Bulgaria - Balkan Rides

  • Open Apr-Oct
  • Set arrivals
  • 7 nights / 6 days of riding | 2 to 7 hours riding per day | Nearest airport:Sofia
  • Weight limit: 14st 1lbs (90 kg) (197 pounds)
  • Usual maximum: 10

These riding itineraries have been designed to give plenty of opportunity to visit the historical sites and explore the diverse natural landscapes of Bulgaria including the lowlands plains, forested foothills and plateaux, river valley basins and mountains.

The Balkan Mountains run for over 600 km and divide Bulgaria into two distinct halves. Lush meadows lie below high cliffs and alternate with dense old forests. There are many interesting features – rock formations, caves, ancient trees and high waterfalls.

There are three different trails outlined below. Private groups of six or more can request a tailor-made trail.

Kingdom of Thracians (7 nights)

A trail on the southern side of the Balkans. You transfer from Sofia directly to the start of the ride (to where the horses will have been trucked from their stables). The ride moves on each night. The riding distance is around 145 km over the week. With three days riding in the valleys and three days in the mountains there are fewer opportunities for long fast canters than the Devetaki Plateau Ride but you should still be a confident rider. Accommodation is in hotels and guesthouses where there may be the possibility of enjoying a spa and mineral pools.

The Devetaki Plateau Ride (7 nights)

Set off from the riding base and head to the north side of the Balkans, moving on each night and doing a loop returning to base at the end of the week. This itinerary is designed to show you castles, towers, monasteries and fortresses from the Middle Ages together with the old houses and traditional crafts. On the trail you visit Krushuna’s waterfalls on the Devetaki plateau, one of the most attractive landmarks of Bulgaria. You should be a strong, confident rider and fit to enjoy the 180 km riding over the week. There will be some long canters on wide open spaces. Accommodation is in hotels and guesthouses.

The Balkan National Park Trail (7 nights)

A circular trail, which has six nights in hotels/guesthouses and one night in a mountain hut which has made up beds in shared rooms.  The terrain is varied. On the first and last day you ride in the foothills which allows for good canters. The rest of the time is deep inside the Central Balkan National Park where you can enjoy the shade of huge beech trees and the breath-taking sights of the mountains. The trail is scheduled for July and August – Bulgaria’s hottest months, but in the mountains you can escape the heat of the plains. The trail is suitable for confident intermediate to advanced riders as the terrain in the mountains does not permit very long canters.  You will have around 140 km riding over the week.

You should be a strong, confident rider capable of all paces and fit enough for long, fast canters over rough terrain. The land is great for riding because there are almost no fences or gates. Wide open spaces and gently undulating terrain provide the opportunity for long canters. (Please note that if there has been recent rain then the ground may be too slippy for long, fast canters).

The riding style is more Western than English. You will rise to the trot but for even fast canters you should maintain a sitting, upright, position in the saddle. The horses are sensitive in the mouth and on the nose (if you are riding bitless) and you should be careful to maintain a loose rein and not pull backwards.

If you aren't sure that you are fit or experienced enough or prefer fewer hours in the saddle, then you should choose the Balkan National Park Trail or The Kingdom of Thracians.

The horses are Shagya Arabs, pure Arabians and cross breeds of Shagya and East Bulgarian horses. All are well trained for trail riding and range in height from 15hh to 16hh.

The saddles used are good quality Western style saddles made by Ortho-Flex and Podium. Normally with a sheepskin cover, these saddles will keep you comfortable for many hours.

Some of the horses are ridden in bitless bridles.

Hard hats are mandatory.

During the rides you stay in hotels and guesthouses – the best available in this area of rural Bulgaria. Rooms are mostly twin with an en suite toilet and shower. There are swimming pools and opportunities for spa treatments at some of the guesthouses/hotels but during the autumn months of September and October the outdoor pools are likely to be closed.

Breakfast and dinner are provided at your accommodation and lunch is brought to you during the day by the support vehicle.

Because of its relatively warm climate there are excellent growing conditions for a variety of vegetables and salad is a significant part of every meal. Meat dishes are grilled, oven baked, steamed or in the form of stew. Pork and chicken are the most common meat and fish is also widely eaten, although not always available.

Accommodation Gallery

( GBP | EUR | USD )

Upcoming Dates

In addition to the following set dates, private groups of six or more can request a tailor-made trail.

Holiday Experience LevelExp Lvl Arrive - DepartArr - Dep   Price Itinerary Availability
The Devetaki Plateau 29 Jun 2024 - 6 Jul 2024 7 nights 7 ngts £1,443.27 View (.pdf) Book
The Wild Land of Bulgaria 13 Jul 2024 - 20 Jul 2024 7 nights 7 ngts £1,245.68 View (.pdf) Book
Balkan National Park 10 Aug 2024 - 17 Aug 2024 7 nights 7 ngts £1,280.04 View (.pdf) Book
The Devetaki Plateau 24 Aug 2024 - 31 Aug 2024 7 nights 7 ngts £1,443.27 View (.pdf) Full
The Devetaki Plateau 7 Sep 2024 - 14 Sep 2024 7 nights 7 ngts £1,443.27 View (.pdf) Book
Kingdom of Thracians 21 Sep 2024 - 28 Sep 2024 7 nights 7 ngts £1,529.18 View (.pdf) Book
Kingdom of Thracians 5 Oct 2024 - 12 Oct 2024 7 nights 7 ngts £1,529.18 View (.pdf) Book
The Devetaki Plateau 19 Oct 2024 - 26 Oct 2024 7 nights 7 ngts £1,443.27 View (.pdf) Book

Prices

INCLUDES Accommodation; riding; all meals; wine & beer with dinner; entry fees as per itinerary; return transfers from Sofia (at set times).

SMALL GROUP SUPPLEMENT All trails need a minimum of four guests to confirm at the price noted above. Until there are four people a ride will confirm on payment of a small group supplement as follows:

Ride Small Group Supplement (if two or three people)
Balkan National Park and The Wild Land of Bulgaria £300.68 per person
The Devetaki Plateau and Kingdom of Thracians £343.64 per person

 

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT Is payable if in a single room. If you are prepared to share and we find you a sharer the supplement will be refunded to you. Please note that single rooms are subject to availability.

Ride Single Supplement
Balkan National Park (single rooms not possible throughout) £171.82
The Devetaki Plateau and Kingdom of Thracians £171.82
The Wild Land of Bulgaria £128.86

 

PAYABLE LOCALLY Bar bills; spirits; tips; spa treatments; wine tasting if available c. €25.

NEAREST AIRPORT Sofia.

TRANSFERS Included from Sofia at set times. Private transfers at non-standard times cost €220 each way (per car for up to 3 people) - payable locally.


Getting There

Return transfers from Sofia are included at set times. Flights should arrive between 12:00 noon and 16:00. The transfer vehicle will depart once everyone has arrived, but no later than 16:00.

Your return flight should depart after 11:00. If you have an evening flight, you can be dropped off in Sofia city centre where there is a luggage storage area while you explore.

Hotel collections and drop offs are also available on the first and last day.

If your flight times do not fit with the standard times, then it is possible to have a private transfer at extra cost.

In The Saddle Gallery

Client Photos

Location

Bulgaria is in Southeast Europe in the northeast part of the Balkan Peninsula. It borders to the north with Romania, to the east with the Black Sea, to the south with Turkey and Greece, and to the west with Macedonia and Serbia. The Balkan mountains run for over 600 km and divide Bulgaria into two distinct halves.


Weather & Climate

Bulgaria enjoys a temperate climate with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters, often with heavy snow.

Spring (particularly April to mid-June) is an excellent time to visit. Summer (mid-June to early September) is good for riding but some people may find it too hot and the insects are at their worst in July and August. September and October are a lovely time to visit Bulgaria; the autumn trees are glorious and fruit and vegetables are plentiful.

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Guest Review

Bulgaria is a marvellously open country- no gates or fences. No permission needed to cross farmland. This and the generally level terrain allowed for lots of long fast canters (Devetaki Plateau Ride). The horses were excellent and our hosts take great care in looking after them and their welfare as they did for our comfort and well being.

Giselle, London

4.5 star rating Overall rating: 4/5

Ride Report

Lucy Downes
Having arrived the day before, at breakfast the whole group chatted over toast and jam, excited about meeting the horses we would be riding over the next week. As if she’d read our minds, our guide Maria arrived and transferred us the short distance to their stables.

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