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Balkan Village Trek (8 days progressive ride in Teteven Balkan area)

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Departure Date: 18-04-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 09-05-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 30-05-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 20-06-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 11-07-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 25-07-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 08-08-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 22-08-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 05-09-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 12-09-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 26-09-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: 10-10-2020 Status: Guaranteed departure Price: 670 Duration: 8 days

Many and varied are the mountains in Bulgaria, but Teteven Balkan combines the best of them all - picturesque valleys with sparkling rivers and ancient forests with hidden meadows, high ridges and tops, crowned with rocky peaks revealing spectacular views, and villages scattered at the foothills, where life is lived with an old rhythm. This part of Stara Planina is loved by tourists both for the preserved nature and for the pleasure of touching the authentic life of the local people: tasting home-made rakiya with home-made appetisers is an integral part of the experience.

The tour is diverse and combines horseback riding with seeing cultural sights and immersing in the atmosphere of this beautiful Bulgarian area. The trek runs in the relatively low part of Stara Planina - between 400 and 1100 m asl. You will ride along dirt roads and trails. The terrain is rugged and rocky in places, with an option to trot and canter.
We spend  between 4 and 6 hours in the saddle every day, and the duration of each ride  in most of the days can be changed according to the abilities and will of the riders. Luggage is transported by car and the saddling is western or English.

Apart from the overnight at a hotel in Teteven, all other nights we will stay at guest houses where the food is cooked by the hosts or in small rural restaurants. Thus, the contact with local culture is closer and the impressions - more vivid and immediate.

Tour Highlights:
Stara Planina is the longest Bulgarian mountain, stretching from Bulgaria's western border all the way to the Black Sea, dividing the country into two. Its old name is “the Balkans” from where the name of the Balkan Peninsula originates. Great part of Bulgaria's history is related to it. Fighters against the Ottoman rule hid in its forests. The Bulgarian spirit revived in its towns in the XVIII and XIX centuries.
Central Balkan National Park covers the high central part of Stara Planina. On an area of 70 000 hectares ancient forests and many animals, including representatives of endangered species, find tranquility from the aggressive human impact. The best preserved beech forest on the Balkan Peninsula is in the Boatin Reserve. The average age of the trees is 130 years. The reserve is protected under the UNESCO “Man and Biosphere” Program.
The Glozhene Monastery „St. George“ was founded in XIII century. It is situated on an extremely scenic place, perched on high cliffs from where a spectacular view is revealed. Vasil Levski - the Apostle of Freedom - found refuge in it in Turkish times.
Etropole Monastery was founded in the XII century. It declined after the conquer by the Turks but at the end of XVI century it was restored and became one of the most important spiritual centers in the Bulgarian lands. The surrounding area of the monastery offers pleasant pastoral scenery and in immediate proximity to the monastery the Varovitets waterfall is located. (optional)
Saeva Dupka cave is one of the most beautiful Bulgarian caves. It is 205 meters long and over 1 million year old. Its five halls and numerous galleries are full of bizarre cave formations. It is illuminated and urbanized.
Troyan Monastery is the third largest monastery in Bulgaria. It was founded around the year 1600. The relic of the monastery is the miraculous icon of the Three-Handed Virgin Mary. The villages around Troyan are famous for their numerous pottery workshops. (optional)
Mineral springs in Chiflik and Shipkovo. The water in the pools is with different temperatures and an hour or two in them are a wonderful and refreshing relaxation, especially after physical strain, such as horseback riding. (optional)

Itinerary:

Day 1. Arrive in Sofia
Transfer to our hotel for overnight. Private transfer is included. -/-/-

Day 2. Golyam Izvor - Glozene Monastery-Golyam Izvor
The road passes through meadows and mixed forest. We will ascend the heights above the village where we will see the first beautiful view of the central ridge of Stara Planina and the town of Teteven surrounded by rocky peaks. Then, we will descend through an ancient beech forest at the end of which Glozhene Monastery is located, perched on a high rock, it reveals an even more spacious view of the Danube plain. We will see the monastery and find out about its 800 year old history. Then have a soup for lunch, made by the local staff. After, we take another route to come back to Goliam Izvor, where we will spend the night. B/L/D
Duration of the ride: 4 - 5 hours

Day 3. Around the village of Golyam Izvor
After breakfast we start a village trek around Goliam Izvor and the nearby rolling hills. We will see some pretty houses and how the locals live. Then we will move onto some open plane areas, perfect for gallops with a nice view over the valley. B/L/D
Duration of ride: 5 hours 

Day 4. Golyam Izvor – Brusen - Lopian
The route will take us on the other side of Goliam Izvor and along a small river, supplying the fields, perfect for long galops. Then we pass through the roma neighborhood of Belianovec, before ascending into a pine forest. There we are going to have a nice packed lunch amongst the nature. After the woodlands, we will trekk through an open field again and finish at the outskirts of Brusen, where we leave the horses and get a short drive to ‘Starata Furna’ or the Old oven, our super charming guest house. If not too tired, we can make a car trip to Etropole Monastery and the waterfall nearby (30 min drive). B/L/D
Duration of ride: 5-6 hours

Day 5. Lopian – Cherni Vit
The start of the trail passes through mixed forests. Then we get on top of unwooded ridge with beautiful 360 degrees view of the nearby mountains. We will continue along the ridge really soaking in the scenery in the beautiful trek. After we will finally descent to the village of Cherni Vit. In the afternoon we will have a trip by car to an approximately 4 million years old Saeva Dupka cave which is known for its beautiful formations. Overnight in a guest house in Cherni Vit. B/L/D
Duration of ride: 5 hours

Day 6. Cherni Vit – Teteven
The ride on this day starts from Cherni Vit leading us close to the the Boatin Reserve which is part of the Central Balkan National Park which protects the nature in the central part of Stara Planina. Overnight in Teteven.
Optional trip by car to Troyan Monastery (80 km) and Chiflik Spa.B/L/-
Duration of ride: 5 hours

Day 7. Teteven – Golyam Izvor. Back to Sofia
We start with a morning transfer to Cherni Vit village where we have left the horses the previous day. On that last day we have a little bit of forest, some hills, slopes and a beautiful ridge to go through. Then a last scenery of Goliam Izvor, lunch and a transfer back to Sofia for overnight at a hotel. B/L/-
Duration of ride: 4-5 hours

Day 8. Departure
Transfer to Sofia airport for departure. B/-/-

Good to know:►Horses: Most of the horses are crossbreeds between the local East-Bulgarian and Karakachan with a mid-height of 1,50 cm, they are well known as thoughtful and tough, and are thus extremely well-adapted to the mountainous region of the Stara planina Mountains. The maximum weight limit of the riders is 100 kg. ►Saddles: Western and English. Riding helmet is not mandatory. 



Price Includes:
- 3 hotel overnights with breakfast (two in Sofia and one in Teteven) rooms with private facilities; 4 in guest houses incl. breakfast (2 rooms sharing one toilet/bathroom)
- all meals acc. itinerary
- English speaking guide and local guide
- saddled horses
- luggage transport
- airport transfers
- entrance fees to sites if any

Not Included:
- flight tickets
- drinks and meals nort mentioned in the program
- tips
- personal expenses
- optional trip to Chiflik/Troyan Monastery (40 EUR for the whole vehicle)
- insurance

Extra Services:
- Single room supplement: EUR 100