Bulgaria - Trail Ride over the Balkan Mountains

This trail ride combines Apriltsi’s beautiful location with riding over two mountain chains staying overnight along the way. The ride follows the ancient paths that for centuries have linked northern and southern Bulgaria.

You will ride along the old paths and roads that for centuries have linked southern and northern Bulgaria. From the little village of Apriltsi on the northern side of the Balkan Mountains up over the mountain chain, through the small village of Kalofer with its exciting architecture and old monasteries. Further on through the Valley of the Roses which is in full bloom at the end of May. The roses grown here are used in France’s perfume industry.  Riding then continues to the Balkan Mountains’ little brother, Sredna Gora, the mountains where the Sveschen mountain cabin is situated high over the little country village of the same name.

Every day offers new experiences and new terrain. The trail ride is an adventure filled ride that takes the horse and rider far away from everyday life. The daily rides vary from between 5-7 hours. When you stay two nights in the mountain cabin above the village of Sveschen you have an entire day to explore the village and on the way back you can canter through the beautiful meadows that lie on the top of the Sredna Gora Mountains – there are few opportunities otherwise to canter on this ride.

The central part of the Balkan Mountains is national park. Here you will see flora and fauna that are so unique that they are under UNESCO’s protection. Many plants are found nowhere else and are protected.

Minimum number of participants is 1 and the maximum number of riders is 8.

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Program

Saturday
Arrive and transfer from the airport to Apriltsi (about 3 hours). Accommodation in a cosy and new Guest House in the centre of the village in double rooms with shower/toilet. Welcome dinner.

Sunday
After your first real Bulgarian breakfast inclusive the famous Bulgarian yogurt we go off to the saddled horses at the stables. Together with the riding guides you will meet your horse for the week. We have chosen the horses for the week according the information we receive in advance about the riders. We start riding in the fields of the base, continue through small villages and at a creek we know a good place for the lunch. During hot days it is possible to jump into the pool or the cooling mountain creek. After lunch the first mountain experience of the trail is waiting and you ride uphill in roughly 3 hours and enter the Central Balkan National Park. Overnight in a lodge on the top of the mountains. 

Monday
The trail continues through the National park, one of the most valuable and largest protected areas in Europe,  over the Balkan Mountains and with splendid views to the highest peak in the Balkan Range; Mt. Botev (2395 m) and from this hight the Mariza plains open up in the horizon. After 6-7 hours ride the day ends at a small monastery, still functioning and with a nice monastery garden and a small church. After the ride we recommend a short walk to Byala reka; an eco-path in the canyon with plenty of bridges over the flossy river). Dinner and overnight in the monastery.

Tuesday
In the morning we have time to explore the monastery and the life on the fields. Here we meet sheep and shepherds and busy farmers in the field. After lunch the trail is passing through the Valley of Roses, blooming from mid May to mid June, followed by a beautiful old forest. After nearly 5 hours we are exactly on the top of the Sredna Gora Mountains, where we will overnight in the chalet Svezhen (1050m). From the top you have a splendid view to the Rila and Rhodopi mountains.

Wednesday
Todays ride is in the terrains around the village of Svezhen. The morning ride is downhill to the village more than 600 years old and we will introduce you to modern village life in a living museum with a status of historical – architectural reserve. The village has a blooming summer life and you will experience the history of the country in every corner of the village. Lunch in the restaurant next to the river. Riding back to the mountain chalet we have the best possibilities to break into trot or gallop or to be a pathfinder together with the riding guide at the edge of a small lake in the waste surroundings.

Thursday
After breakfast we are facing north through remote villages. In one of them we have lunch in a beautiful private garden and the traditional summer meal is homemade by the lovely baba Miche. After lunch we start ascending the mountain passing one of the checkpoints of the national park and we pass the scenic waterfall Babsko (54m) until we reach a mountain complex for the overnight. Once the complex was an attractive resort, now it is most of all a surreal adventure to enter into a scene from another era. 

Friday
We continue over the mountains with great views to the peaks Zelenikovets, Kurtbashitsa, Kolata and the sharp pyramid of the peak Maragidik (1889m). We start the descent riding through the centuries-old beech forest and at Ostershka River we  have our last lunch before we start riding through the villages and back to the base where it all started. After 6 hours ride you can see the meadows, the horses and the base. The loop ride is about to finish. 

Saturday
Breakfast. You will be driven to the airport for the flight home. You can take your memories home with you.

(The program is subject to change due to local circumstances beyond our control)

Map