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Food

  • *Typical Meals* *Breakfast:* Will usually include tea or coffee, bread, jam, honey and cheese, supplemented in Yagodina by fresh home-made yoghurt and traditional local specialities such as thick pancakes known as 'katmi' and a rice-based dish called 'rodopski klin'. *Lunch:* Picnic lunches will be eaten in the mountains and typically comprise of bread, cheese, salami, salad, biscuits and fruit. *Dinner:  *will be taken in our hotel restaurant, and will normally include three/four courses comprising salad and/or vegetarian soup, followed by a main course, and a dessert of fruit, ice cream, or cake/pudding. The cuisine reflects a mixture of Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish and Slavonic influences. We sample many traditional local specialities including 'smilyanski fasul', a delicious bean soup, and 'patatnik', a local delicacy made with grated potatoes, onions, and cheese, then seasoned with mint and other herbs. Jugs of tap water will be provided on the table with the evening meal. Bottled mineral water, soft drinks and alcohol are not included but can be purchased. There are several local wines that you may wish to try, including an excellent red 'Mavrud' from vineyards on the northern slopes of the Rodopi. *Vegetarians and Vegans:* Bulgaria is famed for its fresh vegetables and fruit, so vegetarians are usually well catered for. However, it is extremely difficult for vegans, as dairy produce and eggs form the staple part of the diet in this region, and occur in the vast majority of meals.

Activities

  • Walking & Trekking
  • Centre-Based
  • Wildlife Walks
  • 1

    Start Sofia Airport; transfer to Yagodina.

    Start at Sofia airport (Terminal 2), where we will be met by the leader and transferred to the remote village of Yagodina, our base for the next 6 nights.   *Yagodina Family Hotel or similar*

  • 2

    Walk from Zmeitsa along route of ancient Roman road through meadows, forests and fields to the Buynovo Gorge.

    Setting off on foot from the village of Zmeitsa, we follow the line of an ancient Roman road through meadows, forests and fields where there are opportunities to observe the local people engaged in their traditional agricultural lifestyle. Finally, having descended a broad grassy ridge spur, that offers stunning views towards the village of Yagodina, we drop steeply into the Buynovo Gorge where our minibus will be waiting. *Yagodina Family Hotel or similar*

  • 3

    Walk along the Chairska Gorge; cross the Trigrad Plateau and visit the Devil's Throat Cave.

    We start today's extremely varied walk by first hiking down the gorge of the Chairska River, and then climbing through ancient forests to emerge at an extensive area of glorious flower-filled meadows. Having crossed these, and then an interesting section of karst plateau, we eventually drop down into the Trigrad Gorge to visit the 'Devil's Throat' cave, an enormous chasm with a thundering waterfall. According to legend, this was the cave by which Orpheus emerged from the Underworld after his tragically failed attempt to reclaim his wife Eurydice. The crags around the cave entrance are also very interesting for naturalists, being home to several local endemic plants as well as the wallcreeper, a rare and elusive bird that flutters around the rocks like a butterfly on strikingly crimson wings. *Yagodina Family Hotel or similar*

  • 4

    Walk around Mt Durdaga through a variety of habitats with rich flora and fauna.

    A full day's circular walk starting and finishing in Yagodina. Our route makes a tour of Mt. Durdaga, a high wooded peak that rises directly above the village. During the course of our walk, we pass through a large variety of habitats with an extremely rich flora and fauna. During the first half of the day, as well as wandering through ancient forests that are home to bear, boar and deer, we will also cross several flower covered pastures that are normally enlivened by a spectacular assortment of butterflies. Later in the afternoon, we return to Yagodina along the line of a former Roman road that runs high above the Trigrad Gorge, which not only offers outstanding views, but is also one of the most renowned botanic trails in the country. *Yagodina Family Hotel or similar*

  • 5

    Traversing the highest peaks of the Rodopi along the Perelik Ridge and Mt. Golyam Snezhnik.

    After breakfast we set off in our bus for a 90 minutes’ drive east into the highest part of the Rodopi Mountains. Having reached the end of the driveable road, we begin a wonderful hike along the main ridge of the Rodopi Mountains. First we skirt just below the military base on the summit of the Rodopi’s highest peak Mt. Golyam Perelik (2191m), before ascending Mt. Golyam Snezhnik (2188m), just two metres lower! Having enjoyed the expansive views from the rolling open pastures, we then start to drop down into the forest, eventually making our way down to the tiny, picturesquely situated village of Gela, which according to legend was the birthplace of Orpheus. Here we will be met by our bus for the drive back to Yagodina. But before leaving the Perelik massif, we can make a short stop in the nearby village of Shiroka Laka, an architectural reserve famed for its photogenic church, and stone and timber houses. *Yagodina Family Hotel or similar*

  • 6

    Sveti Ilia ridge walk with panoramic views over Yagodina and most of the Rodopi.

    The focus of today's walk is the imposing Sveti Iliya (Saint Elijah) ridge that rises up directly north of Yagodina. Our route starts directly from the hotel, climbing steadily upwards to reach the broad open ridge. Although rough and stony, the ridge boasts its own unique flora and fauna, as well the opportunity to observe a range of interesting raptors, with Golden, Booted and Short- toed eagles all having been recorded on previous departures, as well as Common, Long-legged and Honey buzzard, and an assortment of falcons such as peregrine, hobby and kestrel. However, the panoramic views would in themselves be reward enough for climbing the ridge, for they not only stretch out over the village of Yagodina itself, but much of the Western Rodopi, offering an ideal chance to point out and identify the places one has walked during previous days of this holiday. Having made a complete traverse of the ridge, from one end to the other, we then descend through beautiful meadows into the Trigrad Gorge where our bus will be waiting to drive us back to Yagodina. *Yagodina Family Hotel or similar*

  • 7

    Buinovov Gorge and Devinska Reka. Transfer to Sofia.

    Setting off on foot from the hotel, we pick up yet another section of former Roman road, now a beautiful forest trail that is famed for the great variety of orchids. Suddenly the path emerges at a shelter, perched high on a rocky viewpoint from which one can gaze down into the Buynovo Gorge below. From here, the trail steadily descends to meet the river and road beside a wonderfully preserved Roman bridge. On reaching the bottom of the gorge, we will then spend about an hour exploring the Yagodina Cave. This is one of the most beautiful in the country, and world renowned for its variety of cave formations including stalagmites, stalactites, draperies, flowstones, dendrites and cave pearls. The cave system also harbours a unique prehistoric dwelling and subject to permission from the archaeologists, we will hopefully have the chance to enter this and learn more about the surprisingly sophisticated way-of-life of the people who inhabited it more than 6000 years ago. Having finished our visit to the cave, we then set off on the long but highly picturesque transfer to the Bulgarian capital Sofia, where we will spend our final night. *Hill Hotel or similar*

  • 8

    End Sofia.

    Our tour ends after breakfast **

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