August 12th to 21st 2024
This tour takes you on an epic journey along the longest mountain range in Bulgaria and the Balkans, the Balkan mountain. Starting all the way in the west near Belogradchik, it will follow the 1000 km long mountain range all the way east to the Black Sea, ending at the iconic rock of cape Emine. So it is, in a way, a 4×4 version of the legendary Kom-Emine hiking trail – adopted to the capabilities of the vehicles and tracks that they can actually pass, but trying to keep to the original Kom-Emine trail wherever possible, to preserve it’s landscape, views and spirit of adventure as it rolls along the endless ridges of the Balkan mountain and Sredna gora.
What? How long? How hard? How much?
Type – standard offroad tour
Duration – 10 days
Wild camping tour
Approximate length – 1000 km
Technical difficulty – 3-7/10
Scratch rate – 5-8/10
Tyre type – MT advised, capable AT tyres accepted as alternative
1390 € per vehicle
(regardless of number of passengers)
As we meet in the morning of day one in the vicinity of the small tourist town of Belogradchik, we’ll first take a scenic tour of the Belogradchik rocks, before we venture deep into the forests of the Balkan mountain in the bordering area with Serbia. At the end of day one, we will set up our first camp in dense beech forest in the immediate vicinity of the border, some 10 km before the Kom peak. That will be the beginning of the Balkan mountain journey.
The tour continues with the legendary Kom ascent – the steep, heavy sideangle trail along the western Kom ridge, reaching it’s 2016 m high peak in the end, which will at the same time be the highest point of the tour. After Kom, we remain in the highlands, not dropping below 1400 m for a long time, soon reaching another great peak and scenic viewpoint, which goes by the name of Todorini Kukli. A short descent follows only to refuel and resupply, before we mount the ridge again to continue eastwards in the direction of the Murgash peak, tackling very exciting, dynamic landscape, with occasional technical challenges.
We temporarly leave the main ridge short before the beginning of the Central Balkan national park, to venture the next 300+ km along the Sredna Gora ridge – a slightly lower, but not less attractive mountain, reaching slightly over 1600 at the highest point. Sredna Gora is known for some of the most beautiful beech forests in the Balkans, featuring gigantic specimens of beech trees, as well as open grassland vistas with rounded volcanic rocks, from which you can experience some memorable sunsets.
On our way through Sredna Gora we will pass the picturesque, historically important ethno village of Koprivshtitsa, some ancient Thracian shrines from the 7th century hidden deep in the forest, several beautiful lakes, as well as the old town of Stara Zagora, one of the oldest settlements in southeast Europe.
As we pass the huge Zhrebchevo lake, we finally return to the main ridge of the Balkan mountain, to complete the last 300 km to the Black Sea. Although at this point the mountain is slowly becoming lower, the beauty of the landscape does not diminish. The forest trails that we will drive along the ridge often feature extreme ascents and descents, and are really among the most beautiful 4×4 forest trails that we have driven so far. Sometimes the forest sections will be so long, that you will wonder if these forests will ever end. But in the end, the Black Sea will unfold in front of our eyes, in all it’s greatness.
Our campsites will be deep in the wilderness, often at lakesides, in most cases ideal for full comfort far away from any signs of civilization. We will have firewood in abundance, so we will have an opportunity to light campfires almost every evening, which can also be used for grilling. We will attempt to arrive at the campsite every day no later than 17:00, so that you have plenty of time to setup your little nomadic heaven and prepare for the night, enjoying the beautiful surroundings to the fullest. We usually leave the campsite at 9:00, leaving us enough time for a relaxed breakfast and packing up all the equipment afterwards (according to group preferance, we can leave later, or earlier).
Altitudes of the campsites will vary from around 300-400 m, to as high as 1600 m, which means that nights can get chilly in some camps. But overall, during this midsommer tour, we expect pleasent night temperatures in the range around 15 C.
Replenishing our food supplies and refueling will be possible 3-4 times during the tour, as we descend to some small towns in the mountains. Therefore we recommend that you equip your vehicle with large capacity / good quality compressor refrigerator, so that you can keep your food fresh over several days.
Every day we will make a lunchbreak sometime between 12:30 and 14:00 lasting for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, so there will be plenty of time to prepare a decent lunch.
Low gear capable transfer case vehicles are mandatory
Equipment of your vehicle for the Balkan Long Trail should include
- Offroad tyres (MT or AT class)
- basic tools for your vehicle and camping (shovel, saw, axe, etc.)
- a kinetic ropes for recovery
Optional equipment that we advise
- Sylicone foil protection over your paint (on the narrow Balkan forest trails you WILL BE scratching your vehicle on daily basis)
- winch (we’re not planning to get stuck on the trails, but having your own winch can dramatically expedite recovery in case needed)
- at least 2″ lift (will greatly improve your chances to overcome some deep ruts on our way)
Tour price coverage
Tour price includes
- one adequately equipped guide vehicle with our guide, and tour guidance during 10 days
- all fuel and other expenses for the guide vehicle
- personal counceling before and during the tour
- appropriate GPS maps and data, that can be made available to the participants, if they have compatible hardware
- handheld communication radio with battery charger
Tour price does not include
- individual fuel and toll costs
- individual food and drink expenses
- mechanical servicing expenses by third parties
- individual accomodation expenses before and after the tour (on your way to Bulgaria and back)
- other individual expenses
How do you know if this tour is for you?
To be able to answer that question, we first have to say…
Who this tour is not for?
- It is definitely not for absolute beginners, who would like to try out offroad/overland travel to see if they like it. They will probably find the rugged Bulgarian mountains and the harsh conditions existing in them too extreme for their capabilities, and it could discourage them to try future tours.
- It is not for people with cars with “virgin” paint, as the dense vegetation on Bulgarian forest trails will undoubtedly leave significant marks. Or at least they have to come to terms with that fact in advance – either by accepting it or preparing their cars with sillicone protective foil.
- It is also not for adrenaline junkies, keen on testing the limits of their vehicles by winching all day long and deliberately searching for extreme sections where they’d drive 3-4 km an entire day.
- It is not for people who, either due to excessive concern for their vehicle, or their own driving skills, cannot follow an efficient pace of driving, enabling them to easily cover 70-100 km per day in mixed terrain, that includes at least 20% of harder trails (deep ruts, very rocky trails, steep inclines and descents, significant side angle, etc.).
- These are no SUV trails. Vehicles with decent ground clearance and low range transfer box are an absolute prerequisite for entering the tour.
Then who is this tour actually for?
It is for experienced and rational overland travellers with a preference for total wilderness tours. Under “experience” we don’t count the Western Alps gravel roads that can actually be driven by any 2WD vehicle. For people that can follow an active driving pace on mixed terrain with an average moving speed of about 13-15 km/h or higher, and are keen on tackling technical challenges in order to reach some extraordinary places deep in the wild. In other words, to drive as fast as possible, and as slow as necessary. We’re certainly not racers, but in order to complete the 1000 km length of the tour and arrive at campsite decently early every afternoon in order to enjoy the rest of the day and evening, we simply have to be capable to drive efficiently as a team, without waiting for you at every junction 15 minutes or so.
Beware that occasional technical problems (like flat tyres, various breakdowns, needs to recover from getting stuck, etc.) happen in every tour, and driving efficiently provides us with an extra hour in average every day to resolve such unexpected matters without disrupting the pace of the tour. Or simply for making more photo breaks and enjoying the nature in days when no problems occur.
What else you should know about the tour?
For this tour the meeting point will be in a roadside clearing near the Belogradchik rocks in the northwest of Bulgaria. About one month prior to the tour start you’ll be supplied by email with detailed access instructions, coordinates and GPX/KML tracks to the meeting point, as well as other details significant for the tour. Please secure that you have your travel insurance before starting the tour. We expect you to arrive with a vehicle in good technical conditon, which can endure 10 days of overlanding. During the tour a chance to refuel will be available each 250-300 km (petrol, diesel, LPG). All major credit cards (Visa, Master, etc.) work in Bulgaria (both on ATM machines and for paying goods), but it’s advisable to have a small amount of cash for small expenses in the mountainous areas.
Tour booking form
If you have any more questions,
ask your guide!
Invoice and payment instructions will be e-mailed to you upon filling out and sending this registration form