PHOTO TOUR THROUGH THE RHODOPES
Posted on September 23, 2013
…if Orpheus, the singer from the Rhodopes, knew photography, perhaps he would have been a photographer
DURATION: 9 days
PRICE: € 1159 based upon minimum of 8 paying participants. Small group surcharge of € 100. Single room supplement € 60. Single rooms are subject to availability.
GROUP SIZE: 5–8
We will begin this photo excursion in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. We will shoot the Eastern Rhodopes in the region of Madzharovo and the meanderings of the Arda River, pass through Ivailovgrad and the wild outskirts of Bulgaria: the Byala River valley and the villages of Odrintsi and Mandritsa as well as the cult villages of Dolno Lukovo and Gorno Lukovo. We will cross through the heart of the Rhodopes and continue to one of the largest outdoor museums, in Zlatograd. We will take photos in the unofficial capital of the Rhodopes, Smolyan, as well as the lovely, old village of Shiroka Luka. We will be sure not miss one of the most noteworthy natural phenomena in the Rhodopes, the Trigrad Gorge. We will conclude this trip with intensive photo sessions in the authentic villages of Leshten and Kovachevitsa.
WHAT THE PRICE INCLUDES:
Group transportation in tour van/microbus; Accommodations based on two people sharing a room; Eight (8) nights including breakfast; Photographic leader in English; Day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary; Extensive pre-arrival information and services.
WHAT THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
International air fare; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those arriving or leaving out of the tour dates: meals not included in itinerary; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, film or processing, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips of any kind.
DAY 1 Sofia
The trip begins at 9 AM from the hotel in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria (all participants need to have arrived in Sofia the previous day). A local driver will take us to the main sights around the city, with an accent on old, monumental Stalinist architecture in the center, with some of the best-preserved examples of the style in the former communist bloc. However critically the architectural qualities of these buildings may be viewed, they form part of the cultural past of the country and in this way represent its wealth. Late in the afternoon we will visit the women’s market, one of the liveliest places in Sofia, where we will have the opportunity to photograph locals in all their vividness. For those who are interested, in the vicinity of the train station (not far from the women’s market) are Sofia’s industrial districts, a strange mix of old buildings left over from the communist period placed in the context of a contemporary industrial landscape.
DAY 2 Madzharovo – meanders of the Arda River – Ivailovgrad
Very early in the morning we will set off for Madzharovo, in the heart of the Eastern Rhodopes. We will arrive around 11 AM (300 km). The natural sights of the Eastern Rhodopes in the region around Madzharovo is magical – the enchanting meanders of the Arda River and vultures hanging in the sky create an inimitable atmosphere. All day we will photograph the surrounding landscapes, sandy river beaches and rocky massifs with distinctive names such as Kulata, Momina Skala, Sivridikme, Hisarya, Kovankaya, Patronkaya, Okopa and Meneka. In the evening, just before dark, we will leave for Ivailovgrad, a cozy little town in the Eastern Rhodopes, not far from Madzharovo, where we will spend the night in a hotel (57 km).
DAY 3 Ivailovgrad – meanders of the Byala River – villages along the banks of the Byala River – Ivailovgrad (approximately 150 km)
We visit the exceptionally beautiful meanderings of the Byala River. We photograph the villages of Odrintsi and Mandritsa as well as the cult villages of Dolno Lukovo and Gorno Lukovo. Several of these villages are completely empty, preserving their character and appearance from the very last day before they were abandoned. We will continue to Zlatograd, where we will spend the night in the Zlatograd Ethnographic Area Complex. If time allows, we will also visit the “Rock Mushrooms” near Zlatograd, between the villages of Dobromirtsi and Benkovski, strange rock formations that complete the beautiful Eastern Rhodope landscape.
DAY 4 Zlatograd
Early in the morning we will walk around and take pictures in the Zlatograd Ethnographic Area Complex, a unique openair museum showing the characteristic traits of a town environment from 100 years ago. Afterwards, we will go west into the nooks and crannies of the Western Rhodopes.
DAY 5 Western Rhodopes, Smolyan, Shiroka Luka (approximately 65 km)
Early in the morning we will set off for the Western Rhodopes. The road winds through high peaks and pastoral landscapes, offering splendid opportunities for scenic photography. We will travel slowly, stopping at places that are convenient for photography as well as little villages and neighborhoods typical of the Rhodope region in order to photograph the local population in everyday life.
We will briefly stop for lunch in Smolyan, the secret capital of the Rhodopes, where we will also spend several hours taking pictures. After lunch we will head for Shiroka Luka, one of the most unique villages in the Rhodopes, famous for its authentic Rhodope houses such as the Zgurovska, Uchikovska and Grigorovska Houses. One of the local attractions is the Assumption of the Most Holy Virgin Mary Church, built in 1834 (legend states it was erected in only 38 days). We will spend the night in Shiroka Luka.
DAY 6 The whole day shooting in the region.
DAY 7 Western Rhodopes – Trigrad Gorge (approximately 45 km)
Early in the morning we will head west. We will travel slowly through villages and small towns, pastoral meadows, magical valleys and mountain heights. Not long afterwards, we will arrive in Trigrad. Here we will photograph the majestic gorge situated along the banks of the Trigradska River, 2 km downstream of the village of Trigrad, along the road from the village to Devin. The main portion of the gorge extends for a length of 2 or 3 km and is made of marble cliffs on both sides of the river that form the narrow gap of the gorge itself. In places the cliffs reach 250 m in height. The lowest part is in the Bukov Most area (946.5 m) while the highest is at Kulata Peak (1543 m). On this evening we will discuss the pictures taken up to that point of the trip during our photography critique session. We will spend the night in Trigrad.
DAY 8 Leshten – Gorno Dryanovo – Kovachevitsa (approximately 90 km)
We will leave in the morning and arrive about two hours later at the ancient village of Leshten. Due to this village’s authentic appearance, it is often featured in movies and music videos. We will have an evening photo session among the narrow streets of the village.
Afterwards, we will set off for Gorno Dryanovo, a picturesque village with a predominantly Muslim population located only about 10 km from Leshten. Even though the village lacks preserved old houses, it is especially interesting because of the lively activity carrying on along almost the entirety of the main street. Unlike villages with a primarily Christian composition, villages with large Muslim populations are full of life as the people there rarely leave them to live in big cities.
We will continue toward the goal of the day’s trip, the village of Kovachevitsa (3 km from Gorno Dryanovo). The village has preserved its authentic appearance from the 18th and 19th centuries and is one of the most famous and beautiful villages in Bulgaria.Kovachevitsa is an architectural reserve with very well-preserved Revival architecture. The houses are almost completely built of stone, including the roofs, only the highest floors being made of wood. We will spend the whole day taking pictures in the village and its vicinity. For those who like, we will return to Gorno Dryanovo (only a few kilometers away) to photograph the village’s enlivened central street before dark. There you will have exceptional opportunities to practice ethnographic photography among the local Muslim population. We will spend the night in the village of Kovachevitsa.
DAY 9 Travel to Sofia (approximately 205 km)
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