The best of the Rhodopes and Mount Rila

€610 per person

This walking tour, a combination of our classic unguided treks in the Rhodopes and the Rila, takes in the best of the two as regards routes, natural phenomena, and contact with local people. Beginning with the lower, rounded crests of the mountain of Orpheus, you will gradually move across to the arduous steep slopes and rocky outcrops of the Rila. You will have the opportunity of visiting natural and cultural sites such as the Yagodinska Peshtera Cave (considered one of Bulgaria’s most beautiful), the Trigradsko Zhdrelo Gorge with its 350m sheer walls, the Shiroka Laka architectural reserve, Bulgaria’s second-largest monastery at Bachkovo, the Old Town of Plovdiv (an architectural and historical reserve) and many others.

The tour includes all transfers, including those from and to Sofia Airport. Hiking treks are of medium and high difficulty. Paths are well marked, with clients receiving maps and detailed descriptions of the route in English.

  • Destination
  • Duration
    9 Days I Difficulty: 3/4 (of 5)
  • What is included
    Transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only) and all other transfers according to the itinerary; Family hotels/pensions; en-suite rooms; breakfast and supper.; Luggage transfers; Detailed route descriptions in English; Tourist maps of the Rhodopes and Rila; GPS tracks; Emergency hotline.
  • What is not included
    Cable car tickets; cave entry charges; extra food and drink; travel/medical insurance; personal expenses.
  • Best period
    June, July, August, September
Day 1: Sofia Airport - Lyaskovo (or from Plovdiv Airport for a small fee)
We meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to the village of Lyaskovo (2,45hrs drive): a fascinating place combining the beauty of the mountain and the warmth of Rhodope hospitality.
Day 2: Lyaskovo - Yagodina/Yagodina Cave/Eagle's Eye viewpoint - Trigrad (3-5,30-6,45hrs; 9,50-16-21km)
Today you can choose between two main treks (incl. options to extend them additionally): Shorter (9,50km; +565m/-355m): A 40min transfer takes you to the entry of the Yagodinska Peshtera Cave: one of Bulgaria’s longest caves, which you can opt to view. Once finished with the cave tour, proceed for Trigrad village through a colorful kaleidoscope of landscapes that immerse you in the idyll of rolling crests, forests, and valleys. Longer (16km (+1070m/-750m) or 21km (+1385m/-1065m): A 30min transfer takes you to the trailhead where a moderate but nice ascent through gardens and woods brings you up at the crest of the mountain. Enjoy the breath-taking views from the famous Eagles’ Eye observation platform. Then you descend down to Yagodina village, from where you can make a detour to visit Yagodinska Peshtera Cave or head straight for Trigrad village. *Those who chose the shorter option, can extend their hike with a visit to the Trigradsko Zhdrelo Gorge (with its 350m high vertical cliffs) and the Dyavolskoto Gyrlo (The Devil’s Throat) Cave (housing the highest underground waterfall on the Balkans, 42m high), both near Trigrad. Visiting these sights is a must, and can be done also in the afternoon of Day 3 or Day 4 by those, who opted for the longer treks on Day 2.
Day 3: Trigrad - Zhrebevo - Trigrad (18,3km, 5-6hrs, +700m/-700m)
Magnetic sights follow each other on a really enjoyable circular hiking tour around Trigrad, with the authentic village of Zhrebevo at its distant end. Legend has it, the village was named after a stallion which shielded it from trouble and strife. Along the route, you observe the entry to the Trigradsko Zhdrelo Gorge and enjoy the wonderful panorama to surrounding parts.
Day 4: Trigrad – Kesten/Vodni Pad – Trigrad (5,30hrs; 17km; +670m/-760m)
Today, starting with a 10min transfer to the trailhead, you enjoy a particularly pleasant walking trek to the bordering with Greece villages of Kesten and Vodni Pad (until recently within a closely guarded strip proscribed even for those living down the road; you will see remains of the barbed wire border fences, meant to prevent people from escaping to Greece in the years during the 45yrs long communist rule in Bulgaria after WWII). A circular trail takes you up panoramic crests, through pine and beech forests dotted with green meadows and smallholdings, sheltered valleys, and traditional stone houses. The valley of the Trigradska River takes you back to Trigrad.
Day 5: Trigrad - Shiroka Laka - Bachkovo Monastery - Plovdiv - Govedartsi
Time to leave the Rhodopes for the Rila. Today is intended to relax you, with many stops at heritage sights, beginning with a walk along the cobbled streets past the stone houses of Shiroka Laka. You then stop at the Bachkovo Monastery with its miracle-working icon of Virgin Mary, while the afternoon you spend in the Old Town of Plovdiv. You reach the village of Govedartsi in the early evening. It will be your base for the next four overnight stays in the Rila.
Day 6: Govedartsi - The Seven Rila Lakes - Govedartsi (18,7km, 5-6hrs, +1310m/-1310m)
A path winding through ancient thick spruce forests takes you beyond the upper edge of the forest to the magical Cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes. In the alpine zone at between 2100 and 2500m/6900 and 8200ft above sea level, this group of glacier lakes charms you with the magnificent views that open from the edge of the highest one.
Day 7: Govedartsi - Malyovitsa/The Scary Lake - Govedartsi (12-18,7km, 5-7,30hrs, +880-1600m/-880-1600m)
Following the Malyovishka River valley, you again rise above rocky peaks to reach the secretive Cirque sheltering the Strashno Ezero (The Scary) Lake. Fitter trekkers may opt to climb the Malyovitsa summit which offers incredible panoramas over surrounding crests and outcrops.
Day 8: Govedartsi - Mt. Musala - Govedartsi (14,20km, 5hrs, +690m/-690m)
Today, you will attempt to climb the Balkans’ highest summit of Musala (2925m/9596ft). A brief cable car climb and a three hour trek take you past a number of Cirques, glacier lakes and mountain shelters on your way up. The views from the Musala over surrounding summits and crests are definitely something that will stay with you forever.
Day 9: Transfer to Sofia Airport


610 Euro per person in twin/dbl room
Single room & Solo Traveler supplement
Single room supplement: 100 Euro
Solo traveler supplement: 270 Euro (incl. sgl. room supplement)
Daily departures between mid-June and mid-September. October is also possible with a change of the program of Day 8. Many people prefer to visit as a detour Rila Monastery (UNESCO) on their way to Sofia (scroll down for details).
Family hotels/pensions; en-suite rooms; breakfast and supper included.
Extension to Rila Monastery
90 € per person (in a group of 2 persons or more sharing a double room; single room supplement: 25 €) (included: pick-up from Borovets Resort on Day 9, transfer to Rila Monastery, a guided tour inside the monastery (in English), entry to the museum in the monastery, transfer to Sofia, overnight B&B in 3-star centrally located hotel on BB, transfer to Sofia Airport on Day 10; not included: lunch and supper on Day 9).

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