August 26th to September 4th 2024
For 2024 we have completely rehauled our Rhodopean Quest tour to give you double as much of the fairy-tale landscape of the vast Rhodopean mountains, which take up most of southern Bulgaria. While driving through the seemingly endless pinetree forests, you will traverse an enormous, about 200 km wide highland plateau featuring numerous mountain lakes, discover some deep canyons, breathtaking scenic viewpoints, unbelievable stone arches and other awe inspiring natural monuments. It is one of our tours that are most loaded with natural beauty of the landscape, where you will feel that 10 days was barely enough to grasp the magic of this captivating landscape!
What? How long? How hard? How much?
Type – standard offroad tour
Duration – 10 days
Wild camping tour
Approximate length – 900 km
Technical difficulty – easy to moderate
Tyre type – AT tyres recommended
1390 € per vehicle
(regardless of number of passengers)
We meet in the picturesque ethno-village of Melnik in the west of Rhodopeans (actually, on the south slopes of Pirin mountain) from where we start a zig-zagging trail eastwards. After the first offroad segment, we shortly stop in the town of Gotse Delchev for resupplying and refueling, and then we disappear in the hundreds of kilometres of Rhodopean highland trails.
As we venture through the Rhodopeans, we will visit some epic lakes, like Dospat, Golyam Beglik, Belmeken (at the border with Rila, at almost 2000 m of altitude the highest artificial lake in Bulgaria), Batak, the Chair lakes, and others. We will also see the scenic viewpoints such as Karadzhov kamak, Orlovo oko or Valchi kamak, as well as the majestic Trigrad canyon and the Chudnite mostove stone arches. Tour will end in the vicinity of Asenovgrad, south of Plovdiv, after covering approximately 900 km during the 10 days.
Our campsites will be deep in the wilderness, often on the bank of mountain rivers or 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 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 haven 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 900-1000 m, to as high as 1800 m, which means that nights can get quite fresh, with temperatures sometimes dropping below 10 C. So in order to sleep comfortably at night be sure to have warm sleeping bags!
Replenishing our food supplies and refueling will be possible 3-4 times during the tour, as we descent 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 highly advised
Equipment of your vehicle for the Rhodopean Quest should include
- Offroad tyres (AT or MT class)
- basic tools for your vehicle and camping (shovel, saw, axe, etc.)
- a kinetic rope for recovery
Optional equipment that we advise
- Sillicone foil protection over your paint (on the narrow Balkan forest trails you WILL BE scratching your vehicle often)
- winch (we’re not planning to get stuck on the trails, but having your own winch can dramatically expedite recovery in case needed)
- 2″ or more of 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 occasional brushing agains vegetation on Bulgarian forest trails is inevitable. 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. That is not what we do.
- 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 70-120 km per day in mixed terrain, that may include 10-20% of middle difficult trails (deep ruts, very rocky trails, steep inclines and descents, significant side angle, etc.).
- Many of our trails are not suited for SUVs. Vehicles with decent ground clearance and low range transfer box are a prerequisite for your relaxed enjoyment of the tour.
Then who is this tour actually for?
It is for experienced and rational overland travellers with a preference for total wilderness tours (the tour passes through only two towns where we resupply / refuel, and several smaller villages), and 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 900-1000 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 the parking lot in the centre of Melnik. About one month prior to the tour start you’ll be supplied by email with detailed access instructions, coordinates, as well as GPX/KML tracks to the meeting point (on request), including also 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 200-300 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