goKotel

Hiking programme

In the region of Kotel you find ancient deciduous forests, rock formations, waterfalls, many caves, archaeological sites and sacred places of the Thracians. On our hikes, you will learn to know this diverse region. The not too high altitude of not less than 500 up to 1100 meters above sea level makes the area ideal for light to medium heavy walks through the undisturbed environment. Because of the location of Kotel at 500 meters in height, it is not too hot in the summer.

The following program gives you an idea of the variety of our hiking days. Depending on the weather, the arrival and departure and the pedestrian experience of the group, the program can be adapted to individual needs. For Transhumance scroll down at this page.

Day 1: After arriving and being housed in one of the guest houses, we make a hike of about 2.5 hours in Kotel and the park Izvorite. You get to know the town of Kotel, by its history and distinctive character, so during the rest of your stay it will be easier to get around. In the evening there will be a dinner and introduction evening.

Day 2: After breakfast we depart for our first trip of about 6-7 hours to Zheravna: through Chukarite we will go along the historic site “na Boznoto dărvo” (‘at Gods tree, a place with special and healing energy) and the Razboina top (1128 meters) on the Vetrila ridge with a beautiful panorama through a winding forest path to the architectural reserve Zheravna. In this typical rebellious Bulgarian village we stop to have lunch. We take another way back through the eastern Vetrila ridge, along to Baba Vida and Korenik to Gratski djol and back to Kotel. We will come along historical sites, cross the route of the Byzantine commander murine and visit the place Indje Vojvoda and the Starcha spring.

In the evening dinner with live music. Traditional Bulgarian dishes are served while the rakia (Bulgarian brandy) and Mavrud (a typical wine grape native Bulgarian) keep coming, you hear the sounds of the melancholic Gadulka (a type of resonance fiddle), the gaida (goat bagpipe), the sweet honey kaval (shepherd's flute) and the enchanting vocals á la Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares and you, as far as the walking legs still permit, will be challenged to (your first?) Bulgarian dance.

Day 3: After breakfast we will leave with a mini bus to the village Medven. From Medven we make a slight hike of about half an hour to the waterfall Sini Vir (‘Blue pool’) where you can take a dip in the cool water if you fancy. For experienced hikers, we can continue our journey to the "great leap”, a 15-20 meter high waterfall. Then we walk through another route through Medvenska along the river back to the village Medven where we have lunch. A mini bus will bring us back to Kotel. With rest breaks this day trip takes about 4 hours. After returning there’s an evening dinner in Kotel.

Day 4: After breakfast, we walk with a lunchbox to Thracian sanctuaries Talim tash and Chobra tash. This tour of about 6 hours take us to gentle slopes, loose walking cows, wild horses, pigs and the sharp steep land Urishkite Skala (where recently griffon vultures where freed again) to Chobra Tash, a holy place of the Thracian with a mystical aura, that’s where we have our picnic. After the picnic through Talim Tash, where the border between Bulgaria and East Romelia was, we arrive back in Kotel. Evening dinner in Kotel.

Day 5: Free day. Program, lunch and dinner of your choice, for own account. You can choose a day from our “programme à la carte”, such as visiting vineyards, wine museum, lunch and wine tasting. For the fans is a possibility of an additional trip to Kipilovo with a visit to the newly discovered cave Jamata and remains of the Roman settlement Harsul grad at the Hisara top.

Day 6: On the last walking day we set off early for a long walk on the nature route Kotel – Arpaluka - Rimski Kaleto – Zlosten - Rakovski cave - Yablanovo (7-8 hours). Because this is a long walking day, the bus brings us as close as possible to the beginning of the trail. Hence we go to Rimskite skala where a Roman coin place was. We continue our journey through ancient deciduous forests to the rocks of Zlosten, with 30 caves which exists many legends. With the panorama view of the Zlosten rocks we impose a campfire for the picnic. We walk back through a mountain goat path along the Rakovski cave, to the Turkish village Yablanovo. Then we return to Kotel with the bus. In the evenings we’ll go to one of the restaurants in Kotel area for our farewell dinner, where we experience a heavy gypsy night with live music and dance.

Day 7: After the (late) breakfast farewell and departure with appropriate souvenir.

Times and prices, season 2015

May 20 until October 10, 7 days. Price € 375,- all-in, based on minimum 4 participants.

Extra stay on accommodation + breakfast per day € 16,- per person, including your contribution to the “Clean Kotel Foundation”.

You will stay in one of our guest houses based on single or double rooms, or in one of the private pensions depending on the agreements which we have made.

Equipment: Good walking shoes (type A/B or B/A or B), rain gear and flashlight are recommended.

Registration: The hiking program is offered during the period May 20 until October 10. Go to Contact for information and reservations.

Kotel is on the road 55 km north of the town of Sliven - a city on the highway Sofia-Bourgas - and 38 km south of Omurtag - a town at the highway Sofia-Varna. Distances to airports: Bourgas - 125 km, Varna – 200 km and Sofia – 375 km.

We are pleased to advice and assist you with your flight and travel arrangements to Kotel.

We hope to welcome you in Kotel, already more than 1,100 guests came before you! Read their reactions.

 


Transhumance in Bulgaria.

Transhumance is the seasonal movement of shepherds and their livestock. They migrate between mountainous and lowland pastures as the seasons change. Transhumance used to be widespread in Bulgaria and although the transhumance is of high importance for the maintenance of grassland habitats and culture conservation, the practice was lost under communism. Since 2008 Transhumance is again organised by FWFF (Foundation for Wild Flora & Fauna) and will be open for tourist who, with their contribution, will help the economic possibility by side-financing the shepherd’s family and horsemen.

The spring Transhumance 2015 will be held from 9-16 May and the route goes from Arpaluka – Kotel – Neykovo – Rakovo - Daulite - Sinite Kamani. The autumn Transhumance will be held from 11-17 October with reversed route.

See Google Planet: Arpaluka to Sinite Kamani, with as centre Neykovo

Per day the distance will be not more than 15 km and the attitude difference not more than 600 meters (400-1000 meters). The herd will be about 300 sheep, accompanied by the shepherd’s family Dobri and his wife Rosa together with one or two horsemen, and facilitated by Lachezar from the local FWFF branch. Jaap van Beelen, owner of goKotel, will be organizer, guide and interpreter during the tour.

The spring and autumn transhumance are different in character and emotion. In the spring, the herd is bigger because trere are many lambs with his. Also, the sheep still are not shaved and the mountain slopes are full of flowers and fragrant herbs. We will move slower due to the larger flock and lambs and we really need 5 days to move up to the crossing. In autumn, the males lambs have been sold, so the herd is smallerthe sheep are bigger and stronger and the trip back can therefore be made ​1 to 1.5 days ​more rapidly . The slopes and forests begin already to adorn. Because we will arrive at Skinderovo a day earlier, we can make a nice walk on the last day at the vultures rock, the Thracian sanctuary "Chobra tash" and the Zlosten Nature Reserve.

During the spring transhumance, a festival will be organised at the day that the herd will leave Kotel, The festival includes Bulgarian and Karakachan folklore, the ritual blessing of the herd, and competition for the best sheep shaver, the best/most practical shepherd’s attribute and shepherd dog. One evening at the Spring and Autumn Transhumance their will be a festive dinner with live music together with the shepherd family and FWFF staff.

You will  stay 24 hours a day, 5 days long with the herd, sheperd family, horses, horsemen and dogs in the mountains, and cordially invited to help to bring the herd over the hill and trough the woods, light the campfire and prepare the BBQ. When the weather is very bad (cold and/or whole day rain) there will be the possibility to stay the night in one of the local guesthouses in a nearby village. Some of this guesthouses are traditional wooden houses from the Bulgarian revival period (1800-1870). Maximum number of guest that can go along is 12.

Dates and Prices for 2015:

Spring Transhumance, Kotel – Sinite Kamanite: 9-16 May, € 440

Autumn Transhumance, Sinite Kamanite – Kotel: 11-17 October, € 415

Included:

  • 5 days and nights Transhumance: walking with the herd and shepherd's family through the woods and mountains

  • possibility of bed & breakfast in guesthouses by bad weather conditions, mostly at 2 persons rooms.

  • 5 days breakfast, lunch/picnic and dinner incl. drinks with shepherd’s family.

  • one night & breakfast at the authentic guesthouses of goKotel.
  • One night festive dinner with live music together with sheperd's family, horsemen, FWFF staff.

  • Transhumance festival at the day leaving from Kotel (during spring Transhumance)


  • Financial contribution to the sheperds family, horsemen
  • English, Dutch, Bulgarian speaking guide

  • Transportation help by horses and 4WD of luggage and food to the camp places and to/from the guesthouses

Excluded:

  • Flight to Bulgaria (cheap flights are with Wizz air or German Wings, alternative also direct flights with Bulgaria air)

  • Transport to Sliven/Kotel and back to the airport (twice a day there is a direct bus connection from Sofia to Sliven/Kotel for resp. 22 or 26 Leva / € 11,50 – 13,50). Also twice a day a train service from Sofia to Sliven.

  • Travel insurance

  • Personal expenses like souvenirs, etc.

Equipment, to bring with you:

  • Good walking shoes (type B/A or B)

  • Good rain coats

  • Flashlight, knife, cup, plate, water bottle

  • Sleeping bag, mat and hikers tent

Further information / Reservations:

When you want to join or when you have further questions, please reply by e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We will send you the travel instruction to Kotel. An advance payment of € 200 has to be transferred to our bank account at reservation; we will send you the details. The remaining is due at day of arrival.

Transhumance Bulgaria 2014, is organised by goKotel, with support of FWFF Bulgaria (www.fwff.org).

 


 

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