Balkan Villages

7 nights, £615 per person sharing

The Balkan Villages Trail is a beautiful routing through the Teteven Balkan. It combines the best of them all! You will see picturesque valleys with sparkling rivers and ancient forests with hidden meadows. High ridges and tops, crowned with rocky peaks revealing spectacular views. Balkan villages scattered at the foothills, where life is lived with an old rhythm. This part of Stara Planina is loved by tourists both for the preserved nature and for the pleasure of touching the authentic life of the local people. Above all, taste home-made rakiya with home-made appetisers. This is an integral part of the experience.

The tour

The tour is diverse and combines horseback riding with seeing cultural sights and immersing in the atmosphere of this beautiful Bulgarian area. The trek runs in the relatively low part of Stara Planina, between 400 and 1100 m. You will ride along Balkan dirt roads, and trails. The terrain is rugged and rocky in places, even though you will have options to trot and canter.

You will be spending  between 4 and 6 hours in the saddle every day. The duration of each ride  on most of the days, can be changed according to the abilities and will of the riders. Luggage is transported by car and the saddling is western or English.

 

Overnights

Apart from the overnight at a hotel in Teteven, all other nights you will stay at guest houses. The hosts will cook a nice local meal or you will visit a small rural restaurant. Thus, the contact with local culture is closer and the impressions more vivid and immediate.

Tour Highlights

Nature

Stara Planina is the longest Bulgarian mountain range, stretching from Bulgaria’s western border all the way to the Black Sea. Due to this, it divides the country into two.

Central Balkan National Park covers the high central part of Stara Planina. An area of 70 000 hectares ancient forests. For this reason, you will find many animals here, including representatives of endangered species, as they find tranquility from the aggressive human impact here. Above all, here you will find the best preserved beech forest on the Balkan Peninsula, in the Boatin Reserve. The average age of the trees is 130 years. Due to this, the reserve is protected under the UNESCO “Man and Biosphere” Program.

The Saeva Dupka cave is one of the most beautiful Bulgarian caves. The cave is 205 meters long and over 1 million years old. The five halls and numerous galleries are full of bizarre cave formations. The cave is illuminated and urbanised.

Mineral springs in Chiflik and Shipkovo. The water in the pools are of different temperatures. Spend and an hour or two in them and you will feel refreshed and relaxed. Especially after a physical strain, such as horseback riding.

Culture

The Glozhene Monastery „St. George“, founded in XIII century is situated on an extremely scenic place. It is perched on high cliffs from where a spectacular view is revealed.

Furthermore, you will visit the Etropole Monastery, founded in the XII century. The surrounding area of the monastery offers pleasant pastoral scenery. Close to the monastery you will find the Varovitets waterfall. (optional)

Troyan Monastery is the third largest monastery in Bulgaria, founded around the year 1600. The relic of the monastery is the miraculous icon of the Three-Handed Virgin Mary. The villages around Troyan are famous for their numerous pottery workshops. (optional)

 

Day 1

After your arrival at Sophia airport, a private transfer will take you to your first accommodation.  As people will have different arrival times, today meals are not included.

Day 2

After breakfast you will have 1 1/2 hours drive to the village of Golyam Izvor in Teteven Balkan. Here you will meet the horses. Your first ride is in the vicinity of Golyam Izvor.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included. 3-4 hours riding.

Day 3

The road passes through meadows and mixed forest. You will ascend the heights above the village where you will see the first beautiful view of the central ridge of Stara Planina and the town of Teteven, surrounded by rocky peaks. Descend through an ancient beech forest at the end of which Glozhene Monastery is located. Perched on a high rock, it reveals an even more spacious view of the Danube plain.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included. 5 hours riding.

Day 4

The route starts with a dirt road along one of the ridges in the region, passing through Brusen village. Then you head off Southwest to the village of Lopian where you have late lunch and stay for the night.  At extra cost, you can do a tour to Etropole Monastery and the waterfall near it (30 min drive).

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included. 5-6 hours riding

Day 5

The trail passes through mixed forests, but this time – uphill. You will ride along unwooded ridge, after that you will descend to the village of Cherni Vit. In the afternoon you will have a trip by car to Saeva Dupka cave which is known for its beautiful formations. Overnight in a guest house in Cherni Vit.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included. 4-5 hours riding

Day 6

Today the ride starts from Cherni Vit leading close to the Boatin Reserve, it is part of the Central Balkan National Park which protects the nature in the central part of Stara Planina. Afternoon will be spend for sightseeing in Teteven. Overnight in Hotel.

At extra cost, you can go by car to Troyan Monastery (80 km) and  Chiflik Spa.

Breakfast and Lunch included. 4-5 hours riding

Day 7

In the morning a transfer to Cherni Vit village where we have left the horses the previous day. On that last day of ride we will climb once more one of the many ridges from where we will have a last look of the scenery we have admired in the past week. Transfer back to Sofia for overnight at a hotel.

Breakfast and Lunch included. 5-6 hours riding

Day 8

After breakfast you will have a transfer to Sophia for your flight home.

Breakfast included

Who can come:

  • Confident intermediate and experienced riders
  • The horses on riding holidays work hard week after week and even with regular breaks and good tack it is hard work for them, therefore the maximum weight is 187lb (85kg). Though an experienced rider, who may exceed the weight limit, may ride very light on the horse’s back. So, please do check with us first.

Included:

  • Accommodation
  • All meals as specified
  • All transfers, including airport transfer
  • Luggage transport
  • English speaking Guide
  • Riding
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered