Horseback riding on the top of the 700 km long Balkan Mountain range with a fantastic view is quite a unique experience! This trail takes you to 3 reserves in the central Balkan National Park. It combines partly riding days from our trails to Mt. Botev, Balkan Trail and to the Singing Rocks Reserve and at the same time on new and different paths. It is a mountain ride with focus on high mountain horseback riding with exiting ascents and descents, wide open meadows and magnificent views. If you’re looking for the ultimate horseback riding experience at high mountain altitude combined with a fantastic panorama view this PANORAMA TRAIL is certainly a good choice for you! You’ll experience the heart of the enormous Central Balkan National Park (85 km long and 10 km wide) – one of the biggest national parks in Europe with a diversity so unique that more reserves are under the protection of UNESCO.
The Balkan Mountains divides Bulgaria into two and even today, there are traces of Roman roads that have paved the way for us on several stages. It is a very special experience to ride in these altitudes with prospects of not just the flat and fertile Maritsa plain, the Valley of Roses and well into the Valley of the Thracian Kings – but also to imagination-building rock outcrops, deep gorges, hidden caves and cascading waterfalls.
Panorama Trail combines the strong impressions of nature with unique places, where we stop for lunch and stay overnight. Each place has its particular history and they are carefully selected giving insight into Bulgaria’s fascinating history. And at the same time the culinary experience is naturally adapted to both the trail and area.
Day 1. Meeting with the rep from Riding base Balkan in the aipport `nd transfer to Apriltsi in the Balkan Mountains. Accommodation in a cosy and new Guest House in the centre of the village in double rooms with shower/toilet. Welcome dinner.
Day 2. In the morning we meet the horses and we start riding to the top off the beaten tracks and through canyons only ridden so far on our trail to Mount Botev. From the morning we ride in a fast pace giving you the optimal opportunity to read your horse and become friends for the week. Afterwards we head the top entering the Central Balkan National Park. The ride will take you to the ridge of the reserve “Severem Dzhendem” (The northern hell) with views to the land of the bears. The overnight is in the former mountain diary “Mandrata” (1450m) with great views to Maragidik(1889m) and Mt. Botev(2376m). The ride of the day is about 5 hours.
Day 3. From ”Mandrata” we follow the south-western tracks on the top and enter area where you can find the Balkan chamois. On one hand side you have the reserve ”Babskoto Praskalo” and the canyon ”Tazha” and on the other hand side you have great views to Mt. Botev. We ride downhill to the south with wonderful views to “The Valley оf Roses” and the Sredna Gora Mountains. We stay overnight in a guesthouse of a family with many ancestors in the area. The ride of the day is about 6 hours.
Day 4. After breakfast we ride to the east at the foothills of the Balkan Mountains in a terrain made for more long gallops. We have lunch in a beautiful private garden and the traditional summer meal is homemade by the lovely baba Miche. After lunch we start ascending the mountain passing one of the checkpoints of the national park until we reach a mountain complex for the overnight. Once the complex was an attractive resort, now it is most of all a surreal adventure to enter scenery from another era. The ride of the day is 7 hours.
Day 5. Today’s ride is one of the most challenging mountain rides to the reserve ”Singing Rocks” that we on this trail will see from another not less dramatic angle. The panorama is amazing and here you’ll definitely understand the quality of our mountain horses and your own riding skills will be tested as well. On the top we ride on broad grassy meadows with fantastic panoramas to the mountain chalet “Mazalat”. The ride of the day is about 6 hours.
Day 6. We continue on the top to the next mountain chalet ”Partizanska Pesen”. Here in 1000 m we have our lunch and a break. The descent to the north will lead us to a house in a garden in a miniature village; a picturesque pearl. We stay overnight here enjoying the remote area and wondering how people have lived here for hundreds of years far-far away from everything. A real back to history experience. The ride of the day is about 6 hours.
Day 7. On the last riding day we have a perfect view of Maragidik and ”The Sunlit Valley of Apriltsi”. In a pace…. we head for the base through old woods and villages. Well back at the base we say goodbye to the horses and the farewell dinner is waiting in the same Guest House we stayed overnight at the arrival. The ride of the day is about. 6 hours.
Day 8. Breakfast and free time until the transfer to the airport.
Accommodation: The trail is based on 7 nights. 2 nights in Apriltsi based on accommodation in Family Hotel, double occupancy with shower/toilet. 5 nights in the mountains: 1 night in mountain chalet 2-4 per room with shower/toilet; 1 night in family hotel in twin/double with facilities, 1 night in bungalow with 4-5 beds and toilet/shower, 1 night in mountain chalet with 4-5 beds per room and shared facilities, 1 night in private renovated 100 yrs old house in 2-3 bedded rooms with shared facilities.The trail is with full board during your stay and only beer, wine and alcoholics are paid on spot. The luggage is transported in a supporting vehicle and the riding guide is accompanying the party throughout the trail.
Departure dates for 2018 (limited group size): Please contact us for details!
Price: € 995 Euro per person
Single room supplement: 15 Euro per person per night (in hotels only)
The price includes: transfer from/to Sofia or Plovdiv airport, accommodation as mentioned above, 7 nights with full board, English-speaking riding guide, luggage transfers, fully equipped ”own horse”.
Horses: There are more than 25 horses in the riding base – all of them in good condition and trained to ride in the mountains; Most of the horses are of the East Bulgarian breed and crossings with Arabians and local horses; The East Bulgarian breed is well known as tough, thoughtful and wise, and in harmony with the famous strength and power of the Arabian it gives a combination that fully satisfies the riders and the challenges in the nature; The average size is 160-165 cm. The saddles are Western (Australian or American). There are small saddlebags.
Also on this trail, we use our smaller horses that have already proven their abilities in the extreme terrains. They are in top condition. The tack is western – the only right tack in this terrain. You must be an experienced rider, fit and safe in the saddle. You are used to and familiar with nature riding. On this trail the weight limit is 90 Kg and you must be in an up-to-date riding shape. Besides you may not have acrophobia. The pace is mostly slow in the rugged terrain, which requires a calm and relaxed soul. But of course there is room for trots, slow and fast gallop too. This trail is for the experienced rider who is ready for new unique top experiences.
Weather conditions: We have chosen the ultimate dates for this ride, but the weather in this area is known as though and unpredictable. On the top on Mt. Botev is a staffed meteorological station – thanks to our local net-work we have the best possible access to their know-how. Normal temperatures on the top in the period are 2-8C in the morning and 12-18C during the day. On the southern slopes up to 30C during the day.
Saturday: Saturday is arrival/departure day. Accommodation before/after the ride is available upon request.
Transfer from/to Sofia: The riding base is situated about 180 km from Sofia or about 3 hours by car. We arrange one transfer for arrival and one transfer for departure. In the airport all guests are met by our transfer guide with a sign. We recommend arrival to Sofia Airport not later than 18:00 and a flight for departure after 12:00. The time of departure to the mountains from the airport and from the mountains to Sofia airport is arranged according the timetable for latest arriving guest – earliest departing guest. If a guest is having a stay in Sofia before/after the riding holiday the meeting/farewell point is still in the airport. Meeting time will be announced 8-10 days prior to arrival.
Individual transfer: Individual transfer or transfers at times not corresponding with the above are available at an additional fee of 150 EUR per car (up to 3 persons) one way. Individual transfer has to be confirmed in advance and the additional fee is to be paid in advance. In case of flight delays we need information as soon as possible during the Saturday. If the delayed arrival is later than 18:00 the extra charge is the same as for
the individual transfer.
Full board: First meal is dinner on day of arrival and last meal is breakfast on day of departure. Mineral water at all meals included. For vegetarians we kindly ask you to let us know if you are eating milk and eggs products and also fish. All kinds of diets (including vegan, diabetic, gluten, lactose etc.) to be confirmed separately.
Currency: We recommend that you exchange to leva (BGN) before arriving to Bulgaria. In Sofia airport you do have a last chance from an ATM. You do not need a lot of money as the stay is all inclusive (besides from soft drinks, beer, wine etc.) and of course if you visit one of the small cafes or shops in one of the villages. 100-150 BGN per person is a fair guess of how much you need for a week.
The weather in the mountains: We use these sites: www.yr.no (search: Apriltsi, Lovech (Bulgaria)) and www.wunderground.com – find Bulgaria and check Botev Vrah (this station is perfect for the trails as you pass very near to the top). Other stations you can use is: Lovech and Plovdiv – most probably the weather will be a mix of the information you find here. You must always bring warm clothes and rain gear to the mountains even if you have seen a weather forecast promising sun and 25C.
Riding gear: The horses are saddled and ready for the riders – you only bring your personal equipment: Riding helmet – recommended!!! Riding boots/jodhpurs/western boots (please make your own choice as long as you feel comfortable and they have a heel), riding pants and chaps (ordinary jeans are not recommended, preferable is cowboy riding jeans for the purpose), and gloves. (Spurs are not needed). Remember natural insect repellent for the horse and yourself.
Gear for the day: You’ll find saddlebags at the riding base. During the day you bring only what is needed for the day. A fleece, rain gear, sun block, wet wipes, camera and water bottle. Remember to have your passport and insurance with you all the time.
Towel: For the overnights in the mountains you’ll need to bring your own towel.
You can choose to pack like this:
We recommend that you do not bring more than 15 Kg and that you use a duffel bag / sports bag. The reason is that on a trail your luggage will be loaded in and out of the cars many times and it is important that you don’t bring more than you need. Put your clothes in plastic bags – it is practical when you stay overnight a new place every day. Also remember a torch, towel, wetwipes.
> Comfortable riding trousers or cowboy jeans + chaps (ordinary jeans will rub all the wrong places).
> T- Shirts / shirts.
> 1 fleece / thermal top.
> Socks + underwear.
> 1 wind-& water proof (riding)-jacket.
> Rain gear – jacket and pants/poncho.
> Riding boots – Riding helmet – Riding gloves.
> Spare shoes / sandals, 1 pair of trousers, t-shirt /shirt/sweater. Night clothing / Socks / Underwear.
> Indoor shoes.
> Water bottle. Cap & sunglasses (for riding!).
> Pocket knife / Torch / Binoculars/ Book / Pen & paper,
> Camera with accessories
> Toiletries inclusive tissues / Wet wipes & bathing shoes.
> Towel (for the trail!).
> Personal first aid kit: Please remember your own doctor is the right person to give you an advice!
> Plasters, Band-aids, Insect repellent, After bite cream, Sun cream, Lip balm, > Painkillers (headache or other mild aches and pains), Antiseptic cream / pads, Calamine lotion. Medication for an upset stomach, Re hydration salts (to recover from upset stomach), throat lozenges a.o.
> Passport, money, insurance, travel documents.
From May to mid June & mid August to October:
> A scarf and warm clothes (also for the night).
> From mid June to mid August:
> Swim wear, shorts, sun shirts.
Mobile phones & electricity: You’ll have mobile coverage in Apriltsi and on the trails almost all the time. You’ll find free wi-fi only at the first and last night in Apriltsi – limited access. If you need data access please secure it for your devices before arrival. Electricity is 220 Volts. An adapter or a transformer may be required. It is normal that you find only one power outlet in each room.