Somalyan, a secret and remote corner of Bulgaria boasting an amazing and unspoilt natural and cultural heritage with stunning mountain landscapes, deep gorges, spectacular caves, ancient forests and flowering meadows. Lovers of nature will be amazed at the exceptional flora rich in orchids and endemic species; outstanding fauna, including brown bear, wolf, Balkan chamois. Plus rare and elusive birds and an exceptional variety of butterflies. We’ll be walking through picturesque mountain villages taking in the cultural lifestyle and enjoying unique local cuisine such as banista, sujuk and gyuvech. Of course at the end of the day some rakia to chill out.
Day 1 Arrival The tour starts in Sofia, Bulgaria`s capital city, situated right at the centre of the Balkan peninsula. The ancient roman city of Serdika now lies under the level of the modern city and in places visitors can enjoy ruins well-incorporated into the plan. The city is full of sights, churches, museums and lots of bars and restaurants. Here we will enjoy a welcome dinner and get to know fellow walkers.
Day 2 Transfer to Plovdiv – Bulgaria`s second city and European Capital of Culture for 2019. With its history going back for more than 6000 years Plovdiv claims to be one of the oldest cities in Europe. Over the centuries various civilizations like Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and Bulgarians have left their mark not only on its architecture, but also on its vibrant artistic and cultural life. Plovdiv's old town, with its winding cobbled streets and elegant revival-era townhouses, is perfect for a leisurely stroll which can be well ended up with a cup of delicious coffee on the longest pedestrian street in Europe. Here we will meet our guide Nel for a short guided tour followed by lunch and then afternoon transfer to Smolyan with a visit to Bulgaria`s second oldest and second biggest monastery visited en route.
Day 3 Walking through the Birthplace of Orpheus 12-15 km.
Starting in Solishta, today`s varied walk takes us through picturesque mountain villages and hamlets, lush meadows and pastures with ancient forests, which were once roamed by legendary Orpheus. We`ll end up the walking in the village of Shiroka luka, renowned for its vernacular architecture. There is a nice bar in the village for a few drinks with the locals prior to return to the hotel
Day 4 The Dramatic Karst Region;Explore the Subterranean World of the Rodopi Mountains. 14 km
Morning transfer to the Yagodina cave, one of the most beautiful caves in the Balkans boasting an amazing variety of natural formations as well as a habitation of prehistoric people. After visiting the cave we will have a short transfer up to the village of Yagodina, famous for its cuisine and hospitality. Our next goal is the peak of St. Ilia (1570m) where we will be rewarded with stunning views of the seemingly endless folds of the Rodopi Range. A challenging platform with the fitting name Eagle`s eye, sticking out of the edge and over the spectacular drop of the Buinovo gorge, will await us just under the top. Having descended into the neighbouring Trigrad gorge we will be picked up by our bus and driven into the depths of the gorge where will enjoy a visit to one of the most mysterious places on Earth – the Devil`s Throat cave, an enormous chasm with a thundering waterfall. According to legend, this was the cave by which Orpheus went down into the Underworld to reclaim his wife Eurydice.
The crags around the cave entrance are home to a number of local endemic plants including the Orpheus flower as well as to rare birds like the Wall creeper, an elusive bird that flutters around the rocks like a butterfly on strikingly crimson wings.
Day 5 Hiking the Canyon of Waterfalls 12-15 km
Following an eco trail with 46 waterfalls to be seen and enjoyed en route, the highest of which – 68m is named Orpheus. The area has specially constructed walkways, bridges, picnic spots, benches and viewpoints and must be seen to be believed.
Day 6 Panoramic Traverse of the Highest Mountain in the Rodopi 15-20 km
A beautiful ridge walk which will take us to the top of the second highest mountain in the vast Rodopi Range – the Orpheus peak of course (2188m). Stunning views over mountains and villages will be our best reward. The region is home to brown bear as well as an interesting mix of raptors and alpine birds. Finishing at the village of Gela.
Day 7 Return to Sofia and time for sightseeing. A Farewell Dinner.
Day 8 Departure
Included in the Tour:
7 Day tour including 4 guided walks in the heart of the remote Rodopi Mountains with Nel, a local experienced Guide plus a city tour in Sofia
· 2 Nights Bed & Breakfast in the Historical City of Sofia
· 5 Nights Bed & Breakfast in the remote Somalyan
· Entrance to the Throat Cave
Airport Transfer with most flights
· I’ll be personally escorting you throughout the tour
· Travel insurance (required)
· Lunches & Dinners
· Drinks and snacks
Flights. Flights are not announced yet but various routes via Economy Airlines and British Airways at great prices under £100..
Extras: Single room supplement . £160 per person per week
Experience & Fitness
This tour is graded moderate to strenuous overall. Please recognise that although the distance is not too far the ascent and descent in the mountains will be challenging and the routes are rugged.
Weather Well nothing is ever certain but we are looking around 20 degrees on average plus, but one day could be very hot and the next rainy..so we will all need to be prepared.
Booking Forms and Travel Insurance are essential when you book..
Suggested Kit List To be provided nearer the departure date
Deposit: Non refundable deposit of £100 secures your space
Interested contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact button for more information
Thanks Di Always here and Happy to Help