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Bulgaria - Balkan Rides
Bulgaria - Balkan Rides
Bulgaria - Balkan Rides
 
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Bulgaria - Balkan Rides

For centuries the country has been the bridge between Europe and Asia sitting at a transport crossroad, affording access to Western Europe, the Near East, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Bulgaria is a country with a long, tumultuous and fascinating history. It has been invaded, conquered and settled by Greeks, Scythians, Romans, Byzantines and Turks, all of whom left their marks on the landscape.

Five hundred years of Turkish domination (ending in 1878) isolated the country from the rest of Europe. More recently, Bulgaria spent four decades behind the iron curtain when after the Second World War the country was declared a republic and the Bulgarian Communist Party came to power. All political parties except for one were forbidden, the economy and the banks were nationalized and the agricultural land was organized as collectives.

Democratic changes in Bulgaria started at the end of 1989 and in 2007 Bulgaria joined the EU.

Given this history, we can understand why the Bulgarians are so passionate about preserving their history and their culture, which has survived so often against the odds. The riding itineraries have been designed to give plenty of opportunity to visit historical sites.

For most foreign holidaymakers, the most well-known part of Bulgaria is the long, sandy Black Sea Coast or the ski resorts; but there is so much more to this country and much of it remains largely untouched and unvisited by overseas tourists.

The natural landscape of Bulgaria is diverse, consisting of lowlands, plains, foothills and plateaus, river valleys, basins, and mountains of varying elevations.

Our riding trails will allow you to discover Bulgaria’s lush mountainous and forested landscapes. The Balkan Mountains run for over 600 km and divide Bulgaria into two distinct halves. Lush meadows with all shades of green lie below high, inaccessible 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 filled with fabulous icons and watched over by bearded priests, and to ride through pretty timber-framed villages where head-scarved old ladies and their curious grandchildren still stare at the arrival of outsiders.

Our riding guides are Alexander Tonev and his daughter Maria. Alex has competed in show jumping and endurance. Maria has been riding since she was young and is responsible for training the young horses. Both are licensed riding instructors. Alex’s wife Rumiana (Rumi) is very knowledgeable about Bulgarian history and will enjoy taking you on some of the non-riding visits, which are part of the itinerary.

The land in Bulgaria is perfect for riding because there are almost no fences or gates. Wide open spaces and gently undulating terrain provide the opportunity for long canters and interesting riding.

There are five different trails and please see the detailed itinerary for each trail. Private groups (of four 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. There are swimming pools and opportunities for spa treatments at most of the hotels. 

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 c. 145kms over the 6 days. 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.  There are swimming pools and opportunities for spa treatments at most of the hotels. 

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 110kms riding over the 6 days. 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. Swimming pools and saunas are available at some of the hotels/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 c. 139kms riding over the 6 days. 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. Swimming pools and saunas are available at some of the hotels/guesthouses.

Old Bulgarian Capitals (8 nights) is a riding expedition for intermediate plus and above riders who want a challenge. Over the 7 days you will ride c. 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 Trails, 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. Swimming pools and saunas are available at some of the hotels/guesthouses.

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Riding Specialist  Chris Day

Chris 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.
Call: 01299 272 237 | email: chris@inthesaddle.com
 
 

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