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Rhodope Mountains Discovery 24

Rhodope Mountains Explorer

Overview

This an amazing self guided walking holiday in the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria, unique to The Natural Adventure Company. 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

Not the right holiday for you? Have a look at our other self guided walking holidays in Bulgaria here.

Itinerary

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).

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 nice 3-star hotel with spa facilities (Mursal) or a family-run country hotel (Yagodina)

Day 3: Trigrad

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

  • Walking for the day: 10 km (3.5 hours)
  • Accommodation: a family-run hotel (Arkan Han or similar)

Day 4: Chaira Lakes / Trigrad Cliffs

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

  • Walking for the day: 23 km (8 hours) (shorter options available)
  • Accommodation: a family-run hotel (Arkan Han or similar)

Day 5: Shiroka Laka

Morning 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 this hole 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) (shorter options available)
  • Accommodation: a 4-star hotel with spa facilities and a thermal pool (Shiroka Laka Spa Hotel)

Day 6: Smolyan Lakes

Morning transfer to Smolyan Lakes (20 km / 30 minutes). After check-in walk from the hotel to Orpheus Rocks and back. After (or before) the walk, you can make an optional visit to Smolyan town.

  • Hiking for the day: 5-10 km (2-4 hours)
  • Accommodation: a 3-star hotel with spa facilities (Mountain Lake or similar)

Day 7: Canyon of Waterfalls / Plovdiv

Morning transfer to the starting point of Canyon of Waterfalls eco-trail (5 km / 15 minutes). The trail goes up the river and crosses some 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. Rest and picnic spots always follow them. Walk back to starting point. Transfer back to the 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 or 4-star hotel close to the city centre and old town: Ego or similar (standard version); The Renaissance, 8 1/2 Art Guesthouse or similar (optional upgrade)

Day 8: Departure

Hotels

3 and 4-star hotels and family-run guesthouses, as indicated in the itinerary. Some of them will have spa facilities. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and we monitor their quality regularly. 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 the exact accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

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 restaurants and taverns in the village near your hotel.

Travel

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 the UK and many EU cities to Sofia. From London to Sofia there are direct flights 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.

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£).
  • By 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£).
  • By 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

They offer a very economical alternative to public transport, in some cases equivalent to the cost of public transportation in the UK. They can be arranged from/to airport to hotel for arrival and departure upon request (please indicate when completing the online booking form).

Baggage Transfers

Luggage transfer is included on all walking days. Baggage limit 20 kg per bag.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance WorldNomads

We strongly recommend protecting the cost of your trip and other non-refundable travel expenses with travel insurance. Our Signature Travel Insurance allows you to insure all of your expenses. While a Signature Travel Insurance policy can be purchased at any time, purchasing a policy within 20 days of making your initial trip deposit gives you the widest range of policy options, including a Cancel for Any Reason coverage. For complete peace of mind, we also recommend enrolling with Global Rescue, the worldwide leader in field rescue, evacuation and security extraction services.

Read more and get a quote online

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 helpline 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 the 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.

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

Trip Info

Difficulty Grade: Moderate

The Rhodope Mountains Discovery holiday is appropriate for regular walkers and requires a 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 signposted. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to Go

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 vacation on any time in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking.

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, in the May-September period, the daily averages are 20 – 25C. Spring and autumn are pleasant in the Rhodopes with cold 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 recognised 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, the 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 everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. We will include more detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.

  • Good hiking boots
  • Hiking socks
  • Several t-shirts (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 the accommodation
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
  • Hat/Baseball cap
  • Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)

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
  • Accommodation for seven nights in hand-picked 3 to 4-star hotels or family-run guesthouses as listed in the itinerary
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Daily luggage transport to next accommodation of 1 bag of up to 20 kg per person
  • All internal ground transfers and baggage transfers as listed in the program
  • 24/7 assistance by phone

Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements

  • Single room supplement: where individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers. As costs are not shared, a supplement is payable on the standard trip cost

Options and Extras

  • Private airport transfers

Excluded

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

Extensions

  • One extra night in Plovdiv before the holiday

Spend one additional night before the start of your vacation 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.

  • One 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 at a beautiful four-star spa hotel in Devin

Treat yourself after the holiday with 4 days of relaxation in a lovely 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.

Gallery

Reviews

Average rating:    from 2 reviews

Maurice

We had an absolutely brilliant time and thoroughly enjoyed the Rhodope Mountains which were a revelation to us! The best hotel from the point of view of setting and lovely staff was Mursal in Yagodina. Stunning views and beautiful room, very comfortable bed and delightful people. The best food was in Arkan Kan hotel. Monika was lovely once we had succeeded in warming her up and the chef there produced some fantastic food. [...]The walk from Jagodina to Trigrad was definitely the best walk, though we met a family on the way who took us on a short cut through the forest, away from the track) and this made for a very interesting and special hike, though it was probably much harder work than the planned route. Beautiful views. [...]The transfers were fine (very punctual arrivals and journey timings were spot on), Kotse was outstanding. The trails were fun and for us beginners quite challenging but do-able.

Ruth K

We had a fantastic holiday, Bulgaria is a stunning country and I loved it so much. That waterfall walk is just stunning [...]. Maybe, if its not too much trouble, just a few useful Bulgarian words such as tap water, yoghurt (for breakfast), packed lunch, hot water etc. etc. would help us and the hotel owners (who were all just lovely). Apart from that, thank you for hosting us in this beautiful country and I look forward to our next trip.