|Type of tour:||Self-guided|
|Distance:||39 Miles/day average|
|Dates:||May 9; Jun 20; Jul 4, 25; Aug 8, Sep 12, 2015 (minimum 2 participants)|
|Start city:||Sofia/Plovdiv, Bulgaria|
|End city:||Sofia/Plovdiv, Bulgaria|
The Rodopi Mountains are situated in the oldest part of the Balkans and boast some of the loveliest coniferous woods in the country. The landscape is gentle and rounded, consisting of high ridges and deep river valleys with gorges intermingling with river basins and valleys. Here one can also find 70% of the world minerals, as well as some 600 caves. Flora and fauna contain species that have become extinct in other European countries.
In contrast with the tour of the Balkan Mountains, this tour will take you even higher, to around 6,561 feet (2,000 m). Most of the mileage is done on asphalt main roads, with relatively little traffic, that are well-suited for biking. Along them cyclists can see some old-style means of transportation: wooden carts pulled by horses, donkeys or cows.
You may also meet some nomadic gypsies, picking mushrooms and berries in the woods, as well as some local Muslim inhabitants growing tobacco and potatoes, or herds of sheep or goats coming down from the mountain at the end of the day.
Learn more about self-guided tours.
A cultural note for travelers regarding dress code in monasteries and churches: men are not allowed to enter in shorts and women should not expose their legs and shoulders.
Day 1: Arrive Sofia
Arrival at Sofia/Plovdiv airport and transfer to Sofia/Plovdiv city center for accommodation.
Overnight in Sofia/Plovdiv.
Day 2: Belmeken dam - Velingrad, spa town (47 miles/76 km)
The cycling starts few kilometers before the village of Sestrimo and up to Belmeken dam (6,500 feet/2,000 m) through old coniferous woods. In the afternoon the road passes the Iundola's mountain meadows before descending to the spa town of Velingrad, where you stay overnight in a hotel with hot mineral water swimming pool.
Overnight in Velingrad.
Day 3: Batak dam - Beglik dam - Dospat (44 miles/71 km)
You begin a short distance from Velingrad, passing through the picturesque landscape of Tsigov Chark countryside by Batak dam to the town of Dospat. On the way you go round the blue-green waters of Goliam Beglik and Shiroka poliana dams before reaching the town of Dospat and its dam, where you stay overnight in a hotel.
Overnight in Dospat.
Day 4: Yagodina Cave - Devil's Throat Cave - Trigrad (31 miles/50 km)
The biking starts from Dospat via Borino town to the Buinovsko Gorge, which is also a gate to the next stop, the Yagodina Cave. Here you enjoy a cave tour before going further to Trigrad village, passing among the 820 feet (250 m) high cliffs of the Trigrad Gorge. Here another impressive cave is awaiting you - The Devil's Throat Cave. It houses one of the highest underground waterfalls in Europe.
Overnight in Trigrad in a family hotel.
Day 5: Shiroka Laka - Smolyan Lakes - Smolyan (41 miles/66 km)
A pleasant descent along Trigradska River brings you to the village of Grohotno and the natural rock phenomenon "The Elephant". You then continue upstream Shirokolushka River to the village of Shiroka Luka. You stop here to savour the spirit of this architectural reserve, famous for its preserved houses dating back from the Bulgarian Revival Period. Passing by the beautiful Smolyan lakes, you finsh cycling in Smolyan.
Overnight in Smolyan.
Day 6: Rozhen - Borovo (24 miles/39 km)
Today you cycle from Smolyan to the historic place Rozhen. After a short rest you go uphill to a big picturesque meadow at 5,600 feet (1,700 m), which marks the beginning of a gentle downhill ride in direction to Laki town through “Momina voda” protected area. Nearby is the picturesque village of Borovo and the famous religious place with chapels and healing springs, Krastova Gora.
Overnight in Borovo.
Day 7: The Miraculous Bridges - Bachkovo Monastery - Plovdiv (49 miles/80 km)
The downhill ride continues along Jugovska River valley to the main road Smolyan-Plovdiv. Short transfer brings you to the Wonderfull Bridges rocky phenomenon for short sightseeing. The next stop is Bachkovo Monastery (the second largest in Bulgaria). Transfer to Plovdiv for overnight.
Overnight in Plovdiv.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast you will be transferred to Sofia or Plovdiv airport for departure. Transfer time is 20 minutes to Plovdiv Airport and 2 hours to Sofia Airport.
Please note that, while this tour is self-guided, there is a support driver with van to meet the participants several times each day and is available in case of emergencies.
You stay in family-run hotels with private bathroom facilities and in guesthouses with shared facilities.
Interested in visiting other areas before or after your tour? Visit our hotels page to learn more about lodging options.
Bikes available for rent on this tour (reserved in advance at the time of booking):
Hardtail mountain bike: Drag Canyon TE (sizes ranging 20-21.5 inches)
Hybrid women's bike: Cross Amber Lady (sizes ranging 17-20.5 inches)
Equipment available for rent:
The bikes are equipped with flat pedals. You may bring your own pedals if desired. If you bring your own spd pedals, you must also bring your own shoes.
Tour saddles are included, but you may bring your own seat. Please let us know if you intend to bring your own seat, so we can ensure the post will fit the bike.
Helmets are available for rent on this tour, but we recommend that you bring your own for safety and hygiene purposes.
The tour uses mainly isolated village asphalt roads with little traffic, road conditions are relatively good with some exceptions (bumpy sections, potholes, rough asphalt). You do not go off road.The traffic might be a little bit heavier at some sections, but only for a short while.
Tour Start and End
Nearest airport: Sofia or Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Nearest train station: Sofia or Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Group transfers to/from Sofia or Plovdiv airports and the tour start/end are included in the tour package. Private transfers are available for an additional cost (upon request, booked in advance).
Tips on getting to and from your tour
Weatherspark.com offers information on average weather conditions at most destinations throughout the globe. Type a destination in the search box, and select "Averages," and you'll find a range of information such as average high and low temperatures, precipitation, cloudy days, humidity and wind speed/direction.
Of course, if your tour is coming up in the next week, you can also select "Forecast" to get the most current information on upcoming conditions.
Bulgaria draws visitors with its beautiful villages, ancient ruins, and vibrant urban nightlife. Its landscapes span from forested hills to mountains to beaches, so it's a popular destination for nature lovers. Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, is also a prime vacation spot for travelers. It's a fantastic way to experience both the antiquity of Bulgaria along with its modernity. With its long and varied history, Bulgaria's Roman and Byzantine influences are evident throughout the land. Because of Bulgaria's proximity to the Black Sea, the seaside resorts are popular destinations for travelers – especially families.
Penguin Travel is founded in 1989 and has offices in Denmark, Bulgaria, Sweden and Russia. The company is specialized in hiking, cycling and mountain biking, horse riding, bird watching tours, cultural and religious bus tours and other special interests programs. Their staff consists of young, energetic people with great knowledge who are committed to travel and focused on their clients.
With more then 20 years of experience, Penguin Travel includes a large fleet of cars and buses used for the tours, 22 bikes owned by the company, experienced guides and flexibility.
The following Booking Conditions, together with all information relating to your chosen holiday contained on our website or in our relevant brochure, form the basis of your contract with Penguin Travel (operating in Bulgaria through its brand names TrekkingBulgaria, CyclingBulgaria, BirdwatchingBulgaria, HorseridingBulgaria, BulgariaCarRent, Ski- BG, SofiaGuest, PlovdivGuest, TransferBulgaria, etc.).
1. Cancellation by you
Should you or any member of your party need to cancel your chosen holiday once it has been confirmed, the party leader must immediately advise us in writing by recorded delivery post or fax. Your notice of cancellation will only be effective when it is received in writing by us at our offices. If we receive your notice 8 weeks or more before departure, we will retain your deposit (NB this includes all amounts due at the time of booking in respect of any flight(s). Such amounts could equal the full cost of the flight(s). If we receive it less than 8 weeks before departure, the following charges will be payable per person cancelling except where these represent less than the deposit(s) paid at the time of booking per person cancelling - in this case the deposit(s) paid will be retained by us by way of cancellation charge and not the percentage shown below. The charges set out below are shown as a percentage of the total cost payable by the person(s) cancelling excluding insurance premiums and any amendment charges, according to the period before departure within which written notification of cancellation is received by us.
- > 30 days - 30%
- 29 - 15 days - 50%
- 14 - 8 days - 70%
- 7 days or less - 100%
If any member(s) of your party is/are prevented from travelling, the person(s) concerned will be able to transfer their place to someone else (introduced by you) providing the following requirements are complied with. We must be notified of the transfer(s) in writing (giving full details of the original and substitute party member(s)) not less than two weeks before departure. A transfer will not be possible if there is a waiting list for places in which case the available place must be offered to the next person on that list. For flight inclusive bookings, you must pay the charges levied by the airline concerned. As most airlines do not permit name changes after tickets have been issued for any reason, these charges are likely to be the full cost of the flight.
2. Changes and cancellation by us
We start planning the holidays we offer many months in advance. Occasionally, we have to make changes to and correct errors in brochure, website and other details both before and after bookings have been confirmed and cancel confirmed bookings. Whilst we always endeavour to avoid changes and cancellations, we must reserve the right to do so. Most changes are minor. Occasionally, we have to make a "significant change" before departure, such as: a change of accommodation to that of a lower official classification or standard for the whole or a major part of the time you are away, a change of accommodation area for the whole or a major part of the time you are away, a change of outward departure time or overall length of time you are away of twelve or more hours, alterations to your confirmed place of departure that add more than 100 miles to any single leg of your journey. If we have to make a significant change or cancel, we will tell you as soon as possible. If there is time to do so before departure, we will offer you the choice of the following options:
(a) accepting the changed arrangements or
(b) purchasing an alternative holiday from us, of a similar standard to that originally booked if available. We will offer you at least one alternative holiday of equivalent or higher standard for which you will not be asked to pay any more than the price of the original holiday. If this holiday is in fact cheaper than the original one, we will refund the price difference. If you do not wish to accept the holiday we specifically offer you, you may choose any of our other then available holidays. You must pay the applicable price of any such holiday. This will mean your paying more if it is more expensive or receiving a refund if it is cheaper or
(c) cancelling or accepting the cancellation in which case you will receive a full and quick refund of all monies you have paid to us.
3. Making your booking
Once we have received your booking request an invoice will be issued and sent to you, which is actually a confirmation for the services required. As soon as we receive the deposit and rest payment, mentioned in the invoice, we will send you the vouchers for all services, stated in the invoice. Contact us immediately if any information which is presented on any document appears to be incorrect or incomplete as it may not be possible to make changes later.
In order to confirm your holiday, a deposit of 100,- Euro per person must be paid at the time of booking (or within a week after that, but not later). In order to secure particular flight fares, we may require a higher deposit than normal to be paid at the time of booking. This may include an amount up to the full cost of the flight(s) concerned. We will advise you of this before you confirm your booking.
The balance of the holiday price must be received by us not less than 5 weeks prior to departure. If we do not receive all payments due (including any surcharge where applicable) in full and on time, we will send you a written reminder. If you do not pay all payments due in full within 7 days of receiving this reminder, we reserve the right to treat your booking as cancelled by you.
5. The cost of your holiday
We reserve the right to make changes to and correct errors in advertised prices at any time before your holiday is confirmed. If there are any changes to the published prices, these will be confirmed at the time of booking. We will advise you of any error of which we are aware and of the then applicable price at the time of booking.
Once the price of your chosen holiday has been confirmed at the time of booking then, subject to the correction of errors, we will only increase or decrease the price, subject to the conditions set out in this clause, if our costs increase or decrease as a result of transportation costs (e.g. fuel, scheduled airfares and any other airline surcharges which are part of the contract between airlines (and their agents) and the tour operator) or dues, taxes or fees payable for services such as landing taxes or embarkation or disembarkation fees at ports or airports increasing or decreasing. We will not change the confirmed price of your holiday due to fluctuations in currency exchange rates. We will absorb increased costs up to a total amount equivalent to 5% of the cost of your confirmed holiday. Only if the increased costs exceed this 5% will we ask you to pay the difference. If any increase is greater than 5% of the cost of your holiday, you will be entitled to cancel your booking and receive a full refund of all monies paid to us (except for any amendment charges) or alternatively purchase another holiday from us.
6. Changes by you
Should you wish to make any changes to your confirmed holiday, you must notify us in writing as soon as possible. Whilst we will endeavour to assist, we cannot guarantee we will be able to meet any such requests.
7. Force majeure
Except where otherwise expressly stated in these booking conditions, we regret we cannot accept liability or pay any compensation where the performance or prompt performance of our contractual obligations is prevented or affected by, or you otherwise suffer any damage or loss as a result of, "force majeure". In these Booking Conditions, "force majeure" means any event which we or the supplier of the service(s) in question could not, even with all due care, foresee or avoid. Such events may include war or threat of war, riot, civil strife, terrorist activity, industrial dispute, natural or nuclear disaster, adverse weather conditions, fire and all similar events outside our control.
8. Our liability to you
(1) We promise to make sure that the holiday arrangements we have agreed to make, perform or provide as applicable as part of our contract with you are made, performed or provided with reasonable skill and care. This means that, subject to these booking conditions, we will accept responsibility if, for example, you suffer death or personal injury or your contracted holiday arrangements are not provided as promised or prove deficient as a result of the failure of ourselves, our employees, agents or suppliers to use reasonable skill and care in making, performing or providing, as applicable, your contracted holiday arrangements. Please note it is your responsibility to show that reasonable skill and care has not been used if you wish to make a claim against us. In addition, we will only be responsible for what our employees, agents and suppliers do or do not do if they were at the time acting within the course of their employment (for employees) or carrying out work we had asked them to do (for agents and suppliers). We will not be responsible for any injury, illness, death, loss (for example loss of enjoyment), damage, expense, cost or other sum or claim of any description whatsoever which results from any of the following:
(a) the act(s) and/or omission(s) of the person(s) affected or any member(s) of their party or
(b) the act(s) and/or omission(s) of a third party not connected with the provision of your holiday and which were unforeseeable or unavoidable or
(c) 'force majeure'.
We cannot accept responsibility for any services which do not form part of our contract. This includes, for example, any additional services or facilities which your hotel or any other supplier agrees to provide for you where the services or facilities are not advertised in our brochure or website and we have not agreed to arrange them. Please note, we cannot accept any liability for any damage, loss, expense or other sum(s) of any description (1) which on the basis of the information given to us by you concerning your booking prior to our accepting it, we could not have foreseen you would suffer or incur if we breached our contract with you or (2) which did not result from any breach of contract or other fault by ourselves or our employees or, where we are responsible for them, our suppliers. Additionally we cannot accept liability for any business losses.
(2) The promises we make to you about the services we have agreed to provide or arrange as part of our contract - and the laws and regulations of the country in which your claim or complaint occurred - will be used as the basis for deciding whether the services in question had been properly provided. If the particular services which gave rise to the claim or complaint complied with local laws and regulations applicable to those services at the time, the services will be treated as having been properly provided. This will be the case even if the services did not comply with the laws and regulations of the UK which would have applied had those services been provided in the UK. The exception to this is where the claim or complaint concerns the absence of a safety feature which might lead a reasonable holiday maker to refuse to take the holiday in question.
(3) Where any claim or part of a claim concerns or is based on any travel arrangements (including the process of getting on and off the transport concerned) provided by any air, sea, rail or road carrier or any stay in a hotel, the maximum amount of compensation we will have to pay you will be limited. The most we will have to pay you for that claim or that part of a claim if we are found liable to you on any basis is the most the carrier or hotel keeper concerned would have to pay under the international convention or regulation which applies to the travel arrangements or hotel stay in question (including, for example, the Warsaw Convention as amended or unamended and the Montreal Convention 1999 for international travel by air and/or for airlines with an operating licence granted by an EU country, the EU Regulation on Air Carrier Liability No 889/2002 for national and international travel by air and the Athens convention for international travel by sea). Please note: Where a carrier or hotel would not be obliged to make any payment to you under the applicable International Convention or Regulation in respect of a claim or part of a claim, we similarly are not obliged to make a payment to you for that claim or part of the claim. When making any payment, we are entitled to deduct any money which you have received or are entitled to receive from the transport provider or hotelier for the complaint or claim in question.
(4) You must provide ourselves and our insurers with all assistance we may reasonably require. You must also tell us and the supplier concerned about your claim or complaint as set out in below. If asked to do so, you must transfer to us or our insurers any rights you have against the supplier or whoever else is responsible for your claim or complaint (if the person concerned is under 18, their parent or guardian must do so). You must also agree to cooperate fully with us and our insurers if we or our insurers want to enforce any rights which are transferred.
9. Complaints and problems
In the unlikely event that you have any reason to complain or experience any problems with your holiday whilst away, you must immediately inform the hotelier, carrier or other supplier in question. Any verbal notification must be put in writing and given to them as soon as possible. If the complaint or problem is not resolved to your satisfaction straight away, you must contact us with full details by telephone or fax within 48 hours. Until we know about a problem or complaint, we cannot assist. Most problems can be dealt with quickly. If you remain dissatisfied, however, you must write to us within 28 days of your return back to your home giving your booking reference and full details of your complaint.
10. Riding ability and itinerary (riding holidays only)
To avoid any unnecessary risk to customers, our colleagues at the riding centres must reserve the right to modify the holiday of any rider who, in their opinion, proves to be unsuitable for the ride chosen. In this unlikely event any additional costs will be borne by the customer. It is the responsibility of the customer to behave in a suitable manner at all times and to follow the advice and instructions of the guide. If local conditions, such as bad weather, dictate a change in the proposed itinerary, the decision of the guide must be accepted and no refund will be offered in such circumstances.
11. Your responsibilities
Bookings are accepted on the understanding that all persons travelling are normally in good health and able to fulfil the physical demands of the chosen holiday. Please do not take risks while on an activity holiday. We regret we cannot accept any liability if you are refused entry onto any transport or into any country due to failure on your part to carry correct documentation.
When you book with us, you accept responsibility for any damage or loss caused by you or any member of your party. Full payment for any such damage or loss (including lost keys) must be paid direct at the time to the accommodation owner or manager or other supplier. If you fail to do so, you will be responsible for meeting any claims subsequently made against us (together with our own and the other party's full legal costs) as a result of your actions. We expect all clients to have consideration for other people. If in our reasonable opinion or in the reasonable opinion of any other person in authority, you or any member of your party behaves in such a way as to cause or be likely to cause danger, upset or distress to any third party or damage to property, we are entitled, without prior notice, to terminate the holiday of the person(s) concerned. In this situation, the person(s) concerned will be required to leave the accommodation or other service. We will have no further responsibility toward such person(s) including any return travel arrangements. No refunds will be made and we will not pay any expenses or costs incurred as a result of the termination.
12. Special requests and medical problems
If you have any special request, you must advise us at the time of booking. Although we will endeavour to pass any reasonable requests on to the relevant supplier, we regret we cannot promise that any request will be met unless we have specifically confirmed this in writing. Confirmation that a special request has been noted or passed onto the supplier or the inclusion of the request on your Booking Confirmation and Invoice or any other documentation is not confirmation that the request will be met. Unless and until specifically confirmed, all special requests are subject to availability. We regret we cannot accept any conditional bookings, i.e. any booking which is specified to be conditional on the fulfilment of a particular request. All such bookings will be treated as "standard" bookings subject to the above provisions on special requests.
13. Brochure & website accuracy
Please note, the information and prices shown on this site and in our brochures may have changed by the time you come to book your holiday. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the website, brochures and prices at the time of printing, regrettably errors do occasionally occur. You must therefore ensure you check all details of your chosen holiday (including the price) with us at the time of booking. This website and our brochures are our sole responsibility. They are not produced on behalf of and do not commit any independent organisation/carriers whose services are featured in it.