SOFIA ARRIVAL (D)
Upon landing at Sofia Airport, you are welcomed and transferred for check-in to the hotel in downtown Sofia. There is free time and a guided walking tour around the city centre. The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, is among the three oldest cities in Europe along with Rome and Athens. The city, whose slogan is “Growing but not ageing”, has a unique history of more than seven millennia, with the first settlers settling around the warm mineral springs that are now in the central city area.
SOFIA – RILA MONASTERY – KOVACHEVITSA (B, D)
The first stop in the morning is Rila Monastery – one of the most memorable sites in Bulgaria. Founded in the 10th century by the monk hermit John during the reign of the prominent Bulgarian King Boris I, Rila Monastery has always been a source of revival, faith and hope for Bulgarian souls and minds. It turned into the stronghold of Bulgarian nationality and culture during Byzantine Period. Travel further to the village of Kovachevitsa – a historical and architectural reserve, where the cycling trail starts the next day. The picturesque village with houses almost entirely made of stone, is located along the Kanina river, surrounded by the “Dabrash” high hills in the south western part of the Rhodope Mountain.
KOVACHEVITSA – SARNITSA (B, L, D)
The day starts with safety instructions about the rules of cycling in the mountain. The day-track covers a distance of about 39km through “Beslet”, which is one of the oldest and largest forest reserves in Dabrash, “Suhiya Chark”, Rancha Peak, and ends in the town of Sarnitsa.
Distance: 39km; Duration: 6-7hours; Terrain: Asphalt & dirt roads; Ascent: 750m, Descent: 550m
SARNITSA – DOSPAT DAM (B, L, D)
This stage unveils the splendour of Dospat Dam – the cycling starts from the west coast of the dam and finishes at the east coast, where you spend the night at a camping place. Dospat is a dam on the river Dospat in the Western Rhodopes. Located at 1200 m above sea level, it is among the largest in extent and volume in Bulgaria with an area of 18.3 km2. At Dospat Dam one can fish carp, trout, chub, perch, rudd and bream.
Distance: 14km; Duration: 2-3hours; Terrain: Asphalt & dirt roads; Ascent: 80m, Descent: 110m
DOSPAT DAM – BUINOVO (B, L, D)
The stage from Dospat dam to Buinovo village has alternating descents and climbs. On its way, you will pass by the village of Barutin – a centuries old settlement situated in the western part of Rhodope Mountains and just two kilometres from the border with Greece, and the village of Chavdar, known for the border cross point “Chavdar”, also called “The Sieve”.
Distance: 32km; Duration: 5-6hours; Terrain: Asphalt & dirt roads; Ascent: 800m, Descent: 680m
BUINOVO – TRIGRAD (B, L, D)
The morning stage includes cycling from Buinovo to Yagodina village, which, after lunch, will be the
parting point for the SUV ride to the highest peak in the area, St. Iliya. In the afternoon, cycle through the rocky shores of the amazing gorge towards the village of Trigrad where many archaeological sites and over 150 caves tell the eternal legends of Thracian heroes and deities.
Distance: 24km; Duration: 5hours; Terrain: dirt roads; Ascent: 500m, Descent: 710m
TRIGRAD: YOGADINA CAVE & DEVIL'S THROAT CAVE (B, L, D)
A day which spent mostly at leisure enjoying the views surrounding the village of Trigrad with stopovers at the most famous caves in the region: Yagodina – the third longest in Bulgaria and the longest in the Rhodopes, and the Devil’s throat – telling the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. A short cycling trail to Kesten village and back to Trigrad can be staged in afternoon hour.
Distance: 8,5km; Duration: 2hours; Terrain: dirt roads; Ascent: 230m, Descent: 90m
TRIGRAD – GELA – SHIROKA LAKA (B, L, D)
The day starts with a bus transfer to the village of Gela, where you start your cycling tour. With more than 3300 years of history, and founded by Thracians, just like most settlements in the Rhodopes, Gela is situated in the central Rhodopes at about 1500m. Called “Valley of bells and songs”, the village is true to the Rhodope tradition to enchant every guest with delicious dishes, traditional folk music, magical blissful atmosphere, and fabulous scenery. After this stunning visit, the route continues through the villages Stikal and Solishta and ends at Shiroka Laka – the village where Bulgarian folk traditions and customs come alive. Enjoy here your dinner with a live bagpipe performance.
Distance: 19km; Duration: 3-4hours; Terrain: dirt roads; Ascent: 230m, Descent: 620m
Overnight: Shiroka Laka
SHIROKA LAKA – PLOVDIV (B, L, D)
The last day of cycling starts with a morning transfer from Shiroka Laka to Mechi Chal Peak, where the “Wonder Bridges” natural site will set the pace for the trail. The cycling on that stage is mostly descent, so it shall be an enjoyable last ride. After a short break, the ride continues back to “Rock bridges” hut, then to “Kabata” hut and in the direction to the end point – Orehovo village. You will then be transferred to Plovdiv, with two impressive sites on the way – Asenova Fortress and Bachkovo Monasteries.
Distance: 43km; Duration: 7-8hours; Terrain: dirt roads; Ascent: 600m, Descent: 1480m
PLOVDIV: CITYTOUR (B, D)
A day for exploring Plovdiv and its gems: While the ancient Greek writers ascribe the fame of being its first founder to the mythical Thracian king Eumolp, the son of Hemus and Europe, its charming “old town” and sites dating from the Roman period make Plovdiv a very famous destination for local and foreign tourists alike. Even in present days, a lot of concerts and performances are organized at the Roman Theater. Plovdiv has been elected a European Capital of Culture 2019!
PLOVDIV – SOFIA DEPARTURE (B)
The end of that emotional and full of unforgettable sceneries has come. Early breakfast and depart to Sofia airport.