BulgariaEastern Rhodopes

About Eastern Rhodopes

The Eastern Rhodopes are a truly mosaic of various landscapes – grasslands, waterlands, deciduous woods, coniferous forest and rocky cliffs. Our nature areas have particular habitats for plants, birds and animals offering unique opportunities for wildlife observation.

Whatever adventures you might covet, Eastern Rhodopes probably has them in spades.

On the Wild Side

Nature areas ring the mountain and penetrate right into its heart. Large chunks of land are still bush-fringed, while open spaces are naturally grazed by large herbivores. Nature cut cut its way through villages and rural cottages. Consequently, native critters turn up in the most surprising places. Land tortoises lay their eggs in the bushes of the country houses’ yards; oversized spiders stake out corners of room walls; swallows sizzle uner roofs of terrace houses; and white storks build their giant nests on the adjacent pillar. At times Eastern Rhodope seem to be part of the jungle – and doesn’t that just make it all the more exciting?

karakachan horses
Karakachan horses at Kostilkovo village, Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria. Photo credit: Mihaela Kircheva

 

Information Centres

When you as a tourist enter the city of Kardzhali, you probably will visit the Tourist information centre on the Belomorski boulevard in front of the city stadium. The centre is located just 1,5 km away from the bus station. The staff there speaks basic English, Russian, and Turkish and provide you with detailed information about the whole area of the Eastern Rhodope mountains.
In Ivaylovgrad and the village of Studen kladenets are tourist information centres located. The staff in both centres speaks basic English and can be of help for giving directions and providing printed materials.
In Madzharovo the Vulture centre is located. Our partners there speak good English and are enthusiastic about showcasing the kingdom of the vultures which their area is considered to be. The exhibition of the Vulture centre is interactive and very interesting, devoted to the birds diversity of Madzharovo and Eastern Rhodopes.

Shops/Banks/Restaurants/Hospitals

In the villages of the Eastern Rhodopes many families are self sustaining and they do not need a big supermarket or a bank in the village.
Be aware that in Madzharovo region, a place that is a hotspot for the eco tourists, there is no bank, but only cash-mashine. The closest bank can be found in Haskovo, Kardzhali, Krumovgrad, Momchilgrad or Ivaylovgrad.
Big supermarkets can be found in Kardzhali, Momchilgrad, Kirkovo, Krumovgrad, Ivaylovgrad. There are little weekly open-air markets in the villages where fresh vegetables and fruits can be bought. Hospitals are located in Kardzhali and Ivaylovgrad, but every bigger village has a local doctor who can be of your help.
Almost every village has one or two little pubs (bar) where you can eat. Do not expect luxurious restaurants, but local traditional dishes while sitting between the local people drinking beer and playing cards. These local restaurants don’t provide English menu cards or English speaking staff, but usually at every place you can order shopska salad and a couple of kebapche/kyufte (minced meatballs with local herbs).

Arda meanders
Arda meanders, TransRodopi trail, Bulgaria. Photo credit: Kiril Makarov
Trails

The TransRhodope Long Distance Biking Route is a mainly off-road marked trail. The trail is crossing mountains, forests and small villages. The length of this trail is approximately 500 kilometres. The trail is interesting for mountain bikers, but for hikers as well. The route can be followed in total, but tourists can also walk or bike parts of it. A detailed TransRhodope map shows the trail in details which is of added value. The trail is of high value for hikers and bikers to explore the whole Eastern Rhodopes!
Besides the Trans Rhodope Long Distance Biking Route, there are other short trails marked in the area. For tourists it is be interesting to make shorter hikes from 5 up to 15 kilometres. Ask the locals in the guesthouses or villages for the starting point of the trails. Some of the trails enter in protected places. We strongly advise you go on a nature tour in those protected sites only with our local guides. They know the good spots for tourists and they can prevent disturbance on nature and wildlife.

TransRhodope
TransRhodope Trail, Studen kladenets area, Bulgaria. Photo credit: Lyubo Botusharov

Hides

For the ultimate nature experience without disturbing the wildlife, several wildlife hides are built in the Eastern Rhodopes. They are situated around Madzharovo, Studen Kladenets lake and Ivaylovgrad. For tourists and photographers this is a wonderful way to get in touch with the “flying doors” of the Rhodopes, without disturbing them. The type of the construction of the buildings differs from hide to hide. Some offer the possibility to stay overnight, there is a little toilet available and good camera holes are provided which may be of great value for (professional) photographers.

Area:
14 700 km²
Average Elevation:
320 m
Highest point:
Veykata, 1463 m
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Partners
Mihaela Lake Retreat
New Thracian Gold
Rewilding Rhodopes
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation
Bulgarian Society for the Protection of birds
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