photo: Agnieszka Sito

Stara Planina

Bulgaria

 790

Welcome to amazing Bulgaria, the gateway to the Balkans! This mountainous land has so much to offer! Brave horses, amazing views, medieval monasteries, mysterious caves, picturesque waterfalls, local cuisine and eastern hospitality. It’s all there, let’s ride!

  • Days overall
    8 days
    Days in saddle
    6
  • Group size
    8
    Available
  • Standard
    Balkan hospitality (under roofs and in bed linen)
    Luggage
    no limit kg
    Food
    local cuisine, vegetarian meals available
  • Skills
    walk, trot, canter

This ride runs through Stara Planina, “Old Mountain” in Bulgarian language, which is the local name for a mountain range in the Bulgarian part of the Balkan Peninsula. It’s a very picturesque and idyllic landscape of mountains, valleys, old forests and sunny forest clearings, split by mountain streams and dotted with fields, orchards, small towns and villages. The experience is amazing – time slows down, so you can sink in and enjoy the ride.

The ride in Bulgaria lets you combine a good horse ride with experiencing Bulgarian ancient cultural heritage, meeting friendly native inhabitants and tasting interesting local cuisine. The region is mountainous, although the trail runs on relatively low altitudes – up to 1100 meters above sea level, mostly through scarcely populated and wild areas.

Riders spend 5 hours per day in the saddle on average. Local horses are a relatively small-frame, up to 150 cm (14.7 h) high, usually a mix of East Bulgarian and Karachan breeds. Since they aren’t big we put a 100 kg limit to riders’ weight here. Other than that these are resolute, strong and tough horses, perfect for the mountainous paths of the Stara Planina.

What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • Accommodation in hotels in Sofia and Teteven
  • Full alimentation from second to fifth day, breakfasts and lunches from sixth to eighth day, breakfast on the eighth day
  • Transfer from the Bucharest airport to Șinca Nouă
  • A local guide for the tour
  • A horse with a complete tack
  • Tourist insurance covering high risk sports
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Flight tickets and travel costs to and from Sofia
  • Additional meals in Sofia and a dinner in Teteven (3 meals in total)
  • Optional trips: to Chiflik – approximately 40 EUR per vehicle (to split), to Etropole – approximately 20 EUR per vehicle (to split);
  • Optional: single room supplement (100 EUR)
  • Optional: tips for guides and ride service (around 15-20 Euro)
  • Minor expenses (souvenirs, extra snacks, etc.)
  1. Day 1 Arrival

    Riders arrive to Sofia and are transferred to the hotel where they stay for the night. In the evening you can go for a walk around the city center and have dinner in one of the restaurants.

  2. Day 2 Golyam Izvor

    After breakfast at the hotel riders will leave Sofia and go by cars to the village of Golyam Izvor, in Teteven region. Here you’ll meet your horses, saddle up and ride out for a first stroll in the area. You will be out for 3-4 hours before returning to Golyam Izvor for dinner and night at a local guesthouse.

  3. Day 3 Medieval monastery

    After breakfast you will ride out to dash through picturesque hills and forests and enjoy a panoramic view to the Stara Planina and Teteven town. Next you will ride along a path between old beeches to reach the Glozhene Monastery, ran by a crazy monk (it’s not a joke!). Reconstructed in 1951 after earthquakes the monastery dates back to 13th century. It’s located on a rocky hill, with a nice view to the Danubian Plain.
    Afterwards you will ride to a local guesthouse where the group stays for the night.

  4. Day 4 Valleys and villages

    In the morning we will have breakfast and then ride out towards the village of Lopian. We start riding on a dirt road running close to mountain slopes. Then, near the village of Brusen, we’ll change direction and head south-west to reach our place for dinner and night.
    Optionally: the group can decide to go for an evening trip to Etropole to see a local monastery and a waterfall, have dinner and return to Brusen for the night (30 minutes by car one way).

  5. Day 5 Mountains and caves

    More forest ahead of us, but this time the path gradually climbs up. The village of Cherni Vit, the day’s target destination, is on the other side of the slope. Today you’ll spend 4-5 hours in the saddle and in the evening the group will visit Saeva Dupka – a cave famous for its geological formations, its historical role and… excellent acoustic conditions.
    In the evening the group returns to Cherni Vit for the night.

  6. Day 6 Fairytale town

    After breakfast riders leave Cherni Vit and ride towards Boitine Biosphere Reserve. It’s a part of the Central Balkan National Park established to preserve and protect the nature of Stara Planina.
    In the afternoon we leave horses for a couple of hours and go to see the beautiful, historic town of Teteven, where we will have dinner and stay for the night.
    Optionally: riders might decide to go to see the Troyan Monastery and visit spa in Chiflik (80 km by car one way) instead.

  7. Day 7 Last canters

    Group returns to Cherni Vit by cars, hops on horses to enjoy the ride one last time! Our last day in the saddle will take around 5 hours. After reaching the final destination riders will pat their horses goodbye and go by cars back to Sofia. After reaching the hotel and refreshing riders will go out to the city center to have the last dinner together.

  8. Day 8 Farewell to Bulgaria

    Riders leave Bulgaria. Transfer to airport available.

The guide might modify the route according to weather conditions and group's riding skills.
photo: guide's archive
photo: guide's archive
photo: guide's archive

Riders spend the first and the last night in a hotel in Sofia and the night before returning to Sofia – in a hotel in Teteven. On the trail riders stay in local guesthouses, in 2-, 3- and 4-people rooms. Single rooms usually are available at a 100 Euro supplement.

Most of the meals are local, Bulgarian cuisine, made and served by our hosts or in local restaurants. Most of the meals are included, riders should cover three meals separately: two dinners in Sofia and one in Teteven.
Traditional Bulgarian meals are tasty and satiating, balancing meat – often grilled – with vegetables and dairy. On numerous occasions wine and rakija are served with meals.
Vegetarian meals are also available.

 

Equipment

Both English and western saddles are available to match both horses and riders’ preferences. Bridles are typical for Europe, horses use bits.

Handy saddlebags for water and basic belongings are available. If you use staps, e.g. for attaching a raincoat, please consider packing them for the tour.

What you should take with you

Tours in Bulgaria are relatively comfy. Riders always sleep in buildings and in bed linen, so no sleeping bags are required. All luggage and personal belongings are transported by car, so riders need only a small waist bag or backpack for essentials (mobile phones, documents, etc.).

Packlist:

  • passport (or personal ID – EU citizens)
  • cash, preferably BGN or EUR
  • electronic devices, e.g. camera
  • flashlight; head flashlights are quite handy
  • personal riding equipment (Jodhpur boots, riding helmet, gloves, etc.)
  • hat or cap – agains the sun
  • raincoat
  • sunscreen
  • mosquito repellent
  • flip-flops for showering
Date Trip Status Price Spots  
10 October 2020 - 17 October 2020
Available, international group
 790
3