and rock climbing
It is difficult to surpass the excitement of climbing in Bulgaria, and the keen moun-taineer will never forget the thrill of the many ascents the mountains have to offer. Besides the chance to follow mountaineering courses, trips are organised by specialised agencies in the areas of Vratsa, Veliko Turnovo, Trojan Maliovitza and Roussenski Lom. For sheer excitement and endurance, the climbing rocks of Rila, Pirin, the Rhodopes and Stara Planina are a must.
Hiking and walking
Hiking and walking have long been a tradition in Bulgaria, and there are both one and two week trips on offer in most of the national parks, always in the company of an experienced guide. Enthusiasts will certainly want to discover the mountain regions of Pirin, Rhodopes, the Balkan with the Botev peak, and Vitosha with the breathtaking Cherni Vrah.
Thanks to a network of comfortable mountain chalets guest houses and camps, the visitor has the choice of more than 5,000 marked paths and routes through unspoiled nature, secure in the knowledge of a warm welcome at the end of an exciting day.
With more than 2,000 caves still to be explored, Bulgaria's subterranean rock formations and ancient cave paintings will delight and excite the more adventurous visitor. There are organised expeditions in the Balkan, Pirin and Rhodope Mountains and in Sevlievo and Vratsa.
Bulgaria has already hosted two World Championships and the annual cup for orienteering is held on the Shoumensko Plateau. The forests around the Sts. Constantin and Helena resorts and the Kamchiya River are ideal for this type of activity holiday.
One or two week trekking trips through Bulgaria have become very popular since they are an ideal way to get to the heart of Bulgarian life and customs, offering a wonderful insight into the local population, who always have a warm welcome for the unexpected visitor. On foot or by horse-drawn carriage, it's an experience not to be missed.
For an experienced horseman, there is a wide
choice of one and two week trekking tours. Destinations include the Balkan Mountains, Trojan, the Danube valley and the Valley of Roses. Riding along the paths in The Rila and Stara Planina Mountains you are at one with nature, breathing in cool mountain air and history at the same time.
Rafting, canoeing and kayaking
Where would an activity holiday be without the excitement of going rafting? The Struma, Arda and Ossam rivers are especially suitable for the enthusiast in springtime once the mountain snows higher up have melted, and the Stackevska river in the Vratza mountain offers all the thrills and spills of wild water rafting. The river Danube is excellent for canoeing and kayaking.
Mountain biking and cycling
Mountain biking in the Rhodope Mountains is a new activity holiday, and the Special Bike Tours are fast
gaining in popularity, both for youngsters and families. The Black Sea coast is great for the cyclist who wishes both to be closer to nature and cycle through the surrounding areas meeting the local inhabitants, and no two days are ever the same.
There is excellent trout fishing, along with pike, carp and bream, to name but a few in the mountain streams, and com-fortable accommodation to be had with the local inhabitants. Who will ever forget being among friends, with the smell of the day's catch cooking over the camp fire, sitting around and listening to the 'one that got away' stories which last well into the night.
Hunting is more than a tradtion in Bulgaria.
In order to maintain a steady ecological balance, both small and big game hunting is permitted in the mountains, and the larger hunting areas offer
accommodation in typical hunting lodges.
The season runs from mid-August to the end of January, peaking in October, and wild boar and deer are plentiful. The hunter will not be disappointed with his trophies. Licenses both for fishing and hunting are naturally required and can be obtained from the State Forest Authority.
Special interest travels
For the less active visitor there is the chance to explore and discover the local geology and botany either on foot or on horseback. Some areas are so unspoiled that finding semi-precious stones answering to magical names such as amethyst, jasper, agate and chalcedony is not uncommon.
International Youth centres
There are two major international youth centres offering a wide range of activities, both cultural as well as sports oriented. Primorsko, at the foot of the Strandja Mountains on the Black Sea coast, offers a wide range of sporting activities in natural surroundings. When night falls, there's the chance to take part in traditional dancing and singing or visit one of the local taverns or night-clubs.
Batak, in the Rhodope Mountains, located at the pic-turesque area of Tsigov Chark near the lake of Batak, is a firm
favourite for skiers in winter-time, and during the summer there's fishing, hunting, caving, mountaineering, hiking and walking.