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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed June 2019
    marilyn carroll

    Walking in wonderful Rodopi mountains

    A memorable walking holiday. The walks were through forests, gorges and beautiful wildflower meadows. Lovely views! A very pastoral feel to the whole holiday - and very relaxing. Yagodina is a small friendly village in a peaceful location. The hotel was clean and comfortable. Food was good - lots of local produce was used.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everyone mentions the lunch stops - but it was so lovely looking at the wildflowers, the birds and the views. There are not many places left in Europe that are so unspoilt. We rarely saw other people when we were out walking. Finding bear paw prints on a walk through some woods was unexpected!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nelly was excellent. One of the best guides I have encountered on a holiday. She spoke English fluently and was a good communicator with the group. Her knowledge of the local flora and fauna was extensive. She gave us a lot of background on the history and culture of Bulgaria. She was very helpful and attentive to the needs of the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I spent an extra day in Sofia and I can recommend this. There is a lot to see in the city centre. The Metro system is easy to use and cheap. Be prepared for showers when out walking and take lots of sunscreen.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I wish I had tried to learn a few words of Bulgarian before the holiday. If you are not flying direct to Sofia make sure you have enough time to make your connecting flight. One hour was not enough when flying from Manchester due to delays.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    John Murray

    A great walking holiday in unspoilt Bulgaria

    This was an excellent trip in a relatively unspoilt and bucolic part of the world. The Rodopi mountains in southern Bulgaria, near the Greek border, make for relatively gentle but sublime walking. We ambled along easy trails through deep gorges, natural forest and woodland, and, best of all, high alpine meadows, with carpets of wild flowers. The hotel in Yagodina was excellent - clean, with plenty of hot water after a day out. The food, even as a vegetarian, was varied, using a lot of local produce, and generally excellent. At the hotel, local beers were cheap, about £1.25 a bottle, though the wines were less so - think UK supermarket prices. It even had fairly good wifi!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the walks were lovely, but the lunches among the wild flowers, sitting in a high meadow, were something special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Neli was an outstanding leader. She was attentive to the needs of her party, patient, and was a great source of knowledge about Bulgaria, its history, politics, and culture. She really knew her local flora and fauna, and even knew all the names in English! She also boasted just about the best English language skills I've come across in a local guide, indeed her vocabulary would have put many native speakers to shame! Most importantly however, she was absolutely passionate about Bulgaria, and the Rodopi in particular.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a waterproof, it showered on most days, although only in the afternoon. Bring binoculars for the wildlife. Bring at least a one-litre water bottle - it can get hot, and although the walking is not arduous, the days were quite long. If you get Exodus to book flights with a stopover, check the timings. They wrecked our first day by allowing just one hour at Frankfurt airport. The plane was late taking off in the UK, and mayhem ensued. We eventually arrive many, many hours late, after many changes in flights! This was the only negative about the whole holiday however!
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Mick Quinn

    As the Nike Ad says "Just Do It"

    Having travelled extensively but not to Bulgaria previously I was very interested to see what I would think of the country and I wasn't disappointed. I flew direct from Ireland on Thursday and spent two days in Sofia before I joined a group of 15 others on the Saturday. I am not surprised that our trip was full/sold out. We spent a great week enjoying all aspects of rural Bulgaria. The walks averaged out at ten miles a day based in Hotel Yagodina that is ideally situated and very well run. The weather was perfect, despite many forecasts that predicted otherwise.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The consistency of how beautiful the views were each day when we lunched. The other aspect that really appealed to me was how natural the food we ate during the week was and how little processed food was served during our stay at Hotel Yagodina.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nelly's command of the English language is the best I have ever experienced in a non native speaker. Her willingness to help and accommodate people in the group was outstanding. Her passion and knowledge of the flora, fauna, folklore and history of Bulgaria was unsurpassable. I believe she has found her forté as a guide and I intend to nominate her in the Exodus Annual Leader Awards.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the group members who didn't spend a night or two in Sofia either at the beginning or the end of the holiday regretted their decision. I really enjoyed my two day stay in the capital and saw more of it than I imagined I would when I joined an organised cycle tour of the city that covers about 20kms and lasts about three hours.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If in doubt, just book it. I don't think you will be disappointed.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Carmel Elwell

    A fantastic walking holiday in remote and beautiful mountains

    We had five strenuous but not exhausting days walking through really beautiful gorges, meadows and mountains and came back to a welcoming and comfortable simple hotel each evening. Our guide was exemplary in her local knowledge of flora and fauna so there was much to learn as well as to enjoy. Highly recommended if you want to be out all day amidst a fascinating landscape.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting and gazing across the valleys and gorges from 6,000 feet up.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A fantastic leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring binoculars.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Pam Peers

    A wonderfully authentic Bulgarian experience; interesting walks, comfortable accommodation and a lovely group

    This trip provides a great introduction to a very special, unspoilt part of Europe which maintains traditional practices in agriculture and food production. Yagodina is a real find and I hope its uniqueness can be retained; the local people were friendly and the Yagodina Family Hotel offers a genuinely homely atmosphere, including comfortable accommodation and plenty of interesting and well presented food. Maria, the proprietor, runs an impressive operation and is always available to ensure that guests' needs are met. The walks were well chosen and the week's itinerary gave an excellent overview of the Rodopi mountains, including insights into the history, culture, flora and fauna of the area.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lunch most days was in beautiful meadows with masses of colourful Spring flowers and great views of the mountains - a real joy! The traditional Bulgarian singing and dancing on our final night was very enjoyable - Maria's mother and her team were an inspiration, and it was nice to see three generations of the family joining in the fun.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Svetla is excellent, and her passion and affection for the area were infectious. She is very well organised, always cheerful and positive, and has a great sense of humour. Her style in leading the walks was relaxed, whilst highly professional and she always ensured that all members of the group were comfortable with the pace.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you have time, stay an extra night or two in Sofia but make sure you join the group at the airport for the transfer to Yagodina - this can be arranged via the Exodus Office when you book. Sofia is an interesting and historic city, with impressive Roman ruins, a thriving music and cultural scene and some excellent restaurants. It is compact and easy to get round with a modern metro system. There are free city walking tours, which are highly recommended - tips for the local, well-informed, English-speaking guides are optional but well deserved
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Sue Totterdell

    If you go down in the woods today....

    A superb holiday in beautiful countryside, staying in an excellent local hotel with walks that make the most of what the region has to offer.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Realising that bears were probably within a kilometre or so of us as we walked through the forest. Julian's enthusiasm about all things 'bear' was catching. His expertise was not, however, limited to bears. The most photographed moment was on the last night when a small group of ladies from the village came to share traditional songs and dances. Seeing fellow walkers joining in with enthusiasm was a special moment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Julian is a superbly knowledgeable leader. His long association with the region makes him an expert in the area's cultural heritage, as well as in local flora and fauna. His extensive knowledge of the mountain tracks and paths meant that there was always an alternative possible if weather conditions dictated a change of route.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for changes in the daily routes - the mountain weather is unpredictable and thunderstorms meant we had to abandon one climb for a more sheltered walk. Late snow also meant we did not reach the highest point described in the trip notes. The alternative were always carefully explained and fascinating. Bring waterproofs. Delicious four course meals can become a habit. Be prepared either to keep up the strenuous walking routine at home or suffer hunger pangs for the first few days at home.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great way to visit Bulgaria. You could add on a day or so to see Sofia but the mountains are sufficient to justify the trip. The orchids were plentiful and the traces of bears were a wonderful reminder of the varied wildlife that makes its home in the region.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Joanna Z

    Beautiful walks in a remote part of Bulgaria

    It was a very enjoyable trip in a remote part of the country. I didn't hear about Rodopi mountains before so didn't know what to expect. The scenery is absolutely stunning - mountains, forests, gorges, caves - all so untouched and beautiful! I enjoyed all the walks and we never saw any other walkers - it was amazing to have it all just to ourselves. We also had a chance to see how local people live. It was a nice, relaxing week and the group bonded pretty quickly!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to choose one moment as the whole trip was so beautiful. But I really enjoyed Sveti Ilia hike, the views were breathtaking and we even managed to see some wall creepers!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was great, very informative and knew the area really well. Nothing was too much trouble, she was always willing to help. It was easy to see that she was passionate about what she does and that she really enjoys showing her country to foreign visitors.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You might want to bring a lunch box with you. And don't forget a sunscreen!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You will never be hungry - every meal I had in Yagodina was absolutely delicious and the portions were huge. It was good to try local dishes, it was all home-made and very tasty. Alcohol was very cheap, everybody was pleasantly surprised at the end of the stay that our bills were so low!
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Robert Walden

    Bulgaria Rodopi Mtns

    Good walking in the Rodopi hills -Derbyshire on a larger scale (but with a lot more trees).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walks were a little "samey" as many of the individual views are masked by the extensive conifer plantations but the viewing platform from St Elijah (Sveti Iliya) Ridge on Day 6 gave an impressive and unique aspect and from where we saw wall creepers on the rocks just below and could watch their red flashes in flight. Later the Yagodina Cave was an impressive side attraction.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good. Cheerful and willing - mixed well with the entire group. (Danced really well!)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you take a large lunch box. The food is hearty but dull (a lot of cheese with every meal - especially breakfast!) - I would seriously suggest taking a bottle of ketchup or favourite brown sauce plus a supply of your favourite tea bags if you are not an avid coffee drinker. Beer, wine and coffee is very cheap - your bar bill will be a pleasant surprise!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The scenery is potentially stunning - much more dramatic than my favourite Derbyshire. However, some limited management of the trees is required to provide more open vistas and specific viewpoints, especially in and above the steep gorges. Imagine going to the English Lake District and being unable to see the lakes? As a consequence I am unlikely to return .
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Linda and David S

    Rodopi Mountains

    This trip was delightfully different from other European trips that we have enjoyed. The local people were warm and friendly and appeared content to work in the fields or sit with the cows in a high pasture all day. The difference between our fast paced life style and their post communist lives was marked. The scenery was beautiful, very 'vertical', with rare pre-ice age flowers. Even the long drive from and too Sofia was interesting and our driver surely the most competent in Bulgaria.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This is a difficult one. Was it seeing ancient Soviet agricultural equipment, people working in the fields, the prospect of seeing bears and wolves? Maybe it was meeting local ladies who were chatting and embroidering slippers, or dancing with the folk singers from the village? Probably, it was just the sheer beauty and tranquillity of the area.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nelly's love and knowledge of Bulgaria shone through at every meadow, mountain and forest. Nothing was too much trouble and her care was always evident. She was an outstanding leader and made this a wonderful and exciting trip for us both.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take an empty plastic sandwich box for packed lunches, and lots of memory for your camera.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Food is local, traditional and good - don't expect to loose weight!
  • Reviewed June 2016
    Ronald Bowater

    Rodopi Mountains

    Excellent trip walking in the mountains and meadows of the Rodopi mountains. Lovely family run hotel with exellent food - very welcoming. We had a very peaceful and relaxing time in Yagodina and the walks were lovely - especially the time spent in the beautiful wildflower meadows.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking through the fantastic wild flower meadows with no one else around.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Nelli is a superb leader in all respects. Very kind and caring of her group at all times. She made our stay something special to remember. Many thanks.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just enjoy the scenery and the relaxed atmosphere.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip is very good value for money - would recommend it to anyone who enjoys walking in beautiful scenery.
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