Trip Details at-a-Glance
|Cost From:||$3495 see pricing|
|Lodging:||10 nights hotels and guesthouses|
|Meals:||All meals included|
|Activity:||Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures|
Moderate hikes, 2-4.5 hours a day, van support
- Historic hill villages of Koprivshtitsa and Kosovo
- Mountain hikes in ancient pine forests
- Folklore, cuisine, and culture of the Rhodope Mountains
- Rila Monastery, a World Heritage Site
Choosing the Right Trip
We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.
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Join veteran Europe Trip Leader Denitza Petrova for a journey of cultural discovery and delightful hikes in a hidden corner of Europe. Rich spiritual traditions, centuries-old villages, and a distinctive Old World culture are the treasures of this Eastern European gem. We visit frescoed monasteries surrounded by woodlands, hike forest trails, listen to the folk music of the Rhodope Mountains, discover truly bucolic villages, and meet friends and acquaintances of Denitza as we travel. Along the way, we sample a cuisine rich with Slavic and Greek influences, from spit-roasted lamb to homemade feta cheeses, and taste local wines from the Thracia, Sakar, and Strum valleys. We also visit Bulgaria's ancient monasteries, including majestic Rila, a World Heritage Site in a serene mountain setting, and Bachkovo, with its small chapels, holy springs, and pilgrims. This unique adventure will bring us into the heart of an off-the-beaten path European realm with a true expert.
Itinerary at a Glance
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Sofia / Koprivshtitsa
After a walking tour of Sofia, with its gold-domed Alexander Nevski Cathedral, we head up to peaceful Koprivshitsa, an Ottoman-era village famous for its painted houses and stone bridges. The next day we hike in the Southern Djenden Nature Reserve, with a picnic lunch, and visit the Valley of Roses, one of the symbols of Bulgaria, with its rose farms and 16th century towns. Our hotel in Koprivshtitsa is a historic 19th century house.
Starosel / Kosovo / Plovdiv
After a hike in the Sredna Gora Mountains, we head for the pine-forested Rhodope Mountains along Bulgaria’s southern border with Greece, with lunch at the Starosel winery en route. The next day, a pilgrimage walk brings us through a UNESCO biosphere reserve to Bachkovo, one of the oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. We also visit graceful Plovdiv, the cultural center of Bulgaria, with its charming Old Town spread across three hills. Overnights are in the historic village of Kosovo.
Orehovo / Trigrad Gorge / Rhodope Mountains
Circling through the green Rhodope Mountains, we enjoy hikes each day and visit historic mountain villages. In one village, we have lunch in a local home and hear the music of the kaba gaida (the traditional bagpipe of the Rhodope Mountains). We also explore the impressive 600-foot-deep Trigrad Gorge, one of the most spectacular settings in Bulgaria, with its sheer walls overhanging the foaming Trigradska River.
Dobarsko / Bansko / Pirin National Park
In the western Rhodope Mountains, we hike in an area populated by the Pomak people, a Slavic Muslim group who retain their old traditions, then head to the village of Dobarsko for a homemade lunch and a chance to meet “The Grandmas,” wonderful ambassadors for Bulgarian folk culture as they teach us how to dance the horo. The next day, we hike through Pirin National Park to the glacial lakes of the Buderishka Valley. Overnights are in Bansko, with its Old Town of cobbled streets and stone houses.
Rila Monastery / Sofia
Bulgaria’s most famous monastery, Rila, is a World Heritage Site set on the slopes of 9,500-foot Mt. Rila. We visit this serene place and enjoy our last hike, an easy pilgrimage walk to St. Ivan Rilksi’s hermitage caves in the deep forests of the Rila Monastery Nature Reserve. Return to Sofia and depart on Day 11.
For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary
What the Trip is Like
Although rooms are not always of uniform or international size, our leaders always try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Single rooms can be requested but are not always available, due to the limited space in the hotels. If you require a single room, please make the request as early as possible.
Departures & Leaders
Jun 20-30, 2013 Denitza Petrova
Prices are for 2013
$3495 (10-15 members)
$3895 (5-9 members)
Single supplement: $295
more on pricing
Trip Cost Includes:
- expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
- accommodations as noted
- All meals included
- entrance fees for museums and sites
- all land transportation, transfers as noted
Trip Cost Does Not Include:International airfare, transfers for independent arrival or departure, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, wine at dinner (except at welcome and farewell dinners), airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).
Trip Payment Schedule
At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance
Denitza Petrova was born in Varna, a town on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. She graduated with a degree in sociology from Sofia University and spent her college summers in California. She later completed a two-year stint in outdoor education in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Camp Campbell Outdoor Science School), where she taught students about the beauty and uniqueness of the California redwoods. In her time in California, she became a passionate advocate for nature conservation, and on return to Bulgaria, she joined her country’s anti-nuclear and environmental movement. Today she works for as a Greenpeace representative in Bulgaria. She loves the mountains of her native country and is especially keen to share their beauty with travelers. “Bulgaria still has many hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, and it’s the perfect place for people who want to be in touch with wild nature and feel the true spirit of the Balkans.” Denitza also enjoys sharing Bulgaria’s folk music, both the dances and the songs. As a youth, she danced with one of the folk groups in Varna.