Riders enjoying a canter in Bulgaria
Bulgaria

Riding in the Thrace Empire

This holiday on horseback across Bulgaria offers a well-balanced combination of spectacular rides along river banks and up picturesque mountains, relaxation in thermal baths and spas and the exploration of Thracian and Roman buildings and ruins. Learn more about Bulgaria's history by visiting archaeological sites dating from 400 BC. Canter across Sredna Gora, through countryside perfumed by lavender and Damascan roses. Stay in accommodation offering massages and mineral water treatments after long, invigorating days spent in the saddle.
Book now Print the details for this ride
Trail Riding
8 days / 6 days riding
From £1,430
  • Riders by a lake in Bulgaria
    An active trail riding holiday in Bulgaria
  • Group of riders on a riding holiday in Bulgaria
    Explore Bulgaria in the saddle on a riding holiday
  • Group of riders in the plains of Bulgaria
    Trail riding holiday in Bulgaria
  • Discovering Bulgaria in the saddle
    Bulgaria is a lovely destination for a horse-riding holiday
  • Riders posing for a photo on a bridge
    The "Thrace Empire" in Bulgaria
  • Horseback riders in Bulgaria
    Ride endurant and fit horses in Bulgaria
  • Trail riders in Bulgaria on a horseback vacation
    A great option for experienced riders looking to ride off the beaten track
  • Horseback rider walking along a track in Bulgaria
    Bulgaria offers excellent riding terrain, ideally suited to faster paces
  • Group of riders captured between the ears of a horse
    Bulgaria, seen between the ears
  • Trail riders against the backdrop of the Bulgarian mountains
    Not just a summer destination!

Itinerary

Highlights

- Ride energetic and well-schooled horses
- Explore the impressive archeological sites of the Thrace empire in stunning Bulgarian countryside
- Ride through a wide range of landscapes and enjoy canters along the river banks
- Relax in a spa hotel and enjoy thermal and mineral water treatments
  • Day 1 1 : EUROPE - SOFIA - PLOVDIV - None

    Downtown Plovdiv hotel
    On your arrival in to Sofia, you should arrive before 14:00. You will be welcomed at the airport by one of the team and be driven to Plovdiv (2 hours). For riders arriving later, a private transfer can be organised - but please contact us in advance. Flights are not included but can be booked upon request.

    Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria, it is built across seven hills and flanks both banks of the Maritsa river. The city is bustling, friendly and full of intriguing ancient buildings and ruins - having been inhabited since the 6th millennium BC. Take the time to stroll around the renowned Kapana art district and be immersed in the city's lively atmosphere.

    Dinner in a cozy restaurant in the Old Plovdiv.
  • Day 2 2 : PLOVDIV - HISARYA - 5 hours riding

    Villa Paris
    After breakfast, you will be driven to the village of Kalekovets where you will meet your guides and horses.
    Saddle up and start your first day's ride toward the thermal spring town of Hisarya. After a short stop for a picnic lunch on the banks of the Stryama river, you will ride through ancient Roman ruins to reach the natural hot springs of Hismar.
    Your accommodation for the night will be at a hotel and spa where you can relax and enjoy a variety of thermal treatments (some services are not included and will be charged locally).
  • Day 3 3 : HISAR - STAROSEL - 3 hours riding

    As well as its naturally occurring hot springs, Hisar is known for the abundance of ancient Thracian sites you will find there. Some finds date as far back as the 5th-6th millennium BC. Evidence from 20th-century excavations reveals that the village was both an important and wealthy Thracian city in the 5th century BC. You will spend the morning exploring these archaeological sites, including Roman baths, aqueducts, fortified walls and bastions.

    Your day's ride will take you to a wine cellar in Starossel where you will get to taste the sacred drink of Bulgaria's ancestors. After an alfresco lunch, you will return to relax at the spa in your hotel (not included).

    You may also wish to visit the biggest Thracian royal complex including the Chetinyova Mogila, the mausoleum, the temple, as well as the nearby Thracian king's residence under Mount Kozi Gramadi.
  • Day 4 4 : STAROSEL - KOPRIVSHTITSA - 6 hours riding

    Eagle stone Koprivshtitsa hotel
    A six hour ride will lead you to the historical town of Koprivshtitsa. Dating back to the Renaissance, this charming town is located in a picturesque valley on the banks of the Topolnitsa river in the heart of Sashtinska Sredna Gora. Its cobbled stone roads and authentic atmosphere will make it feel as though you have stepped back in time.

    Accommodation in a cozy hotel near Koprivshtitsa.
  • Day 5 5 : KOPRIVSHTITSA - KRASNOVO - 5 hours riding

    After breakfast, you will ride up to the top of a mountain affording outstanding panoramas of the Rose Valley below. On your descent, the natural hot spring resort of Strelcha awaits you at the foot of the mountain. Your hotel and spa for the night will give you another chance to relax and enjoy massages and mineral water treatment (massages and treatments are not included, payable locally)
  • Day 6 6 : KRASNOVO - ZHITNITSA - 6 hours riding

    Trakiel hotel
    You will set off on horseback to visit the Thracian temples surrounding Strelcha; these temples date back to the 4 and 6th century BC. Before heading out in the saddle again, you will have lunch on the shores of the magnificent Piasachnik lake.

    In Zhitnitsa, your hotel (which is also an equestrian venue) will be the setting for a well-deserved rest.
  • Day 7 7 : ZHITNITSA - HISAR - 4 hours riding

    Hotel Victoria House
    Your last day on horseback will take you to the banks of the river Stryama. The softer terrain will mean you are able to enjoy some faster riding with some canters along the riverside.
    Lunch will be taken out on the veranda, you will return to the equestrian centre in Plovdiv and then say your goodbyes to the horses.

    In the afternoon you can visit the remains of a fortress wall of an ancient Roman town "Dioclecianopolis", the third largest town in the ancient province of Thrace, after Philipopolis (Plovdiv) and Beroe (Stara Zagora). The wall is one of the best preserved of its kind not only in Bulgaria, but also on the entire Balkan Peninsula.

    Farewell dinner with the guides in a good restaurant in the town.
  • Day 8 8 : PLOVDIV - SOFIA - EUROPE - None

    After breakfast, you will be driven to Sofia airport to catch your flight back to Europe. Your flight should depart after 14:00.

Dates & prices

Price details

- International flights are not included.

- Rates are per person, based on two riders sharing a twin or double room.

- Groups are composed of a minimum of 4 international riders and a maximum of 8 riders, plus guides. 

- Please note: the ride will also confirm for 2-3 riders on payment of a supplement of c. €250/£210 per person for 3 riders, or €90/£75 for 3 riders. Once the group has reached 4 people, we will remove this supplement from your invoice and refund you if you have already paid it.

- If you sign up to the ride as a solo rider and there are no other riders likely to share your room, you will be charged a single room supplement of approx. €160/£140. You will then be reimbursed if a sharer is found for you at a later date. 

- If your arrival time at Sofia airport is after 2pm or your departure time from Sofia airport before 2pm, you will have to organise your own private transfer to and from the airport. Please contact us for rates.

- There is a rider weight limit of 100kg/ 15½ st/ 220 lbs - if you weigh more than 100kg and wish to ride, please contact us
Please Note
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.

Price includes

Support Team

1 English speaking horse guide for groups up to 5 riders
2 English speaking horse guides for groups of 6 or more riders

Logistics

1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle per rider
1 vehicle and driver
2 logistic assistants

Inland transport

2 private cars (5 passengers per car)
Airport transfers (arrival before 17:00 and departure after 14:00)

Accommodation

Standard 2*; 3* and 4* hotels on a shared room basis

Meals

Full board from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on the final day (day 8)

Additional equipment

Saddle bags
First aid kit

Price doesn't include

Meals

Beverages and personal extras (spa treatments)
Meals organised by you on day 1 and 8 - depending on your arrival and departure time. Expect to spend around £5 per meal
Alcoholic beverages are not included in the price

Transport

Private airport transfers outside of normal transfer hours
International flights

Extras

Tips to the local team
Small group supplement. See above for details
Park, museum and other tourist site fees. Yagodina cave 4lev (£1.60) and the Devil's Throat 3lev (£1.20)

Insurance

Cancellation and travel insurance are not included. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend taking out an insurance policy as soon as your trip is booked in case of cancellation.

Optional

Accommodation

Single room supplement
For an extra night in Sofia and airport transfer fee information, please contact us

Extras

Optional activities, see above for price details
  • September - October 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    12/09/2020 19/09/2020 £1,430 Open Book now
    03/10/2020 10/10/2020 £1,430 Open Book now

Equestrian info

Horses

Arabs, Anglo-arabs, shagya and eastern Bulgarian horses. All are good-tempered, energetic, forward going and friendly. They are well suited to the mountainous terrain and are well trained. They measure between 150 and 160 cms.

The weight limit is 100kg/ 15½ st / 220 lbs

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You should be able to ride at all paces and have a good control over rough terrain. Although the horses are well behaved, this is an athletic and you should be a competent rider.

There is a rider weight limit of 100kg/ 15½ st/ 220 lbs - if you weigh more than 100kg and wish to ride, please contact us

Pace

This ride will see you using all 3 paces. Each day, depending on the terrain, weather and general conditions there will be regular trots and several canters and gallops. There may be some natural jumps for those who wish to try them (optional).

Tacking ability and participation

Each rider grooms and tacks their own horse and helps the team to distribute the water and the food to the horses.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

A good level of fitness and endurance is required as you will spend between 4 and 6 hours in the saddle each day.
The ride will cover rough mountainous terrain with a lot of ascents and descents, with some significant differences in altitude. Wider roads will allow you to canter and open plains will call out for a gallop.

Equestrian equipment

Leather saddles. The saddles are large and comfortable, perfect for long hours in the saddle. Saddlebags are provided.

Helmets are not provided and you should bring your own.

Travel info

Comfort

Your accommodation throughout the trip will mainly be 2 star or 3 star hotels offering spa services.

Meals

You will have a chance to enjoy local Bulgarian cuisine.

Picnic lunches (vegetables, warm soup, BBQ, fruit or sandwiches).
Dinners at local restaurants and at the hotels.
Alcoholic drinks are payable locally.

Traditional Bulgarian cuisine is influenced partly by the culinary customs of the other Balkans nations and shares common features with Greek, Turkish and Serbian cuisines. Bulgarian food is tasty and diverse. The geographical location of the country and its mild climate allow perfect conditions for growing different vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs which are fundamental ingredients in all Bulgarian dishes. Bulgaria is also famous for the diversity and quality of its dairy products which are widely used in the preparation of typical Bulgarian food.
Another interesting feature in Bulgarian cuisine is the fresh bread, made mainly from white or wholegrain flour, which is an accompaniment to every main meal.

Climate

The location of the Rhodopes in the south eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula determines the region's climate to a great extent. The climate is influenced both by the colder air coming from the north and by the warmer breeze from the Mediterranean. The average annual temperature in the Eastern Rhodopes is 13 °C (55 °F), the maximum precipitation is in December, the minimum in August. In the Western Rhodopes, the temperature varies from 5 to 9 °C (41 to 48 °F) and in the summer rainfalls prevail.
The mild climate, combined with some other factors, works in favour of outdoor activities.

Guide and local team

English speaking guides.
Rossen will be your host and guide. He has an excellent knowledge of his country and is a competent guide.

Tips

Tipping is not compulsory but will be very much appreciated if you enjoy the services provided by the team. Tipping is totally at your discretion.

Packing list

Head
- Equus Journeys strongly recommend that you wear a riding helmet and that you take your own to ensure a correct fit. There are many lightweight options available nowadays.
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana
- Warm hat for cold nights when camping

Upper body
- Thermals (long or short sleeved)
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and are an extra layer
- T-shirts
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm fleece or jumper (and a spare in case one gets wet)
- Warm and waterproof jacket - it can rain at any time of year and the evenings can be particularly cold
- Swimming costume - for swimming/bathing in rivers/hot springs

Legs
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Thermals
- Casual trousers for the evenings, such as jeans or tracksuit bottoms
- Waterproof over trousers

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps as an extra layer against inclement weather. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Waterproof shoes/boots can be useful for abundant dew in the mornings or when it rains
- Trainers or equivalent light shoes for moving around the camp in the evenings
- Several pairs of warm, thick socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, cold or rain whilst riding. Waterproof gloves can be particularly useful

Nightwear
- Pyjamas , tracksuits or thermals for sleeping in

Other useful items
- Towels - camping ones will both dry and pack more easily
- A soothing cream to alleviate any areas irritated by long days spent in the saddle
- Small backpack for accessing items required during the day (carried by support crew)
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around camp at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Water bottle (2 litres or 2 x 1 litre)
- Swiss army knife (or equivalent)
- Field glasses
- Wet Wipes or equivalent (for when washing facilities aren't available)
- Toilet paper and a lighter to burn it with
- Small plastic bags for rubbish
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)

In your hold luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic Ziplock bag. We recommend biodegradable washing products where possible.
In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.

Medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent, preferably containing deet
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Eye drops
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhoea medication
- Re-hydration sachets
- Water purification tablets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

Our Recommendations
- Please don't take a hard sided suitcase. Your luggage should be soft sided with a capacity of 60-80 litres. We recommend taking a backpack or similar
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (passport, camera, sunscreen, lipbalm etc)
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals



Visa & Health

Formalities

British citizens: other nationalities, please contact us.

Passport validity
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

Visas
If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Bulgaria.

The rules on travel will stay the same until 31 December 2020.
Please visit for the FCO website for up-to-date information - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/bulgaria/entry-requirements

Addresses of consulates

  • Amabassade de Bulgarie en France
    1, av. Rapp
    75007 Paris
    Tél. : 01 45 51 85 90
    Fax : 01 45 51 18 68
    bulgamb@wanadoo.fr
  • Ambassade de France en Bulgarie
    29 rue Oborichté
    1504 Sofia
    Tél. : [359] (2) 96 51 100 
    Fax :
  • Ambassade Bulagrie
    Avenue Hamoir 58Avenue Hamoir 58
    1180 Uccle , Bruxelles
    Tél. : 02/374-59-63, 02/374
    Fax : 02/375-84-94
    secretary@bulgaria.be
  • Ambassade Bulgarie
    Bernastrasse 2
    3005 Bern
    Tél. :
    Fax :
    bulembassy@bluewin.ch

Health

Bulgaria has a universal healthcare system financed by taxes and contributions. The number of doctors is above the EU average with 181 physicians per 100,000 people but distribution by fields of practice is uneven, there is a severe shortage of nurses and other medical personnel, and the quality of most medical facilities is poor.
Bulgaria ranks 113th globally by average life expectancy, which stands at 73.6 years for both genders.

Insurance

It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.

Voltage

Voltage in bulgaria: 220 V
Frequency in bulgaria: 50 Hz

Budget and money

The lev (Bulgarian: лев, plural: лева, левове / leva, levove) is the currency of Bulgaria. It is divided in 100 stotinki.
Exchange rate on the 19/01/2016 :
£1 = 2,54 BGN

Telephone and jetlag

Code pays = +359
+2 heures UTC/GMT

Did you know?

Did you know?

The karakatchan

The karakatchan or karakačanski kon (in Bulgarian) is a very old and rare breed of mountain ponies from Bulgaria.

This little horse lives in the Šumen region in the north west of Bulgaria. His coat is generally black or dark bay.

A robust and strong beed, the karakačan was used as packhorse for generations. Even during cold winters, these hardy horses will manage to find food and protect themselves from predators. Historically, karakačan breeders owned approximately 50 to 100 horses. In 1940, this number was reduced down to 10-15. The number of karakačan ponies has significantly decreased - measures are urgently needed to protect this breed and save it from extinction.