovdiv city, 3* Hotel. Breakfast and dinner included. Drive time: 2.30 hours. Walking time: 1.30 hours
Day 8: Plovdiv - Sofia Departure
Return to Sofia. Depending on the flight times, Sofia City Tour is possible before the final transfer to the airport. Breakfast included. Drive time: 2.00 hours

INCLUDES

  • 7 overnights in 3* boutique rural hotels
  • 7 breakfasts, 7 picnics/lunches, 7 dinners;
  • 1 folklore bagpipe performance (day 4)
  • 1 professional English-speaking mountain & tour guide
  • 3-hour horse-riding activity
  • 1-day mountain bike rental (full equipment)
  • All transfers and drives according to the itinerary


EXCLUDES

  • Flights
  • Museum fees
  • Other items not specified in itinerary
  • Tips for driver and guide
  • Expenses of a personal nature – souvenirs, telephone calls etc
  • Any soft drink or beverage
  • Optional excursion alternatives
  • Entrance fee for spa pools in Devin

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