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Balkan Mountains Walk

Balkan Mountains Walk

Trip Highlights

  • Exploring the Central Balkan National Park: a third of the park’s territory comprises nine reserves, four of which - Boatin, Tsarichina, Steneto and Dzhendema - are part of the world Biosphere Reserves Network under the UNESCO “Man and Biosphere” Program.
  • Visiting Glozhene Monastery, built in the 13th century by the Ukrainian prince Glozh and housing an icon said to be 1000 years old.
  • Staying in the beautiful mountain resort of Ribaritsa village
  • Exploring Saeva Dupka cave: its corridors offer some of the most beautiful cave formations in Bulgaria

Trip Summary

The Balkan Mountains offer keen walkers a series of trails through a diverse landscape that is dotted with tiny villages that brim with traditional hospitality. It's a land where time stands still, evidenced by the old water mills that are still in operation and the use of centuries old methods to produce local specialties such as rakia (brandy), wild berry jams and Balkan brine cheese. Surrounding the villages are immense beech forests, alpine meadows carpeted with flowers, high ridges with endless views and lush river valleys. During this week long self guided walk there is ample opportunity to experience these highlights while on foot, while at night you'll soak up the warm welcome in specially chosen hotels and guesthouses.

Suitability

The walking is moderate (3) grade with daily guided walks of around 3-5 hours, with a maximum ascent / descent of 810 metres. There are some stages during the walk with where you will encounter steep uphills, descents, and many sections of the trail which require care. The accent is on keeping a steady pace to with time to stop and take photos (subject to weather conditions). You will need a good level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. It is considered suitable for experienced walkers only.

Early in the season (April, May or June) you may encounter snow on the passes which may be quite deep and alter the grading of the trip to challenging. At any time during summer, weather conditions may be variable and you should be prepared for all conditions including snow, ice, strong sun and extreme winds.

Itinerary

On arrival at Sofia Airport you will be transferred to your guesthouse in the city centre. The remainder of the day is free to explore Bulgaria's capital.

Meals:  Nil

This morning you are transferred to Saeva Dupka (1.5 hours), considered one of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria. Visit the caves before a further transfer takes you to the village of Glozhene. From here a short trek through beech woods leads you to Glozhene Monastery, with its 1000-year-old icon of St George. From the monastery you will come across a dirt road leading to the pass between Goliam Izvor village and Teteven, and then following the quiet road, you will reach Goliam Izvor. Stay overnight in Goliam Izvor village (450m). Uphill: 400m; downhill: 350m

Meals:  B,D

Today you will start walking directly from your guest house in the village center, pass through plum tree orchards and pine forests. After a gentle ascent to Mt Orlyak you will follow a dirt road to the small village of Brusen. In the afternoon you will be transferred to the Etropole Monastery and a nearby waterfall. Uphill: 600m; downhill: 350m

Meals:  B,D

Today's trek is a wonderful introduction to the region's picturesque landscapes of vast meadows dotted with lots of old apple tree gardens and grazing sheep. The path follows will take you up hill and then along a ridge, before descending to Cherni Vit village, renowned for its great dancers and traditional singers. Uphill: 450m; downhill: 300m

Meals:  B,D

This morning, after a short transfer to Kordela hut, you embark on arguably the most adventurous part of the trip. The track passes through century-old beech forests in the Boatin Reserve (at 825m), reaching a high point at 1080m after an hour of gentle ascent. From there, the path descends the other side of the hill, reaching a forestry road that leads to the region of Kostina, where the Bulgarian revolutionary and national hero, Georgi Benkovski, was killed by the Ottomans. This is a good spot for lunch. From this point you walk 3km along a peaceful asphalt road amongst gardens, meadows, villas and houses, to the village of Ribaritsa, where you stay overnight (at 545m). Uphill: 250m; downhill: 530m

Meals:  B,D

Today you walk a circuit route, along the Debeli Dial ridge surrounding Ribaritsa and climb to its peak (1150m) for fine views of the Central Balkan Mountains. The path descends along the Osenovia Rat ridge towards the Vasiliov Hut. On the way back to your hotel, you can observe the local way of life and enjoy the atmosphere of a typical Balkan mountain village. Uphill: 400m; downhill: 400m

Meals:  B,D

Today's walk is on the other side of Teteven, and the river. You'll follow a rocky but easy path through a beautiful forest with unusually shaped trees. Continue to Opasniya Zab ('The Dangerous Fang') Shelter for a panoramic view to Teteven and the surrounding area (1179m). Next you'll ascend to Petrahilya Peak, which is the highest mountain in the surrounding area. After you've climbed the peak, you descend to Teteven via a different route, heading to southeast. Overnight in Teteven. Uphill: 810m; downhill: 810m

Meals:  B,D

Transfer to Sofia Airport for departure (1.5 hrs drive).

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 7 breakfasts, 6 dinners - Continental breakfasts are served and will often consist of breads, spreads, yoghurt, cheese, tea, coffee & juices. Dinner is generally 3 courses consisting of a mixture of local and international dishes.
  • 4 nights in simple family hotels with private facilities (days 1, 5, 6, 7), 3 nights guesthouse with shared facilities (days 2, 3, 4)
  • Luggage transfers and transfers where specified during the walk
  • Map and detailed road book per room booked
  • Private transfers to/from Sofia airport
  • Emergency hotline

What's Not Included

  • Travel to and from Sofia
  • Lunch (allow €5-€6 for lunch box or €6-€12 for 3 course lunch], drinks, dinner day 1
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Entrance fees
  • Tour guide – this is a self guided trip
  • Tips
  • Travel insurance

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:8 Days
Countries:Bulgaria
Starting Point:Sofia
Activities:SELF GUIDED WALK
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:BOG
Prices From:GBP£480 Per Person
Single Supplement:GBP£90  Click for more information