An ideal launch pad for mountain tourism

04/08/2009 by Christopher Buxton

We have just returned from a week in the Rhodope mountains – at once Bulgaria’s most accessable and most breathtaking mountain region – ideal for hiking, biking, fishing or just lazing, gaping at lakes, valleys and forests. It is also the region where folkloric traditions have best survived the changes of the last seventy years.

We began our journey in Belovo with our friends Gary and Veni, their delightful daughter Ellie and a purr of cats.

A year ago Veni and Garry decided to exchange their terraced two-up-two-down house on the noisy Military Road in Colchester for a three story house in the town of Belovo. Standing on their balcony it is easy to understand why.

The house stands on the banks of the bubbling river Maritsa – the river which according to legend carried Orpheus’s singing head all the way from his Rhodope home to the Aegian. Looking upwards from the valley you see the steep forests leading towards higher mountains. Just above Belovo there are lakes and mountain pastures full of wild herbs, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Garry and Veni have opened their house for guests who wish to explore this region and made a whole floor available for families with bedrooms and bath and cooking facilities. There is a lovely garden with fruit trees, lawn and vegetable patch. Belovo itself is a bustling little town with good fruit and vegetable markets ideal for stocking up prior to a trip up the mountain. Come at the right time and you will be able to attend folk festivals where the mountains ring with the stirring harmonies and disharmonies of authentic Bulgarian voices and the heart stopping call of the bagpipes.

Belovo is only a short trip away from historic Plovdiv with its ancient theatre and Bulgarian renaissance merchants’ houses. It is also handy for Sofia airport.

Veni, Garry and Ellie are warm hospitable hosts and ready to help with advice about the best spots to visit in this most beautiful area.

For more information and pictures, visit their site at: