One of the most popular winter destinations in Bulgaria is the sunny mountain resort of Pamporovo (1620 m). It is situated only 85 km away from Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria, in the area of Smolyan district. Situated deep in the green forests of the mountains at the foot of Snezhanka Peak (1926 m) this attractive part of Bulgaria offers many different sorts of mountain activities.
The perfect conditions for skiing are not the only reason to attract you to visit this beautiful place in Rhodope Mountains, but maybe it’s the most popular one. The ski season starts in the middle of December (if the weather allows it may start even earlier) and continues to the end of March. There is a variety of ski-runs, easy and difficult ones, suitable for skiing and snowboarding, with a total length of 37 km. Fans of ski-running are also welcome in Pamporovo – there is a couple of tracks prepared for this activity. Of course if you are not so good in skiing or snowboarding, there are many ski schools which offer excellent lessons.
Lately another winter sport takes place in Pamporovo resort – ski-doo, which basically is driving a snowmobile and it’s one of the most popular entertainment in Canada. If you always wondered what is like to be an Eskimo, this is your chance to hit a snowy mountain path with an arctic sled, pulled by strong arctic dogs. What a wonderful adventure will it be!
The winter sports and activities are great but summer gives many opportunities for wonderful experiences in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains. Mountain biking is one of the interesting sports which takes place in Pamporovo. There are built layouts and routes, for beginners and advanced in this area, and everyone can take the delight in biking around the picturesque surroundings. The most popular biking routes are leading to the village of Stoikite (23 km going and return), to the meadows of Rozhen area (where the famous Rozhen National Folklore Fair is taking place) and the observatory situated there. Outstanding nature, fresh air, silence and a great diversity of biking routes – just perfect!
Most of the biking routes are also suitable for hiking and long walks among the age-old pines, spruces and firs. The duration of all of the walking tours is around 4 hours. You won’t notice how will time flies because the walk through the mountains is so bracing and relaxing and it makes you feel peaceful. When you go hiking in Rhodope Mountains, don’t forget to look around when you pass the glades. They are full with different kind of healthy herbs and in the autumn, with mushrooms. The most delicious of them are edible boletus, parasol mushroom, suillus and chanterelle. Just in case be careful if you decide to gather some because they have dangerous duplicates. This area is a home for a wealth of rare and threatened with extinction representatives of the flora and fauna. Striking examples are the Rhodope Tulip, Rhodope Violet and Rhodope Lily. The other way to explore the secrets of the mountain is on horseback. If you have never ridden a horse, don’t miss the chance. There are several paths with different duration but excitement to become one with a noble animal like this is wonderful no matter what route you will choose.
This region offers adventures to the speleologists too because two of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria are hidden exactly in this area, not far from Pamporovo. The most famous one is named Devil’s Throat Cave and the name is fitting perfectly. A legend says that the famous Thracian singer, Orpheus, used this cave to enter the underground kingdom of Hades and to save his beloved Euridice. Don’t let the small and tiny entrance to the cave to deceive you. Just a few steps further you will find yourself in one of the biggest underground cave halls shaped by the falling water of a river and formed the highest subterranean waterfall in the Balkans.
About a 50 km away from Pamporovo is the longest cave in the Rhodope Mountains, Yagodinska Cave. Walking through the 1100 m long path, adjust for the tourists; you will see amazing figures formed by the time and the water. The stalactites and stalagmites resemble to Santa Claus, Snow White and the dwarfs and many other characters from the land of fairy tales. The most interesting and rare cave formations are the cave pearls so small but million years old. The Yagodinska Cave is a very popular and unusual place which people with a taste for adventure choose for their wedding and the most enthusiastic speleologist greet the New Year.
In case that you still have free time and you are a fan of walking the perfect trail for you is named, The Waterfalls Canyon. It’s a wonderful experience, full with emotion to walk this trail, build entirely on the river bed. The beginning of the route is a several meters after the last houses in Smolyan, the biggest town in the area, situated 18 km away from Pamporovo. Right from the first step you will fall among in a different world. An old Roman most will lead you deep to the heart of the mountain and numerous waterfalls along the path. The trail is very well marked and it is almost impossible to go wrong. The best time for exploring this amazing part of the nature is the summer.
All of the people, who love the mountain tourism, will find their place in the amazing world of Rhodope Mountains and Pamporovo.
Author: Lyuben Grancharov
“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” (Augustine of Hippo). I enjoy filling up the page, called “Bulgaria”, both working as a guide and writing about the mountains of Bulgaria on this blog.