Western Rhodopes AdventureAccross the "endless" mountain
Date: on request
Location: Rhodopes and Vitosha Mountains
Distance: 300 km, ↑ 8150 m, ↓ 12500 m
Physical fitness: ★★★☆☆
Riding skills: ★★★☆☆
Duration: 9 days
Services: 7 guided biking days, 8 HB nights in hotels (★★★ and ★★★★ wellness) and guest houses (★★★), airport to airport shuttle and luggage transport
Price: from 885 EUR, SR supplement 175 EUR
The Rhodopes – a magical mountain range that has been settled for centuries by the mystical Thracian tribes, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. Small villages of stone houses are spread into an endless labyrinth of ridges and deep river canyons. Hardworking and hospitable people live in close touch with nature, preserving the local traditions and folklore. On our tour we will cross the highest mountain ridges with fabulous views. The trails will lead us through centuries-old forests, lush meadows, rivers, abandoned villages, marvelous rock formations and ancient sanctuaries. During our tour we will relax in spa hotels or will enjoy the hospitality and local delicacies in traditional guest houses. And last but not least you will learn a new bike term “Rhodopes` flat”.
Day 1. Arrival at the Rila Mountain
Airport pick-up and transfer (2:30 h) to the Belmeken area in the most Eastern part of the Rila Mountains. Check in at the hotel which is at 1970 m elevation. Bike setup and check. Time permitting, we fit in a small round tour around the dam of Belmeken. Tour discussion and dinner.
Day 2. To the spa capital of Bulgaria – Velingrad
45 km, ↑ 650 m, ↓ 1800 m
We make our smooth and long descent to the SPA capital of the country – the town of Velingrad (750 m). It is famous with its 80 mineral hot springs. We ride through open meadows with views to the highest mountains in the country – Rila and Pirin Mountains. We visit a unique market where local pomaks (a minority in Bulgaria, known officially as Bulgarian Muslims) sell their home-made goods. We finish our ride in the town with long and flowy trail. In case we’re not powered out, or we are simply not in the mood for the spa in our hotel, we could do another quick lap above the town.
Day 3 .Alabak Ridge trails and the narrow-gauge train
50 km, ↑ 1400 m, ↓ 1400 m
Today we are exploring the surrounds of Velingrad and ride some nice forest trails on Alabak ridge, maintained by a local group of bikers. We start with some short trails in the hills above the town. Then we climb to the panoramic peak of Milevi skali (1540 m). We follow a nice single-track to reach a station of the last, still running narrow-gauged train in Bulgaria. At the end of the day, depending on the group’s condition, we may decide to climb one more ridge and pedal to the hotel or instead use our shuttle. In case we are on time, we get the train to reach town. There will be a chance to relax in the spa for one more night.
Day 4. Batashki Snezhnik peak (2082 m) and Vacha dam
46 km, ↑ 1250 m, ↓ 2200 m
Having a short morning transfer, we reach the high plateau of Batak Mountain (1600 m). We leave the shuttle and start our climb to Batashki snezhnik peak (2082 m), which has one of the best panoramic views in the Rhodopes. From there we smoothly descend on trails and forest roads to the village of Fotinovo. At the Shenkaya rock formation, we may enjoy unforgettable views over the deep valley of the Vacha River and the high ridges beyond. After the village we descend to the famous Fotinovo waterfalls and then to the valley of the Vacha dam (530 m). Located at the side of the dam, we arrive at our hotel crossing the dam by boat. The hotel offers wonderful view across the valley, conveniently enjoyable from the swimming pool.
Day 5. Kosovo village
42 km, ↑ 1500 m, ↓ 1350 m
Today we climb on Chernatitsa, one of the main high ridges in the Western Rhodopes. From the bottom of the valley we ascend a while following forest roads to the Mitnitsata locality (1640). On the way we have a short break in Osikovo village (1320 m). Along the ridge we ride on forest roads and trails in “Rhodopes` flat” style – a series of short ups and downs. We finish the day with a teaser to the trails of the picturesque village of Kosovo (850 m), where we find our cosy, traditional, guest house.
Day 6. “Marvelous bridges” and Shiroka laka village
45 km, ↑ 1550 m, ↓ 1450 m
After a short transfer to Orehovo village (950 m), our adventures continue further south, to the hut of Kabata (1650 m). Forest roads and trails bring us to a rock formation called “The Marvelous Bridges”, where we’ll have lunch. In the afternoon we climb to 1900 m height to follow an old roman road, with a fantastic panorama over the “endless” Rhodopes Mountains. We rush on forest roads and playful trails to the village of Shiroka Laka – an architectural and folklore reserve, known for its authentic houses, culture and history (1060 m). We will be accommodated in a traditional guest house, including a surprise at dinner.
Day 7. Pamporovo bike park and Plovdiv
30-40 km, ↑ 1000 m, ↓ 2000 m
From our guest house we start our ascent to the peak of Snezhanka (meaning Snow White – 1925 m) in the area of the skiing resort and bike park of Pamporovo. Elevator brings us to the top of the TV tower on the peak, where we enjoy an exceptional 360° panorama. On playful bike trails we ride down to Smolyan – the biggest town in the Western Rhodopes. We shuttle once again to the top and check out more trails in northern direction. In the afternoon we travel (2 h) to Plovdiv, where we stay for the night. The city was the European Capital of Culture in 2019 and it is one place to visit and discover.
Day 8. Sofia and Vitosha Mountain
35 km, ↑ 800 m, ↓ 1850 m
After breakfast we shuttle for 2 hours to the Aleko locality in the Vitosha Mountain. We climb a mere 500 vertical meters to reach the highest peak “Cherni vrah (2290 m), which rises over Sofia city. After a snack in the tea-house, our last day of trail pleasure holds another real treasure – a 17 km long single trail down to the capital city. After a city walk in the afternoon, our last evening of the week together allows us to share stories, emotions and memories from this week-long adventure.
Day 9. Departure
Transport to the airport and departure.
In this packing list you will find what you should definitely have.
We recommend for this tour a 120-140 mm full suspension Bike and tires with good puncture protection.
We expect from each participant a solid preparation and a good workout as well as mastering the basics of mountain biking (central position, braking, turning, small obstacles, etc.).