The Eastern part of the Rhodope Mountains is a bit like the cradle of our modern European world. In the 4th century, this province went by the name of Europe. Relics from antiquity and distant prehistoric times, coupled with the unspoilt wilderness and abundant fauna have earned it a place in the club of Europe’s most prestigious protected areas. A warm welcome awaits you at the Wild Farm, a hotspot for all bird watchers and the story of the family that manages the farm is just as captivating. This holiday is dedicated to discovering nature, endemic species and Thracian cultural heritage. So, what are you waiting for!
A warm welcome, unspoiled nature and plenty of activities in the Eastern Rhodopes.
Protecting natural areas is a real challenge for Europe, and has particular relevance in the Eastern Rhodopes. Farmers, craftmakers, bed and breakfast and small hotel owners, small- scale tourism businesses and the bird-watching centre at Madzharovo, all work together in perfect harmony. You will be welcomed at the WILD FARM, in Gorno Pole, by your hosts, Betty and Nicolas, where you will be invited to take part in various tasks around the farm to rear local breeds of horses, cows and goats. Don’t forget though, this precious habitat has a spe- cial relationship with Europe’s largest birds of prey, including 4 types of vulture, the Golden Eagle, the Black Stork and the wolf.
Hiking, river kayaking, lending a hand in bird-watching centre, biking, checking and maintain- ing footpaths in the Studen Kladenets nature reserve, all offer you plenty of opportunities to really get to know this remarkable and unusual territory!
- Family-run accommodations, traditional cuisine
- A rarely-visited mountain range, chosen as a pilot area by the Rewilding Europe Programme for its high-quality nature and environment.
- An area taking back its own identity by promoting its resources through organic farming and raising local livestock breeds.
- A wide range of participatory activities throughout the seasons.
- The heritage left by Thracian civilisations.
- A holiday for all-year-round.
Price per person: 970 € (valid for a group of 4-5 people)
Price per person: 830 € (valid for a group of 6-7 people)
Single room supplement: 100€
Duration: 7 days/6 nights
Best period: mid February – mid December
Type: guided participative travel tour
Lelel: easy to moderate
Guided: yes (English-speaking guide)
Accommodation: full-board in locally-certified guest houses (comfort hotel) and B&B
Transport: transfers by a private bus
Day by day itinerary
Day 1: SOFIA – ALEXANDROVO – GORNO POLE
Morning : The minibus makes a first stop on the road at Alexandrovo to see a Thracian tumulus, before heading on south and a second stop at the ancient Thracian stone circle of Goliam Glavanak.
Then, you’ll arrive at the village of Gorno Pole around 4pm to be met by your hosts, Blagovesta (Betty) and Nicolas. Time to settle in to the WILD FARM (or adjoining residence) for 4 nights, followed by a short walk around the village to get your bearings.
Day 2: HIKE AND TRAIL-MARKING ON THE ARDA RIVER
Morning : Hike to look at the local geology and biodiversity. Photo opportunities, followed by a selection of the best shots to create an image bank.
Afternoon : Making local specialities of cows’ cheese.
Evening : Learning local dances. Dinner at the farm with a chance to watch the sunset over Arda River gorge or go on a star-gazing night walk with headlamps.
Day 3: DOWN ON THE FARM
Activities at the farm, subject to season (haymaking, planting/harvesting potatoes and keeping the fields and crops tidy). You’ll also have the chance to help prepare homemade yoghurt.
Afternoon option: Visit to a Thracian heritage site with dozens of trapezoidal niches in the rock, or picnic on the banks of the Arda River followed by a descent in kayaks.
Day 4: MADZHAROVO BIRD-WATCHING CENTRE
You’ll spend your day at the Madzharovo bird-watching centre where you’ll spend your time in the hides and help out in various activities around the centre. You’ll have the chance to see some of the largest birds of prey and understand the intimate relationship between livestock rearing, farming and maintaining biodiversity.
Day 5: STUDEN KLADENETS NATURE RESERVE AND LAKE
Morning : You’ll set off on foot along the banks of the Arda River to the Studen Kladenets nature reserve and dam, which is home to several species of birds and mammals. After checking- in to the hunting lodge which has now been converted to eco-tourism you’ll take a boat ride in a dinghy to the dam, followed by an afternoon observing the procession of animals that come to drink there. There will be the chance to see a family of Aurochs and herds of deer and much more besides.
Barbecue/ or dinner around the fire in the great outdoors next to your lodge.
Day 6: PERPERIKON – PLOVDIV – RETURN TO SOFIA
Morning : Travel to the archaeological site of Perperikon, an important sanctuary in ancient times, complete with medieval town. Guided tour of the site and lunch with a family of Bulgarian Moslems who run a fish farm. Next, you’ll head for Sofia, stopping on the way to visit Plovdiv. The city is considered to be one of the oldest settlements in the world and brims with art and history as well as being European Capital of Culture in 2019. You’ll arrive in Sofia in the evening and stay in a city-centre hotel.
Dinner is not included.
Day 7: END OF HOLIDAY
Breakfast and free time to visit Bulgaria’s capital city.
The price includes:
- Accommodation in family-run guesthouse
- 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
- English-speaking guide
- Transfers and drives according to the itinerary
The price excludes:
- flight and taxes
- museum entrance fees
- personal expenses
Operator’s remark: This tour can be tailored according to your preferences and can also be organized as an individual tour for 2 people.