Bulgaria adventure tour mountain biking in the Rhodopes, Pirin and Rila Mountains
This week-long mountain biking itinerary in Bulgaria is suitable for tourists of all ages and skill levels, and allows you to experience the history and virgin nature of the Rhodopes. Each day takes you to different altitudes with landscapes that shift constantly as you travel through them. This tour gives you the chance to discover Rhodopes' folklore, architecture and delicious cuisine.Read more
This week-long mountain biking itinerary in Bulgaria is suitable for tourists of all ages and skill levels, and allows you to experience the history and virgin nature of the Rhodopes. Each day takes you to different altitudes with landscapes that shift constantly as you travel through them. This tour gives you the chance to discover Rhodopes' folklore, architecture and delicious cuisine.
It will take you to the historical city of Melnik, situated in the beautiful Middle Pirin mountains, then to Rila and its famous Rila Monastery – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Level of difficulty: easy to moderately difficult (the most difficult day being the third day).
A total of 8 days / 7 overnight stays / 5 days МТВ.
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.
Transfer to the Zdravets Hut at 1200 m above sea level. This is where we begin a moderate ascent, with a distance of 800 m down an asphalt road into a mixed forest. From there our route takes us through wide meadows and pine forests, down a 6-km forest path, which will take us to the village of Yavrovo.
This is followed by a pleasant descent down an asphalt road, the entire length of which reveals panoramic views in every direction. The arrival at Asen’s Fortress (250m) marks the end of the day’s biking. Here you may look around the medieval fortress and the church inside of it, then have lunch and continue onto the Bachkovo Monastery with the minibus. The tour of the monastery is followed by a transfer down the picturesque valley of the river Chaya, through Hvoyna, Chepelare, Pamporovo, to the hotel in Smolyan/Pamporovo.
The day’s course begins at the hotel with a light ascent. We soon move onto an even forest path (5 km), crossing ski pistes and mixed forests. Before we know it, we’ve reached Prevala pass, from where we quickly descend to the village of Stoykite and the wide meadows around it, with a spectacular view towards the highest peaks of the mountain.
The descent continues to Shiroka Laka – a village that has earned the status of architectural reserve due to its well-preserved 19-th century houses in the style typical of this time period. After a short stroll among the old houses, you continue with the light descent down the track along the river, towards Devin.
There, along the cliff formation called “the Elephant”, begins a slight ascent towards the wondrous canyons of the mountain. The 17 kilometres to the beginning of the Trigrad gorge pass and the location of our overnight accommodation unnoticeably. Short transfer to the hotel in Yagodina.
From the hotel in Yagodina, after a 3 km ride down even asphalt we reach 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 in small groups accompanied by a tourguide.
After a tour of the cave comes a 7 km descent to Teshel dam (900 m) via the Buynovsko 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.
At Teshel we start on a gradual ascent between the vertical limestone cliffs around the road to Trigrad. On the 7th km of the ascent (Osman’s pool) the 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 one another and the path is carved into the cliff itself.
After passing through a short tunnel in the narrowest and deep up to 400 m part of the gorge, we come out to a small parking lot at the entrance of the Devil’s Throat cave. We take a tour of the cave’s enormous chamber and the 60-meter tall underground waterfall, after which we continue down an even asphalt road to Trigrad (1190 m).
We continue for a few kilometers through the new terrain with its gentle slope and the peaceful landscapes surrounding it, up to the beautiful river valley. Next comes a transfer to Borino (1100m), from where the road ascends and once again descends towards a typical for the area river valley – a stream coiling inbetween fields and meadows, and slopes covered in pine and spruce forests. We descend towards a Roman bridge over Sarnena river and a beautiful area around Zmeitsa village (1240m). A few more kilometers and we reach the town of Dospat (1250m).
From the hotel, we get transferred to the starting point of today’s course. We begin a quick descent through a beautiful pine forest towards Sarnitsa and the wide meadows by the Dospat dam. There are beautiful views in every direction, the path evens out and we reach Sarnitsa in no time. With a moderate ascent we leave the town and continue up the gentle slope of the wide river valley. A few kilometres further and we leave the asphalt road behind and head back towards Dospat along the opposite shore of the river and the dam. Wide meadows alternate with fantastic forests with a nigh unnoticeable slope, and asphalt gives way to gravel and vice versa. With a moderate ascent we near the dam wall and finish the day’s course with a short descent.
Our daily course begins with a transfer via Gotse Delchev to the area of Popovi Livadi (1410 m) for lunch, from where we begin a 29 km steep descent to the village of Katuntsi (200 m). The landscape changes once again and our gradual ascent to the village of Vranya begins from here. With alternating short ascents and descents we continue through grape vines and a road surrounded by beautiful views towards Harsovo and Vinogradi, where we end our biking for the day and for the tour itself. With a short minibus transfer we quickly reach the Rozhen Monastery, explore it and move onto Melnik for overnight accommodation.
A tour of the Kordopulov Museum-House in Melnik and a degustation of traditional wines. Transfer to the biggest Orthodox temple in Bulgaria – Rila Monastery. Lunch and a transfer to Sofia, followed by a visit to the National Museum of History. A tour of Boyana Church, which is part of UNESCO’s world cultural heritage because of its 1259 frescos, which are considered to be harbingers of the European Renaissance. Accommodation at the Princess hotel and dinner with a folklore programme.
Departure from Sofia Airport.