Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday
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Overview

Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday

A self guided walking holiday in the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria. Visit the impressive Buinovo Gorge, then hike to the Eagle’s Eye viewing platform offering spectacular views of the Rhodopean Range. Trace the footsteps of Orpheus through the mighty Devil’s Throat cave in the Tirgrad Gorge, said to be the mythical Hall of Hades, walk to Chaira Lakes and then take in the splendour of the Canyon of Waterfalls before moving to the comfort of your spa hotel. Accommodation during our Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday is in hand-picked 3 or 4 star hotels (spa facilities available on Days 5 and 6).

Highlights 

  • The city of the seven hills – Plovdiv with its old town and ancient Roman amphitheatre and stadium; designated European City of Culture 2019
  • Devil’s Throat Cave
  • Yagodina Cave
  • Trigrad Gorge
  • Chaira Lakes
  • Shiroka Laka
  • Buinovo Gorge
  • The Canyon of Waterfalls

Gallery

Itinerary

Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday

Day 1: Plovdiv

Arrive in the charming city of Plovdiv, visit the ancient Roman amphitheatre and stroll the beautiful streets of the old town. Ryan Air flies directly to Plovdiv; if you fly to Sofia, Plovdiv is easily accessible by train or bus (c. 2 hours, see travel notes).

Accommodation: a 3 star hotel close to city centre and old town

Day 2: Yagodina / Eagle's Eye

Morning transfer to Yagodina (115 km / 2.5 hours) – a small village in the picturesque Buinovo Gorge in the very heart of the Rhodopes. Visit the beautiful Yagodina Cave. Afternoon hike to the Eagle's Eye platform offering impressive views to the mountains (some sections are relatively steep but no scrambling required). During good weather, the entire Rhodope Range and even parts of Greece are visible from the platform.  Overnight in Yagodina.

Walking for the day: 5.2 km (3 hours)
Accommodation: a family run hotel

Day 3: Trigrad

Walk from Yagodina through the picturesque Buinovo Gorge to Trigrad and then to Arkan Han Hotel near Trigrad. Overnight near Trigrad. Note: the hotel has a horse riding school (horse riding sessions not included in itinerary, for availability and prices ask at hotel).

Walking for the day: 10 km (3.5 hours)
Accommodation: a family run hotel

Day 4: Chaira Lakes

A circular walk from hotel to Trigrad Cliffs, then to the beautiful Chaira Lakes and back to hotel through the impressive Trigrad Gorge. Overnight in Trigrad.

Walking for the day: 23 km (8 hours)
Accommodation: a family run hotel

Day 5: Shiroka Laka

Afternoon transfer to the hotel in Shiroka Laka (40 km / 1 hour). Stop to visit the Devil’s Throat cave . The cave’s entrance resembles a devil’s head, and down its throat rushes a massive waterfall that from ancient times has captivated imaginations and given birth to many legends. The most popular of these is that Orpheus descended down this orifice to the subterranean kingdom of Hades, to seek his lost love Eurydice. Walk from Shiroka Laka to Gela, a small village in the picturesque valley of Oreshica river in the very heart of the Rhodopes. Walk through Gela to Lednistata Lodge and Lednitsata Cave, then descend using another route from Gela to Shiroka Laka through one of the most beautiful parts of the Rhodope Mountains. Overnight in Shiroka Laka.

Walking for the day: 24 km (8 hours)

Accommodation: a 4 star hotel with spa facilities

Day 6: Smolyan Lakes

Walk from Shiroka Laka to Smolyan Lakes through Prevala pass.
Walking for the day: 17 km (6 hours)
Accommodation: a 3 star hotel

Day 7: Canyon of Waterfalls / Plovdiv

Morning transfer to starting point of Canyon of Waterfalls eco trail (5 km / 15 minutes). The trail goes up the river and crosses a 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 Elenska River. They are always followed by rest and picnic spots. Walk back to starting point. Transfer back to hotel (5 km / 15 minutes). Transfer to Plovdiv after lunch (95 km / 2 hours). Overnight in Plovdiv.

Walking for the day: 6.5 km (3 hours).
Accommodation: a 3 star hotel close to city centre and old town.

Day 8: Departure

Hotels

Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday

3 and 4 star hotels and family run guest houses, as indicated in itinerary. Some of them will have spa facilities. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide to you exact accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Sample hotels: Plovdiv hotel, Shiroka Laka hotel

Meals

Breakfast is included. When no restaurant  is available on route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or you can pre-order packed lunch from your hotel the night before. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your hotel or from restaurants and taverns in the village near your hotel.

Travel Info

Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday

Flights  

The closest airport is Plovdiv. Ryanair currently has direct flights to Plovdiv couple of times per week from London Stansted.

 

Alternatively, many more flights are available from UK and many EU cities to Sofia. From London to Sofia there are 8 direct flights per day with Bulgaria Air, British Airways, Easy Jet, and Wizzair. There is public transport to/from all of them, or we can arrange a private transfer.

 

Please note that only one airport transfer from airport is included, though additional transfers can be arranged. It is advisable therefore that all party members arrive on the same flight or at least at a similar time.

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking. 

Transfers to/from Airports:

Day 1- From Plovdiv Airport To Plovdiv Hotel 

-Take a taxi from Plovdiv airport to the Old City of Plovdiv is around 10-15 BGN (6£) and you will reach in about 20 minutes.

Day 8 - From Plovdiv Hotel to Plovdiv Airport

From the Old City of Plovdiv take a taxi to Plovdiv Airport. It takes 20 minutes and about 10-15 BGN (6£).

or

Day 1- From Sofia Airport To Plovdiv Hotel

-Take a taxi from Sofia airport to Sofia Central Bus Station, it will take you between 20-40 minutes 10-15 BGN (6£).

-Take a bus to Plovdiv Central Bus Station, the journey will be 2 hours 15 BGN (6£).

-Take a taxi from Plovdiv Central Bus Station to the Old City of Plovdiv, takes around 10 minutes and costs 5 BGN (2£).

Day 8 - From Plovdiv Hotel to Sofia Airport

-Take a taxi from the Old City of Plovdiv to Plovdiv Central Bus Station, takes around 10 minutes and costs 5 BGN (2£).

-Take a bus to Sofia Central Bus Station, the journey will be 2 hours 15 BGN (6£).

-Take a taxi from Sofia Central Bus Station to Sofia Airport, it will take you between 20-40 minutes 10-15 BGN (6£).

Private Transfers

Private transfers offer a very economical alternative to public transport in Bulgaria in some cases equal to cost of public transport in the UK. Private transfers can be arranged from/to airport to hotel for arrival and departure - please indicate that you want a private transfer when completing your online booking form.

Baggage Transfers

Baggage transfer is included and your bags will be transferred by your current hotel (or by private transfer) to your next hotel. Baggage limit 25 kg per bag.

Useful Info

Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday

Difficulty Grade: MODERATE

The Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday is appropriate for regular walkers and requires reasonable level of fitness. The trip covers an average of 14 km (5.2 hours) of hiking per day, all of them on the mellow slopes and rolling hills of the Rhodope Mountains. Average daily elevation gain is 506 m. (read more about difficulty grades)

Route Navigation

During the Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday you will walk mostly on unpaved timber roads and hiking trails; some sections may include walking on asphalt. Most of the trails are well-marked and sign posted. Still, you will be provided with a detailed road notes and map, and you will have a 24/7 help phone number. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to Go

Late spring, the whole summer and early autumn are beautiful in the Rhodopes with colorful foliage in late spring, gorgeous sunsets in summer and warm panoramas in Autumn.

Weather

The climate in the Western Rhodopes is temperate continental with an average 200 days of sunshine a year. It is influenced both by the colder air coming from the north and by the warmer breeze from the Mediterranean. Depending on location and altitude, temperatures vary, but generally in the May-September period the daily averages are 20 - 25C. Spring and autumn are pleasant in the Rhodopes with cool nights and occasional rain. High summer daytime temperatures are rarely too hot as even though temperatures can occasionally reach 30C, the mountains and forests remain cooler, dropping at night to 12-18C. The Rhodopes are recognized as having some of the purest air in Europe.

What to Bring

We recommend that you travel as light as possible - airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing not more than 25 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your daily essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact us or a reputable outdoor retailer.

  • Good hiking boots
  • Hiking socks
  • Several t-shirts (cotton or preferably breathable/fast drying)
  • Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
  • Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
  • Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
  • Hat/Baseball cap
  • Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)

Bulgaria: Country Info

Timezone: GMT +2

Language: Bulgarian/Cyrillic In big cities many people speak English, but in remote areas this might not be the case. However most of the hotel staff where we stay speak English and are ready to help you. Road signs/markers are normally in both Cyrillic and Latin alphabet – and you can always call our 24/7 help line if there are any problems.

Electric supply and plugs: 220V, 50hZ, two pin round plugs.

Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN), pegged to the Euro (1 Euro equals 1.96 BGN) and therefore fluctuates directly with Euro/GBP rate. We strongly recommend taking adequate cash for your daily requirements. Banks and ATMs are available and credit/debit card payments are widely accepted in towns and cities and in big petrol station chains, but might be limited at some of the villages we visit.

Cost of living: in Bulgaria is lower than in the UK or Western Europe. Some sample prices follow:
• 3-course meal in a standard restaurant: BGN 10-30 pp (£4-12)
• A flask of mineral water from a street shop: BGN 1 (40 p)
• A cup of coffee: BGN 1.50 – BGN 3 (£0.5 – 1.5)

Up-to-date travel advice on Bulgaria is available here.

Prices

Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday

This trip is available from May until October.

Weather is best in June - September. As July and August are the busiest months it is preferable that you book as early as possible.

The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your holiday on any date in the season - so please indicate desired starting date when booking.

You will not be asked to make any payments to us before your trip availability has been explicitly confirmed.

Price

GBP 490 per person 

Included

  • Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including:
    • gps-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and road notes
    • maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked
    • daily distances and approximate walking times
    • transfer information (airports, bus stations)
    • hotel locations and contact data
    • destination information and background guide to destination’s history, culture and cuisine
  • Accommodation for 7 nights in hand-picked 2 to 4 star hotels or family run guest-houses as listed in itinerary
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Daily luggage transport to next hotel of 1 bag of up to 25 kg per person
  • All internal ground transfers and baggage transfers as listed in itinerary
  • 24/7 assistance by phone

Options and Extras

(please choose when booking)

  • Single room supplement: add 20% to standard trip price. Where solo travellers or individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable;
  • You can rent from us a Garmin handheld GPS with preloaded tracks for all walks 
  • Private airport transfers 

Solo Traveller Supplement

The Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday is available for solo travellers. As costs are not shared a 20% supplement is payable on the standard trip cost.

Self-Guided+

  • On request, we can provide a private guide (choose when booking)

Excluded

  • Flights and connecting land transfers to first / from last accommodation
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned in the program

Extensions

(please choose when booking)

  • 1 extra night in Plovdiv before the holiday

Spend one extra night before the start of your holiday in a charming hotel in downtown Plovdiv, the city of the seven hills with its picturesque old town and ancient Roman amphitheatre and stadium; designated European City of Culture 2019.

  • 1 extra night in Sofia after the holiday

Enjoy one extra night after your holiday in the heart of the vibrant city of Sofia, walking distance from the main shopping and entertainment area - the pedestrian Vitosha Boulevard.  

  • Spa Extension: 3 extra nights in a beautiful 4**** spa hotel in Devin

Treat yourself after the holiday with 4 days of relaxation in a beautiful 4**** spa hotel in Devin. If you still want to do some hiking, there are many eco paths and trails around this picturesque Rhodopean spa resort. 

Booking and Payment details for the Rhodope Mountains Walking Holiday

  1. When you book (deposit payment):
    No payment is needed when you book initially. Within 48 hours (72 hours on weekends and bank holidays) we will send you a confirmation email with deposit payment instructions (you can pay online by credit card, debit card or by bank transfer). Deposit is 20% of the trip price including options.
  2. Balance payment:
    Four weeks before the trip, the full balance will be due for payment (we will send you a reminder email with payment instructions at least 7 days in advance).
  3. Receiving Information pack and trip notes:
    We supply you with information pack including detailed turn by turn route notes. 
    A member of the Natural Adventure Team will always be available to answer any questions you may have right up to the time of your trip. During the trip you will also be able to call a member of our local team in the country you visit any time (24/7).

For detailed information on payment and booking please see below links:


79 College Road, HA11BD Harrow, United Kingdom.