Riding through the Thracian sacred places

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Panoramic tour of Western and Eastern Rhodopes mountain...13 days, 12 nights, 11 days riding

Let's look back in time. Together we will rediscover the world of Thracians, the people of biggest number after the Indian people, who have lived on our lands since 2000 B.C. You will touch the most ancient European civilization created by the Thracian people. Our land has treasured so much ancient history and artefacts from that period. In this adventure you will be accompanied by the animal that were sacred for the Thracians –
horses. You will cross the Rhodopes mountain, the oldest mountain in Europe. You will be absorbed in the mystical world of picturesque mountain ridges and rivers, natural rock phenomena in the strangest forms, Thracian sacred places, megalithic monuments and ancient rock observatories.

Itinerary highlights:

  • Varied scenery and riding terrain
  • A wide range of Thracian rock sanctuaries, megalithic monuments, ancient observatories;
  • Contact with local people, observe rare birds (vultures), plants and animals
  • Typical Bulgarian atmosphere in the Etnographic complex in Zlatograd

About the horses:
They are an excellent and extremely suitable for the riding terrain selection of Shagya Arabian and Eastern Bulgarian breed. They are friendly and well trained. Height between 1,50 and 1,60 metres. The saddles are cavalry and Western type, the weight limit for the horse riders is 100kg.

Itinerary description day by day:
Route:
the village of Trigrad, the village of Bukata, the village of Chepintsy, the town of
Zlatograd, the village of Podkova, the village of Nanovitsa, Studen Kladenets hunting ground, the village of Kaloyantsy, Thracian complex Perperek, the town of Madjarovo

Day 1: Sofia - Trigrad Family hotel
Arrival in the village of Trigrad. On the way to the village you will ride through the famous Trigrad gorge long 7km and 250m of cliffs. Accommodation in a family hotel located in the highest part of the village of Trigrad. Meet your guides and the horses.

Day 2: Trigrad – Mogilitsa – Bukata Ride 6-7 hours Family hotel
After breakfast you mount your horse and and head to nature reserve Shabanista. You will enjoy the stunning beauty of the anciant woods and the smooth curves of the Rhodopes mountain. After a lunch break you will ride along the first more challenging section of the ride on a narrow trail about 1km long. A well-deserved rest in the village of Bukata.
Accommodation in a cosy Rhodopean house. Dinner in the atmospheric family hotel tavern.
Height difference: +500/-700m

Day 3: Bukata – Chepintsy Ride 6-7 hours Camping site
Today's challenge is getting over three mountain ridges. You will ride through fragrant pine woods, babbling creeks and rivers. Lunch is outdoors. In the evening you will enjoy the warmth and romance of the camp fire under the starry night sky.
Height difference: +200/-400m

Day 4: Chepintsy – Zlatograd Ride 4-5 hours Renaissance house
Ride along the smooth roads on the mountain ridge along the Greek boundary up to the most southern Bulgarian town – Zlatograd. Accommodation in a Renaissance house. A walk in the ethno-complex of the old town where you will be absorbed in the unforgettable atmosphere of craftsman's workshops that has kept the old Bulgarian traditions for ages. Dinner in a traditional Bulgarian tavern.
Height difference: +300/-400m

Day 5: Zlatograd Ride 3 hours Renaissance house
Today you will have the opportunity to enjoy the Renaissance atmosphere in the ethnographic village of Zlatograd. A smooth ride to the ostrich farm, not far from the town, where you will be served ostrich specialities for lunch.
Height difference: +250/-250m

Day 6: Zlatograd – Benkovsky – Podkova Ride 4-5 hours Camping site
The ride continues along the valley of the Varbitsa river, past Thracian megalithic monuments and rock tombs near the village of Benkovsky. You will gallop through the crystal river waters. A lunch break near the river. Accommodation in a camping site on the Varbitsa river bank near the village of Podkova. Dinner will be prepared on the camp fire.
Height difference: -100m

Day 7: Podkova – Zvezdel – Nanovitsa Ride 6 hours Tourist chalet
After the first climb of the day up to the Strumny Rid peak you will enjoy a faster ride on the smooth roads along the mountain ridge. After that there is a series of climbs and descents to the village of Zvezdel. A well-deserved rest and lunch near a spring fountain and a well in the outskirts of the village. In the afternoon a ride to the tourist chalet near the village of Nanovitsa. Dinner by the fireplace in the restaurant or outdoors in the cool garden.
Height difference: +600/-600m

Day 8: Tatul – 'Studen Kladenets' hunting hut Ride 4-5 hours Camping site
After breakfast visit the Orpheus's Thracian rock sanctuary of Tatul. Ride along the Nanovitsa river to the Harman Kaya – an ancient Thracian sanctuary and astronomical observatory., located on a hill near the river. Lunch break and walk around the archaeological sites. In the afternoon the rode continues through the 'Studen Kladenets' hunting ground in the direction of the hunting hut. Overnight in a camping site near the hunting hut. Bathing and swimming with the horses in the warm waters of the dam. Dinner
and share impressions for the day near the camp fire.
Height difference: +200/-250m

Day 9: 'Studen Kladenets' – Boynik – Kaloyantsy Ride 4-5 hours Bungalows
After breakfast ride to the hunting hut on the south slope over the mountain ridge and descend to the village of the same name, the ride goes through rough mountain terrain. Lunch near the shady fountain very close to the dam wall. In the afternoon the ride continueson the hills south from the dam, on smooth forest roads which allow faster pace.
Accommodation in bungalows on the side of the dam near the village of Kaloyantsy.
Height difference: +650/-650m

Day 10: Kaloyantsy-Thracian complex Perperek - Kaloyantsy Ride 5-6 hours Bungalows
After breakfast ride on smooth forest roads along the Perpereshka river and meadows which allow galloping towards the cult complex 'Perperek' which has a rich archaeological and historical heritage from the Thracian, Roman-Byzantine and Protobulgarian civilizations. Sightseeing and rest. Lunch outdoors in a wooden summer-house with a fountain near the Perpereshka river. After lunch ride back to the bungalows near the dam. Opportunity for sunbathing and a boat ride to the dam island. Dinner in the bungalows'
restaurant.
Height difference: +350/-350m

Day 11: Kaloyantsy – Madjarovo Ride 5-6 hours Camping site
Ride along the Arda river which forms a picturesque gorge making its way through the volcanic rocks in the area of a long ago cooled crater of the volcano – Madjarovo. You will enjoy bathing in the cool river waters. Your ride today sends with a visit of the Nature Conservation centre East Rhodopes in Madjarovo. Lunch outdoors near the Arda river.
Accommodation in a camping site near the nature conservation centre. Dinner in the green garden of the restaurant in the conservation centre.
Height difference: +100/-150m

Day 12: Madjarovo – Gorno Pole – Madjarovo Ride 3-4 hours Tourist centre
Today you will climb up to the highest point of the gorge – Kovan Kaya, from where you will enjoy a breath-taking view. Ride to the village of Gorno Pole above the crater of a cooled volcano which has been cut out from the Arda river and which is a rare birds habitat. A fast ride on the plateau past ancient Thracian sanctuaries to the prehistoric rock relief of 'Dancing couple', which has been cut into the rock about 6000-7000 years B.C. and dated as the most ancient of this type on the Balkan peninsula. Ride back to the base, lunch in the restaurant. In the afternoon – rest and visit The Gyps vultures exhibition. you will have the opportunity to observe them accompanied by a guide. Accommodation in the tourist centre. Dinner in the tourist centre restaurant garden.
Height difference: +250/-250m

Day 13: Madjarovo – Sofia
After breakfast – say goodbye to the guides and the horses. Transfer from Madjarovo to Sofia Airport.

Riding level
Required experience – it is necessary that the rider feels comfortable on the horse at the three basic paces and to have good control in rough terrain. Horses are good-tempered and suited for the mountain landscape, they are brave and easily get over natural obstacles on the way (rivers, small gullies, fallen trees). They are not afraid of cars and ride with ease on busy roads and urban areas.
Rider's involvement – Riders are expected to groom and tack up their own horse each day in preparation for rides, untack during the breaks and at the end of the day. This will, of course, happen with guides supervision and help.

Riding days – 11 days
Riding hours a day – 4 –7 hours
Paces: every day each of the three types depending on the terrain – trot (35% of the ride), gallop (15% of the ride), and walk (50% of the ride).

Itinerary characteristics
Terrain – rough mountain terrain with climbs and descents. There are level sections as well,
with smooth road for a faster pace. Getting over natural obstacles, rivers, gullies, dips and
fallen trees.
Climate – temperate continental, cool nights at higher regions, warm summer days. There is
possibility of frequent and occasional rains in the spring-summer period.
Accommodation – two-star family hotels, a Renaissance house, a camp – 4 nights
Distance from urban areas – during the ride the furthest point is 10-15km away from urban areas. There are scattered small mountain villages and hamlets and more rarely bigger towns.
Cross-cultural awareness - The regions that we pass have mixed population with Christian and Islamic religion, living peacefully with each other. Let us show respect and tolerance for different cultures ways of life and traditions.

from May until November

Price includes:
Guides
1 English/French speaking professional guide for groups up to 5 riders
2 English/French speaking professional guides for groups over 5 riders
Transport:
Transfer in Bulgaria (from Sofia airport to the starting point of the tour and back)
Minivan for 5 people,
Support vehicle with a radio connection
Accommodation:
12 overnights - 4 nights in camping tents, 8 nights in hotel accommodation
Food:
Full board from day 1 dinner to day 13 breakfast (lunch during the ride is a picnic – vegetables, warm soup, barbeque, fruit); Beverages – mineral water
Equipment:
Group first-aid kit
Horse saddlebags.
Places you visit:
Thracian sanctuary 'Tatul'
Thracian cult complex 'Perperek'
Ancient astronomical observatory 'Harman Kaya'
Visit and accommodation in ethnographic complex 'Zlatograd'

Price doesn't include:
Alcoholic beverages
Day1 and Day13 lunch
Airplane tickets and taxes
Entry ticket for museums and other ethnographic
Historical or natural places of interest
Tips