Snowshoe Tour of Bulgaria
Snowshoe Tour of Bulgaria
Snowshoe Tour of Bulgaria
Snowshoe Tour of Bulgaria
Snowshoe Tour of Bulgaria
Snowshoe Tour of Bulgaria
Snowshoe Tour of Bulgaria

Snowshoe Tour of Bulgaria


Snowshoeing in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a land of wild winter mountains offering some extraordinary opportunities for snowshoeing. With a reliable snowfall it is fast becoming a well recognised destination for winter activities. Bulgaria dates back to the 7th century making it one of the oldest states in Europe, and offering you, the visitor, a true cultural experience. During this week of snowshoeing we will hike in various national parks in the Rhodope, and Pirin mountains, mountain ranges which on average have 2 to 3 metres (6 to 9ft) of snow in winter - perfect! In addition, this trip features first class hotels that have been carefully chosen to show you Bulgaria in 'comfort'.

Highlights

  • Wild, remote and stunning mountain scenery 
  • Great accommodation with excellent 3* and 4* hotels
  • The Pirin Mountains, UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Snowshoe to the six glacial lakes of Bunderista
  • Visit Plovdiv, the European Capital of Culture for 2019
  • Snowshoe the famous ridge line of Vitosha, with views to Sofia
  • Explore Trigrad Gorge, entrance to the "Kingdom of Hades"
  • Snowshoe to the famous marble caves at Yagodina
  • Professional Bulgarian 'International Mountain Leader'
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the capital city, Sofia

The mountain ranges of Pirin and Rhodope provide excellent snowshoes routes and on this trip we will visit both areas. Both National Parks are home to a rich flora and fauna, including brown bears, jackals, wolves, wild boars, deer, and chamois. 

We will combine snowshoeing through pine forests, plateau, summits, and ridges, with the chance to experience the ancient culture of this beautiful country. With a professional local qualified guide you will have the chance to get 'under the skin' of Bulgaria learning about its turbulent past, and how its people see its future. With our starting point the ancient capital of Plovdiv, declared European Capital of Culture for 2019, we believe this to be an action packed itinerary!

 

I was surprised by the scenery, absolutely stunning! The food was great, brilliant mix of cultures, with Austrian and Italian dishes. Never quite knew when to speak German or Italian, but loved the challenge. Oh, and the skiing was amazing, first class tracks and wonderful journeys that will stay with me forever. 

Itinerary

  • Today you will arrive at Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, where you will meet your guide at the airport. 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. We will provide a time for the group pick up once we have everyones flight arrival times. 

    Plovdiv an ancient, and beautiful city has been chosen the European Capital of Culture for 2019. It is  one of the oldest cities in Europe and is rather like a huge museum where every building, street or square has a history of its own from prehistoric times right up until today. In the late afternoon your guide will take you on a tour of the highlights of the city. The city is also know as the 'Gateway to the Rhodope Mountains' our destination the following day. 

    Today your guide will also brief you on the week ahead and answer any questions you might have. 

  • Today we leave behind the history and culture of the ancient city of Plovdiv and begin our journey into the mountains. The Rhodope National Park is famed for its rich flora and fauna, including brown bears, jackals and wolves. It is also home to some ancient trees over 500 years old, and is the only breeding area for griffon vultures in Bulgaria. Such has been the success of the recolonisation of the brown bears that bear-watching is now a bookable tourist activity! 

    Our goal this morning is the town of Chepelare from where we will start our snowshoe hike. We begin by making our way through the lush Rhodope pine forest in the Siykovska valley eventually reaching our summit at 1720m (5641ft) where we can enjoy the views. The top gives a fantastic panorama over the central Rhodope massif and it is here that we can enjoy our picnic lunch while scanning the skies for those griffin vultures. 

    In the afternoon we follow the main ridge south, through the Mechi Chal ski station, all the way to the Pamporovo resort. We end our day with a short transfer to the town of Smolyan, the capital of the high Rhodope mountains, where we will spend the night. 

    Ascent: 700m (2296ft) Descent: 200m (656ft) Duration: 6h30 

    Driving Distance: Plovdiv to Chepelare 78 km (48 miles) Duration: 1h20

    Driving Distance: Pamporovo to Smolyan 19km (11.8 miles) Duration: 0h20

  • Our day begins with a very short transfer to the area of the Smolyan lakes, our goal for today. The lakes are ten small, but beautifully located tectonic ponds.  They earn there name from the fact they are a water-filled depression along the path of a 'fault' in the earths crust. After climbing to the ridge line we will reach the upper parts of the Pamporovo resort ski runs, arriving at the Studenets hut. We will take lunch in one of the restaurants in the ski area before continuing west towards the highest parts of the mountain, the Perelik ridge. From here we will be rewarded with the finest views of the region and we can take a breather, before finishing our snowshoe outing at the Prevala saddle, where our private minibus.  It is then a short transfer to our hotel in the lovely traditional town of Trigrad, near the frontier with Greece. On the way we will pay a short visit to the Shiroka Laka village which is an open air architectural museum. Shiroka Laka is famous for its authentic Rhodopean houses set in tiers on both banks of the local river. Our dinner tonight will feature traditional dishes from Trigrad. 

     

    Ascent: 500m (1640ft) Descent: 250m (820ft) Duration: 6h00

    Driving Distance: Smolyan to Smolyan Lakes 10km (6 miles) Duration: 0h15

    Driving Distance: Prevala to Trigrad 49km (30 miles) Duration: 0h50

  • Leaving the town of Trigrad behind we begin with a visit to the nearby Trigrad Gorge. The gorge, made up of vertical marble rocks, is well-known in Bulgaria, and in particular is famed for the Devil's Throat Cave, the legendary entrance to the underground kingdom of Hades. Indeed, the “Orpheus Mysteries” is one of the most interesting events in the region, with a festival held every year during the last weekend of July.

    After checking out the cave, and whether it truly is the entrance to Hades we put on our snowshoes for a walk through fantastic scenery, and the rockiest part of the mountain range, we we continue to the famous Yagodina cave. The cave is one of the most famous and most-visited caves in Bulgaria. Its galleries extend to a length of 8501m (2788ft), which makes it the 4th longest cave in the country, and the longest in the Rhodopes. 

    At the end of today we will be transferred to the picturesque village of Leshten, situated on the western slopes of the Rhodopes and offering a marvellous panorama to the Pirin alpine range, named after Perun, the Slavic god of thunder.

    Ascent: 450m (1476ft) Descent: 400m (1312ft) Duration: 4h00

    Driving Distance: Yagodina Cave to Leshten 89km (55 miles) Duration: 1h45  

  • We finished our day yesterday with views to the Pirin mountains and that is exactly where we are heading today. In 1983 the Pirin National Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park contains 176 lakes among 400 square km (250 square miles) of fragrant pine forests and granite peaks. Fang-toothed predators make their home here – bears, wolves and jackals – but exploring on snowshoes we are more likely to spot the park’s abundant birdlife: wall-creepers, peregrine falcons and four types of woodpecker number among 170 species seen here. The Pirin mountains are also home to more than one hundred peaks reaching over 2000m (6560ft). 

    Our snowshoe hike today will begin on the northeastern slopes of the Pirin mountains, at Gotse Delchev hut. An easy ascent with a chairlift ride takes us higher up the mountain, to the Bezbog hut. After our picnic lunch we will make our way to the summit of Bezbog 2645m (8675ft), where we can enjoy the stunning views of the rocky summits of the Pirin range. We have an optional climb of the nearby summit of Polejan which sits at 2851m (9351ft) and is one of the highest points of the Balkan peninsula. This option will be decided by your guide based on the group stamina, conditions and time available. We make our way back to the hut at Gotse Delchev and make are way to the famous ski resort of Bansko.

    Ascent: 450m (1476ft) Descent: 450m (1476ft) Duration: 4h30

    If Polejan is included: Ascent: 650m (2132ft) Descent: 650m (2132ft) Duration: 6h00

    Driving Distance: Leshten to Gotse Delchev 61km (38 miles) 1h10

    Driving Distance: Gotse Delchev to Bankso 19km (11.7 miles) 0h25 

  • No packing this morning, as we will be spending two nights in Bansko, so we have time to enjoy our breakfast with a more leisurely start. 

    Today we will be doing one of the most well-known snowshoeing treks in Bulgaria, a round trip of the Bunderitsa cirque. We head first of all to the lush pine forests of Bunderitsa valley and the beginning of our trail. Once we have climbed above the trees one we will be greeted with a view of the imposing Mount Vihren, Pirin's marble giant! Mount Vihren which sits at 2914m (9557ft) is the highest point of the Pirin Mountains, third on the Balkans after Mount Musala in the Rila Mountains and Mount Mitikas in Greece. Its looks like a huge marble stone pyramid with its north face a 400m (5248ft) vertical wall.

    Once we have taken in the views of Vihren we will visit the Bunderitsa lakes. They all are named based on their shape and appearance, there is the Eye, the Frog, Long lake, Fish lake, the Spoon and the Green lake. After our lake tour we will return to the Vihren mountain hut and begin our journey back to Bansko where this evening we will have a traditional folklore dinner, arranged for you in one of the legendary Bansko taverns. 

    Ascent: 665m (2161ft) Descent: 665m (2161ft) Duration: 6h00

    Driving Distance: Bankso to Bunderista 12km (7.5 miles) Duration: 0h20

  • This morning we begin with a drive to the capital city of Sofia, where we will be heading for Vitosha mountain and a snowshoe along the ridge line. Vitosha is the symbol of Sofia and a favorite place for local people for hiking, mountain bike and jogging in the summer, and skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months. Our vehicle will take us high up the mountain, and we will take our picnic lunch in one of the huts of the ski centre. This afternoon we will have a panoramic snowshoeing trek along the main ridge line of Vitosha. This hike offers easy terrain along a flat ridge top with stunning views to the Rila and Pirin ranges to the south and to the north the city of Sofia beneath our feet. After our final views we will descend to Bistritsa district and take our transfer to the city’s centre. Although this descent is the longest of the trip it is on easy terrain and is gradual. 

    Tonight we will be in an very comfortable hotel in a central location to allow you to enjoy the city. We will be taking you out on the town and eating in a traditional restaurant so you can experience the sights and sounds of this ancient capital city. 

    Ascent: 500m (1640ft) Descent: 1100m (3608ft) Duration: 4h30

    Driving Distance: Bankso to Vitosha 128km (80 miles) Duration: 2h00

  • Today is your departure from Bulgaria, 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 always our aim to complete the proposed itinerary outlined above, however, it may be necessary for our guides/instructors to adjust the daily itinerary based on the weather conditions, group safety and enjoyment.

Accommodation

On all our trips we aim to accommodate our guests in well-situated, clean, characterful, family run accommodation. Our suggested accommodation, listed below, is subject to availability at the time of booking. We have given details of our favoured venues and those we intend to use. If unavailable we will book alternative accommodation of a similar standard.

Our trip fees are based on two people sharing a room. If you are travelling on your own your booking will be based on a twin bedroom sharing with someone of the same gender. 

However, on many of our trips single rooms are available on request for a supplementary fee. We recommend booking as early as possible to secure a single room as these are always limited in number. Please contact us for details. 

The hotels we aim to use on this trip are all 4* except for one night when we are in a 3* establishment. The hotel grading system in Bulgaria does not equate to that used in other European countries such as France, or Switzerland. However, a 4* hotel in Bulgaria is the best available, and will offer a good level of service and comfort, often with a swimming pool and spa area. 

Hotel Alafrangite, Plovdiv

Hotel

Our 3* hotel in Plovdiv is situated in the heart of the old town centre, and a few minutes walk from all facilities. Although a relatively modern building it is designed in the style of a traditional Plovdiv townhouse. Plovdiv claims to be the oldest living city in Europe and sixth in the world. More than 8000 years of various ancient civilisations and culture are on your doorstep. All bedrooms at the Hotel Alafrangite have en suite facilities. 

 

 

Hotel Kiparis Alpha, Smolyan

Hotel

Tonight we arrive in the town of Smolyan to our very comfortable 4* Hotel Kiparis Alpha which is right in the centre. The hotel has rooms with en suite facilities, and there is a spa area, with sauna, hammer, and hot tub, as well as a swimming pool where you can easy any tired muscles. The hotel is close to the main cultural landmarks and has great views to the mountains. The Rhodopean Drama Theatre, the Planetarium, the History Museum, and the Art Gallery are nearby. The second largest Orthodox temple in Bulgaria is also to be found in the town.

Hotel Arkan Han, Trigrad

Hotel

The 4* Hotel Arkan Han is a family run hotel in quiet surroundings in the forest in the Rhodope Mountains, 3 km (1.8 miles) from Trigrad, close to the Trigrad Gorge. The restaurant serves traditional Bulgarian foods from the area, such as the famous yellow cheese, and buffalo's yogurt. The traditional architecture is combined with modern comfort and the bedrooms all are en suite, and some with a balcony. 

 

Hotel Leshten, Leshten

Hotel

The village of Leshten is on the southern slopes of the Rhodope mountains, and this is where we find our hotel of the same name. The 4* Hotel Leshten offers lovely views of the both the Mesta River and the Rhodope Mountains. the hotel bedrooms are all en suite and some have balconies. The restaurant offers unique wines from one of the oldest wineries in the country, winery Asenovgrad . Delicious Bulgarian dishes are prepared from organic products, and old family recipes.

The architecture of the hotel is entirely geared towards the preservation of the unique Bulgarian customs and culture. Building structures are made from environmentally friendly and quality materials , mainly wood, stone and wrought iron, made by local craftsmen.

Hotel Casa Karina, Bankso

Hotel

Tonight we are in the ski resort of Bansko, sometimes referred to as the Bulgarian version of Chamonix, France!  Our hotel is the 4* Hotel Casa Karina, a modern hotel with en suite bedrooms, excellent buffet meals, and a spa area with sauna, and hammam. There is also a swimming pool, which is always a bonus after a day of snowshoeing in the mountains, and there is a range of massages and treatments are available. Meals are buffet style and plentiful. 

Hotel Sveta Sofia, Sofia

Hotel

In the capital city of Sofia we stay at the 4* Hotel Sveta Sofia, which means Saint Sofia. The hotel is perfectly located on a quiet pedestrianised street in the centre of the city and close to all facilities as well as to the main tourist attractions, sights, shopping centres, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. The hotel is just 5 minutes walk from Serdika Metro Station. The bedrooms have en suite facilities, and air conditioning. 

Sofia Market Hall and the famous Women's Market can be reached on foot in just a few minutes, and Sofia Airport is just 9km (5.6 miles) away. Shuttle services to the airport are offered by the Hotel upon request and at a surcharge. 


  • Arrival

    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. 

    Departure

    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. 

     

  • You must have the appropriate insurance for your chosen activity, including helicopter rescue, repatriation and medical costs. We also advise you take out Trip Cancellation/Curtailment Insurance in the event of you being unable to join the trip. The insurance referred to should only be purchased AFTER we have confirmed your trip is guaranteed to run. 

    The insurance clause set out in our 'Terms and Conditions' is below:

    Insurance: It is a condition of booking that you are insured against medical expenses, injury, illness, death, cost of repatriation, and personal accident risks. This must include cover for the activities to be undertaken during the trip. For tours taking place outside the United Kingdom you must ensure that your insurance covers rescue from the mountains, including helicopter rescue. It is the right of the leader to make a decision to call for helicopter rescue if such assistance is needed. Costs incurred by you, the client, due to an evacuation, rescue or other emergency shall be your responsibility. Any subsequent costs incurred for expenses, not limited to but including such costs as hotels, food, transport etc, shall be borne by you, the client. You are responsible for ensuring insurance cover is adequate for the particular needs of your chosen activity. You must be fully aware of the implications involved in arranging your own travel insurance and understand the limitations and exclusions of the policy. By agreeing to our Terms and Conditions you are authorising Tracks and Trails Ltd, or the person employed to lead the trip for Tracks and Trails Ltd, to instigate rescue and/or helicopter evacuation procedures without previously obtaining the permission of the company issuing your insurance policy. We reserve the right to cancel your booking at any time if we are not satisfied you have the necessary insurance policy covering your activity. Please ensure that your insurance covers you to the maximum altitude given on your trip itinerary. If you are unsure or are joining a bespoke trip then please contact us for specific details. Most of our trips have a maximum altitude of 3,000 metres (9840ft), except the Tour de Monte Rosa which reaches 3316m (10,877ft). You must bring all insurance documentation with you at the time of the activity. We also recommend your insurance covers you for trip cancellation and baggage loss/damage. Tracks and Trails Ltd are unable to accept responsibility for the loss or damage to any client equipment or luggage.

    For further details, please read the Insurance section on our website.

  • For each of our trips there is a minimum number of guests required to book before we can 'guarantee' your trip will run. This is normally 4, and on some occasions 5. 

    In the 'Dates and Prices' section you can hover over the 'Status' button to see how many more bookings are required for your trip to be confirmed. 

    The maximum number of guests that we take on any given trip is indicated in the 'At a Glance' box on the right hand side of the trip page. 

    We will, on occasion, run trips that have not reached the minimum number because our guests have agreed to pay a supplement to allow the trip to go ahead, enabling them to book their travel. If the trip then reaches its minimum number we refund the difference. Do contact us if you wish to discuss this option. 

    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.

  • After we have processed your booking we will send you a comprehensive clothing and equipment list that is appropriate to your trip and activity. There will be some items on this list that we strongly recommend and others which are suggested. Our list is based on our experience of what is needed for any particular trip, but it is not the definitive article! If you have items you like to use then do bring them, but be aware of over-loading your 'day' rucksack with items that are heavy and therefore making the trip more challenging.

    Please contact us if in any doubt about what to bring.

  • 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 £135.

  • 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 of the group.

    The 'group kit' will be minimal and simply a case of sharing out a few lightweight 'survival shelters'. On a week-long trip you may carry a small shelter for just one day before passing it on to the next person. 

    On many of our cross country ski trips to remote areas there will also be a few additional items to share such as the grip waxes/klisters, spare pole, and snow shovel. These items are shared 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.

  • We go to great lengths to work with first class guides and instructors who are passionate about their work. They are all fully qualified, and 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. 

  • Please note that on this particular trip you will exceed the stated maximum altitude for our Moderate trips. On the day we climb Bezbog we will reach 2645m (8675ft), and we have an optional climb of the nearby summit of Polejan which sits at 2851m (9351ft). However, as indicated in the full grade description to reach this height we will have had the assistance of a chairlift ride. 

    You can read the full grade description for Moderate here:

    "This is for you if you would like to walk in the mountains in winter, but your experience of snowshoeing is limited or zero! On these trips full instruction is given on snowshoe technique and equipment. In reality you just need to be able to walk, it is that easy. However, we will be walking in the mountains and we expect that you take regular exercise that involves climbing up hills and have a reasonable level of fitness. We will walk on a variety of terrain from flat to steeply undulating, most of the time we will be walking on a trail, but if there is fresh snow we will enjoy making our own track. We may on rare occasions reach an altitude of up to 2500m (8200ft), but we will sometimes take a cable car to get there. We may complete ascents/descents of between 300–500m (984-1640ft) per day with one longer day of up to 750m (2460ft). Expect to be out on the mountain for between 4 – 6 hours per day."

     

  • This is a general statement with regard to luggage and is not specific to your trip. Please read on.

    Point to Point

    The majority of our point-to-point trips have luggage support which means your bags are transferred each day to the next accommodation and you only need to wear a small/medium sized 'rucksack' for items you might need during the course of the day. 

    On some trips which feature a night in a refuge/rifugio/hut your main luggage may not be available that evening due to lack of vehicle access. Your rucksack should be of sufficient capacity to carry a few extra items required for this overnight. Your trip itinerary will indicate on which nights you do not have access to your main luggage. If in any doubt please contact us

    Centre Based

    For our centre based trips, in other words where you are staying in the same accommodation all week, you are welcome to bring whatever luggage you require. However, do refer to the note below with regard to 'size' and the lack of elevators in some hotels. 

    Size of Luggage

    Please note that many hotels do not have elevators. This means you may need to carry your luggage to your bedroom. 

    On our point-to-point trips where your luggage is moved along the route by taxi we ask that you keep the weight to a maximum of 15kgs (33lbs), and ONE bag per person. Many of the taxi companies who move your bags impose a 15kg (33lbs) limit and restrict the number because they have to unload and reload the vehicle each day. If you take more than one bag you may be asked to pay a supplement. 

    Luggage on wheels is a good idea, and as stated you need to be able to carry your luggage to your bedroom which may involve climbing several flights of stairs.  

  • We do not include lunches in your trip fee for various reasons. We have found our guests have particular tastes and requirements for 'trail' or 'hill' food and it is better you choose and buy what you require. Buying supplies and trying local specialities is a great way to inter-act with the local people and to practise your language skills. 

    Lunches on our trips are 'picnic' style lunches, in other words you take a packed lunch with sufficient snacks, food and fluid to sustain you throughout your day of activity. If there is the possibility of lunch being taken at a restaurant/farm/cafe beside the trail, your guide/instructor will advise you of this. 

    Each evening you can choose to order a picnic or a sandwich from the hotel, or your guide/instructor will advise you of other options such as a local shop or market and whether you need to purchase items in the evening or if the shop/market is open early enough the next morning not to delay your start. In all cases we would always ask you to settle any 'bill' for lunch or drinks in the evening and not in the morning when there may be a queue. 

    Norway and Sweden

    Norway and Sweden are the exception to this rule and these trips include a packed lunch in your trip fee. You can also bring a thermos flask and have it filled with a hot drink. The reason for this is the remoteness of the accommodation and the scarcity of shops. It is the tradition is to create your packed lunch from the breakfast buffet and the choice is usually substantial with something for all tastes. Please note that in every other country making your lunch from the breakfast is NOT considered acceptable.

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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. Some of our locations are an exception to this in particular Norway, where the accommodation will often have no facilities for withdrawing cash, but they will take a credit card. 

    On many of our trips we will visit remote cafes/farms where it is wonderful to enjoy a drink and a cake, at places such as these they will only accept payment in the local currency in cash. 

    On our walking and running trips which take in the route of the 'Tour du Mont Blanc' you will find that Euros will also be accepted in Switzerland as we are never far from the frontier, but the exchange rate will be poor.

    Below is a list of the currency and the currency symbol for each of the countries where we run trips:

    Italy = Euro/€

    Germany = Euro/€

    Sweden = Krona/SEK

    Norway = Kroner/NOK

    Bulgaria = Lev/BGN

    Switzerland = Swiss Franc/CHF

    Finland, including Lapland = Euro/€

    Spain, including Mallorca = Euro/€

    France, including Corsica = Euro/€ 

    Poland = Zloty/PLN = Euros will be accepted, but some local currency is advisable

    Czech Republic = Koruna/CZK - Euros will be accepted, but some local currency is advisable

    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.

  • Food

    On all our trips we prefer if you can experience local tastes and dishes that reflect the culture of the country we are visiting 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. This trip is not suitable for those who follow a vegan diet or those with other more specific dietary requirements. Gluten-free diets will be possible with regard to the evening meals, but you would need to 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 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. 

    Water

    The countries we visit all have tap water that 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:

    http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/

    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. 

    For details of how to get direct to Plovdiv by public transport click here. For information about visiting Sofia click here.

     

     

  • 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:

    • We choose to use top quality accommodation, all 3* or 4* hotels
    • Provide transport each day to see more of Bulgaria
    • Work with qualified professional guides who are passionate about their work
    • We take safety seriously and provide you with an avalanche transceiver

    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.

    UK residents should obtain and bring with them the 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. 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.

2019

Sat 16 Feb - Sat 23 Feb
Code: BUL1
Price: £895 Spaces available Book
Sat 30 Mar - Sat 06 Apr
Code: BUL2
Price: £895 Spaces available Book

2020

Sat 22 Feb - Sat 29 Feb
Code: BUL1
Price: £895 Spaces available Book
Sat 21 Mar - Sat 28 Nov
Code: BUL2
Price: £895 Spaces available Book

What's Included

  • Full board accommodation based on twin rooms 
  • Six nights in 4* hotels, one night in 3* hotel
  • All meals; breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Tickets for chair lift to Bezbog hut
  • Snowshoes, and avalanche transceiver
  • Group safety equipment, such as snow shovels and probes
  • All transport between resorts
  • Timed group pick up and drop off at Sofia airport
  • Entrance to Devil's Throat and Yagodina Caves
  • Guided city tour of Plovdiv
  • Guided city tour of Sofia
  • Professional English-speaking UIMLA guide
  • Tracks and Trails memento; a gift to take home
 

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Insurance
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Walking poles - these are compulsory
  • Tips and personal expenses
  • Tickets to any museums, or historical monuments

 

 

I was surprised by the scenery, absolutely stunning! The food was great, brilliant mix of cultures, with Austrian and Italian dishes. Never quite knew when to speak German or Italian, but loved the challenge. Oh, and the skiing was amazing, first class tracks and wonderful journeys that will stay with me forever. 

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Grade: Moderate

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At a Glance

From Price £895
Holiday Type Snowshoeing
Duration 8 Days
Group Size 8
Minimum Age 17
Maximum Altitude 2851m (9351ft)
Countries Visited Bulgaria
Meet In Sofia airport, Bulgaria
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