The Western Balkans Karst Bike & Hike (Bulgaria)

Departure Date: from 01-05-2018 to 31-10-2018 Status: Price: 520 Duration: 8 days
Departure Date: from 01-05-2017 to 31-10-2017 Status: Open for booking Price: 520 Duration: 8 days
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Explore the hidden trails of the Western Balkan mountains on a bike and on foot

Unique combination of walking and mountain biking routes, revealing the best of the Western Balkan Mountains landscapes, Karst formations, caves, gorges, waterfalls, monasteries, historical landmarks, eco-trails, rare flora and fauna, and nature reserves. We explore on foot and on a bike saddle the hidden trails in the alpine meadows of the mountains, the old Beech forests, the sinister caves with amazing stalactites and not the least the local traditions, cuisine and habits. This is a truly unforgettable adventure, varied in many ways and especially created to show you the best of this amazing part of the Balkan Mountains.

Tour highlights: 
 
♦ Iskar gorge – going all through the Balkan mountains from south to north it is one of the most beautiful, deepest and longest (156km) river gorge in Bulgaria with numerous rock formations, waterfalls, scattered mountain villages and beautiful nature. 
♦ Skaklia waterfalls – Bovska (90m) and Vratsa (140m) Skaklia are one of the highest and most majestic waterfalls in Bulgaria
♦ Cherepish monastery – founded in 14th c. it is picturesquely situated near the banks of Iskar river in the stunning surroundings of the white Liutibrod rocks
♦ Ledenika cave – only 300m long but one of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria with 10 halls, numerous cave formation and icy stalactites in winter time.
♦ Belogradchik rocks –
natural sandstone phenomenon consisting of a group of many red rock figures up to 200 m high, resembling living creatures. Like in a fairy tale the medieval fortress Kaleto rises up at the top of the rocks.
 

Itinerary:

Day 1. Arrival
 
Meeting at Sofia airport. Transfer to our hotel for overnight.

Day 2. Bovska saklia waterfall - Lakatnik rocks - Cherepish monastery - Vratsa 
Exploration of the majestic cliffs of Iskar Gorge in the Balkan Mountains. Hiking on the famous Vazov eko trail passing under one of the highest waterfalls in Bulgaria – Bovska Skaklia. We get on the bikes and start cycling on a nice isolated asphalt road for  passing through Zimevitsa and Zanoge village continue on a panoramic gravel road descending to Lakatnik region. We finish at Zhitoliub karst spring and the nearby small restaurant where we can have lunch. After that we do a short hike tamong the splendid Lakatnik rocks.  Transfer to Vratsa for overnight with a  stop at the picturesque Cherepish Monastery enroute. (hiking: 5km, uphill/downhill: 300/130m; biking: 20km, uphill/downhill: 200/600)

Day 3. Vratsata rocks - Ledenika cave - Varshets spa town
Hike to Skaklia waterfall (the highest impermanent waterfall in Bulgaria -141m) and to the top of the rocks to a karst field with great panoramic views. We descend on a steep path in a nice beech forest to the Vratsata rock phenomenon. Short transfer brings us to Ledenika cave for a visit and lunch. Biking on nice panoramic gravel and asphalt road from Parshevitsa place to Vrashets town via Milanovo village. Overnight in Varshets spa resort.  (hiking: 5km, uphill/downhill: 300/350m; biking: 35km, uphill/downhill: 150/1000)

Day 4. Klisurski monastery - Kom mountain area - Berkovitsa
Transfer to Petrohan pass, visiting Klisurski Monastery on the way. From the pass we ride downhill towards the town of Berkovitsa on a nice dirt road up to an altitude of 1650 m with fine panoramas to the Western Balkan Mountains massifs. Overnight in Berkovitsa. (biking: 40km, uphill/downhill: 300/1200m)

Day 5. Kopren eco trail - Chiprovtsi
Transportation to Kopreh hut. En-route we visit the Lopushanski Monastery. Hiking on the beautiful Kopren eco-trail with numerous waterfalls, water cascades and interesting rock formations. Then we continue on bikes on a nice dirt road through picturesque meadows to the town of Chiprovtsi for overnight. (hiking: 5km, uphill/downhill: 400/350m; biking: 12km, uphill/downhill: 100/300)

Day 6. Chiprovski monastery - Belogradchik rocks - Magura cave 
Transfer to Belogradchik. On the way we visit Chiprovski Monastery. Highlight of the day are Belogradchik fortress and Belogradchik Rocks phenomena. We explore them on a bike. In the afternoon we visit Magurata Cave. Overnight in Belogradchik. (hiking: 3km, uphill/downhill: 60/70m; biking: 15km, uphill/downhill: 300/300)

Day 7. Chuprene reserve - Sofia
Hike in Chuprene Reserve puts the end of the active part of the tour. Transfer to Sofia. Free time for sightseeing and overnight. (hiking: 7km, uphill/downhill: 200/180m)

Day 8. Departure 
Transfer to Sofia airport for departure.

Included in the price: accomodation in family-run pensions and guesthouses with en-suite facilities on halfboard, except day 1 and 7 ► techical support► English-speaking guide►driver with a supporting vehicle► all ground transfers►luggage transport

Not included: Bike Rental ►travel insurance►tips►entrance fees►alchoholic drinks ► Private transfer: Sofia APT - Sofia center: 15 EUR (per vehicle); ► other personal expenses.►Helmet 5 EUR per person per week

Other expenses: single supplement: 75 euro;  rent of a pannier 10 euro/week;

Good to know:   
♦  Walking specifics: we walk on nice trekking paths or eco trails with moderate level of diffuculty and rocky terrain at some stages. Walking on the eco trails includes climbing up and down wooden stairs and footpaths.
♦ Biking terrain: we use mainly dirt and macadam roads and some asphalt roads. Routes are with moderatelevel of difficultiy with short uphills and mainly flat and downhill biking. Short but steep descends on rocky roads included. Most of the days offer an option for easier biking routes.
♦ Extension at the Black Sea coast - relax at the seaside - more information upon request

Low cost flights to Bulgaria: Wizz Air - http://wizzair.com/; Easy Jet - http://www.easyjet.com/; Germanwings - http://www.germanwings.com/; Penguin Travel – http://www.flybulgarien.dk/; Norwegian Air Shuttle - http://www.norwegian.no/; Airberlin - http://www.airberlin.com; Ryan Air - http://www.ryanair.com/

We recommend trip in the period:  May - October

Necessary equipment: We strongly recommend you wearing a helmet during the cycling. You can bring your own helmet or use one of ours. Biking gloves, light knee pads, breathable clothes, waterproof gear, cycling shoes/trainers. (for list with recommended items see “General” in the trip dossier)

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