THE BEST OF THE RHODOPES & MOUNT RILA

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DURATION: 9 days
PRICE: € 590
DIFFICULTY: 2/3 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-September
START/FINISH: Sofia
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 300m sheer walls, the Shiroka Laka architectural reserve, Bulgaria’s second-largest monastery at Bachkovo, the Old Town of Plovdiv (an architectural and historical reserve) 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.
Day 2: Lyaskovo – Yagodina Cave – Trigrad Gorge – Trigrad (3,30hrs; 10km; +565m/-360m)
A short transfer takes you to the entrance of the Yagodinska Peshtera Cave, where you will have the opportunity of enjoying its unique formations. From here, the route takes you through the pretty village of Yagodina and over the hills above it with their smallholdings, on to a thick fir forest that takes you to the edge of the Trigradsko Zhdrelo Gorge. That is where the Dyavolsko Garlo (The Devil’s Throat) Cave is located, with its highest underground waterfall in the Balkans. The next two overnight stays are at the village of Trigrad.
Day 3: Trigrad – Vodni Pad – Trigrad (5,30hrs; 18km; +730m/-730m)
Today, a particularly pleasant circular route awaits you to the village of Vodni Pad hard by the Greek border which until recently cut across the village. Only a handful of people remain in the old stone houses. A colourful diversity of woods, meadows, smallholdings, crests, and rivers accompanies you on your way back to Trigrad.
Day 4: Trigrad – Zhrebevo – Trigrad (5,30hrs; 18,50km; +700m/-700m)
Today’s hiking trek reveals to you another part of the Rhodopes near Trigrad. The distant end of the trek is the village of Zhrebevo whence you return to Trigrad along a different route. The tiny village charms with the hospitality of its people, its virgin nature, and its traditional occupations of farming, livestock rearing, and timber felling.
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.
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: 590 € per person in twin/dbl room
Single room supplement: 100 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
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 in the itinerary; luggage transfers; detailed route descriptions in English; tourist maps of the Rhodopes and Rila; GPS tracks; 24/7 emergency hotline, and all local taxes.
Price does not include: cable car tickets; cave entry charges; extra food and drink; travel/medical insurance; personal expenses.
Group size: Min. 2 persons (Traveling solo? Ask us to join you to an existing reservation in order to reduce costs.)
Accommodation:
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


Great walking holiday

4.0 rating
October 2, 2017

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.

Carol Keys, United Kingdom

Walking holiday - amazing

5.0 rating
July 22, 2017

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! 

Maja Vester, Denmark

the best

5.0 rating
June 30, 2017

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!

Maxim Dudek, Czech Republic

MAGIC

5.0 rating
September 14, 2016

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!

Maria Carlos, Spain

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