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Rhodope Mountain Trails

Overview

This family-run riding centre was founded in 2008 and is one of the most popular riding stables in Bulgaria, accredited to both the Bulgarian Federation of Equestrian Sports and the Bulgarian Equestrian Tourism Association. Now run by the founder's son, Bogdan Syarov (a qualified vet), the stables …

Highlights

  • Riding in one of Europe's most biodiverse regions
  • Passionate guide who is a qualified vet
  • Visiting preserved villages with 3300 years of history
  • French toast with fresh local ricotta and honey
  • Learn about the Rodopi bagpipes!

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95kg / 210lbs / 15st

Description

This family-run riding centre was founded in 2008 and is one of the most popular riding stables in Bulgaria, accredited to both the Bulgarian Federation of Equestrian Sports and the Bulgarian Equestrian Tourism Association. Now run by the founder's son, Bogdan Syarov (a qualified vet), the stables offers adventurous mountain trails on fit, forward-going horses. The equestrian centre was started so that the Syarovs, a keen show-jumping family, could share their love of horses and their passion for this beautiful region.

Bogdan and his family pride themselves on their horses, all of whom are good-natured, brave and very much loved. Riding here is with English saddles, primarily Wintec, and the quality of tack is excellent. Although this is not a large stables they ensure that spare horses are always available. The Rhodope Mountains ('Rodopis') offer incredible views and miles of peaceful riding routes and have been known since ancient times, mentioned by the legendary poets Homer, Virgil and Ovid. With their clean and unspoiled nature and magical villages, the Rhodopes have kept the value of the Bulgarian spirit throughout the centuries.

The stables is situated in an ideal location with scenic riding country and an abundance of cultural, natural and historical attractions within riding distance. Rides start with a tour of the ancient city of Plovdiv, actually one of the world's oldest continually-inhabited cities. The Rhodope Mountains are one of the most biodiverse areas in Europe and are home to a range of fascinating flora and fauna - bears, wolves, wild cats, birds of prey and an incredible number of bat species inhabit the region and there are many interesting plants and flowers to be seen.

Holly from Far and Ride visited this destination in the autumn of 2016 and would be really happy to tell you more about it - please just get in touch!

Horses & Riding

Tack

English style tack, primarily Wintec saddles and horses in snaffle bridles.

Horses

A range including Trakehner, Shagya Arabian and Eastern Bulgarian breeds. The horses are responsive and willing with great fitness, allowing for plenty of trots and canters along the way as well as safe passage over rough mountain terrain.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Kingdom of Orpheus - Panorama Trail is a trail ride

Ages

12+

Health

General good health recommended.

Weight

95kg / 210lbs / 15st

Food & Accommodation

Food

All meals are included during the trail programmes and you can expect hearty local fare and the chance to try several traditional dishes. Meat and cheese are prevalent and bread is served with every meal, but vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be catered for with prior notice.

Dinners are three courses and always start with the traditional salad of cucumber, tomatoes, onions, cheese and sometimes olives. Lunches are generally a picnic eaten from your saddlebag, including a sandwich, fruit, biscuit/cereal bar and water. A few times during the week you will eat at a bar in a small village.

Beer and wine are commonly available and delicious, but red wine is sometimes served chilled. Coffee, tea and juice are served with your breakfasts.

Accommodation

Accommodation during the trail is simple but clean and comfortable, primarily in small hotels or guesthouses. Single rooms are available.

Most nights the rooms are en-suite but please note that it's common in Bulgaria for the washing facilities to be 'wet room' in style, meaning that the room includes a toilet, sink and shower but the shower does not have a separate cubicle or curtain (there is a drain in the middle of the floor).

A few of the accommodations have a WiFi connection.

Itineraries

Kingdom of Orpheus - Panorama Trail Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

The programme is not really designed for non-riders but they could be accommodated and taken in the support vehicle to each accommodation. There are some good sight-seeing opportunities during the rides so please contact us if you have non-riders in your party.

Travel

Guests can fly into Sofia or Plovdiv. The tour starts in Plovdiv but most guests fly to Sofia as there are a lot of flights into and out of the capital city.

Transfers are included from the two airports at set times. You should ideally arrive into Sofia no later than 16:00, in order to allow time for sightseeing in Plovdiv. On departure day your flight should not leave Sofia before 12:00.

If you are coming into Plovdiv instead then please contact us for timings.

Testimonials

Emily H., Sept. 14, 2022

I enjoyed it as I was desperate to get away from the hot, dry, busy summer season in Spain, the forests were much appreciated. Bogdan was very enthusiastic and full of information and the horses were probably the nicest, most chilled out herd I have met in 35 years riding. The accommodation was great, the food was a bit limited but filling. I have had to have a break from eating cheese I ate so much during the holiday! Bogdan was very enthusiastic and informative, nice to meet somebody with ambition in an economically depressed country. He and his wife Lyubomira did their best to accommodate us all and keep us happy.


Paula M., June 29, 2022

Excellent - Bogdan and Luba were really good hosts and took care of everything. Horses, food, accommodation and scenery are all brilliant and good to do some sightseeing within the ride.


Amanda S, Feb. 13, 2020

Amazing landscapes, amazing horses, wonderful guide!


Simon, Nov. 6, 2019

Very well organised. Bogdan ensured we had horses suited to our abilities. Good Scenery, good company. A variety of different types of accommodation.


Jayne B., Jan. 25, 2019

We were looked after amazingly well by Bogdan and Luba. Took them a while to understand there MUST be beer and wine! The trail was beautiful and we got a real taste of Bulgaria. My favourite day was the last day - very scenic but also had plenty of canters. Some of the accommodation was better than expected, some more basic, but we were looked after incredibly well and the food was delicious. The first and last hotel was a spa hotel which was fabulous for last day massages.


Ilena C., Oct. 20, 2018

It was excellent, Amazing scenery, extremely capable horses - a great experience. Favourite memory was going "off piste" during a trail which led to some extreme downhill riding/walking. It was lovely to be in the spa hotel on the first and last night - all accommodation and food was very good


Glenys R., Oct. 5, 2018

It was everything I could have wished for, Bogdan and Luba were a joy and the horses were great. The scenery is stunning and we were very lucky with the weather. The accommodation was very good and it all went smoothly, but far too quickly!


Lea K., July 19, 2017

The whole experience was amazing. Very warm welcome from Bogdan and Lyubomira from the moment I arrived until the end. The hospitality, the way they planned the whole trip - all superb. An experienced guide made me feel safe and I've learned so much about the local history, improved my seat and had my very first gallop up in the Rhodope mountains. How cool is that?


Regina B., July 19, 2017

Joyful! Gave me opportunity to see the beautiful country, its traditions and admirable people who work very hard for it. Gave me joy and reason to reflect.


Maria L., June 27, 2017

The holiday was fantastic! The area was beautiful and all of the accommodation was very comfortable. The horses were lovely and the guide looked after us all brilliantly. The area was peaceful and offered exciting riding opportunities. Bogdan was the perfect guide - he looked after us all (riders and horses) immaculately. His English was perfect and the had brilliant knowledge about the area and the horses, including the history of the area and the breeds. I was very happy with my horse (I rode Pegasus). We were a fantastic match and he made the ride very pleasurable but still interesting.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Arrival and transfer from Sofia airport to Plovdiv, considered to the cultural capital of Bulgaria. The city has a diverse history and features many remains of a civilisation much older than that of the Romans - a city more than 8000 years old and a contemporary of ancient Troy. In the afternoon you will visit the old town of Plovdiv, including the Ethnographic Museum and the Antique theatre, which is one of the best preserved in the world.

Accommodation at the biggest show jumping stable of southern Bulgaria.

Day 2

Riding: 4 hours

Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the starting point of the trail named "Sredni Livadi" which is a protected area (approximately 40 minutes).  Today your destination is a village known for its majestic beauty, situated in a famous valley of the same name, Hvoyna. The ride is full of panoramic views as you will ride around 1650m above sea level.

The Rhodopes are the largest mountains of Bulgaria and considered the second most biodiverse mountain range in Europe. Today you will have around four hours of riding in this wilderness, rarely seeing any people. Lunch is on top of a natural balcony of sorts, known as the 'Ladybug Rock', from where you can enjoy the amazing scenery of the southern Rhodopes.

After the ride you visit the second biggest and oldest monastery in Bulgaria, Bachkovo. Overnight in a family hotel.

Day 3

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After another traditional Rhodopean breakfast, the journey continues in the footsteps of Captain Petko Voyvoda (a famous historical figure) towards one of the most famous meadows of the area, called Hajdushki, where a big festival takes place each year. You will be riding on top of the hills and can enjoy some faster riding because of the smooth terrain, as well as taking some time to admire the nearby lakes.

In the evening you will visit the National Astronomical Observatory of Rozhen for some sky exploration.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Today you will ride towards another major landmark of these mountains, the panoramic tower of Snezhanka (Snow White). At lunchtime you will reach it, taking lunch at the top of the tower in the restaurant. The 360 degree view will reveal astonishing panoramas towards Greece and the Aegean Sea.

After lunch you will ride towards the 'peaks of the bears'. Speaking of bears, Bulgaria has the second biggest population of bears in Europe!

You will stay tonight in a family run hotel.

Day 5

Riding: 6 hours

After yet another traditional breakfast, you will head for the village of Zabyrdo. This is a small mountain village standing 1400m above sea level.  It is famous for making the traditional Rhodope cheese. It is also one of the oldest villages in the area, around 800 years old.  You will also visit the rock phenomena "Wonderful Bridges" by horse back. This is one of the five most visited destinations in the Rhodopes. Lunch is eaten in a restaurant overlooking the 'Wonderful Bridges'. 

Tonight you will sleep in a family run guesthouse.

Day 6

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Today's ride will take you to the village of Orehovo which is around 500 years old. You will come across some stunnign views of the Sredni Livadi protected area once again. The ride will take you past an old Roman road and by an ancient 18th century chapel called Saint Atanas. Lunch is in another beautiful village called Lilkovo and you will sit right beside a 16th century church to enjoy a local meal.

Today you will also visit the Skakaloto waterfall and the Kosten Kamyk cave before staying the night in a family run hotel.

Day 7

Riding: 5 hours

This is the last riding day and will take you back to the starting point of this trail. You will have ridden over 150km by horseback, passing by one of the oldest Thracian fortress called "Shtut grad" which dates back to 5th century BC. The two hills of the forests, the Sun Hill and the Moon Hill held great power for the Thracian tribe called "Best".  They were known through the Roman empire as the most fearless Thracians. Lunch today is in a restaurant beside the fortress. 

Overnight back in Stavle.

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast it is time to say a sad farewell and be transferred back to Sofia airport for your departure. Approximately 3 hours in the car.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Riders should be happy to ride at walk, trot and canter in open country and for several hours a day. This trail is an easier option than the Mursalitsa National Park Trail also on offer.

Minimum group size 3
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

June 17, 2023 - June 24, 2023

July 1, 2023 - July 8, 2023

July 15, 2023 - July 22, 2023

July 29, 2023 - Aug. 5, 2023

Aug. 12, 2023 - Aug. 19, 2023

Pricing

2023
Sharing
£1185 $1320 €1350
Included 7 nights of shared twin/double room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival to breakfast on departure day, drinks with meals, 6 days of riding and sightseeing as described, set-time transfers from/to Sofia or Plovdiv airport.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, tips and personal expenses.

Extras

2023 - Single Supplement £88 $98 €100
Paid to Far and Ride
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.