Combine the pleasure of riding through one of the most picturesque of the Bulgarian mountains – Sredna Gora with the healing power of the mineral water that springs out of its depths. Ride back in time to the mystical world of the Thracians and the great Roman Empire, the heroism in Bulgarian history and the Renaissance spirit.
Excellent riding for superbly trained and conditioned horses with warm hospitality and a choice of three different levels of accommodation based on budget: luxury with spa, more basic hotels with shared bathrooms on some nights or camping with facilities.
Ride past the aromatic fields of oil-bearing rose and lavender before enjoying spa procedures and relaxing treatments using these natural products.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from HA of Warwick on 26/09/2019
Day 1: Plovdiv
Arriving in the cultural capital of Bulgaria. In the feverish preparations for the European Capital of Culture - 2019, Plovdiv will meet you with charm, charisma and numerous events. Here is the first artistic district in Bulgaria "Kapana". The town in its present appearance was built around seven hills – the hills of Plovdiv which are an inseparable part of the city’s history. Our hotel is in the heart of the city to immerse ourselves in the real atmosphere.
Day 2: Plovdiv – Kalekovets – Hisarya 5 hours of riding
After breakfast you head to the village Kalekovets near Plovdiv by car, where your guides the horses are waiting for you at the Tangra stable. You adjust the stirrups and the adventure starts with a ride to the thermal center of Hisarya. After a short break and picnic on the banks of the River Stryama, you continue to the area with a warm mineral springs and historical monuments from the Roman Empire in the town. Accommodation in a spa hotel, with mineral water in the rooms and a great spa center. Dinner in a cozy restaurant in the town.
Day 3: Hisar – Starosel 3 hours of riding
Full of museums and archaeological finds from the time of the Thracians and the Roman Empire, the town calls us for a walk which will take you back in time amidst Roman baths, aqueducts, strongholds and fortification walls. Today's ride will bring you to the wine cellar in the village of Starosel where you can sip our ancestor's sacred drink – wine. After a short lunch break outdoors you will go back to the hotel for a thorough rest and spa procedures. Visit of the biggest Royal Thracian complex with mausoleum, "Chetinyova mogila" near Starosel village.
Day 4: Starosel – Koprivshtitsa 6 hours of riding
Today's ride will take you to the Renaissance historical town of Koprivshtitsa located in the picturesque valley along the Topolnitsa River, in the heart of Sredna Gora. You will be plunged into the authentic atmosphere, going back in time, walking the paved streets and visiting the Renaissance museum houses. Accommodation in a cozy hotel near Koprivshtitsa.
Day 5: Koprivshtitsa – Krasnovo 5 hours of riding
After breakfast – we ride on the mountain crest with fantastic views of the oil-bearing rose valley. In the foot of the mountain the resort Aqua Thermi awaits you. Accommodation in a spa complex where you can enjoy spa procedures in mineral water and massages. Dinner in the hotel.
Day 6: Krasnovo – Zhitnitsa 6 hours of riding
Today's ride will take you back in time visiting Thracian ritual temples near the town, dating back from VI-IV century BC. Along the shores of the Pyasachnik Dam we will stop for a short break and lunch. The afternoon stage will lead us into complex Trakietz in the village of Zhitnitsa, famous for its Equestrian venue and spa complex, so the pleasure of well-deserved rest will be complete.
Day 7: Zhitnitsa – Kalekovets – Plovdiv 4 hours of riding
At the last stage of our adventure we will return on the banks of Stryama River to enjoy the smooth terrain which allows faster pace. At noon we will be back in he Tangra equestrian center for a veranda lunch, saying goodbye to the horses. Architectural Reserve Old Town in Plovdiv awaits us for an afternoon stroll. Farewell dinner with the guides in a good restaurant in the city.
Day 8 Plovdiv – Sofia.
After breakfast - Transfer to the airport.
Sofia is definitely worth a visit. We recommend a few nights to explore the old churches, antique markets with Soviet and WWII relics, art and ethnic museums as well as almost Viennese coffee and cake shops. The best place to stay in 2015 is the Sveta Sofia Hotel which is located in the heart of Sofia on the main pedestrian road. We can book additional nights in this hotel at a reasonable price - please contact us for details.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses are a mix of sturdy local Bulgarian breeds, Thoroughbreds and Arab-Shagya type and in superb condition. They are friendly, manageable, obedient, and exclusively trained for the terrain types on this trip. The heights of the horses vary from 15 to 16.2hh. Comfortable military saddles, designed for long riding hours, are utilised on the trails, with English style riding.
The pace of the ride will be determined both by the terrain and the riders experience but will often include lengthy trots and canters. The horse operation is guided by one of Bulgaria's most well respected equestrian experts and competitors.
A secure seat at a walk, trot and canter and good riding fitness is required for this ride. Riders need to be fit and capable of being comfortable with long trots and canters and open to trying a gallop. Days can be long, 4-7 hours, so some stamina is needed. There is a minimum age of 14 for children on this trail.
You will be asked to groom and saddle your own horses and will be given a demonstration and help if you are not confident to do this.
The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation: In two or three star hotels offering spa procedures. There are en-suite facilities every night. There is also an 'economy' option for accommodation where rooms are still comfortable but more basic. Bathrooms may be shared on some nights. For those wishing to be closer to nature there is also the option to camp on three nights of the tour. Twin tents and basic washing facilities will be provided, please bring your own sleeping bag.
Meals: The food in Bulgaria is delicious, and many feel it is a highlight of the holiday in itself. The hotels provide the breakfasts and dinners and they offer traditional local dishes. The food is mostly organic with a mix of international and traditional Rhodopean cuisine. Bulgarian food almost always exceeds peoples expectations - hearty, filling and tasty without being too spicy. The midday meals are in the open-air during the ride and they consist of warm food and warm-up drinks, mineral water or picnic, all included in the price. Canned and alcoholic drinks are not included.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visas are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
Since Janury 2007 Bulgaria is a member of the EU, so no visas are required for EU citizens. Children need to have their own passports.
The British Embassy in Sofia can be found at: British Embassy, 9 Moskovska Street, Sofia, Telephone: (+359) (2) 933 9222 Web site: http://www.british-embassy.bg
The Bulgarian Embassy in the UK can be found at: 186–188 Queen's Gate, London SW7 5HL, Telephone: 020 7584 9400/9433 or 020 7589 3763 Consular SectionWeb site: http://www.bulgarianembassy.org.uk
Bulgaria's climate is a distinct case of Mediterranean-meets-eastern-Europe. Summers have a few more wet days than the start of the year and are pleasantly hot and sunny, mostly in the low 30°Cs (high 80°Fs) and slightly fresher at higher altitudes.
Winters are your typical European affair, little sunshine and days averaging between -4°C and 6°C (25-42°F). The Black Sea moderates temperatures in the east of the country. Rainfall is highest in the mountains, and winter life throughout Bulgaria is sometimes disrupted by heavy snowfalls.
The weather in the mountains is very changeable and even on the hottest day you should still come prepared with your rain gear! The difference in day and night temperatures is quite vast and you should bring a fleece even in the summer months.
Facilities in most Bulgarian hospitals are basic and old-fashioned compared to those in the UK. Standards of medical care are acceptable, although specialised equipment/treatment may not be available, and hospital staff may not speak English.
You are required to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover the full period you will be in the country at the time of booking, we recommend including medivac to the UK if necessary. You should be aware, however, that most insurance companies will not authorise medivac to the UK as a matter of routine, or because local hospitals are not up to UK standards. You should check any exclusions and that your policy covers you for horseriding.
The Form E111 is no longer valid. You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but entitles you to any medical treatment that becomes necessary on the same terms as Bulgarian nationals. You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. For more information about how to obtain the EHIC please see Europe and the EHIC.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk
You are advised to seek medical advice before you travel about inoculations for tick borne encephalitis
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz as in the UK so electrical appliances can be plugged in with appropriate adaptors. These are widely available for purchase, including at departure airports throughout the UK.
There will be electricity available on all nights to recharge cameras and batteries. If you need film or specialist batteries we suggest you take them with you. There is mobile phone reception on most days.
Come prepared for heat as well as cold. Mountain climates can be very changeable, layers are essential. All riding gear including hat, gloves (also warm), riding trousers, jacket, boots that are suitable to walk in as well etc.
warm rain/windproof gear,
mosquito repellant (this is not a problem, but will help to provde protection against flies),
In the summer months bring a swimming trunks/costume.
For the camping option you will need a sleeping bag and a torch may come in handy too.
There are set departure dates for this ride for 8 days / 7 nights. It may be possible to arrange other dates for groups of 6 or more.
Economy accommodation: 27 Apr; 29 June; 12 Oct.
Luxury accommodation: 11 May; 1 June; 14 Sept; 19 Oct.
Standard accommodation with 3 nights camping: 15 - 22 June; 28 Sept - 5 Oct.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 7-8||775|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 4-6||885|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||single supplement||109|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 3||999|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp group of 7-8||1,279|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||single supplement||135|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp 4-6 riders||1,535|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp 3 riders||1,575|
|2019 - Camping||8d/7n||6||double pp||715|
|2019 - Camping||8d/7n||6||single supplement||88|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 7-8||885|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 4-6||1,009|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||single supplement||125|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 3||1,135|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp group of 7-8||1,455|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||single supplement||149|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp 4-6 riders||1,745|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp 3 riders||1,789|
|2019 - Camping||8d/7n||6||double pp||815|
|2019 - Camping||8d/7n||6||single supplement||99|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 7-8||1,045|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 4-6||1,189|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||single supplement||149|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 3||1,345|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp group of 7-8||1,725|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||single supplement||179|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp 4-6 riders||2,065|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp 3 riders||2,119|
|2019 - Camping||8d/7n||6||double pp||965|
|2019 - Camping||8d/7n||6||single supplement||119|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 7-8||9,705|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 4-6||11,069|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,375|
|2019 - Economy||8d/7n||6||double pp economy room, group of 3||12,469|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp group of 7-8||16,005|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,649|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp 4-6 riders||19,165|
|2019 - Luxury||8d/7n||6||double pp 3 riders||19,675|
|2019 - Camping||8d/7n||6||double pp||8,935|
|2019 - Camping||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,099|
Fishing, hiking, mountaineering, visits to the Yagodinska and the Devil's Gorge caves, cart drive, rare birds and wild animals observation, photography.
The Rhodopes are rich in wildlife. The fauna is represented not only by typical species for Bulgaria such as the Deer, Wild Boar, Hare, Fox or Badger, but also by characteristically Mediterranean animals like the Jackal, the rare European Cat Snake, several species of tortoises and lizards, etc.
More than 2,000 floral species grow here, more of 90 of them endemic Balkan plants. The green masses of coniferous species - spruce, pine spruce, black spruce and others, grow mostly in the Western Rhodopes.
Pirin National Park has a unique nature and in 1983 it was included in the UNESCO list of the world's cultural and natural heritage. 30 Bulgarian endemic species grow here, 10 of which are unique to the mountain.
Slavyanka has a rich flora, with more than 1,700 vascular plants, including 20 Bulgarian endemic species and 5 that can be met nowhere else in the country.
The lower part of the mountain is rich in European Black Pine, while the Bosnian Pine grows at over 1,800 m above sea level, making Slavyanka the place with the highest concentraction of the species in the Balkans.
Bulgaria has changed swiftly over the last decade, though in the villages you can still find folk who ride the donkey to work, eat homegrown potatoes and make their own cheese. The difference now is that they wash it all down in front of a satellite TV.
When Bulgaria ran away with the topsy-turvy capitalist circus, no-one told its people they were swinging without a safety net. But what the visitor encounters now is a country struggling valiantly to adapt and people who remain remarkably hospitable in the face of social and economic chaos. Urban Bulgaria, especially Sofia, is much changed, so visit now.
Time Zone is GMT/UTC +2. Daylight saving is in place and starts last Sunday in March, ending on the last Sunday in October. Weights and measures are metric so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and stone. One mile is about 1.6km and one stone about 6.8kg