Balkan Mountains riding holiday in Bulgaria - Far and Ride
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Balkan Mountains, Bulgaria





Reviews



It was a fantastic experience. We were riding through the beautiful places in the Balkan Mountains on very hard working and brave horses. It was challenging and sometimes difficult but thanks to our guides always safe. Fantastic guide always polite and helpful. I was impressed with his knowledge of horses and the history of Bulgaria. He translated everything into French and English.

Dorota S.
The holiday was very good, beautiful scenery, mountains, forests & lakes. The accommodation was very basic but the food was excellent throughout the holiday both in quantity and quality. Alex was a terrific guide polite, knowledgeable and good fun.

Alastair M.
700 photos in six days describes the Wow! factor and hospitality that turns into personal friendships, the welcome. I will try not to be too over effusive in my praise.

Geoff B.
Excellent family programme - it was unusual in that it was completely different from anything we have done before. It was brilliant - we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves riding through the forest and meadows, having lunch in a local person's house, camping and fishing. Excellent charming and knowledgeable guides and host. Definitely will return. 10/10

Andrews
Very well organised from airport to mountain hut. Knowledgeable guide and sure-footed horses. Riding through the snow on a mountain top was the most exhilarating thing we have ever done. My favourite memory was galloping through the snow in between the mountains.

Andrea
The trail was perfect from the beginning to the end. Beautiful mountains, amazing views, fantastic horses, well schooled, forward going and sure-footed in difficult terrain. Very good, knowledgeable guides, simple, but nice accommodation, excellent food all week. I had a wonderful holiday and I hope I'll be able to come back next year.

Helena J.
The trip to Balkan was fantastic. The guide for the trail was wonderful, very knowedgeable and spoke perfect english. The accommodation and food was excellent. The horses were the best part of the hoilday though. Myself and my partner have both said we will definitely go again next year.

Emma B.
I had a great week. Miro was my guide and he was lovely - knows the area like the back of his hand and really knows about the wildlife and nature. My horse for the week was also lovely, didn't bat an eyelid at anything! Food was great and plentiful, I had to keep telling them they were bringing me too much!

Karen H.
Throughly enjoyable week - beautiful scenery, great riding, good company. The trail took us to mountain huts and guest houses in the hills and the monastery was a delightful stopover. My favourite memory was riding through meadows of wildflowers and gazing down the mountains on a rural landscape seemingly unchanged in centuries.

Malcolm W.
Perfect! Just as described. Fantastic ride in amazing scenery with wonderful hosts and a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide. Great food and hospitality wherever we went! Stayed in some of the most beautiful places imaginable! Horse was great - very willing and reliable and coped well with the difficult terrain.

Emily B.
It took me to 'another place', both in my head, visually and with the riding.

Augusta G.
Wonderful riding on a well cared for horse, in beautiful mountain ranges and comfortable Western saddles. The terrain was varied with mountains and open fields, and the guide was excellent, as was the comfortable guest house and food.

Pat B.
Lots of time in beautiful. stunning and unspoilt countryside with excellent hospitality and characterful accommodation. The tack was in good condition and very comfortable. (Favourite Memory?) Walking through fog and seeing semi wild horses appear!

Helen S.
Fabulous! Exceeded all my expectations. A beautiful country, happy and healthy horses, a challenging and varied trail with great guides and company. I feel I got a real taste of Bulgaria - its landscape, culture and way of life. (Favourite memory?) Too many to choose from! The company - we had a great group and lovely guides. The mountain huts, long canters on the last 2 days, the food, my horse, the weather (kept things interesting!), the scenery, the wildflowers, our hosts. There are no bad memories, only great ones!

Ellie M.
Fabulous. The guides were great; the accommodation super, the space we rode through stunning and the horses were very happy with a good gallop. First Class! Paulo & Veronica were great. My inability to speak Bulgarian didn't hamper the communication with Paulo at all - we either "got it" or Veronica (whose English is first class) translated.

Donna F. (Balkan Base)
Fabulous Trip. Wonderful people, horses and nature. (Were you happy with the horses and equipment?) Very much. Good that they had rain ponchos for guests to use too.

Michael F. (Panorama Trail)
Had the most amazing week riding in the beautiful mountains of Bulgaria. My guide, Alex, was fantastic. His knowledge of the area was second to none and we had exciting rides every day. He looked after me extremely well. The horses were beautiful and well trained and well looked after. Tanya at the guest house was a lovely lady and cooked very tasty meals, so much so I gained 3lbs in a week! Thank you for organising this trip, it really was the best holiday ever.

Jane T.
 

Horses



Type of horses:

East Bulgarian half breeds, Hanoverian and Arab.

Nature of horses:

Well schooled, calm, forward going, tough, thoughtful and wise.

Height of horses:

13.2 hh -16.2 hh

Weight limit:

90 kg however, heavier riders can be catered for by arrangement, please inform us on your request if you weigh more than 90 kgs.

Tack type:

Western only. All American imports.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

Situated on the northern side of the Balkan Mountain Range in Bulgaria, on the outskirts of the mountain village of Apriltsi, lies this fantastic riding centre which offers a range of beautiful trail rides and based programmes. Here in the heart of Bulgaria the riding is sensational - far away from traffic, work and everyday life, you can ride right into the mountains to find the freshest air and the cleanest rivers. Nature is everything here and the wildlife adds to the sense of adventure with the smell of the roses and lavendulas, the taste of the cool, white wine made from the local grapes, the real yoghurt and the sun-ripened tomatoes. The stables are surrounded by beautiful fields, a little creek and a mountain lake with green and blooming meadows all around. There is also a little Western bar where guests can enjoy a drink and watch the grazing horses. The views of Mt Botev, standing at 2376m, add to the feeling of the riding centre and the Central Balkan National Park lies just next door. The brown bear is the symbol of the park and you will often see their tracks during your rides.

Riding here is based on the fantastic scenery and famous hospitality that Bulgaria has to offer and if you want to get back to nature, with the help of natural horsepower, then this is the right choice for you. Encounters with the charming local people add an element of culture to the trips and help to make the setting even more ideal for a horseback adventure. The centre uses local East Bulgarian horses or these crossed with Arabians. The local horses are known as being tough, thoughtful and wise and when crossed with the famous strength and stamina of the Arab, it makes for a satisfying companion. The horses are healthy, taken good care of and are accustomed to the mountainous terrain. They are always given days off to ensure that they are in good shape for the rides and riding is in Western tack which is comfortable for the lengthy trail rides and supportive for the challenging mountain riding.

With a variety of programmes to choose from, including an adventure programme for families, you might just want to come back again and again (and people do!). The mountain riding and adventures in the wilderness will show you why horse riding in Bulgaria is something special and with a sure-footed horse and a trusty guide, you are sure to enjoy the experience.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

You can opt for private accommodation, but usually you will stay in a house together with the other riders in double rooms. The shower/toilet facilities are limited and the accommodation is basic.

Private accommodation in Bulgaria is to be compared with 'Bed & breakfast' in England and of course you have some privacy during the stay. The stay is with full board and all meals are enjoyed in the house or outside in the garden. During the daily rides a picnic is organised for lunch or you bring a lunch package.

Another option is to stay in one of the small, local hotels (additional fee), some of them offer swimming pools. We can arrange the accommodation to suit your needs and requirements.

During the trail rides accommodation varies, depending on the ride you choose, some may offer limited shower facilities due to the remote nature of the trail and mountain huts are very basic. Expect to find a mixture of hotels, chalets, shelters, mountain huts, and mountain monasteries during your trail ride.

These riding programmes generally include all meals and mineral water. Soft drinks, wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks are not included and are paid for on the spot.

The sun, the vine and wine have been symbols of Bulgaria since time began. Thracians the first known inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula were experienced vine growers and wine producers. It was believed that Thracian wine is a precious elixir which provided strength courage and inspiration. Today wine growing and wine production is an important part of Bulgarian life.

Beside the variety of wines there are local alcoholic drinks such as rakia (home made brandy), mastika and menta. All of these may be tried on your holiday.

Owing to the relatively warm climate and diverse geography the land hosts excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits, Bulgarian cuisine is particularly diverse. It is tasty, spicy and varied. Famous for its rich salads accompanying every meal, Bulgarian shopska salata is a common salad that blends tomatoes, roasted or raw red or green peppers, garlic, onion, parsley, sunflower oil, cucumbers, red-wine vinegar and feta cheese. Its preparation varies from household to household but it is the definitive Bulgarian salad.

Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products (the Bulgarians invented yoghurt) and also features a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator. Every Bulgarian meal is accompanied by hearty white bread (khliab), similar to Serbian pogacha. Bulgarians love kachamak, a type of polenta known as mamaliga to Romanians. It is a common side dish when mixed with cheese. The Bulgarian diet is rich in legumes and grains. One particular legume from the Rhodopi Mountains is called smilianski bob and is like a buttery lima bean in flavour.

A sweet ending to a Bulgarian meal might be Bulgarian baklava or banitza, a flaky filo roll filled with sweetened pumpkin, apple-walnut or other fillings. All of this delicious food will help you to enjoy your hours out of the saddle too!

 

Activities

Hiking, cycling, visits to museum towns, monasteries and bird watching. In Apriltsi you can go to the swimming pool, rent a bike or hike in the mountains.

The closest, larger town is Troyan, about 25 km from Apriltsi. Troyan is a nice town with shopping streets and cafés. Near Troyan you will find the third biggest monastery in Bulgaria: The Troyan Monastery. This is possible to visit on a daytrip by car.

About 50 km from Apriltsi is the city of Gabrovo and here you find the famous ethnographical museum Etara with houses and buildings from medieval Bulgaria. Further on from this, heading north you will find the architectural city of Veliko Tarnovo, this was once the Capital, but is now well known for its architecture and the fortress of Tsarevets.

If monasteries are of special interest to you, then this is the right area to explore.

 

Further Details

Languages: English, German

Health requirements: No special requirements

Age limit: None within reason

Tuition: No

Included: Accommodation, meals (varies according to the itinerary), mineral water, set time transfers from and to Sofia airport and riding as per itinerary.

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks (apart from mineral water), tips and personal expenses.

 

Travel Information

The base is situated approximately 180 km from Sofia (approximately three hours by car). One transfer is arranged for arrival and one transfer for departure. You will be met in the airport by a transfer guide and will be provided with details before departure.

We recommend arrival to Sofia Airport no later than 18:00 and a flight for departure after 12:00. The transfer times from and to Sofia airport are arranged according to the timetable for latest arriving guest and earliest departing guest.

Individual transfer or transfers at times not corresponding with the above are available at an additional fee of 150 EUR per car (up to three persons), one way. Individual transfer has to be confirmed in advance and the additional fee is to be paid on the spot in cash. If a delayed arrival is later than 18:00 the extra charge is the same as for the individual transfer.

Airport: Sofia

Alternative Airport: Plovdiv

 

Programmes


Balkan Mountain Trail



Are you dreaming of a trail along ancient paths, over impressive mountains, through quiet mountain passes, along running water and roaring waterfalls? And further more enjoying the wonderful mountain scenery, crossing the pasture to small hidden and forgotten villages? This trail is for riders wishing to try everything. This is the destination's classic trail ride, following a route over two mountains through the Valley of Roses. The ride features unspoilt landscapes, a chance to experience the real life of villages and the opportunity to witness the local culture from horseback.

During the trail you ride over the Balkan Range through the National Park and the lower mountains of Sredna Gora and in between you ride through the famous Valley of Roses - not just a name but this is a spectacular vision of roses and the perfume is intoxicating. This trail follows the ancient paths that for hundreds of years have connected the North of Bulgaria with its Southern parts.

Saturday:

Arrival at Sofia Airport and transportation to the riding centre in the Balkan mountains. Transfer is around three hours.

Sunday:

Today is the introduction day where you will be matched with your horse. After that a leisurely ride out of the town of Apriltsi is planned in order to gain knowledge of your horse habits and the start of a partnership with your horse. After a picnic lunch the trek starts by climbing the mountains (roughly three hours) to the first chalet.

Apriltsi is a small town, settled at the foot of the Central Balkan Range and it has a rich history. The combination of the local hospitality, the cosiness of the hotels and the guest houses with the beauty of the surrounding mountains nature will leave a lasting memory for visitors. Here is known as the kingdom of the rocks, inaccessible and steep rocks rise from all sides of the mountain.

Monday:

The ride continues through the Central Balkan National Park and Mount Botev (2376 m a.s.l.) thus providing superb view towards the Thrace Plain. After six - seven hours ride the day ends in a small monastery where the riders and horses will find rest for the night. You will enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.

Tuesday:

In the morning some time will be spent exploring the daily life in the monastery and the neighbouring small town. After lunch the trail continues through the “Valley of Roses” and after nearly five hours you reach the Sredna Gora Mountains where you will spend the night in a chalet.

Wednesday:

The whole day is dedicated to riding over varying terrain around the riding centre “The Valley of Roses”. For centuries this place has been producing the priceless attar of roses. The extraction of attar from the roses is very important for the region of Kazanlak. This has been the means of livelihood of the native people and is a century – old cultural tradition.

Here you get the opportunity to play games on the horses combined with relaxation at the edge of a small lake. In the fantastic meadows you can explore the land in trot or gallop together or with the riding guide in the remote surroundings.

Thursday:

In the morning you head north following other hidden trails and after some seven hours you reach the place where you will stay overnight. A picnic lunch will be enjoyed en route.

Friday:

It is about time to ride back over the mountains to your starting point – Apriltsi. After six hours riding you finally see the stables marking the end of your journey.

Saturday:

After breakfast you say goodbye to the horses, guides and other guests. Transfer to Sofia Airport for departure.



Accommodation: The Balkan Trail is based on seven nights full board accommodation, five of those being spent in the mountains. Two nights are in a family hotel in Apriltsi (double or triple) with showers and toilets, four nights in mountain chalets based on two, three or four bedded rooms with shower and toilets and one night in an old monastery based on double share with shared shower and toilet. The luggage is transported in a support vehicle and the riding guide will accompany the group throughout the trail.
Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Intermediate and above.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 5 - 7 hours riding per day
Departure dates: 2017: 15-22 April, 22-29 April, 29 April - 6 May, 6-13 May, 13-20 May, 20-27 May, 27 May - 3 June, 10-17 June, 24 June - 1 July, 1-8 July, 8-15 July, 15-22 July, 22-29 July, 5-12 August, 19-26 August, 2 - 9 September, 9-16 September, 16-23 September, 30 September - 7 October, 21-28 October.
 
Pricing: 2017:
£859 per person
Price includes full board accommodation, riding, pick up/drop off at Sofia airport at fixed times, English-speaking guide; luggage transportation from point to point.

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.

Group Discount: Book a group of 8 for the same trail/date and pay for only 7 persons.



Singing Rocks Trail



High up in the Central Balkan National Park there is a place with rugged and impassable cliffs. A unique place with distinctive flora and fauna that have turned the place into a nature reserve. The Singing Rocks themselves are a set of unique natural formations that crown the ancient beech forest. When the wind blows in the right direction one can hear the “song” of the rocks and it was this phenomenon that has given the reserve its beautiful name.

You also ride in the national park amongst its rich wildlife and rare plants. The air is just as clear as the cold mountain springs you ride along. And the view towards the highest peaks of the Balkan mountain range is simply breathtaking. The trail offers a variety of landscapes and riding paces. The hilly terrain as well as the small plateau on top of the hills offer fantastic opportunities for an unforgettable ride.

The Central Balkan National Park - the land of untouched wildlife and wilderness! The National park is the first PAN Park in Bulgaria (you can read about the European PAN Parks on www.panparks.org) and is characterised by deep caves, steep slopes and canyons, high waterfalls, and clear fresh water streams. In addition it is a stronghold of Bulgarian nationality and culture. The National park boasts the highest waterfall in Bulgaria, the 125-m high Raiskoto Praskalo. The highest of the Stara Planina peaks – Botev Peak 2376 m above sea level is located on the park’s territory.

Saturday:

Arrival at the airport and transportation to the stables in the Balkan mountains (the transfer is around three hours) in the mountain village of Apriltsi which is situated on the northern side of the Balkan Range about 180 km from Sofia. The riding base is placed in one of the small quarters of the village not far from the end of the road. The stables are placed in one of the most beautiful valleys in the Central Balkan and with the most fantastic panorama behind the buildings.

Sunday:

In the morning you will meet 'your' horse and friend for the week. After the first meeting you will take a leisurely ride out of the town of Apriltsi in order to gain an intimate knowledge of the horses and their habits. You ride about 10 km and you have a picnic near one of the rivers. After lunch and a rest you ride back to the stables in different paces. You overnight in Apriltsi.

Monday:

The trail starts in the morning and you will ride in a north-eastern direction through some remote villages, enjoying traditional architecture from the Bulgarian revival period. Lunch is eaten at a creek and after about 6 hours in the saddle, riding along the Balkan ridge over beautiful meadows, you will reach the small village of Tabashko which lies at the foothills of the mountain Mara Gidik. Here you will be accommodated in a traditional style (but renovated) guesthouse which offers incredible panoramic views of the surrounding scenery. 

Tuesday:

From the monastery the path takes you through the forest and close to the picturesque villages of Stokite and Kupen. This is where the uphill part of your riding really begins. You have lunch on the way. Later on in the afternoon you head for your accommodation, a mountain hut Partizanska Pesen. Today’s riding is about 26km/seven hours.

Wednesday:

Today’s ride begins straight after breakfast and takes you further up the mountain through a thick ancient forest. Three hours later you find yourselves by the mountain hut 'Partizanska pesen', where you will have a picnic lunch. The hut is situated on a small mountain top at an altitude of around 1000m. In the afternoon you ride west on the top of the Balkan range. You ride into the 'Central Balkan National Park' and after about one hours ride you are at the mountain hut 'Mazalat' (1620m), where you spend the night.

Thursday:

Today you ride in the 'Singing rocks' reserve. If you are fortunate, and the wind is blowing you hear the song of the beautiful rock formations. There are two places where you need to get off the horses and lead them (both of them about 10-20 m long). You ride for a total of 25 km (roughly seven hours) before you reach the 1450-metre mountain chalet where you overnight.

Friday:

After breakfast you ride in the northern direction. You ride down the mountains, leave the national park to arrive at Apriltsi. Today's ride is about five hours and finishes back at the base. You will spend the night in the same accommodation as the first two nights where you will receive a farewell dinner.

Saturday:

After breakfast you say goodbye to the horses, guides and other guests. Transfer to the airport for departure.



Accommodation: The trail is based on seven nights and features basic accommodation. Three nights with private accommodation in Apriltsi based on double or triple occupancy with shower and toilet, one night in a private house and one night in a mountain chalet based on double occupancy with facilities on the floor, one night in mountain chalet with 2-5 per room facilities on the floor, one night in mountain chalet with 2-4 per room with shower/toilet.
Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Intermediate and above
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 5 - 7 hours a day
Departure dates: 2017: 3-10 June, 17-24 June, 15-22 July, 29 July - 5 August, 12-19 August, 26 August - 2 September, 23-30 September, 7-14 October, 14-21 October.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£859 per person

Price includes full board accommodation, pick up/drop off at Sofia airport at fixed times, riding, English-speaking guide; luggage transportation from point to point. Single supplement not an option.

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.

Group Discount: Book a group of 8 for the same trail/date and pay for only 7 persons.



Balkan Base



This is a based stay, riding out each day from the primary stables where all the trail programmes start. It is a beautiful setting for a riding holiday and you are accommodated in the family hotel at Apriltsi. A stay at the Balkan base is for all riders of all abilities, also ideal for groups/school groups and friends. There are plenty of lush hills and natural riding paths in the stunning valleys, up to the mountain peaks. Many of the tracks offer perfect opportunities for galloping. For the experienced rider there are many possibilities for challenging riding in the mountainous terrain.

Ride through mountain rivers, up and down steep mountain paths and across open plains. The terrain offers rides for every type of rider. The riding guides have a great knowledge of the local area and know what to show you. The pace will be adapted to suit the group.

Saturday:

Arrival day. Meet at the airport you will be transfered to the riding base and settle in. The evening will be spent having dinner and meeting the other guests. Depending on the time of arrival you will meet the riding guide and talk about the programme for the week.

Sunday:

After breakfast you walk down to the stables to meet the horses. The riding guides will introduce you to your horse and explain how they ride in the mountains there, about the horses and about rules in the mountains. You start your riding in the morning and lunch may be a picnic close to the stables. After lunch you leave the riding base for a horse riding tour around Apriltsi (12 km long), taking about three hours.

Monday:

After breakfast you will meet up with the horses and leave the village on horseback for a ride to The Green meadows. Here you ride in all paces and for the experienced rider there is a chance to have a good gallop. From the meadows you ride to the river and have lunch. After the break you ride for two more hours back to base.

Tuesday:

Today you ride up in the mountains and you’ll pass a wild life area. The ride will take place over 1000 m above sea level and you will have a relaxed lunch in the mountains. In the evening you might ride out to see the wild life in the area of Apriltsi.

Wednesday:

Following breakfast, you will ride over the hill top of Ostrets and Peperi, under the Black Peak (1500m) to a small monastery. Lunch is in the monastery garden. In the afternoon, you will ride back to the base through the field and meadows, along the riverbank.

Thursday:

Today you ride into the National park. The ride will take you through the beautiful countryside to Vidima, a small village. You will continue to the Vidima Waterfall, one of the biggest in Bulgaria (1350 m above sea level). From here you will dismount and walk up a small eco-path while the horses rest. After lunch you ride in the park and will enjoy all the hidden treasures of the nature in that area.

Friday:

Today you will get to choose your route as a group between all the possibilities in the area. If you and the group prefer mountain riding you’ll ride in the mountains. If you would like to ride to one of the small villages, a monastery or other sights you can do that. Whatever is chosen you will enjoy the picturesque landscape. In the evening you enjoy a farewell dinner.

Saturday:

After breakfast you will pack the car, say goodbye to the guides, guests and your equine friends before leaving for the airport.

This is just an example itinerary, this may vary according to new paths that have been found, the ability and requirements of the group.



Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: All abilities.
Type of ride: Based with daily trails.
Total riding time: Flexible day rides.
Departure dates: Every Saturday all year round.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£699 per person

Single supplement: £96

The price includes: Transfer from/to Sofia Airport, seven nights in private accommodation in double or triple rooms, with shower/toilet, full board, 'own horse' fully equipped and experienced guide for six days.

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.

Hotel accommodation can be arranged on request. It is around 10 - 15 minutes away from the base.

Group Discount: Book a group of 8 for the same trail/date and pay for only 7 persons.



Trail to Mount Botev



If you are looking for a unique nature experience and a riding challenge off the beaten tracks then this is the tour for you. This trail offers extreme riding in magnificent flora and fauna to reach the summit of Mount Botev on horseback. An unforgettable and tremendous chance to experience how horses survive and behave in rocky mountains of a high altitude! Christo and Toshko fulfilled a dream in successfully reaching the summit of Mt. Botev on the verge of the Severen Djendem Reserve, their discovery was accompanied by a pair of golden eagles. They now share this impressive experience with their experienced horse riding guests.

Mt. Botev (2376m) is the highest peak in the Balkan Range from which you will experience the most dramatic views of northern and southern Bulgaria. Riding your horse up here is really something very special and even more spectacular once you have passed the reserve Severen Djendem. It is the highest reserve in the Central Balkan National Park, encompassing a beautiful, wild, and inaccessible section of the Central Balkan Range. The Reserve includes the near vertical northern slopes below Mt. Botev, looming rock tiers, short and steep watersheds, overhanging cliffs, rock bridges, and numerous waterfalls, as well as grassy terraces.

From the top you will ride through the largest reserve centred on granite extrusion near Mt. Botev, combined with limestone outcroppings to form steep slopes, deep and narrow gorges, monumental rock cliffs, and huge waterfalls. The waterfall Raiskoto Praskalo (Paradise waterfall) is directly below Mt. Botev. Due to its specific geological and climatic conditions, the area is rich in endemic species and rare plants. The trail takes you right into the home of the Balkan chamois, bear, wolf, red deer, roe, golden eagle, the peregrine falcon, and wall creeper. This area actually comprises of the only rock complex with centuries-old forests, rock faces and precipices known in Bulgaria, as well as the mightiest rock belt in Bulgaria, Djendemite.

To wake up in Hizha Rai (Rai is paradise in Bulgarian) is like a dream, you will experience the gorgeous view of the majestic cliffs and the waterfall. The next morning you will experience the complete contrary where you will wake up in the monastery and enjoy the quiet spirit and the overwhelming magic of this place. A new days ride along the Balkan mountain brings the sound of church bells and the heroic town of Kalofer where you will experience the atmosphere of the mountains and experience the nature and freedom of the Central Balkan National Park at Tazha. Here offers an incredible farewell view over the peaks and the endless meadows of the Balkan Mountains before the final decent ride to the base.

For this trail ride they use only rather small horses with proven skills in extreme riding situations. They are in top condition and ready for this trail. From day three in the morning to day five in the evening you have only your luggage on their packing horses (limited baggage allowance).

Saturday:

You will be greeted at the airport by a rep from the base and transferred to the mountains. The night is spent in hotel accommodation in double rooms. After dinner you will receive the final information about the expected weather conditions, how to pack and how to ride the horses at steep crossings etc.

Sunday:

In the morning you will meet the horses that have been chosen and trained specially for this trail. Today's ride is to 'Mandrata' on the top of the Balkan Mountains, riding off the beaten horse tracks, on paths and through canyons. The first part of the ride is set at a fast pace where you will become acquainted with your horse, after that you start your climb. You will stay overnight in a former dairy at about 1450m. Two to four bedded rooms are offered with a shower and toilet. You'll enjoy dinner around the fire and watch the sun going down behind the mountain peaks of Maragidik (1889m) and Botev (2376m).

Monday:

The morning starts by packing your belongings and heading to the top of the mountains. You ride along the magic Severen Djendem Reserve, they say 'the mountains divide the country into two parts' which will become evident to you after today. You’ll reach the summit in the afternoon and from there you only have a thirty minute steep descent to the shelter where you stay overnight.

Tuesday:

Today’s ride is from 'hell to paradise'. When the sun rises you will ride downhill to the crossways and borders of the reserves and the nature park, you pass through challenging canyons and over the most fabulous of places. You’ll ride about 15 km in about five hours and ride through the Djendemja Reserve before reaching the big mountain hut Hizha Rai. In the afternoon they recommend a short walk to the highest waterfall on the Balkan Peninsula, Raiskoto Praskalo (1245m /4084ft).

Wednesday:

From this captivating place you ride downhill through the old wood, to the open meadows at the foothill of the Balkan Mountains where the Valley of Roses starts. During today you will experience the magical atmosphere of this area and the horses will show you their skill of down hill riding! You’ll ride about 19 km in about five hours to the monastery where you will spend the night. After the ride your hosts recommend a short walk to Byala reka (an eco-path in the canyon).

Thursday:

You leave the monastery's meadows and continue to the picturesque mountain village of Kalofer where you ride along the foothill of the Balkan Mountains. Lunch will take place on the terrace of a hospitable Bulgarian family. The trail brings you back into the 'Central Balkan National Park' in an altitude of about 1250 m were you stay overnight. Today you’ll ride about 20 km in five/six hours.

Friday:

After breakfast you will ride in the northern direction. You will ride down the mountains, leave the national park and descend to Apriltsi. Today's ride take around five hours and the ride ends back at the base. Tonight's accommodation is in the same hotel as the first night. Dinner in the hotel.

Saturday: 

Breakfast and free time until departure for the airport.

NB. In the event that there are less than three riders confirmed for the trail, riders booked onto it are secured a guaranteed place on the Balkan Mountain Trail for the same date. 



Accommodation: Two nights in Apriltsi based on private accommodation double or triple rooms with shower/toilet; Five nights in shelters, mountain huts and a mountain monastery.
Minimum group size: 3
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Experienced riders, fit and secure in the saddle.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 5 - 6 hours per day.
Departure dates: 2018: Dates to be confirmed.
 
Pricing: 2018: Please contact us for prices.

Price includes full board (some lunches will be picnic lunches), various accommodation as per itinerary, pack horses for three days, transport of luggage on other days during the trail, return transfer from Sofia airport and a meeting with the Mountain Rescue Service and rep from the Central Balkan National Park.

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.

Group Discount: Book a group of 8 for the same trail/date and pay for only 7 persons.



Family Nature Adventure



A summer holiday to be enjoyed by all the family at the riding base! An outdoor adventure offering a back to nature experience as well as spending time relaxing around an open camp fire with the horses grazing around you. Svezhen is full of exciting history, surrounded by mountains, old woodlands, open meadows with grazing cows and sheep and land that is still being cultivated by man and his horse.

The mountains invite for all kinds of riding tours, the open meadows are great for cantering, the longer paths are great for trotting and the hilly slopes can be enjoyed in walk. There are more than 20,000 hectares offering possibilities you would never dream of. You will ride in unspoilt countryside with views of the Balkans all around. The Maritsa plain presents a smell of lavender, roses and blooming grassland. At the end of the day you can enjoy the sunset falling behind the beautiful mountains.

Full and half day rides can be enjoyed, with a picnic lunch offered on the full day options. The programme also allows for flexibility to camp overnight around an open fire. The beauty of this environment invites you to relax and enjoy picking flowers and berries from the most aromatic mountain trees as well as hiking in the mountains. There are endless opportunities to be experienced.

The family adventure weeks are organised for the active, outdoor family with children from the age of 9 years which includes horse related activities at the centre. Adults preferring to watch or walk rather than riding are welcome as well. It’s a holiday for the whole family, everybody is welcome!!

Saturday:

Arrival day. Meet at the airport you will be transfered to riding base. You will settle in, the evening will be spent having dinner and meeting the other guests. Depending on the time of arrival you will meet the riding guide and talk about the programme for the week ahead.

Sunday:

After breakfast you meet the horses together with the riding guides. You will have plenty of time to get acquainted and the riding guides will tell you about the life of the horses in the mountains, how you ride in the mountains and how to ride in a western saddle. You ride out on the meadows behind the base and in the afternoon you have the chance to go for a swim. Dinner will be enjoyed on the terrace whilst you watch the sun go down behind the mountains. The day ends with pancakes made on an open fire.

Monday:

Today you ride out on a mini trail. The ride starts by climbing the mountains before reaching the plateau where you will enjoy lunch with panoramic views. After lunch you slowly descend down the mountains to lake. At this perfect spot you can fish and relax until you build up the camp for the night. Overnight is spent in big tepees and you will eat a hearty western style dinner around the roaring, open camp fire.

Tuesday:

Once you have taken down your tepees and saddled up the horses you ride along the river, through valleys and a very ancient forest. This is a wild and beautiful area where you and the group are alone with your horses, close to nature. After lunch the afternoon ride is a long one as you make your way back to Hizha Svezhen.

Wednesday: 

Today provides you with a break from the saddle with a chance to explore the town and if you wish to do some shopping. If shopping is not of interest then the group may opt for a different experience - it is possible to go mountain climbing on a 1200m long adrenaline fuelled climbing path. A professional mountaineer will take you through the canyon over a river. Climbing equipment is available to hire on spot.

You continue to a small monastery situated at the foothill of the Balkan Mountains where you relax and enjoy lunch in the garden. After lunch you walk the track of a very exciting eco-path in the Central Balkan national Park. On the path you will be guided and receive information of the wildlife. After an action-packed day you drive back through the Valley of Roses to Hizha Svezhen.

Thursday:

Today's ride takes place in the mountains before you ride to the village and explore the local way of life. You pass the local grocery, library, old school, the small church and other interesting sights. You will stop for a refreshing drink at the inn before lunch in the garden of an old farmer family.

Friday:

Today you follow the tracks of the wildlife and you stop of at a high seat where you will experience amazing views. You continue to the 'rocket square' where you witness the way the clouds are moved under special climatic conditions. After this unusual experience you ride back to the lake for a swim. In the evening you all get together and enjoy your farewell dinner.

Saturday:

Following breakfast you say goodbye to the horses, guides and guests before being transfered back to the airport.

Please note all riding days could easily be changed for hiking or cycling, making it ideal for the non rider. However, the terrain is mountainous. Activities may change according to the weather.

Other possibilities: Beside all the activities on offer, you also have the chance to visit Plovdiv for a half or a whole day trip (not included in the price). In Plovdiv you can see the old roman theatre as well as other sites.



Accommodation: Six nights in full board accommodation (some lunches will be picnics) based on double/triple/quadruple rooms, one night in a tipi full board.
Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong novice and above, you must have some riding experience and be confident before embarking on this trip and need to be fairly fit and active. However, non riders are welcome.
Type of ride: Based adventure and trails
Total riding time: As per itinerary
Departure dates: Every Saturday from 17th June 2017 - 9th September 2017.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£777 per person based on double or triple occupancy.

Price includes six nights in full board accommodation (some lunches will be picnics) based on double/triple, one night in a tipi full board, riding guide for five days, one day excursion as per programme and transfers from and to Sofia airport.

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.

Group Discount: Book a group of 8 for the same trail/date and pay for only 7 persons.



Panorama Trail



An adventurous ride offering wonderfully scenic views of the reserves and the highest peaks of the Balkan Mountains. You'll pass through old woods, cross open plains and three reserves in the Central Balkan National Park, pass the land of the bears with eagles in the sky and explore the beautiful sceneries from the tops of the Balkan Mountains.

On this breathtaking and challenging ride you'll wonder at the panorama views from 2300m and ride tough mountain terrain on the back of a well-trained horse. The accommodation on the trail is the best and most interesting you can find; all places at the best locations, representing a part of the Bulgarian dishes from banitsa in the morning to monasterian gyuvets, shopska salata and different kinds of sweets - all accompanied with interesting Bulgarian wine or good local beer.

Saturday:

You will meet with your rep at the airport and transfer to Apriltsi in the Balkan Mountains. Accommodation in a cozy and new Guest House in the centre of the village in double rooms with shower/toilet. You will have a hearty welcome meal.

Sunday:

In the morning you will meet the horses and start riding to the top, off beaten tracks and through canyons only ridden so far on the trail to Mount Botev. From the morning the ride will be fast paced giving you the optimal opportunity to get to know your horse. Afterwards, you will head to Central Balkan National Park. This ride will take you to the ridge of the reserve "Severem Dzhendem" (the northern hell) with views to the land of the bears. Today's riding is approximately 5 hours.

Monday:

Today you will follow the south-western tracks on the top and enter an area where you can find the Balkan chamois. On one hand side you have the reserve "Babskoto Praskalo" and the canyon "Tazha" and on the other hand side you have great views to Mt. Botev. You will ride downhill to the south with wonderful views to "The Valley of Roses" and the Sredna Gora Mountains. You will stay overnight in a Guest House of a family with many ancestors in the area. Today's riding is approximately 6 hours.

Tuesday:

After breakfast you will ride to the east at the foothills of the Balkan Mountains in terrain perfect for more long gallops. You will have a lovely home-made lunch in a beautiful private garden. After lunch you will start ascending the mountain, passing one of the checkpoints of the national park until you reach a mountain complex for your overnight stay. Today's riding is approximately 7 hours.

Wednesday:

Today's ride will be a very challenging mountain ride to the reserve "Singing Rocks". The panoramic views are amazing and your riding skills will certainly be tested! Your overnight stop today will be in the mountain chalet "Mazalat". Today's riding is approximately 6 hours.

Thursday:

Today you will continue to the next mountain chalet "Partzanska Pesen". Here you will have lunch and a well earned break. The descend to the north will lead you to a house in a garden in a miniature village; a picturesque pearl. You will stay overnight here, enjoying the remote area and wondering how people used to live hundreds of years ago, far away from everything. Today's riding is approximately 6 hours.

Friday:

On the last riding day, you will have a perfect view of Maragidik and "The Sunlit Valley of Apriltsi". You will swiftly head for the base through old woods and villages. Once back at the base you will say good-bye to the horses and have a farewell dinner. Today's riding is approximately 6 hours.

Saturday:

Today you will have breakfast and a little free time before being transferred to the airport.

NB. In the event that there are less than three riders confirmed for the trail, riders booked onto it are secured a guaranteed place on the Balkan Mountain Trail for the same date. 



Accommodation: 2 nights in Apriltsi based on accommodation in a family hotel, double occupancy with shower/toilet. 5 nights in the mountains: 1 night in a mountain chalet 2-4 per room with shower/toilet; 1 night in a family hotel in twin/double rooms with facilities, 1 night in a bungalow with 4-5 bedded rooms and toilet/shower, 1 night in a mountain chalet with 4-5 beds per room and shared facilities and 1 night in a private renovated 100 year old house in 2-3 bedded rooms with shared facilities.
Minimum group size: 3
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Intermediate and above.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 5 - 7 hours per day.
Departure dates: 2017: 24-31 June, 8-15 July, 5-12 August, 2-9 September, 16-23 September.
 
Pricing: 2017:
£859 per person

Price includes 2 nights in a hotel, 5 nights in the mountains with varying accommodation of hotels, chalets and a bungalow. The price is with full board meals and also includes luggage transport and transfer from/to Sofia Airport at a set time, as well as the riding.

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.

Group Discount: Book a group of 8 for the same trail/date and pay for only 7 persons.



High Mountain Trail



A new, demanding trail ride from hut to hut following the famous E-3 hiking route and Mt Botev (2376m). This trail features wild mountain landscapes and steep hillsides. It is only suitable for confident, experienced riders who are happy with some very challenging terrain and long days in the saddle! 

Saturday:

Arrival and transfer from Sofia airport with the group (approx 3 hours). You will be taken to Apriltsi in the Balkan Mountains where you will be accommodated in a cosy guesthouse in the centre of the village (Apriltsi is effectively four villages combined into a small town). You will enjoy a welcome dinner and will meet with the riding guide to talk about the programme for the week. 

Sunday: 

Today is your first day of riding and you will start out with a very long, interesting day ride of around 8 - 9 hours. The ride takes you through old villages and remote settlements which feature houses built in the traditional mountain style. Eventually you will reach a village called Cherni Osam. You can visit the little monastery Zelinikovski and perhaps will meet Dana who has been living alone here for many years. Lunch is eaten along the riding route. Tonight you are accommodated in a private guesthouse on the outskirts of the village. 

Monday: 

The ride today is a climb into a wild, unspoilt area near to the river Zheravitsa and the 'Steneto' reserve which is known for the brown bears which are hiding there. You will stop for lunch at h. Chuchal before continuing on with the ride. You will pass by the refuge of Orlovo Gnezdo / 'Eagle's Nests' (1534m) before reaching your overnight point. Tonight you will stay in a famous mountain hut at Dermenka (1520m) where local musicians love to perform for guests. The surrounding flora and fauna is wonderful and there are butterflies in all sorts of different colours. 

Tuesday: 

Riding today takes you into a particularly dramatic area - the group will have to study the weather forecast carefully to make sure that you avoid any difficult natural forces! Lunch is at h. Dobrilla (1800m) which is a comfortable mountain hut with its own restaurant. The riding route then leads you on a path just below the peak of Goljam Kupen (2169m). By the afternoon you will reach one of the oldest mountain houses in Bulgaria (from 1925) caled Hizha Vasil Levski, lying at 1450m.

Wednesday:

From the Levski hut the ride heads towards Mt Botev (2376m) which is the highest peak of the Balkan Mountain range. The ride today is short but steep, leading you to the point called 'patolashkata' where five different paths meet. One of these paths will take you to the Mt Botev refuge which is a friendly mountain hut which many rides call 'the harmonica hut. 

Thursday:

This morning you will pack up your belonging and head directly for the top of the mountains. After about one hour of riding straight up you will be on the top of Mt Botev with the old TV station, military buildings and an old fashioned metrological station (still working!). Most riders find it quite a special experience to be at the top of a mountain on horseback! From this peak you can see how the mountain range divides the country into two parts. You will start riding northwards, stopping on the way for a picnic lunch at a small creek where the water is always 1 degree C. The overnight point for today is a former dairy "Mandrata" at around 1450m. 

Friday: 

After breakfast you will make your way north, effectively closing the circle route that you have ridden. You will ride down the mountains, leave the national park and make your way back to Apriltsi. This last riding day is approximately 5 hours and you will end up back at the first guesthouse from the start of the week. Farewell dinner. 

Saturday:

After breakfast there is free time until the group transfer back to Sofia airport. 

NB. In the event that there are less than three riders confirmed for the trail, riders booked onto it are secured a guaranteed place on the Balkan Mountain Trail for the same date. 



Accommodation: 2 nights at the guesthouse in Apriltsi and 1 night in high mountain village in family hotel, double occupancy with shower/toilet. 3 nights in mountain huts with 2-3-4 bedded rooms with shower/toilet on the same floor and 1 night in mountain chalet with 2-4 per room with shower/toilet.
Minimum group size: 3
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Experienced, fit riders only - you must be secure in the saddle, balanced and confident. This trail features some extreme terrain so you should be adventurous and quite brave! Some riding days can be 8 or 9 hours in length so you need to be fit and prepared for this.
Type of ride: Trail.
Total riding time: 6 riding days - some days up to 9 hours, others much shorter.
Departure dates: 2017: 17-24 June, 1-8 July, 19-26 August, 9-16 September.
 
Pricing: 2017:
£904 per person

Price includes set time transfers from and to Sofia airport, full board accommodation based on shared rooms and facilities, 6 days of guided horse riding, transport of luggage and pack horse (for the group) from days 3 - 5.

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.

Group Discount: Book a group of 8 for the same trail/date and pay for only 7 persons.



Riding and Spa



An outdoor adventure offering a back to nature experience as well as spending time relaxing around an open camp fire with the horses grazing around you. Svezhen is full of exciting history, surrounded by mountains, old woodlands, open meadows with grazing cows and sheep and land that is still being cultivated by man and his horse.

The mountains invite for all kinds of riding tours, the open meadows are great for cantering, the longer paths are great for trotting and the hilly slopes can be enjoyed in walk. There are more than 20,000 hectares offering possibilities you would never dream of. You will ride in unspoilt countryside with views of the Balkans all around. The Maritsa plain presents a smell of lavender, roses and blooming grassland. At the end of the day you can enjoy the sunset falling behind the beautiful mountains.

Full and half day rides can be enjoyed, with a picnic lunch offered on the full day options. The programme also allows for flexibility to camp overnight around an open fire. The beauty of this environment invites you to relax and enjoy picking flowers and berries from the most aromatic mountain trees as well as hiking in the mountains. There are endless opportunities to be experienced.

After your 5 days riding in the mountains you will be transported to the historic spa town of Hisarya where you can spend time visiting the extensive Roman ruins which include a small amphitheatre, the barracks of the Roman garrison, the foundations of some of the oldest churches in Bulgaria, as well as the best-preserved Roman fortress in Bulgaria



Accommodation: 5 nights full board accommodation (some lunches will be picnics or packed lunches) based on double/triple and 2 nights in a spa hotel with breakfasts included.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong novice and above, you must have some riding experience and be confident before embarking on this trip and need to be fairly fit and active. However, non riders are welcome.
Type of ride: Based adventure
Total riding time: Flexible day rides
Departure dates: Every Saturday from 17th June 2017 - 9th September 2017.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£799 per person

Price includes 5 nights full board accommodation (some lunches will be picnics or packed lunches) based on double/triple, 5 days riding with English-speaking guide, 2 nights in a spa hotel with breakfast, pick up/drop off at Sofia airport at fixed times and transport to and from the SPA hotel.

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance. Additional treatments while at the spa.

Price based on min of 4 persons, if under 4 persons then there is an additional charge of £46 per person.



Riding and Plovdiv/Sofia City Break



An outdoor adventure offering a back to nature experience as well as spending time relaxing around an open camp fire with the horses grazing around you. Svezhen is full of exciting history, surrounded by mountains, old woodlands, open meadows with grazing cows and sheep and land that is still being cultivated by man and his horse.

The mountains invite for all kinds of riding tours, the open meadows are great for cantering, the longer paths are great for trotting and the hilly slopes can be enjoyed in walk. There are more than 20,000 hectares offering possibilities you would never dream of. You will ride in unspoilt countryside with views of the Balkans all around. The Maritsa plain presents a smell of lavender, roses and blooming grassland. At the end of the day you can enjoy the sunset falling behind the beautiful mountains.

Full and half day rides can be enjoyed, with a picnic lunch offered on the full day options. The programme also allows for flexibility to camp overnight around an open fire. The beauty of this environment invites you to relax and enjoy picking flowers and berries from the most aromatic mountain trees as well as hiking in the mountains. There are endless opportunities to be experienced.

After your 5 days riding in the mountains you will be transported to your pre-arranged destination of either Plovdiv or Sofia for a 2 night stay in a hotel. Both cities offer an astounding array of Roman and Ottoman history and rich cultural heritage.



Accommodation: 5 nights full board accommodation (some lunches will be picnics or packed lunches) based on double/triple and 2 nights in a spa hotel with breakfasts included.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong novice and above, you must have some riding experience and be confident before embarking on this trip and need to be fairly fit and active. However, non riders are welcome.
Type of ride: Based adventure
Total riding time: Flexible day rides
Departure dates: Every Saturday between the 17th June 2017 until the 9th September 2017.
 
Pricing: 2017:

£799 per person

Price includes 5 nights full board accommodation (some lunches will be picnics or packed lunches) based on double/triple, 5 days riding with English-speaking guide, 2 nights in a hotel in Plovdiv or Sofia in double room with breakfast, pick up/drop off at Sofia airport at fixed times and transport to and

The price does not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.

Price based on min of 4 persons, if under 4 persons then there is an additional charge of 50EUR pp.



Short Stay or Mini Trail



These short stays are perfect for those who'd like to explore the Balkan Mountains but who can't stay away for a whole week. You can choose from either a stationary programme or a mini trail, both of which include full board and airport transfers. Great mini western adventures!

The stationary programme can be either three or four nights in duration whilst the mini trail is four nights. Please contact us for further details.



Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Options for all levels.
Type of ride: Stationary or Trail.
Total riding time: 3 days (or 2 days)
Departure dates: Flexible dates between 17th June 2017 - 9th Sepetmber 2017.
 
Pricing: 2017:

STATIONARY:

5 day/ 4 night stationary programme (3 days riding): £434 per person (minimum 4 riders).
4 day/ 3 night stationary programme (2 days riding): £365 per person (minimum 4 riders).

Prices include set-time transfers from and to Sofia airport, all meals, twin/double room accommodation and riding.

MINI TRAIL (available after 15th April):

5 day/ 4 night stationary programme (3 days riding): £544 per person (minimum 4 riders).

Price includes set-time transfers from and to Sofia airport, all meals, twin/double room accommodation and riding.


The prices do not include: tips, drinks (except mineral water) and other personal expenses, maps, flights or travel insurance.