Bulgaria tour hiking in the Rhodopes and discovering local folklore
Discover Bulgaria going on a trekking adventure with expert local guides!
The pedestrian route we propose is suitable for tourists of all ages and levels, and allows you to experience the history and legend-abundant virgin nature of the Rhodopes. Every day, hikes are carried out at a different altitude. The relief and surrounding landscapes are uniquely beautiful and shift constantly before your very eyes. The Rhodopes are amongst the most interesting areas in Bulgaria.
They have their own folklore, ethnography and architecture, but also a well-preserved, natural scenery. According to multiple studies, the air in the Rhodopes is among the purest in Europe and has curative properties due to its negative ionization. The mild climate, the pine forests, mineral waters create the perfect conditions for relaxation. Rural life there has remained mostly unchanged for centuries, allowing you to travel back in time.
Level of difficulty: easy to moderate level.
A total of 8 days / 7 overnight stays / 5 days of hiking.
Individual arrival at Sofia airport. Transfer by coach to one of the oldest European cities and second biggest in the country – Plovdiv. Situated on 7 unique syenite hills, it is a cultural, historical and touristic centre. Accommodation and sightseeing in the architectural reserve “the Old Plovdiv” and the Ancient amphitheatre. Dinner at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant.
With the transfer to Lilkovo village, the altitude rises significantly, and a short distance before the end of the transfer you stop at the Sitovo stone inscription. This is the oldest inscription found in Europe, estimated to be 7000-8000 years old. Its meaning is yet undiscovered.
After the short walk to the stone inscription, you soon arrive in Lilkovo – a mountain village situated 1400 m above sea level, surrounded by spacious pastures and dark green peaks. Here a light ascent up the forest path through the pine woods begins. It takes 30 minutes to reach a herb meadow with 2-3 cottages and a small chapel.
After a short ascent, you reach a hunting shelter and here begins a soft descent towards Mitnitsata – a herb meadow, where there used to be a border point a century ago. Along an almost level road, you continue our trek southward towards Persenk lodge, from which you can see a spectacular view of the tallest summit on this side of the mountain. On this day, the bus does not stay overnight with the group.
From Persenk lodge to the small passage Mezargidik, you head down an intact portion of an ancient Roman road. The centuries-old forest of Persenk occasionally reveals fantastic panoramas on the western and northern sides. Before you know it, you have reached Mezargidik (1 h), from where you begin a moderate descent along a small stream.
Down a deviation of the ancient road continues the traversing of the southern slopes of mount Persenk, through meadows and forests, to the last tall peak of this side-ridge – Cirikova Church (1736 m). On the old summit, there is a small church, and it offers a fantastic panorama on the southern side towards the heart of the Rhodopes. This is where you begin descending towards the natural phenomenon that is the Marvelous Bridges (1450 m) – two naturally formed cliff bridges, unique in their size, type and beauty, situated above the Erkyupryia River.
They are located 1450 m above sea level, in the middle of an old pine forest. The upper bridge is impressive in size (96 m in length) as well as the size of its opening (43 m tall and 45 m wide), while the lower situated one is impassable and takes the form of a canyon in a cave. After viewing the phenomenon, we are transferred to Shiroka Laka – a village that has retained its authentic, more than 200-year-old architecture and has been declared an architectural reserve.
After departing from Gela, you begin a smooth climb up a dirt road in a south-western direction towards the Kikezi area, up a short, steep path and once again down an almost even forest road. You reach the beautiful area around Lednitsata lodge. You leave the forest path and, past a pine forest and magnificent flower meadows, ascend gradually towards the mountain ridge at a small and panoramic passage.
There begins a moderate descent down the wide meadows and the slopes of Karlak, the biggest and tallest summit around, with its height of 2188 m above sea level. You soon leave the road and by a spring and a small wooded valley, past a stream with about ten small waterfalls, through fields and meadows, begins the steep descend towards Mugla village. It is as if time has been frozen in this area for centuries.
From the 400-year-old wooden minaret onwards, the route begins to sharply ascend towards the ridge. Right past the ridge, the track descends towards wide meadows surrounded by hills from every direction. Along a grassy, soft course you reach the protected natural area of the Chairski Lakes. This is one of the most beautiful spots in the Rhodope mountains – the small lakes with peat-islands are arranged in a plateau surrounded by a crown of hills, and possess a particular and untouched kind of beauty. It is worth staying here for a longer amount of time. The minibus does not stay overnight along with the group on this day.
After leaving the Chairs via a forest path between the lakes and along a collapsed bridge, you reach the Pierced rock – a short picturesque tunnel. The road slopes gracefully through the black pines of the gorge of Chairska river. There are 11 km to the beginning of the Trigrad Gorge.
From here on, the river valley narrows significantly, the slope becomes steeper and the route enters the most picturesque part of the Trigrad Gorge. The vertical cliffs are 8-10 m from each other and the path is carved into the cliff itself. After several dizzying turns, in the most narrow and deep up to 400 m part of the gorge, you go out to a small parking lot at the entrance of the Devil’s Throat cave.
This is followed by a viewing of the cave’s enormous chamber and the 60 m tall underground waterfall. 1 km away from it is the village of Trigrad, from which you can take a nice walk (2 km) down the forest road. This is followed by a modest climb (1,3 km) up the left slope of the gorge and a 6 km descent through a beautiful spruce forest and spacious meadows in the direction of Yagodina village.
The view towards the surrounding canyons is breathtaking. You then walk to the Yagodina cave, which has, along with its fantastic stalactites and stalagmites, so called “pearls” formed out of the minerals contained within drops of water that fall on small rocks. The cave is well laid out and is to be explored with a tour guide in small groups.
After the village starts a 7 km descent through the Buynovo Gorge – the river swishes and crashes furiously into the mountain’s stone breast, the tall, vertical cliffs hang over the road and only serve to magnify the booming of the river, and the sky is only visible between them as a thin blue stripe. The transfer beings in the valley of the Vacha river, alongside the dams Vacha (tallest dam wall – 130 m) and Krichim. There are two more hours on the highway from Krichim to Sofia. The item on the day’s schedule is a visit to the National Museum of History, followed by the transfer to the hotel.
Departure from Sofia.