HIPENT1

A refreshing eco-hiking experience in the heart of the Rhodope, Rila and Pirin Mountains

Route: Sofia, Korivshtiza, the Bachkovo Monastery, The Wonder Bridges, Shiroka Laka, The Canyon of the Waterfalls, Smolyan, Trigrad, Kovachevitsa, Leshten, The Pirin Mountain, Bansko, The Rila Monastery, Sofia
Transport: Coach
Price from: T/A

A trip that offers you the opportunity to indulge in the unspoiled natural beauty of some of the wildest and most enchanting mountainous ecologically preserved areas of Bulgaria while getting in touch with the country’s living traditions in the little villages that feel a world away from the hectic paced city life.
The walking routes featured in the pass through some of the most spectacular parts of the green Sredna Gora and Rhodope Mountains 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- to-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 Medieval architecture and preserved authentic atmosphere. Here we will invite you to a delicious welcome dinner and talk about how the tour will unfold.
Overnight in Koprivshtiza. (D)

Day 2: Sredna Gora Mountain, Koprivshtiza, the Kabata area
Our first hike will be in the picturesque Stara Planina, also known as the Balkan Mountain, that gave its name to the whole peninsula;. 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 south and cross the Thracian valley to reach the picturesque Kabata area in the Rhodope Mountain, where we will spend the night. Estimated hike travel time: 5-6 hours
Overnight in the village of Mostovo. (B, L, D)

Day 3: The Bachkovo Monastery, the Wonder Bridges, Shiroka Laka
In the morning, 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 stunning hand painted frescoes and 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. Then 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 travel towards the town of Shiroka Laka impressive with its authentic Revival architecture and one of the best Folklore Music Schools in the country.
Estimated hike travel time: 3 hours
Overnight in Shiroka Laka (B, L, D)

Day 4: The Waterfalls Canyon, Smolyan
This morning we will travel further south towards the very heart of the Rhodope Mountain. Our aim today is the Waterfall Canyon, situated just outside the town of Smolyan. We will follow an Eco-Trail up the Elenska River. The area is enchanting with its great number of water cascades forming a system of small and medium waterfalls that pour their waters from one to the other. The trail crosses metal and beautiful wooden bridges built over the river.  We will have our picnic lunch at one of the many places for rest around the canyon. In the late afternoon, we will return to the welcoming town of Smolyan and will try some of the local specialties for dinner.
Estimated hike travel time: 4 hours
Overnight in Shiroka Laka (B, L, D)

Day 5: Shiroka Laka, the Devil’s Throat Cave, the village of Yagodina, The Orlovo Oko (The Eagle’s Eye) Sightseeing platform, Trigrad
Today we will travel to the spectacular “Devil’s throat” cave situated near the town 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. Last on our agenda for today is Orlovo Oko (Eagle's Eye) -  a sightseeing platform built at 1563 m above the sea level, next to the St Ilia peak. The steel construction that raises 670 m above the picturesque Buynovsko gorge with its winding river and a road that runs along it. The platform reveals mesmerizing view of the gorge and the nearby villages, as well as the Bulgarian and Greek mountains and peaks in the distance. If we are lucky we can even  spot a golden eagle or wild goats which are among the most attractive inhabitants of this part of the Rhodope. We will reach the platform with a 4x4 vehicle. Tonight we will stay at the nearby town of Trigrad.
Estimated hike travel time: 2,5 hours
Overnight in Trigrad.
(B, L, D)

Day 6: Trigrad, Kovachevitsa, Leshten
After breakfast, we will set off towards the Western part of the Rhodope Mountains, where we will get in touch with the simple and fascinating lifestyle of the people from the secluded little villages of Kovatchevitsa and Leshten. Our first stop will be the village of Kovatchevitsa. Both Kovachevitsa and the nearby Leshten were established in the 17th century when the local Christian people aimed to settle in the more unreachable parts of the mountain in order to avoid the forced conversion to Islam by the Osman invaders. The main occupation for the locals is still agriculture and stock-breeding. Because of its traditional architecture and authentic atmosphere the village of Kovachevitsa was declared a historical and architectural reserve in the 1970s. We will stroll down the cobbled streets lined with medieval houses standing out with their natural stone roofing tiles and visit the ancient St.Nikola Church. In the afternoon we will travel to the nearby village of Leshten which likewise Kovachevitsa impresses with its preserved authentic spirit and architecture. Here we will enjoy a couple of hours to take in the tranquillity of the surrounding mountain peaks and explore the maze of narrow stone-paved streets of the town on our own. For dinner we will have homemade dishes traditional for the area.
Estimated hike travel time: x
Overnight in Leshten. (B, L, D)

Day 7: Leshten, 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, Sofia
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 back to the city of Sofia, where we will enjoy some free time to explore the city centre before dinner.
Estimated hike travel time: 1,5 hours
Overnight in Sofia.
(B, L, D)

Day 9: Tour ends in Sofia
Depending on the time of your departure flight, we can organize a sightseeing tour in the city centre of Sofia. We will explore 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 four of the most spectacular Bulgarian Mountains – The Sredna Gora Mountain, The Rila Mountain, The Rhodope Mountain and the Pirin Mountain
  • The spectacular Waterfall Canyon with its maze of bridges over the cascading waterfalls
  • The Devil's Throat Cave with its breathtaking 42 meter- high underground waterfalls
  • The mesmerizing view of the Buynovsko gorge and the Bulgarian and Greek mountains and peaks from the Eagle’s Eye sightseeing platform near Trigrad
  • The tranquil mountain villages of Kovachevitsa and Leshten - 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 Bulgarian capital Sofia - a blend of ancient historical heritage and modern-day landmarks

Route

Photos


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What Is Included

  • 9 days / 8 overnights
  • 8 Breakfasts (B), 7 Lunches (L), 8 Dinners (D)
  • Family-owned, no-chain 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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