On arrival your meeting point is the airport in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. You will meet your guide at the airport at a time that will be confirmed once we have all the arrival times of the members of your group. Your flight should arrive no later than 1400hrs in time for the group transfer to the famous city of Plovdiv where you will be staying in a family hotel in the historical centre. The transfer by private minibus will take approximately 1h30. If you arrive early in the morning it is easy to visit Sofia while waiting for other group members to arrive, but we do ask that you return to the airport for the group transfer. The airport in Sofia is less than 30 minutes from the city centre. We will provide a time for the group pick-up at the airport once we have everyones flight arrival times.
On your departure day you will be transferred to Sofia airport, but before you go there will be the chance to enjoy a short tour of the capital city of Sofia which will be given by your guide. This walking tour will begin after breakfast, at approximately 0900hrs and will finish by 1100hrs, so that the group transfer can leave for the airport, arriving at 1130hrs. To allow time for this tour we suggest your flight is after 1330hrs. A group transfer to the airport is included in your trip fee.
Extra nights in Sofia can easily be arranged if you would like to have more time in the capital. And, of course, if you would like to take an early flight on this day that it entirely up to you. Please note that in this case your transfer to the airport will not be included. It takes approximately 30 minutes by taxi from the city centre to the airport.
It is a condition of booking that you have appropriate insurance for your chosen activity, including emergency helicopter rescue, repatriation, medical costs, as well as trip cancellation/curtailment insurance in the event of you being unable to join/complete the trip.
Please read the relevant clauses which are numbered 10, 11, 11a, 12, and 22 and are set out in our Terms and Conditions.
We also recommend your insurance covers you for baggage loss/damage. Tracks and Trails Ltd are unable to accept responsibility for the loss or damage to any client equipment or luggage.
If you are booking on behalf of other people it is important that you ensure that insurance has been arranged by all others included in your Booking Form.
You should bring all insurance documentation with you at the time of the activity. If you fail to provide proof of insurance we reserve the right to ask you to leave the trip.
If you are joining a trip in the UK helicopter/mountain rescue insurance is not required as this is a free service.
For further details, please read the Insurance section on our website.
When packing for a trip in the mountains it is important to have the appropriate equipment and clothing. This kit list features items we believe are necessary for the weather you might encounter and the accommodation you will be staying in.
Generally clothing for snowshoeing should be equivalent to that used for walking in the mountains in winter. For this trip the following are provided free of charge: snowshoes, and avalanche transceiver. We will also provide probes and snow shovels. The carrying of this safety equipment is compulsory and demonstrates ‘best practice’.
Your guide will meet you with only enough snowshoe equipment for those who have booked it via their Booking Form. If you are bringing your own snowshoe equipment or elements of it then do let us know.
Personal First Aid
**Supplementary snacks if you follow a gluten free or coeliac diet**
Leaders are all first aid trained and carry their own first aid kit
On many of our trips there will be an element of 'group kit' which will be shared amongst our guests. As mountain people you will be used to team work and working together to the mutual benefit and safety of the group.
The 'group kit' will be minimal and usually just a case of sharing a few lightweight 'survival shelters'. For example on a week-long trip you may carry a small shelter for just one day before passing it on to the next person.
If you are booking a trip in winter there will be a few additional safety items. These will be distributed in such a way that no one is over burdened.
Other group items necessary for safety and comfort will be carried by your guide/instructor.
For each of our trips there is a minimum number of guests required to book before we can 'guarantee' your trip will run. It depends on the particular trip in question, but it is normally 4. The maximum number of guests on your trip is displayed in the 'At a Glance' box on the righthand side of the trip page.
We strongly advise you do not book travel until we have confirmed your trip is 'guaranteed' to run. If you book travel before we have confirmed it is 'guaranteed' we cannot be held responsible for any financial loss if the trip does not go ahead.
When booking a holiday as a solo traveller a twin bedded room comprising of two single beds, is booked as standard. This will be with someone of the same gender unless you request to pay extra for your own room. Single rooms are often limited in supply so if you would like to pay a supplement for a single room we urge you to get in touch as soon as possible. This trip has a single supplement of £160.
We go to great lengths to work with first class guides and instructors who are passionate about their work. They are all fully qualified, insured, and hold the correct documentation.
Please note your guide/instructor has complete discretion to make a daily decision on whether or not to take the advertised route based on the weather and the ability of the members of the group. They have our authority to make any route changes they believe are necessary in the interests of safety and enjoyment.
For our walking, family, and snowshoeing trips your guide will be a fully qualified and experienced International Mountain Leader. For our running trips your guide will be an International Mountain Leader, and an experienced mountain 'trail runner'.
If you have booked on a cross country ski trip you will be with a fully qualified professional BASI Nordic Ski Instructor or equivalent. BASI is the British Association of Snowsport Instructors.
On this trip you will have access to your luggage each day. As you move from hotel to hotel along your route your luggage will be transported with you in the minibus.
We do ask that you keep the weight to a maximum of 15kgs (33lbs), and ONE bag per person. Your luggage needs to travel in the group minibus and therefore there is a limited amount of space for the luggage.
Not all of our hotels have elevators, and luggage on wheels is a good idea. You may need to be able to carry your luggage to your bedroom which could involve climbing several flights of stairs.
On your itinerary you will find an indication of the amount of ascent and descent you can expect each day. This offers a guideline to how much effort might be expended each day and allows you to decide, based on previous experience, if your fitness and stamina are correct for the trip.
We make every attempt to ensure these statistics are as accurate as possible, but ask you to note that the most modern of technology used to record these details can show considerable variations in terms of ascent, descent, and in particular distance. In other words no two people using GPS devices on the same route will have exactly the same details recorded at the end of the day.
The statistics given should be used as a 'general' indication of the effort required.
You do not require any maps on Tracks and Trails trips, but if you would like to have a map then your Bulgarian guide can arrange for you to buy some after you arrive in the country. Please ask them on the first evening and they will make arrangements.
You will require 'Domino' maps of the Western Rhodope mountains, the Pirin mountains and Vitosha mountains. All three are available to buy in Bulgaria.
In Bulgaria, the climate is continental, with cold winters and warm or hot summers; it is slightly milder along the coast of the Black Sea, and of course colder in the hills and mountains where you will be snowshoeing. The country is exposed to both cold air masses from northern Europe or Russia, and warm air masses from the Mediterranean or North Africa.
In winter, which last from December to February, it is cold throughout the country. Cold air often stagnates on the plains, with cloudy skies and light snowfalls, but these periods may be interrupted by warm winds from the south, which can raise the temperature to 15°Celsius (59 °F) and more, and more frequently by cold air outbreaks from Russia, which can bring strong winds followed by severe frosts.
In the town of Smolyan, one of your overnights, the average temperatures ranges are given as a minimum in February of -3°Celsius (26.6°F) and a maximum average of 10°Celsius (50°F). In April you can expect temperatures to range from 4°Celsius (39.2°F) to 18°Celsius (64.4°F). Note that in the mountains where you will actually be on snowshoes the temperatures will be lower.
Although Bulgaria is in the EU it has not adopted the Euro currency. For Bulgaria you will need to purchase LEV on arrival. It is best to do this once you have been collected by your guide and not to do this at the airport where the exchange rate is poor. Your guide will take you to an exchange facility on the way to Plovdiv. All towns, and even small villages will have ATM machines where you can extract LEV. The currency code for Lev is BGN, and the currency symbol is лв. Current exchange rates.
It is useful to arrive at your destination with some cash in the local currency, however, on most occasions it is relatively easy to visit a 'cash machine' after arrival and withdraw money on a credit or debit card.
In Bulgaria the official currency is the 'lev'. You might see prices quoted in Euros in some tourist areas, but elsewhere you’ll find that other currencies aren't widely accepted or if they are that the exchange rate is not favourable.
On our trips we encourage you to experience local tastes and dishes that reflect the culture of the country and for this reason many of our accommodation options will be family run with a reputation for the traditional food of the region.
If you have a 'special' diet because of an allergy or intolerance to a certain food type which will make you ill the accommodation will cater for this as best they can, eg gluten free, nut free, lactose free.
If you are vegetarian then this is not a problem as the hotels/refuges are used to being asked for vegetarian meals. Our accommodation will try to cater for those with vegan diets but in remote refuges in the mountains this is more difficult. If you would like to discuss the suitability of a trip for a vegan diet please contact us. Gluten-free diets will be possible with regard to the evening meals, but we would advise that you bring along some gluten-free snacks for your breakfasts and lunches.
If you have a 'special' diet which is NOT because of an allergy or intolerance, and is not 'veggie' then we apologise, but we cannot cater for this. The accommodation on the popular routes will be catering for many people each evening, in some cases up to 70/80 meals per night, 7 days a week, and realistically they cannot produce many different meal options unless the food will result in illness.
The countries we visit all have tap water which is drinkable. If for any reason a particular hotel is having a problem with a remote mountain water supply they will normally post a sign over the tap indicating that you must not drink the water. At all times you are welcome to ask your guide/instructor if the water can be drunk. We would ask, for environmental reasons, that you avoid using single-use plastic bottles, and bring a water bottle that can be used repeatedly.
A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required for visits to countries outside the EU, such as Norway. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice.
We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:
Note that if your trip involves staying in a mountain refuge/rifugio/hut that electric sockets may be in short supply and for that night you may not be able to charge any items. Although the accommodation will have electricity this will often be supplied by solar panels or a generator and limited to use by the staff. For this reason we advise that carrying a small slimline and lightweight 'battery pack' can be very useful for recharging phones which many of you will also use as your camera.
You might like to consider extending your trip with extra nights at the beginning in the beautiful city of Plovdiv, the European Capital of Culture for 2019, or with extra nights at the end in the capital city of Sofia. Both cities are well worth a visit with a rich and varied culture and heritage.
We believe you should book this trip with Tracks and Trails if you feel strongly about supporting people who are working hard to create a future in their own country. In the case of Bulgaria this is a country with a turbulent political past.
We decided to work with our snowshoe guide, Stoyan Milkov and his colleagues because of the dedication and passion they have for their culture and their traditions. Having visited Bulgaria to spend time snowshoeing with Stoyan we were impressed to witness the effort he is putting into promoting Bulgaria as a destination for adventure holidays. As well as developing a market for snowshoeing he is working to increase the amount of hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners arriving in Bulgaria.
Our trip is not the cheapest in Bulgaria because:
The wearing of an avalanche transceiver, a simple beacon which transmits a signal, is compulsory for all our snowshoe trips and is standard practice for winter sports. We choose to supply them in Bulgaria even although other companies choose not to.
In summary we believe in paying our local agents/guides a fair price for their services, ensuring that you have a holiday that is 'above standard' for Bulgaria, good value for money, and supporting the local economy. We know that when you spend this week with Stoyan, or one of his excellent colleagues, you will learn more about Bulgaria and the Balkans in seven days than you possibly could travelling on your own.
Before booking consider whether you expect to be in the appropriate physical condition on the date of your departure to allow you to fully participate in and enjoy your holiday. If you have any doubts because of an illness or injury it would be advisable to check with your doctor.
For UK residents travelling to an EU country you should obtain and bring with you a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles you to state provided medical treatment in certain European countries, but is not a substitute for medical travel insurance. Also note that if/when the UK leaves the European Union that the EHIC card may no longer be valid. Please check this before departing. We advise that you always carry your insurance documents with details of the Emergency Medical telephone number for your insurance provider, and your policy number.
We feel strongly about protecting the environment and do not encourage the use of single-use plastic items. We would ask that you arrive with a ‘water bottle’ or ‘hydration system’ that can be used repeatedly. We would point out that we operate a ‘zero tolerance’ for rubbish, and would ask you to remove all your rubbish items from the mountain even those you consider to be bio-degradable. In particular we ask that you remove any toilet tissue.
You can read our full policy here.
Working across international boundaries, and with various currencies means that the price of our trips can change overnight. We have, however, undertaken to guarantee that once you have paid your deposit the price of your trip is fixed. In this respect we urge you to book early to ensure that you receive the price advertised on our website. The website price may increase due to currency fluctuations, but we guarantee that the price advertised on the date of your booking will be maintained in your individual case.
Prices may vary depending on date.