The walking routes chosen for this tour passes through some of the most spectacular parts of the Rhodope mountains - Trigrad Gorge, the Devil’s Throat Cave, Yagodina Cave, Chairski Lakes... The trails affords breathtaking views over high rocky cliffs, woods, alpine meadows and the tiny villages where you can observe Bulgaria at its best, untainted by the influence of western society.
The green and 225 km (139 mile) long mountain ridge of Rhodope Mountains is situated in southern Bulgaria, with 20 percent of the range extending into Greece. The highest peak is around 2,000 m (6,561 ft) high, with the average height around 800 m (2,624 ft). With their pleasant climate, Rhodope Mountains are the perfect place for hiking, offering walkers a rolling landscape with pre-historic caves, ancient Roman roads and bridges, fortresses and churches. Goats and sheep are not just a part of the scenery, they are a significant element of everyday life, providing the locals with milk, meat, wool, and leather.
♦ Trigrad - a small village in the central part of the Rhodope Mountains, which has been closed for tourists for many years.
♦ Yagodina cave is one of the most beautiful in Europe with its outstanding stalactites, stalagmites, columns, ponds and cave pearls in them.
♦ The Devil's Throat cave has one of the highest underground waterfalls in Europe, 42 m high.
♦ Chairski lakes - declared protected area due to the presence of some rare plants, growing within the peat.
Day 1. Sofia
Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer to hotel
Day 2. Trigrad village - Yagodina cave -Trigrad
Early transfer to Trigrad (3.5 hours drive). Walk towards Yagodina Cave, following the upper edges of Trigrad Gorge through old coniferous woods. The cave is among the longest ones in Bulgaria (with more than 10 000m mapped so far), considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe with its outstanding stalactites, stalagmites, columns, ponds and cave pearls in them. Be prepared for temperatures of 6oC inside the cave during the cave tour. Transfer back to Trigrad- Overnight guest house. B/-/D
Walking time: 3.5 hrs; uphill walk: 250 m (820 ft); downhill walk: 650 m (2,132 ft)
Day 3. Trigrad - Vodni Pat village
Today we visit a village that has been closed for people until very recently due to its proximity to the Greek border. This walk combines forest tracks with an excellent river trail back to Trigrad. Climb through a well-shaded forest passing potato fields and crops. After admiring the views we descend to the quiet ambient village of Vodni Pad. The final stretch follows a delightful babbling stream, leading to the upper end of Trigrad Gorge. In the afternoon we visit the Devil’s Throat Cave housing a spectacular underground experience – the highest underground waterfall in Europe, some 42 m high. B/-/D
Walking time: 5 hrs; uphill walk: 400 m (1,312 ft); downhill walk: 450 m (1,476 ft)
Day 4. Trigrad - Chairski Lakes
The walk to Chairski Lakes starts with a charming gentle ascent from the village to a forest trail leading into alpine meadows, full of flowers including orchids during the summer. The trail winds its way to the three Chairski Lakes dropping down into the Trigrad Gorge before tracing the Livadnitsa River and the 250m high cliffs to the Devil’s Throat Caves and onward to Trigrad. B/-/D
Walking time: 6 hrs; uphill walk: 900 m; downhill walk: 700 m
Day 5. Trigrad - Sofia
Transfer to Sofia airport for departure.
Good to know: The tour provides the opportunity more days to be added to the program if purchased in advance. These could be spent on self-guided walking in the area, more guided walks (to the famous Smolyan or Devin eco-paths), guided sightseeing tours to famous places nearby Shiroka Lyka (architectural reserve), Bachkovo Monastery, Plovdiv etc., cycling, caving, swimming in the mineral pools of Devin etc.
How to get there: For low-cost flights to Bulgaria please check: Wizz Air - http://wizzair.com/; Easy Jet - http://www.easyjet.com/; Norwegian Air Shuttle - http://www.norwegian.no/
We recommend the trip in the period: May - September