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The Balkan Cycling Tour (Bulgaria)

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 12 people
Destination(s): Bulgaria  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring   Sightseeing  
Season: April - October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 490 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 590 Euro (EUR)

On this tour we bike along the north and central parts of the Balkan Mountains, famous for their unspoiled nature, green valleys with sheep peacefully grazing on lush grass, precipitous cliffs and gentle, rolling hills offering plenty of unique biking opportunities. We start the trip from the tiny Goliam Izvor village, passing by the Central Balkan National Park and ending up in Veliko Tarnovo – the Old Bulgarian capital and one of the most charming Bulgarian towns.

The narrow roads meander through picturesque villages that look as they have been untouched for the past 200 years. You’ll see wooden carts pulled by a horse or donkey and villagers making hay the old-fashioned way. During the trip you will visit several of Bulgaria's most important Orthodox monasteries, situated in the dales or woods. Churches with centuries-old icons and colourful murals are spread across a wide range of villages and small towns.

Departure dates: 01 April 2015
Departure dates: 16 May 2015
Departure dates: 13 June 2015
Departure dates: 27 June 2015
Departure dates: 18 July 2015
Departure dates: 01 August 2015
Departure dates: 19 September 2015

Tour Itineray:

Day 1: Arrival. Arrival at Sofia Airport and transfer to the village of Goliam Izvor where we stay in a nice guesthouse.

Day 2: Goliam Izvor - Ribaritsa village. Today's cycling starts in Goliam Izvor village, heading to Yablanitsa town (famous for producing different kinds of “khalva”) and then continue to Malak Izvor village, which is a starting point for a challenging 5 km uphill ride to Glozhene Monastery. Having visited the monastery you go downhill the same way and continue further to the scenic Teteven town. Here you can have a short stop for a walk and visit of the local historic museum and church and a short bike and hike to a nearby eco trail with 2 beautiful waterfalls. Overnight in Ribaritsa village. Cycling distance: 70 km; uphill/downhill cycling: 850/800 m.

Day 3: Ribaritsa village - Apriltsi. Ascent from Ribaritsa village to the highest point for the day - Bogoi pass (1185m). From this pass the road goes all the way down to the town of Troyan passing through the village of Shipkovo where you can take a refreshing bath in the mineral water swimming pools. After lunch in Troyan town centre we visit The Pottery and Craft Exhibition "Oreshaka" nearby and the famous Troyan monastery. We spend the night in Apriltsii village. Cycling distance: 74 km; uphill/downhill cycling: 900/1000 m.

Day 4: Apriltsi - Gabrovo - Sokolsky monastery - Etura. Cycling on isolated village roads from Apriltsi to Gabrovo. Enroute you pass by numerous small villages set in green landscapes and river valleys, visit Batoshevo monastery and have lunch in a local village pub. Nunnery and possible visit of Batoshevo monastery. After a ascent follow by a nice downhill ride you reach Gabrovo town and continue to the "Etura"- an open-air ethnographic museum, as well as the beautiful Sokolski Monastery. We stay overnight nearby Etura. Cycling distance: 55 km; uphill/downhill cycling: 750/800 m.

Day 5: Gabrovo - Tryavna - Bozhentsi. You get on the supporting vehicle and start cycling from Gabrovo. After an ascent followed by a descent, you arrive in Tryavna. There you can spend some time on sightseeing and lunch in the centre of this beautiful National Revival town. Ups and downs through open terrain will lead you to the final stop for today - Bozhentsi architectural reserve. Cycling distance: 52 km; uphill/downhill cycling: 950/1000 m.

Day 6: Bozhentsi - Elena. Having visited by car the Dryanovo monastery in the morning, you start cycling from the turning for Yalovo village. Kilifarevo Monastery is very close. We make a short stop here and continue to the town of Elena passing by the blue waters of Iovkovtsi dam. Cycling distance: 48 km; uphill/downhill cycling: 700/600 m.

Day 7: Elena - Arbanassi - Veliko Turnovo. From Elena we continue cycling to the last point of the trip – Arbanasi architectural reserve. The landscape includes meadows, pastures, cultivation lands, shrubby hills and finally a beautiful plateau over Veliko Tarnovo. After some free time for rest and walks among the old houses of Arbanasi we go for a lunch and sightseeing tour in Veliko Turnovo - the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. In the afternoon you will be transferred to Sofia or Plovdiv for overnight. Cycling distance: 43 km; uphill/downhill cycling: 600/600 m.

Day 8: Transfer to airport. Departure.

Practical information:
- Bikes: You can choose (depending on the availability) from 2 types of bikes:
* Hardtail performance mountain bike “RAM” with road tires, 24 gears and 80 mm front suspension fork
* Quality road touring bike “DRAG” with 21 gears, 28 inch rims and Shimano components.

Tour Info: All bikers receive a detailed roadbook and map. The guide with the supporting vehicle and the luggage inside checks several times a day if everything is OK with the group, waiting by crossroads, accompanying them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, giving them talks by the most interesting sites en-route. The guide is also responsible for the technical support of the bikes. Bikers can always skip some harder stages using the supporting vehicle.

Road Conditions: We use mostly two-way roads (one band per direction) with an asphalt covering (the latter usually not brand new!). The country roads are quite peaceful, sometimes without any cars. The road surface in these areas may be not very smooth at some stages. The traffic might be a little bit heavier at some sections but only for a short while.

Recommended Equipment: We strongly recommend you wearing a helmet during the cycling. You can bring your own helmet or rent one from us. Cycling gloves are also advisable.

Extension at the Black Sea Coast: we have a unique proposal, which gives you the opportunity to stay on a sea holiday for extra week after your active tour at an incredibly low price in Sozopol, Nessebar, Sunny Beach, Lozenets, St. Vlas, Golden Sands etc. and all this with arranged transportation right after your tour and before your departure flight.

Tour difficulty: moderate.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Bike and helmet
- Guide/driver with a supporting vehicle
- Map and roadbook
- All transfers
- 7 nights at family run hotels and guest houses -rooms with private facilities (except on day 1,3) on halfboard ( breakfasts & dinners included, except dinner on day 7)
- Luggage transportation.

Price Excludes:
- Tips
- Entrance fees
- Alcohol drinks
- Other personal expenses.

Single room supplement: 80 euro.