Join Freya McAllister on this one off adventure, exploring the Rila mountain range on this Unicorn escorted ride.

This promises to be a fast paced riding holiday for intermediate and advanced riders only. Join us as we visit two new riding locations, one centre based destination to the north of the mountain, from which we will ride out in different directions each day and return to the centre over night. Then on day 4 after our morning ride, transfer to a second location to the south of the Rila Mountain and set off on a 3 day endurance style point to point trail.  

Riding is at all paces on soft terrain through forests, valleys and mountain paths and to the majestic Lake Iskar. Expect to trot and canter long distances, the last 3 days you will be covering between 35 and 45 km each day so you will need to be riding fit.

Accommodation for the first 3nights is at the riding centre in their 3* on site hotel. Then transfer to a 3 or 4* hotel in the town of Samokov or a guest house in the village of Dospey from which you will begin a 3 day point to point trail. Spend night 5 in a house on the shore of the lake and night 6 in a cosy guesthouse before heading back to Samokov town for the last night.

This ride is set to offer some fantastic, fast paced riding and some truly spectacular scenery. 

Transfers included in the price

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Sample Itinerary
Day 1

Arrive at Sofia Airport in time to join the group transfer. Meet your fellow riders and Freya who will be escorting the ride and set off to the ranch located in the north of the mountain range, for a 3 night base stay. Approximately 2.5hrs drive. Enjoy dinner as a group and settle into the ranch's 3* on-site hotel.

Day 2
After breakfast enjoy a morning forest ride with river crossing. Return to ranch for lunch, then set out for an afternoon ride to the rock of St. George with a panoramic view of Razlog valley and Pirin mountain. Dinner and overnight at the ranch hotel.

Day 3
Full day ride to the Karakachan hut at 2000m above sea level, picnic lunch on route. Dinner and overnight at the ranch. 

Day 4
Morning ride through the forests to a stunning hill top lake with a panoramic view of Pirin mountain. Lunch at the ranch, then transfer to the south of the mountain to our second destination to join a 3 day point to point trail and meet our guide. Overnight in a 3 or 4 star hotel in the town of Samokov or a guest house in the village of Dospey.

Day 5
After a light breakfast head to the ranch in the village of Dospey. Approx. 10:30am  meet your steed and head out on the trail to Lake Iskar. Ride across hilly terrain in the Ihtiman mountain range with a view of the highest peak of the Balkan peninsula - Musala 2925m, before decending to the sandy shore of the Iskar Lake, whose waters are collected from Rila mountain. After a picnic lunch ride through old forests and herbal fields. Completing approx 30km riding distance. Overnight in a house on the shore of the lake.

Day 6
In warm weather, riders can start their day by swimming with the horses in the clear waters of the lake. Leave the lake and enter the game farm where there is the opportunities to canter among red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, wild boars and other forest inhabitants that are bred there. Cross an old forest and stop for a short lunch break at a roadside restaurant. After lunch follow a scenic road before entering more forests and meadows in Plana Planina. Overnight in a cozy guest house with home cooked food. Longest riding day covering approximately 45km.

Day 7
After breakfast depart from the village of Plana and head back towards the Ranch. The trail passes along the ridge of the Plana mountain and the bed of the Palakaria river, and all the time our eyes are drawn to a breathtaking part of Rila mountain – Malyovitsa – the cradle of Bulgarian alpinism. The views are unforgettable. The ride for the day is about 35km. Dinner and overnight in a 3 or 4 stars hotel in the town of Samokov or a guest house in the village of Dospey.

Day 8
Breakfast and transfer to Sofia - about 1 hour by car.

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.

Horses & Riding

There are 14 horses on the ranch mostly Arab or Arab crosses, between 14.3 and 16.2, All are fit, well schooled and sure footed on the local terrain. 



The ranch is deep in the mountain so no asphalt or paved roads just beautiful mountain trails await. The terrain is soft allowing for long trots and canters.



At the second location the horses are Purebred Arabian, Anglo-Arab, Shagya Arabian. They are fit, strong, well trained, experienced, and easy to manage. The tack is all English. Small leather saddlebags for personal luggage will be provided. The riding is in the style of the Endurance discipline - suitable for experienced riders and for covering long distances up to 40km per day. The main pace is trot, with some exciting canters on suitable ground.



We recommend that riders bring their own hard hats, comfortable shoes and half chaps. 


Rider requirements

This riding adventure is for intermediate and advanced riders only due to the fast pace. Riders should be confident and in control of a horse at all paces and in open spaces and able to mount and dismount unaided.

On the trails, at rest stops, riders are responsible for their horses and will be expected to tie up and loosen the girth. If you wish, at the end of a ride you are welcome to help untack and groom your horse.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation on nights 1- 3 is the ranch in the onsite 3 star hotel, which is cosy and clean located right in the mountains. There is a variety of rooms: single, double or triple / apartments. 

Meals are traditional homecooked Bulgarian dishes, often made with locally sourced organic produce.

Breakfast is served with coffee and herbal teas, lunch and dinner are 3 course meals including a drink (water/soda/beer) Alcoholic drinks can be purchased on site.

On night 4 transfer to 3* or 4* star hotel in the town of Samokov or a guest house in the village of Dospey.

Night 5 Guesthouse on the lake.

Night 6 Guesthouse in village.

Night 7 Overnight in a 3 or 4 star hotel in the town of Samokov or a guest house in the village of Dospey.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Passport and Visa requirements differ dependent on which country you’re travelling from. Please check with your consulate for the latest regulations and requirements.

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/bulgaria

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Bulgaria.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/bulgaria

Climate Summary

The northern territory of Rila National Park has a temperate-continental climate. Mountain weather can change quickly and is often cooler. Temperatures at night are often much lower than during in the day. Best time to visit is July to Sept, although spring (June) is a beautiful time of year as well. To the south there is a continental-Mediterranean climate. The warm season lasts for 3.3 months, from 5 June to 15 September, with an average daily high temperature above 23°C. The hottest month of the year in Rila is July, with an average high of 27°C and low of 14°C. The cold season lasts for 3.4 months, from 23 November to 4 March, with an average daily high temperature below 7°C. The coldest month of the year in Rila is January, with an average low of -5°C and high of 3°C.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

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.

Please check the latest country-specific health advice prior to travel and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Electricity

In Bulgaria the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rated, the single voltage appliance will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly (unless the appliance operates at 230V).

Packing List

Riding Hat, gloves,
Jodpurs/jeans, half chaps
Layers of clothes are better for the changeable mountain weather
T Shirts, long sleave shirts, jumper
Warmer layers for the evening.
Reusable water bottle
Sun cream/ sun glasses
Swim wear in case it is warm enough for a dip at the lake
Clothes for the evenings including a clean pair of shoes for inside
Sweats for the longer riding days to help keep energy levels up.
Items of a personal nature any medication you might require
Light weight raincoat is always worth bringing
Camera

Programmes

This ride has a 7 night 8 day itinerary with riding on 7 days

Departure Dates

2024 Exploratory ride 2 - 9 June

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.

Single rooms may be available for night 1-3 and available on night 4 and 7 for a small supplement €100.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 Exploratory Base stay4d/3n3First half double pp including transfers995
2024 - Special 2 - 9 June Exploratory Full Week8d/7n6double pp including transfers1,509
2024 Exploratory Endurance Lake trail5d/4n3Second half double pp including transfers969
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 Exploratory Base stay4d/3n3First half double pp including transfers1,155
2024 - Special 2 - 9 June Exploratory Full Week8d/7n6double pp including transfers1,749
2024 Exploratory Endurance Lake trail5d/4n3Second half double pp including transfers1,125
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 Exploratory Base stay4d/3n3First half double pp including transfers1,309
2024 - Special 2 - 9 June Exploratory Full Week8d/7n6double pp including transfers2,009
2024 Exploratory Endurance Lake trail5d/4n3Second half double pp including transfers1,275
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 Exploratory Base stay4d/3n3First half double pp including transfers13,169
2024 - Special 2 - 9 June Exploratory Full Week8d/7n6double pp including transfers20,485
2024 Exploratory Endurance Lake trail5d/4n3Second half double pp including transfers12,825
Wildlife

Rila Mountain Range is home to some rare wildlife species that are threatened with extinction both on a European and on a global scale. These include: The imperial eagle and the black vulture; the dormouse, otters, mole rats, and brown squirrels; and the wolf. If you are very luck you may hear a wolf in the distance or see an eagle fly overhead. There are also a number of deer found in the forests, including red deer, fallow deer, roe deer and wild boars.

Other Country Information

Bulgaria has changed swiftly over the last decade, though in the villages you can still find folk who ride a donkey to work, eat homegrown potatoes and make their own cheese. The difference now is that they finish the day 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. 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


Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Sofia Airport or the ranch
Transfer:
Approx. 2.5hr by car from Sofia Airport, included in the price
Flight Guide:
London to Sofia £125 return
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