Bulgaria - Balkan Rides

Experience Level
  • Open Apr, Jun-Oct
  • Set arrivals
  • 7 nights / 6 days of riding | 3 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 600kms 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 breathtaking high waterfalls.

During the rides you have the opportunity to visit monasteries and to ride through villages where head-scarved old ladies and their curious grandchildren still stare at the arrival of outsiders.

There are five different trails and please see the detailed itinerary for each trail. Private groups (of six or more) may request a tailor-made trail.

Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria (7 nights) sets off from the riding base and takes you to the north side of the Balkans, moving on each night and doing a loop in an anti-clockwise direction. 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. Riders should be intermediate plus and above to enjoy the 180kms riding over the week. There will be some long canters on wide open spaces. Accommodation is in hotels and guesthouses.

Kingdom of Thracians (7 nights) is a trail on the southern side of the Balkans and 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 145kms over the week. Pace is similar to the Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria Trail so riders should be intermediate plus and above. Accommodation is in hotels and guesthouses.

Medieval Bulgaria (7 nights) is a circular trail, which starts and finishes at the horse farm near Sevlievo, and takes you to the north side of the Balkans. This is a great introduction to the area and ideal for the hot summer months, or for guests not wanting so many hours in the saddle. This itinerary introduces you to Bulgaria and its many facetted history, with castles, towers, monasteries and fortresses from the Middle Ages, together with the old houses and traditional crafts. Riders should be intermediate and above. There are a total of around 110kms riding over the week. Subject to the wishes and capabilities of the group, there will be some long canters on wide open spaces. Accommodation is in hotels and guesthouses.

The Balkan National Park Trail (7 nights) is a circular trail, which has five nights in hotels/guesthouses and two nights in tents. Located in the central and higher regions of the Balkan Range, the Central Balkan National Park lies in the heart of Bulgaria and is one of the largest and most valuable protected areas in Europe. The terrain is varied and the weather is suitable for the hottest summer months. This trail is for intermediate plus riders who want a challenge that takes them into more remote areas. You will have around 139kms riding over the week. The camping nights are basic and participatory; tents are provided, but everyone is expected to help set up and dismantle camp and help with camp chores.

Old Bulgarian Capitals (8 nights) is a riding expedition for intermediate plus and above riders who want a challenge. Over the seven days you will ride around 240kms. The riding journey visits Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1396), continues to the capitals of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, Pliska and The Great Preslav (681-1018), and finishes at a famous monument of the 8th century ‘The Horseman of Madara’. There are four nights (at the beginning and end) in hotels and four nights in tents. As with the Balkan National Park Trail, the camping nights are basic and participatory; tents are provided, but everyone is expected to help set up and dismantle camp and help with camp chores.

 

You should be a confident rider capable of all paces and confident at a fast canter 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.

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.

The Medieval Bulgaria trail is less strenuous and with shorter canters due to the slower more hilly terrain and suitable for intermediate riders or those who prefer fewer hours in the saddle.

The horses are Shagya Arabs, pure Arabians and cross breeds of Shagya, Akhal Teke 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 and English style/Endurance 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 good quality hotels or guesthouses. Rooms are mostly twin with an en suite toilet and shower. There are swimming pools and opportunities for spa treatments at most of the guesthouses/hotels. Please note that during the autumn months of September and October the outdoor pools are likely to be closed.

On the Balkan National Park and Old Bulgarian Capitals trails there are some camping nights. These nights are basic camping without shower or loo facilities but you will camp near to a water supply. The camping nights are participatory, and everyone is expected to help set up and dismantle camp and help with camp chores.

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) may request a tailor-made trail.

There is no scheduled date for the Old Bulgarian Capitals. Please contact us if you are interested in this itinerary.

Holiday Experience LevelExp Lvl Arrive - DepartArr - Dep   Price Itinerary Availability
Kingdom of Thracians
24 Aug 2019 - 31 Aug 2019 7 nights 7 ngts £1,209.66 View (.pdf) Full
Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria
7 Sep 2019 - 14 Sep 2019 7 nights 7 ngts £1,172.44 View (.pdf) Book
Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria
21 Sep 2019 - 28 Sep 2019 7 nights 7 ngts £1,172.44 View (.pdf) Book
Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria
5 Oct 2019 - 12 Oct 2019 7 nights 7 ngts £1,172.44 View (.pdf) Book
Kingdom of Thracians
19 Oct 2019 - 26 Oct 2019 7 nights 7 ngts £1,209.66 View (.pdf) Book
Kingdom of Thracians
11 Apr 2020 - 18 Apr 2020 7 nights 7 ngts £1,321.32 View (.pdf) Book
Kingdom of Thracians
25 Apr 2020 - 2 May 2020 7 nights 7 ngts £1,321.32 View (.pdf) Book
Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria
9 May 2020 - 16 May 2020 7 nights 7 ngts £1,209.66 View (.pdf) Book
Kingdom of Thracians
23 May 2020 - 30 May 2020 7 nights 7 ngts £1,321.32 View (.pdf) Book
Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria
6 Jun 2020 - 13 Jun 2020 7 nights 7 ngts £1,209.66 View (.pdf) Book
Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria
20 Jun 2020 - 27 Jun 2020 7 nights 7 ngts £1,209.66 View (.pdf) Book
Medieval Bulgaria
4 Jul 2020 - 11 Jul 2020 7 nights 7 ngts £1,135.22 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 The Caves Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria and Kingdom of Thracians trails need a minimum of four guests to confirm to run. For two or three guests these trails will confirm with a small group supplement of £279.15 (2019) or £325.68 (2020) per person or revert to a Medieval Bulgaria trail until four people are confirmed. All other trails need a minimum of two guests to confirm to run.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT Is payable for a single room. If you are prepared to share this will be refunded if we find you a sharer.

Ride Single supplement 2019 Single Supplement 2020
Balkan National Park £130.27 £130.27
Caves, Waterfalls and Castles of Bulgaria £120.97 £139.58
Kingdom of Thracians £139.58 £148.88
Medieval Bulgaria £111.66 £111.66
Old Bulgarian Capitals £93.05 £130.27

 

PAYABLE LOCALLY Bar bills; spirits; tips; spa treatments.

NEAREST AIRPORT Sofia.

TRANSFERS Included from Sofia at set times.

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

Excellent riding country - not one gate in the whole week. Plenty of lovely fast canters on sensible but willing horses. Not possible I think. Loved every minute.

Carole, Cumbria

4.5 star rating Overall rating: 4/5

Ride Report

Lucy Downes
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.

Balkan Rides Riding Specialist

Lucy says

Such a joy to ride lovely forward going horses through this wide open countryside without any fences or gates.

My Top Tip

Do a little homework so that you can appreciate the history of the country and the peoples who have passed through over the centuries.

Email: lucy@inthesaddle.com

Lucy Downes
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