|DURATION: 9 days
PRICE: € 610
|DIFFICULTY: 2/3 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-September
TOUR TYPE: Self-guided
This walking tour, a combination of our classic unguided treks in the Rhodopes and the Rila, takes in the best of the two as regards routes, natural phenomena, and interaction with local people. Beginning with the lower, rounded crests of the mountain of Orpheus, you will gradually move across to the arduous steep slopes and rocky outcrops of the Rila. You will have the opportunity of visiting natural and cultural sites such as the Yagodinska Peshtera Cave (considered one of Bulgaria’s most beautiful), the Trigradsko Zhdrelo Gorge with its 350m sheer walls, Dyavolskoto Gyrlo (The Devil’s Throat) Cave (housing the highest underground waterfall on the Balkans, 42m high), the Eagle’s Eye observation platform, the Shiroka Laka architectural reserve, Bulgaria’s second-largest monastery at Bachkovo, the Old Town of Plovdiv (an architectural and historical reserve), visit The Seven Rila Lakes, climb Mt. Musala (the highest on the Balkans) and many others.
You walk every day with just a daypack. The rest/unnecessary luggage either remains inside the transfer vehicle, or in your accommodation.
/The tour program can be shortened or extended. Check details with us./
Day 1: Sofia – Lyaskovo
We meet you at Sofia Airport (or against a small fee – also from Plovdiv) and transfer you to the village of Lyaskovo: a fascinating place combining the beauty of the mountain and the warmth of Rhodope hospitality.
* There is an option to extend the tour with extra night in Lyaskovo village, incl. a circular trek along the nearby mountain ridges.
Day 2: Lyaskovo – Yagodina Cave – Trigrad Gorge – Trigrad (3-5,30-6,45hrs; 9,50-16-21km)
Today you can choose between two main treks (incl. options to extend them additionally):
Shorter (9,50km; +565m/-355m): A 40min transfer takes you to the entry of the Yagodinska Peshtera Cave: one of Bulgaria’s longest caves, which you can opt to view. Once finished with the cave tour, proceed for Trigrad village through a colorful kaleidoscope of landscapes that immerse you in the idyll of rolling crests, forests, and valleys.
Longer (16km (+1070m/-750m) or 21km (+1385m/-1065m): A 30min transfer takes you to the trailhead where a moderate but nice ascent through gardens and woods brings you up at the crest of the mountain. Enjoy the breath-taking views from the famous Eagles’ Eye observation platform. Then you descend down to Yagodina village, from where you can make a detour to visit Yagodinska Peshtera Cave or head straight for Trigrad village.
*Those who chose the shorter option, can extend their hike with a visit to the Trigradsko Zhdrelo Gorge and The Devil’s Throat Cave, both near Trigrad. Visiting these sights is a must, and can be done also in the afternoon of Day 3 or Day 4 by those, who opted for the longer treks on Day 2.
Day 3: Trigrad – Zhrebevo – Trigrad (5,30hrs; 18,50km; +700m/-700m)
Magnetic sights follow each other on a circular hiking tour around Trigrad, with the authentic village of Zhrebevo at its distant end. Legend has it, the village was named after a stallion which shielded it from trouble and strife. Along the route, you observe the entry to the Trigradsko Zhdrelo Gorge and enjoy the wonderful panorama to surrounding parts.
Day 4: Trigrad – Kesten/Vodni Pad – Trigrad (5,30hrs; 17km; +670m/-760m)
Today, starting with a 10min transfer to the trailhead, you enjoy a particularly pleasant walking trek to the bordering with Greece villages of Kesten and Vodni Pad (until recently within a closely guarded strip proscribed even for those living down the road; you will see remains of the barbed wire border fences, meant to prevent people from escaping to Greece in the years during the 45yrs long communist rule in Bulgaria after WWII). A circular trail takes you up panoramic crests, through pine and beech forests dotted with green meadows and smallholdings, sheltered valleys, and traditional stone houses. The valley of the Trigradska River takes you back to Trigrad.
Day 5: Trigrad – Shiroka Laka – Bachkovo Monastery – Plovdiv – Govedartsi
Time to leave the Rhodopes for the Rila. Today is intended to relax you, with many stops at heritage sights, beginning with a walk along the cobbled streets past the stone houses of Shiroka Laka. You then stop at the Bachkovo Monastery with its miracle-working icon of Virgin Mary, while the afternoon you spend in the Old Town of Plovdiv. You reach the village of Govedartsi in the early evening. It will be your base for the next four overnight stays in the Rila.
Day 6: Govedartsi – The Seven Rila Lakes – Govedartsi (6-6,30hrs; 17-19km; +1200-1310m/-1200-1310m)
A path winding through ancient thick spruce forests takes you beyond the upper edge of the forest to the magical Cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes. In the alpine zone at between 2100 and 2500m above sea level, this group of glacier lakes charms you with the magnificent views that open from the edge of the highest one.
Day 7: Govedartsi – Malyovitsa – Scary Lake/Yonchevo Lake or Mount Malyovitsa – Govedartsi (5,30-7hrs; 12-14km; +880-1040m/-880-1040m)
Following the Malyovishka River valley, you again rise above rocky peaks to reach the secretive Cirque sheltering the Strashno Ezero (The Scary) Lake. Fitter trekkers may opt to climb the Malyovitsa summit which offers incredible panoramas over surrounding crests and outcrops.
Day 8: Govedartsi – Borovets – Mount Musala – Borovets – Govedartsi (6hrs; 14,50km; +690m/-690m)
Today, you will attempt to climb the Balkans’ highest summit of Musala (2925m). A brief cable car climb and a three-hour trek take you past a number of Cirques, glacier lakes and mountain shelters on your way up. The views from the Musala over surrounding summits and crests are definitely something that will stay with you forever.
* There is an option to extend the tour with extra night in Govedartsi village, incl. a circular trek along the nearby mountain ridges.
Day 9: Govedartsi – Sofia
Transfer from Govedartsi to Sofia Airport.
Hiking time: hiking time only is mentioned on each day (not including stops for pictures, picnics, breaks, etc.); these are based on an average hiker’s speed of 4-5km/hr on flat terrain, additional 30min for each 300m elevation gain, and a backpack weighing not more than 10-15% of your body weight. Still, this varies a lot on the terrain and hiking experience of each client.
A DETAILED ROUTE BOOK AND MAP WILL BE PROVIDED UPON ARRIVAL
Price: 610 € per person in twin/dbl room
Single room supplement: 100 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Solo travelers: 880 € (incl. also sgl room supplement)
(Traveling solo? Ask us to join you to an existing reservation in order to reduce the above price)
Rent of hiking poles: 15 €/person
Price includes: transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only) and all other transfers according to the itinerary; accommodation and catering as described below; luggage transfers; detailed route descriptions in English; tourist maps of the Rhodopes and Rila; GPS tracks; emergency support; all local taxes.
Price does not include: cable car tickets; cave entry charges; extra food and drink; travel/medical insurance; personal expenses.
Accommodation: 3* and family hotels/pensions; en-suite rooms; breakfast and supper.
Best period: this tour can start every day during the period mid-June – mid-September; October is also possible with a change of the program of Day 8; (advance booking is required as some accommodations are small and get fully booked months in advance)
Extension to Rila Monastery: 90 € per person (in a group of 2 persons or more sharing a double room; single room supplement: 25 €) (included: pick-up from Govedartsi on Day 9, transfer to Rila Monastery, a guided tour inside the monastery (in English), entry to the museum in the monastery, transfer to Sofia, overnight B&B in 3-star centrally located hotel on BB, transfer to Sofia Airport on Day 10; not included: lunch and dinner on Day 9).
SUBMIT A REVIEW ABOUT THIS TOUR
It’s a perfect combination if you wish to make hikes in two totally different mountains. One is green, covered with woods and hills, with small charming villages. The other one is rocky, much higher and with thought hikes. It was great!
Great walking holiday
Read the original review on TripAdvisor
Excellent value for money. The landscape and views in the Rila mountains were the highlight of our tour, but we did find it very tiring and good level of fitness definitely needed as advised on the website. We found the hotels were very welcoming apart from the one in Trigrad, where the food was also less appetizing. All the transfers worked smoothly but we did struggle to follow some of the maps and managed to get lost every day. Despite all this, we thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and would highly recommend it. We were also very pleased with the service from Traventuria, who were very accommodating in fitting the tour around our rather restrictive dates.
Walking holiday - amazing
We read many articles about Bulgaria – where to go and what to see. Of course, we wanted to be outdoors, to hike in the mountains and we were hesitating between Balkan Mountains, Rila and Rhodope. Luckily for us, Traventuria got a self-guided program that combines Rila and Rhodope. We were very excited before the trip and when everything started it was magical! I remember the ride from Sofia Airport to the first location in Rhodope – Liaskovo. The rural house we stayed at was so charming, the hosts – Roumen and Zacharyna welcomed us warmly and offered immediately the most delicious dishes we have ever tried. Thanks to their hospitality we felt like home. Rhodope mountain was so colorful, so rich of pictures and panoramas. We were more than happy and excited about each hike. Rila mountain is also something that should be seen. Peaks that are touching the sky, lakes with transparent water. I could not describe this! Amazing!
It was really the best from what you can see there.
I have traveled a lot in Bulgaria, including many sites from this mountains but I wanted to take my family on a nice trip for the must-see places. And they are included in the itinerary. So nice!
My teens really enjoyed the Rhodope mountain!
Rila is a pearl!
We are happy that we chose this program that combines two mountains as we were hesitating between a self-guided of one of each.
Thanks to the advice of the staff we booked the combination and it was perfect. The two mountains are magical. Different but each attracts with own charm!
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