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The best of the Rhodope, Pirin and Rila Mountains

Route: Sofia, Koprivshtiza, the Sredna Gora Mountain, Plovdiv, the Rhodope Mountain, Chepelare, Gela, Shiroka Laka/Devin, the Pirin Mountain, Bansko, Dobrinishte, the Rila Mountain, the Rila Monastery, Sapareva Bania, Govedartsi, Sofia
 

The Rodope Mountain is situated in southern Bulgaria, with 20 percent of it extending into Greece. The highest peak is around 2,000 m high with the average height around 800m. With its pleasant climate, the Rodope Mountain is a perfect place for hiking, offering the walkers splendid panoramic landscapes of rolling green mounts, pre-historic caves, ancient Roman roads and bridges, fortresses and churches. Goats and sheep are not just a part of the scenery, they are a significant element of everyday life, providing the locals with milk, meat, wool, and leather.
The Pirin Mountain, named after Perun, the god of Thunder, is Bulgaria's wildest mountain, comprising numerous protected areas and more than 60 peaks with a height beyond   2,500 m high.
The Rila Mountain range is the highest on the Balkan Peninsula and within southeast Europe with its giant – the Musala peak (standing at 2,925 m). Many of the summits here are close to 3,000 m high. Rila (an old Slavic word, meaning "Water Mountain") looks like a rough sea of mountain ridges and peaks and boasts deep gorges with no less than 150 crystal clear lakes. Thanks to the mild winds coming from the Mediterranean Sea, the mountain has an entirely unique vegetation. A big part of the Rila National Park is under the protection of UNESCO.
The walking routes featured in this tour pass through some of the most spectacular parts of the green Rhodope mountain and reveal the enchanting, unspoiled, raw beauty of the Pirin and Rila Mountains.  The trails afford breathtaking views over high rocky cliffs, woods, alpine meadows and the tiny villages where you can observe the traditions of Bulgaria at their best.

Day - by - day itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Bulgaria – Sofia, Sredna Gora Mountain and Koprivshtiza
Our guide will meet you at the Sofia Airport upon your arrival and accompany you throughout the whole trip.
While enjoying a refreshing cup of coffee in a cosy coffee shop in the city centre, you will be able to get to know your fellow travellers and get your first impressions from the vibrant Bulgarian capital. Then we will take you on a scenic drive towards the Sredna Gora Mountain, in South Central Bulgaria to reach the town of Koprivshtiza famous for its preserved Medival architecture and authentic atmosphere. Here we will invite you to a delicious welcome dinner and reveal how the tour will unfold.
Overnight in Koprivshtiza. (D)

Day 2: Sredna Gora Mountain, Koprivshtiza and Plovdiv
Our first hike will be in the picturesque Stara Planina, also called the Balkan Mountain, after which the whole peninsula is named. The range is 560 km long and separates Bulgaria in two parts - Northern and Southern.
Ascending through dense deciduous woods towards the village of Krustevich, we will reach the tranquil Barikadite area where we will indulge in the idyllic scenery of lush meadows pecked with wild mountain herbs and flowers. The highest point of our hike today will be the Mount Bogdan (1604m) from where we will be able to observe the spectacular view of the Central Stara Planina Mountain. In the afternoon we will travel to Plovdiv - the Second biggest Bulgarian city with rich cultural and artistic heritage.
Estimated hike travel time: 5-6 hours
Overnight in Plovdiv. (B, L, D)

Day 3: Plovdiv and the Bachkovo Monastery
Our guided tour this morning will take us to the Old Quarter of Plovdiv famous for its spectacular Roman Theatre, the multitude of tiny art shops, the cosy old-time cafés and the authentic Revival period houses. In the afternoon, we will take a short trip in the mystic Rhodope Mountain to visit the Bachkovo Monastery, the second in size and importance monastery in Bulgaria founded during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and impressive with its picturesque location and extensive icon collections. During a refreshing hike in the picturesque area around the sanctuary we will hear the story of the mysterious wonder-working icon from the Bachkovo Monastery.
Estimated hike travel time: 3 hours
Overnight in Plovdiv. (B, L, D)

Day 4: The Rhodope Mountain, the Wonder Bridges, Chepelare
Today we will explore one of the most spectacular natural rock phenomena on the territory of The Rhodope Mountain -The Wonder Bridges. It is assumed the formation was once a cave which probably collapsed as a result of an earthquake. The river waters treated the fallen rocks, forming the current two beautiful marble bridges. In the afternoon we will reach the small town of Chepelare. Then we will go for a panoramic hike nearby the winter resort of Pamporovo surrounded by lush pine forests and imposing mountain tops.
Estimated hike travel time: 5 hours
Overnight in Chepelare. (B, L, D)

Day 5: The Western Rhodope Mountain, the village of Gela, the village of Shiroka Laka, Devin
Our hike today will take us to the idyllic village of Gela founded more than 3300 years ago and considered one of the cradles of the European civilization. The area has been inhabited since ancient times by the Thracian tribe Besi and according to the legends it was here where the mythological Thracian singer Orpheus was born. In the afternoon we will hike towards the town of Shiroka Laka impressive with its authentic Revival architecture and one of the best Folklore Music Schools in the country.  In the evening we will travel to the town of Devin, where we will spend the night.
Estimated hike travel time: 5 - 6 hours
Overnight in Devin. (B, L, D)

Day 6: The “Devil’s throat” cave, the village of Yagodina, Bansko
Today we will travel to the spectacular “Devil’s throat” cave situated near the village of Trigrad in the breathtaking Trigrad Gorge. After exploring the cave with its enormous gallery on the stone walls of which they say you can see the carved Devils’s face, we will go on a scenic hike towards the village of Yagodina, through lush mountain meadows spotted with crystal-water mountain streaks.  Then we will travel to the town of Basnko at the foot of the Pirin Mountain.
Estimated hike travel time: 2,5 hours
Overnight in Bansko.
(B, L, D)

Day 7: The Pirin National Park, the Popovo Lake, Bansko
We will spend the day in the heart of the Pirin National Park. First we will travel to the Gotse Delchev Hut in the central part of the Pirin Mountain and then we will take the seat-lift to the Bezbog Hut (2200m).  Our hike today will take us to the Popovo Lake, the biggest alpine lake in Pirin crowned by majestic tooth peak-like rocky mounts. After we enjoy the beautiful scenery we will continue our hike towards the Vihren Hut and enjoy more of the breath-taking areas Pirin has to offer. In the afternoon we will unwind and relax in the Old Town of Bansko with its inviting Taverns, tiny art galleries and narrow cobbled streets lined with authentic Revival houses.
Estimated hike travel time: 4 hours
Overnight in Bansko.
(B, L, D)

Day 8: The Rila Mountain, the Rila Monastery, the Stob Pyramids, Sapareva Banya
Today we will travel to the imposing Rila Monastery nested among the mighty peaks of the Rila Mountain. We will first go for a small hike in the surroundings of the Monastery and visit the last resting place of St.Ivan Rilski’s, the founder of the monastery.  We will enjoy a delicious picnic in this picturesque area and then walk back and visit the sanctuary which is a true architectural masterpiece of its time, fascinating with its distinguished works of art by some of the most renowned Bulgarian artists. In the afternoon we will travel west and make a stop to marvel at the Stob Pyramids, amazing yellowish rock formations in conical shapes. Later we will travel to the town of Sapareva Bania famous for the fact that the hottest (103 ºС) and single thermal water geyser in Europe is situated here.
Estimated hike travel time: 1,5 hours
Overnight in Sapareva Bania.
(B, L, D)

Day 9: The Seven Rila lakes
After breakfast we will make a short trip to the small village of Panichiste from where we will enjoy a scenic ascend to the  Rilski Ezera Hut with the seat-lift. From here we will hike towards the enchantic Seven Rila lakes, the highest of which is located at about 2500 m. above sea level. The area strikes with its natural beauty and the breathtaking panorama of the Rila national Park with the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula – Musala Mount (2927m). In the late afternoon we will travel to the town of Govedartsi at the foot of the Rila Mountain.
Estimated hike travel time: 4 – 5  hours
Overnight in Sapareva Bania.
(B, L, D)

Day 10: The Malyovishka part of the Rila Mountain
Today  we will explore the North-Western part of the Rila Mountain called Malovishka part after its highest peak – Malyovitsa Mount ( 2729m).  After a short bus trip to Malyovitsa hut we will be able to start our hike through flower-flcked  pastures and archaic pine forests. We will have two options for ahike today and we can take wichever we feel is more suitable for us.
The more  challanging option is a hike up to the Malyovitsa Mount through rocky, steep,  majestic  lanscapes. Hiking here will delight the partcipants who will be able to experience the mightyness of the Maloyvishka Rila Mountain alpyne releif. It is suitable for well eperienced and equpoped mountaineers prepared to overcome an altitude difference of about 1000m.
Estimated hike travel time for the Hike up to the Malyovitsa Mount: 5 - 6  hours
The less-challenging route takes us to varous panoramic landscapes and lush grassy meadows within the  Malyovitsa part .The smaller incline and the friendlier terrain makes for an enjoyable hike that will give us a taste of the welcoming side of the majestic Rila Mountain. This route is suitable for all mountain lovers regardless of their level of experience.
Estimated hike travel time for the Hike within the Malyovitsa part of the Rila Mountain: 4 - 6  hours
In the late afternoon we will travel to the capital Sofia.
Overnight in Sofia. (B, L, D)

Day 11: Tour ends in Sofia
Our last day we will be dedicated to Sofia – the capital of Bulgaria! The guided sightseeing tour will take us to the imposing St.Alexander Nevski cathedral - the seat of the Patriarchy of Bulgaria, the St. Sofia church after which the city was named back in the 14th century, the ancient ruins of the Roman fortress “Serdika” and the Martyr Saint George Rotunda, the National Theatre, the old Bath House, the Banya Bashi Mosque - a remnant of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria that lasted nearly five centuries. In the afternoon we will take a short trip to the foot of the picturesque Vitosha Mountain where we will visit the National Museum of History and the UNESCO classified Boyana Church with its fascinating murals dating back to the 13th century.

Then it will be time for us to say “Goodbye” with the promise to keep the beautiful memories we created together. (B)

If you like the suggested program, ideas, services and this is really your kind of holiday please send us your request for further details! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you our professional advice. Thank you!

Highlights

  • Hiking in three of the most spectacular Bulgarian Mountains – The Rila Mountain, The Rhodope Mountain and the Pirin Mountain
  • The charming Old Quarter of the city of Plovdiv with its spectacular Roman amphitheatre
  • The Devil's Throat Cave with its breathtaking underground waterfalls in Europe - 42 m.
  • The tranquil mountain villages - cornerstones in the preservation of the Bulgarian history, traditions and cuisine
  • The Rila Monastery - an architectural masterpiece of its time that played a significant role in the Bulgarian history
  • The stunning Seven Rila Lakes
  • In search for the birthplace of Orpheus in the mystic Rhodope Mountain
  • The Bulgarian capital Sofia - a blend of ancient historical heritage and modern-day landmarks

Route

Photos


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What Is Included

  • 11 days / 10 overnights
  • 10 breakfasts (B), 8 Lunches (L), 10 dinners (D)
  • 3 nights 4 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
  • 7 nights 3 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
  • Guided sightseeing tours of all visited cities and sights
  • Escorted services of an experienced guide in the requested language for the whole tour
  • Group Size: T/A
  • Transport: Modern air-conditioned coach
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