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"Many" and "varied" are the mountains in Bulgaria, but Teteven Balkan combines the best of them all. Here, you will ride in the picturesque valleys with sparkling rivers, ancient forests with hidden meadows, high ridges, and tops crowned with rocky peaks revealing spectacular views, as well as villages that are 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 and tasting homemade rakiya with homemade appetizers is an integral part of the experience. Join this holiday and experience Balkan's immersive nature diversities!
You will have three hotel overnights with breakfast (two in Sofia and one in Teteven) in rooms with private facilities and four overnights in guesthouses with breakfast also included (two rooms sharing one toilet or bathroom). You will be accommodate at Guest house Golyam Izvor, Lopyan - Guest house ''Starata furna'', village Cherni Vit - Hotel Black Vit, Teteven - hotel Olymp or Hotel Teteven.
This 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 1,100 meters above sea level. You will ride along dirt roads and trails of the terrain that is rugged and rocky in places with an option to trot and canter. You will spend between four and six 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. The saddling can be western or English. Helmets and saddlebags can also be provided upon request. During the ride, your luggage will be transported by car.
Most of the horses are crossbreeds between the local East Bulgarian and Karakachan with a mid-height of 150 centimeters. These horses are well-known as thoughtful, tough, and extremely well-adapted to the mountainous region of the Stara Planina Mountains. Please note that the maximum weight limit for the riders is 100 kilograms.
Most of Horse Riding Bulgaria's clients are intermediate riders who are confident with trot and canter. If you are used to walking / cycling during a long weekend, then you will be in condition to cope with a tour of this level. You should also be in a good health condition. Horse Riding Bulgaria has successive days of longer and more difficult walking as well as days of lighter walking / cycling and some parts of the day routes will be done at a higher altitude.
The paths are in good condition. You may walk / cycle for five to seven hours a day. The tour will include trekking which can be a little harder and normally on a challenging terrain. Horse Riding Bulgaria will take it for granted that you are in good condition and fit. Please note that you should be physically prepared at home to get the maximum of the tour. Most of the trekking will be done at a greater height (3,000 meters maximum).
You will be transferred to your hotel in Sofia for overnight (private transfer is included).
After breakfast, you will be driven to the village of Golyam Izvor in Teteven Balkan (about one and a half hours' drive) where you will meet the horses. Your first ride will be in the vicinity of Golyam Izvor.
The road will pass through meadows and mixed forest. You will ascend the heights above the village where you will see the first beautiful view of the central ridge of Stara Planina and the town of Teteven surrounded by rocky peaks. Then, you 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.
The route will start with a dirt road along one of the ridges in the region, passing through Brusen village. Then, you will head off southwest to the village of Lopyan where you will have a late lunch and stay for overnight. An optional tour to Etropole Monastery and the waterfall near it is available (30 minutes' drive).
The trail will again pass through mixed forests, but this time, uphill. You will then ride along the unwooded ridge and after that, you will descend to the village of Cherni Vit. In the afternoon, you will have a trip by car to Saeva Dupka cave which is known for its beautiful formations. Overnight will be at a guest house in Cherni Vit.
The ride on this day will start from Cherni Vit, leading you closer to the Boatin Reserve which is part of the Central Balkan National Park that protects the nature in the central part of Stara Planina. Your afternoon will be spent for sightseeing Teteven. You will overnight at a hotel in Teteven. Moreover, an optional trip by car to Troyan Monastery (80 kilometers) and Chiflik Spa is available.
In the morning, you will be transferred to Cherni Vit village where you have left the horses the previous day. On this last day of the ride, you will climb once more to one of the many ridges from where you will have a last look at the scenery you have admired in the past week. Later, you will be transferred back to Sofia for overnight at a hotel.
Today, you will depart from your hotel in Sofia to the airport for your flight home.
Bulgaria is a horse country. The Bulgarian state was founded already in the year 681 by the proto Bulgarians - nomads coming from Mongolia on horseback and having horse tail as their flag. Nowadays there are hundreds of wild horses in Central Balkan who live outdoors all year at 30 degrees Celcius in summer down to minus 20 degrees Celcius in the winter and search for food on their own. Bulgaria is the perfect horse riding destination. Like Mongolia, this is a country where fences and gates are a rare sight especially in the mountain regions where your rides take place. Here, most of the land, though private, is not cultivated, which leaves vast open areas - forests, pastures, etc.
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. The 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 18th and 19th 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 "Saint George" was founded in the 13th 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 12th century. It declined after the conquer by the Turks but at the end of the 16th 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.
Saeva Dupka cave is one of the most beautiful Bulgarian caves. It is 205 meters long and over one million years 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.
The water in the pools has different temperatures and soaking for an hour or two in the pools gives a wonderful and refreshing relaxation, especially after physical strain, such as horseback riding.
Apart from the overnight at a hotel in Sofia and Teteven, on all other nights, you will stay at guesthouses 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. You will be served seven breakfasts in the hotels and guesthouses, five lunches (from the third to seventh day), and four dinners (from the second to fifth day).
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