Nature, history, culture
For the first time the name of Orpheus is mentioned during the seventh century BC in one of the poems of the poet Horse. The name Orpheus was always accompanied by the adjective “famous”.
The first to tell the story of Orpheus in a more systematic and detailed way is the philosopher Diodorus in the fourth century BC. Orpheus is the son of ÖIAG - King of the ancient Thracians. The kingdom stretched from east to west of the Rhodope Mountains to the plains of Thessaloniki where the Vardar River reaches the Aegean Sea. The population of the kingdom were the ancient Thracian tribes such as Eton, Odrissi, and Chiccona.
The fame of Orpheus in the fields of study, music and poetry far exceeds all the names mentioned in history before the time of Christ. When Orpheus began to play his lyre, the fiercest animals stopped spellbound to listen to his music. Even the wind stopped and let the branches of the forest trees stand still to feel the beauty and harmony of his music.
Still young, Orpheus dedicated himself with all his soul to the study of science of the gods, looking at ways to communicate and interpret their messages. Later, he went to Egypt to pursue his studies and acquire the greatest and unsurpassed knowledge in the field of theology, mysteries, poetry and music. Some scholars speak of the birth of a religion in his time known as Orpheism. It is part of the expedition of the Argonauts.
With his wife, Eurydice, he has a bond of love so strong that after her death Orpheus enters into an amazing heroic adventure and falls in the Kingdom of Shadows (the Kingdom of Hades). With his singing he manages to move and soften Persephone that allows him to bring back to life his beloved wife and take her back on Earth.
Day by day
Arrival in Sofia
Arrival at the airport of Sofia. After meeting with our mountain-bike guide, we go to the city center for a guided tour.
In the evening, a hotel is hosting us for dinner and overnight stay.
Visits to the city of Plovdiv and Bachkovo Monastery
Our minibus takes us to the city of Plovdiv, located in the heart of the plain of Thrace.
Plovdiv is the second largest city of Bulgaria, but it is the first in importance with respect to the country’s cultural heritage. Accompanied by a guide, we discover the treasures of the city.
After the visit, the minibus takes us south-east towards the Rhodope Mountains, where in one of the valleys stands the Monastery of Bachkovo (the second largest in Bulgaria).
After the visit of the monastery, our journey continues to the village of Zabardo.
A small hotel is hosting us for dinner and overnight stay.
Distance: 38 km, Ascent: 720 m, Descent: 1055 m, Level: easy
Zabardo - Orehovo
Breakfast at approximately 07.30 and we gather outside to mount our mechanical horses and prepare them for the next five days of riding on the mountains of Orpheus.
A non very busy road takes us to a place called Chudnite Mostove (the Marvelous Bridges) - a phenomenon created by nature: two huge arches carved into the rock for thousands of years by the river, which flows below.
We continue riding uphill on a beautiful dirt road and bypassing the deep mountain ridge we engage in a long descent to the village of Orehovo (a village that conserves Bulgarian architecture from the 18th century and is certified by the European Union as a green village).
For dinner and overnight stay we are guests in a traditional style house.
Distance: 30 km, Ascent: 750 m, Descent: 1100 m, Level: easy
Orehovo - Mihalkovo
We ride down the hill in the valley of Oreshtitza towards the Perseng mountain hut.
From the hut, following down a dirt road, we arrive at Mihalkovo (a village known for its thermal springs, which treat diseases of the stomach). For prophylaxis, we make a stop to drink from a spring, before really quench our thirst with a fair amount of cold beer.
A private house, renting rooms, is hosting us for dinner and overnight stay.
Distance: 55 km, Ascent: 1530 m, Descent: 630 m, Level: medium
Mihalkovo - Beglika
A short descent brings us to the bridge where we cross the river of Vaccia. From here we change the scope and go more or less always in ascent for the rest of the day.
Once at the lake Beglika, we enjoy the freshness of the woods in a small hotel near the shore.
Dinner and overnight stay.
Distance: 27 km, Ascent: 245 m, Descent: 575 m, Level: easy
Beglika - Dospat
For more than 10km. pedal along the lake. Occasionally the itinerary gives us great views towards the woods, the lake, meadows and mountain peaks.
Leaving the lake behind our backs and take the uphill road which follows the valley of a stream, we reach the watershed ridge. A beautiful descent leads us to the village Sarnitza, where we settle into a hotel on the shore of the lake Dospat.
If the fishing season is open, we could try (with a little luck) to catch some trout in the lake.
Dinner and overnight stay.
Distance: 54 km, Ascent: 570 m, Descent: 1020 m, Level: easy
Dospat - Eleshnitsa
The final stage takes us through forests and meadows in remote mountain villages and huts of shepherds.
Every now and then we see in the green fields, as if they were flowers, women dressed in traditional clothes of very bright colors.
In the afternoon we arrive at the village of Eleshnitsa. The minibus is waiting for us and brings us to the hotel in Bansko.
Short visit to the town, the stronghold of the Bulgarian National Revival, and then we stop to have dinner at the local restaurant “Bariakova Mehana”, where we eat and drink as well as God intended.
Breakfast early in the morning.
We dismantle, pack, and load the bikes on the minibus and set off to visit the Rila Monastery, located in the beautiful valley of the Rila River. (The largest and most important monastery in Bulgaria). We visit the old site of the monastery, a few miles further in the valley.
In the evening we arrive for dinner and overnight stay at a farmhouse, where all the dishes served at table are prepared exclusively with home-made products. As they say, “production at kilometer zero”.
DepartureBreakfast with fresh milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, cake, homemade croissants andwe are ready to leave for the airport of Sofia for our return back home.