Join this fantastic week-long horse riding holiday in the famous Rhodopes mountains. This trail will take you over 150km through variety of landscapes. A great minture of nature and culture, from crossing the protected area of 'Sredni livadi' to visiting the oldest Orthodoxal monastery of Bachkovo on horseback. The ride starts with a tour of the ancient city of Plovdiv, actually one of the world's oldest continually-inhabited cities. Accommodation is in comfortable family-run hotels and guesthouses. You will also spend you first and last night at a biggest show jumping stable in southern Bulgaria.
Highlights of this trail are also riding in the Rozhen meadows, swimming with horses in the lakes of Momchilovtsi and visiting the rocky phonomenon that is 'Chudnite Mostove' (The Woderful Bridges). Legend has it, the mythical singer Orpheus was born in the Rhodope mountain. He was enchanting people and animals with his magical music. Perhaps the sound of his music lives in the mountains to this day?
Bulgaria is a fantastic and underrated horse-riding destination, this trail showcases the best of the country with fit and sure-footed horses, knowledgable guides and a completely unique one-way itinerary taking you right up close to the Greek border. The Rhodope Mountains are one of the most biodiverse areas in Europe and are home to a range of fascinating flora and fauna - bears, wolves, wild cats, birds of prey and an incredible number of bat species inhabit the region so this is the ideal trip for nature and wildlife lovers able to ride at an intermediate level.
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 BM of Wantage on 01/07/2022
Arrival and transfer from Sofia airport to Plovdiv (plan arrival not later than 16 o clock), Europe's cultural capital of 2019. The city has a diverse history and features many remains of a civilisation much older than that of the Romans - a city more than 8000 years old and a contemporary of ancient Troy. In the afternoon you will visit the old town of Plovdiv, including the Ethnographic Museum and the Antique theatre, which is one of the best preserved in the world.
Accommodation at the biggest show jumping stable of southern Bulgaria.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the stables (40 min by car), the starting point of the trail, in the 'Sredne Livadi' protected area.Today's destination is a village known with is majestical beauty, situated in a famous valley named after the village - Hvoyna.The ride today is very panoramic, starting from 1650 meters above sea level.
Rhodopes are the largest mountains of Bulgaria, it is considered the second most biodiverse mountain range in Europe.
Around 4 hours of riding in absolute wilderness, rarely we will see people in the 6 days of riding.
Lunch is on the top of a panoramic balcony known as the 'Ladybug Rock', from here we can enjoy amazing scenary of southern Rhodopes.
After the ride we visit the must see destination an second bigget and oldes monastry in Bulgaria - Bachkovo
Overnight in a family hotel.
After traditional Rhodopean breakfast including of course the famous Yoghurt, our journey continues in the footsteps of Captain Petko Voyvoda (a famous historical figure) towards one of the most famous meadows of the Rhodopes, called Hajdushki, where the biggest festival of Rhodopes takes place.
Again, we are riding on the top of the hills making this day panoramic as well. There are opportunities for fast riding because of the smooth terrain and we can also enjoy the nearby lakes.
6 hours of riding
In the night we will visit an amazing place, where we will have a sky exploration in the Nation Astonomical Observatory of Rozhen.
Today we are heading towards another emblematic landmark of the Rhodope mountain, called panoramic tower of Snezhanka (Snow White). We will get there by lunch time and will eat out lunch on the top in the panoramic restaurant. The 360 degrees view will reveal astonishing panorama towards Greece and Aegean Sea, which makes this place one of a kind.
After this amaizng experience, we head towards the peaks of the bears, speaking of bears, Bulgaria has the second biggest populations of bears in europe.
Overnight in a lovely family ran hotel.
After yet another traditional breakfast, you will head for the village of Zabyrdo. This is a small mountain village standing 1400m above sea level. It is famous for making the traditional Rhodope cheese. It is also one of the oldest villages in the area, around 800 years old. You will also visit the rock phenomena "Wonderful Bridges" horseback. This is one of the five most visited destinations in the Rhodopes. Lunch is eaten in a restaurant overlooking the 'Wonderful Bridges'. Tonight you will sleep in a family run guesthouse.
Approximate riding time six hours.
Today the trial will take you to the Village of Orehovo, which is around 500 years old. You will come across some stunning views of the area "Sredni Livadi" which is protected. The ride will take you past an old Roman road and ancient 18th century chapel called Saint Atanas Lunch in another beautiful villgage caled Lilkovo, we will sit right beside an ancient church from late 16th Overnight in a family run hotel.
Approximate riding time three to four hours.
This is the last riding day and will take you back to the starting point of this trail. By now you will have ridden over 150km on horseback, passing by one of the oldest Thracian fortress called "Shtut grad" which dates back to 5th century BC. The two hills of the forests, the Sun Hill and the Moon Hill held great power for the Thracian tribe called "Best". They were known through the Roman empire as the most fearless Thracians. Lunch today is in a restaurant beside the fortress. Overnight back at the show jumping stable from Day 1.
Approximate riding time five hours.
After breakfast it is time to say a sad farewell and be transferred back to Sofia airport for your departure. Approximately 90 min in the car.
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 Viennese-style coffee and cake shops.
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.
Your hosts for this trail pride themselves on their horses, all of whom are good-natured, brave and very much loved. Riding here is with English saddles, primarily Wintec, and the quality of tack is excellent. Although this is not a large stables they ensure that spare horses are always available. There is a selection of breeds including Trakehner, Shagya Arabian and Eastern Bulgarian horses. Their heights vary between 1.50 and 1.65 metres. Your guides are qualified veterinarians so you can be completely confident that the welfare of the horses is a priority. English tack is used, all saddles and aditional equipent is made by Wintec.
This trip offers diverse landscapes and excellent, smooth riding terrain, there are plenty of oppotunities for long canters through the vast rose and lavender meadows, the riding is fun and reasonably fast. All the horses are calm, well mannered and forward-going when required.
Riders should be confident intermediate level, happy to ride at all paces in open country and for long distances. Good riding fitness is required for this ride as some of the terrain is steep and the pace is reasonably fast. 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, 4-6 hours, so some stamina is needed. The riding usually starts at 9:30. There is a minimum age of 12 for children on this trail. Horses are usually groomed and saddled for riders by the hosts, there might be an option to participate should you wish to. We recommend bringing your own hat as there are only a limited selection available to borrow. Hats are compulsory for under 18s.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation: In comfortable and welcoming family run hotels and guesthouses. All accommodation is in twin or double rooms with private bathrooms. The accommodation on Day 1 and Day 7 is at the biggest show jumping stable in southern Bulgaria.
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 sometimes in local restaurants in small villages and other days are a picnic carried in your saddle bag (expect sandwiches, fruit and water). Canned and alcoholic drinks are not included. Beer and wine are commonly available and delicious, but red wine is sometimes served chilled. Meat and cheese are prevalent and bread is served with every meal, but vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be catered for with prior notice.
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 and there is also wifi available in most of the hotels. 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. Pack all riding gear including hat, gloves (also warm), riding trousers, jacket, boots that are suitable to walk in as well.
Riding hat (a limited number are available to borow however to ensure a good fit we recommend bringing your own)
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 as most of the hotels have swimming pools.
There are set departure dates for this ride for 8 days / 7 nights with 6 riding days.
2022: 18 June; 16 July; 13 August.
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Your hosts for this trail are owners of a family-run riding center, founded in 2008, and one of the most popular riding stables in Bulgaria, accredited to both the Bulgarian Federation of Equestrian Sports and the Bulgarian Equestrian Tourism Association. Now run by the founder's son, Bogdan Syarov (a qualified vet), the stables offers adventurous mountain trails on fit, forward-going horses. The equestrian centre was started so that the Syarovs, a keen show-jumping family, could share their love of horses and their passion for this beautiful region.
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