Dolen Rupchos

Right in the middle between Plovdiv and Smolyan, that is 50 km, there is an exceptionally picturesque valley known to locals from time immemorial by the name of Dolen (Lower) Rupchos; not to be confused with Goren (Upper) Rupchos - where the town of Chepelare is located. This relatively broad (for the mountainous terrain) and terraced area, is the meeting point of several of the tributaries to Chepelarska river, carrying the water from Chernatitsa ridge to the west and Radyuva Mountain to the east. Since millennia, the good living conditions of the area have been attracting settlers. Remains of necropolises evidence Thracian settlements and the first reliable sources evidence the presence of settlers of the Slavonic tribe "Ruptsi", whose descendants have established 4 settlements over the centuries, located just a few kilometers apart from each other.

 

Hvoyna Village – 20 km from Chepelare. The festival day takes place in July – Ilinden (Saint Elias Day).

Hvoyna is the closest place to Road II-86 - the bus station remains on the left, and on the right - the road to the village. Many hiking trails have there starting point from the village that lead to huts in mountain or other villages or interesting places in the area. There are hotel facilities in the village - guest houses and guest rooms as well as  eateries, which are run by locals, offering accommodation, food and good mood with authentic Rhodope music. The village is proud of the church of St. Ilia. There is a nice and well-maintained park at the center of the village with a big fountain and several spouts with mountain water running even in the hottest summer days; probably, this would be the spring that convinced the first inhabitants of Hvoyna to settle here...

Hvoyna is the starting point of the 200 km cross-border Eco-Route which goes along Chernatitsa ridge. It first ascends to Sredni Livadi protected area, then descends to Orehovo village, continues to Kosten Kamak Canyon, the fault below Tsirikova Tsarkva Peak, Slanchevi Polyani area, Chudnite Mostove, Persenk Peak and goes further to the south along the ridge of Chernatitsa ridge crossing Pamporovo, Smolyan, several villages in the upper section of Arda River valley to reach the Elidzhe Pass overlooking the town of Rudozem.

 

The village of Malevo is only 2 km from Hvoyna. Take the exit from the main road to Orehovo village. Malevo is located along the ravine of Koylovo (Koilovsko Dere), which is a southern tributary of Oreshitsa River. The festival day is celebrated on Saint Elias Day (Ilinden in Bulgarian). 

About 4 km above the village, the same ravine has formed a natural phenomenon, the so called Kosten Kamak (under state protection since 1965), which is associated with a legend from the times of conversion of Bulgarians to Islam. The legend says that locals of the nearby village of Koilovo, who refused to accept the new religion, were thrown from the edge of the abyss. People say that bones can be found at the foot of the cliff (about 40 m high) – that’s how originated the name of the area of Kosten Kamak (kost in Bulgarian means bone).

The place is located at the same distance from the village of Orehovo and represents a stone massif, eroded by the small river through millennia. It is rarely visited by tourists as there is no entrance yet available through the canyon. From the northern edge you can see the highest of the 3 waterfalls, which have cutted the deep ravine. Further bellow you will see a cascade of waterfalls, gullies and rocks, pools and shrubs, along with beautifull blooming tufts of silivryak (haberlea rhodopensis) and crane’s-bill.

 

Orehovo Village – located at 28 km from Chepelare. The festival day is celebrated the last weekend of July.

Orehovo can be proud of being the pioneer in rural tourism in Dolen Rupchos. Locals are happy to share with their guests the beauty of the countryside, the sightseeings in the region, traditions and culinary skills. Today the population of Orehovo is about 200 inhabitants which is significantly less that the 1,000 in the past. It is situated at about 900 m above the sea level, along the broad southern slope of the Oreshitsa River. This is one of the sunniest spots in the area! In addition to the hospitality of the local people, you will find here traditional cuisine and a rural tranquility and comfort, away from the fuss and noise of the city, wonderful climate with low temperature differences, pure air and numerous opportunities to go out. Forests around Orehovo are mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees, and the meadows are rich in medicinal herbs. There is a historical and ethnographic museum in Orehovo, where all kinds of tools and objects used by the ancestors of today’s Orehovo citizens can be seen. Each family has its own genealogical family tree. The exposition also features archaeological findings from the area.  In the west, not very far way of Persenk hut, a very well-preserved section of the ancient Roman road can bee seen.  At the end of September, villagers and their guests celebrate the Walnut Day (The name of the village means walnut in Bulgarian).

There are several interesting places to visit in the area:

The Tsirikova Tsarkva rocky crack at the foot of Tsirikova Tsarkva Peak, located about half a kilometer southeast of Kabata hut. Crossing the narrow less then 2 m wide gap between the rocks, as if cut in two pieces by the giant sword of nature, is a unique experience. The vertical cliffs rising at a height of 10-20 m are flecked here and there by mid summer with the purple blossoms of the Rhodopean silivryak - the flower of Orpheus, the legendary ancient singer.

There is a waterfall in Duplevo area, close to the western end of the village along the forest leading to Persenk hut. A rocky stream, a picturesque tributary to Oreshitsa River, pours out its foamy waters from a smooth stone chute into a niche by the road and then into a spectacular waterfall; the phenomenon can bee seen from the beginning of the spring season until the beginning of summer.

The Skakaloto Waterfall, placed under state nature protection, is another must-see. Go along the chapels above the southern meadows of the village, around 600 m following the road to Kabata Hut. Even in the hottest summer an 8-m high waterfall flows between the moss and karst deposits of its rock niche.

 

Golyam Persenk (2,091 m a.s.l.) is the highest peak of Chernatitsa ridge and the eighth highest one of the Rhodope Mountains. However, you would perhaps choose not to climb it as the dense vegetation makes impossible to see any beautiful panorama. You don’t need to fall into dispair though, as this drawback is fully compensated by climbing its younger brother, Malak Persenk (2,074) where magnificent views display in front of your eyes.

The ancient Roman road is best preserved in the area between the two peaks for about 5 km. Here and there, the stone granite pavement is still preserved in its entire original width of 1.5 m. Some of the stone slabs are over 1 sq. m in size. In some places, the road has been uplifted to compensate the unevenness of the natural terrain, living the centerline beneath the edges of the road to facilitate the drainage of the rainwater. The Roman road runs through forest and meadows, where beautiful views are revealed. You can reach it from Persenk Hut, but bear in mind that you may need a 4x4 vehicle or walk. The other two options are to climb from Skalni Mostove hut which will take you about 1.30 h, or from the village of Zabardo with an off-road car (1 h drive).

 

Tsirikova Cherkva Peak is located in the area of Kabata hut, and the closest settlement is the village of Studenets. There at the summit, you will find the remains of an old building – either a former fortress or monastery, and the ‘Holy Spirit’ chapel, open to visitors all year round. Both the peak that reveals a magnificent panorama of the Valley of Chaya River, Chernatitsa ridge and Radyuva Mountain, and its foothills, are breathtakingly picturesque with the crack between the rocks and the precipices and rifts formed by Mother Nature.  

Locals advise to climb Tsirikova Curch crack (just beneath the peak of the same name) from south, following the forest trail. Crossing the 1-2 meters wide gap between the rocks, cut like by a giant sword, is a unique experience. Vertical cliffs with a height of 10-20 meters are flecked with the purple flowers of the Rhodopean silivryak, legendary Orpheus’s flower, well until mid-summer.

 

Pavelsko Village is located 22 km from Chepelare, 2 km east of road ІІ-86, about 200 m after the turn for the village of Hvoyna. The festival day of the village is celebrated at Spasovden (St. Spass Day).

This is the village with the best public services and utilities in Smolyan region. The Church of the Ascension of Jesus was one of the first, built in the years of the Ottoman rule, in 1834 and has the tallest bell tower in the Middle Rhodopes - 17 m, additionally erected in 1894.

The "Aleko Konstantinov" cultural club hosts a museum collection with historical and ethnographic artefacts. Since recently, the village offers accommodation and eateries to its visitors. It is one of the ‘stations’ of Radyuva Mountain - Rozhen National Atronomical Observatory - Haydushki Polyany hiking trail. Here is also the starting point to Pashaliytsa hut.

 

Zaburdo Village – 28 km from Chepelare. The festival day is the last Saturday of August.

There is a turn to Zabardo and Chudnite Mostove natural monument 6 km after Hvoyna village. You cannot miss the intersection because of the monument called "The Hospitality of the Rhodope Mountains" – bronze figures of a bagpipe player and a girl, holding the traditional Rhodopean round loaf, symbolizing the traditional hospitality of the mountain. Just on the opposite site you can buy fresh trout, a delicacy coming straight from the nearby fish farm.

The road to the village is narrow, with many turns, so please drive carefully. After 9 km, you will get to an intersection; take the right turn to Chudnite Mostove, or the left to the village. After another 3 km you will see Zabardo, snuggling betwen the slopes of the river.

The village has an excellent location to start any of the hiking routes in the area to Chernatitsa ridge and the surrounding spacious meadows and fields. The local cultural club hosts an ethnographic exhibition with woven exhibits – gouber (traditional tufted blanket), fleecy rugs and  carved panels for sale.

One of the attractions here is the wooden Zabardo Wheel with a diameter of 6 m, restored in its original form only by memories and photographs from the beginning of the 19th century. It is in front of the building of the mayor, just in the center of the village, awaiting the next village festivities to cheer its residents and guests. The village offers places to sleep and dine.

One of the most interesting natural phenomena in Bulgaria - Chudnite Mostove (Wonderful Bridges), is 16 km away from the turn at road II-86. This monument is located in a centuries-old spruce forest at 1,450 m a.s.l., at the upper section of the river Aydarsko Dere (Dalbok dol area). Wonderful Bridges are a natural rock ‘bridges’, formed for the space of a thousand years.

Specialists believe that once here was a deep karst cave formed by a river and probably a strong earthquake caused the collapse of the ceiling, than the stormy waters of the river carried the rocks away creating the two natural marble bridges. The larger one is 96 m long and 70 m high. The vault rises 45 m above the river, and the marble rock is 12-15 m wide. Within its walls, there are two interconnected caves, as as well as numerous karst cavities where birds and bats find refuge. The second bridge is about 100 m down the ravine and is 50 m high.

The area around the bridges is secured by railings and stone steps have been carved to facilitate the access.

The ‘Deaf Stones’ (Gluhite Kamani) are located at 1,920 m a.s.l. and represent a natural rock formation at the crest of Chernatitsa ridge, sticking out in a peculiar way inbetween the pine trees, like some rhyolite rocks polished by the passage of time. The first two are in the middle of the glade along the trail, and there are many more in the forest, piled up next to or on top of each other. The area is an important crossroad – the trail to Izgrev Hut and Pamporovoto to the south, and, to the east, another trail leads to Chudnite Mostove (Wonder Bridges) and the village of Zabardo. To the north, you will see Persentsite, a series of peaks, and to the west – the valley of Vacha river.

 

Zornitsa village – 7 km from Chepelare. The festival day takes place in August.

You can practice mountain sports here, horseback riding and long outings. From here start the hiking routes to Izgrev Hut, Pamporovo, Chudnite Mostove, Shiroka Laka village and many more. The village offers limited options for accommodation though.

 

Bogutevo village – 7 km from Chepelare. The festival day is celebrated on 6th of May. It is a small village with beautiful authentic houses, diverse nature, interesting customs and traditions and welcoming people. Many trails lead from here to the mountains around. Here you can find decent options for accommodation and eating.

 

Hvoyna village – 7 km from Chepelare. The village celebrates its Day in July.

Drive to the intersection of the main road, connecting Chepelare, Smolyan and Pamporovo (there is a small parking lot above which you will see the remarkable granite monument of Colonel Dicho Petrov). Take the turn up the steep hill to the village of Progled located at about 1,370 m a.s.l., 4 km from the resort of Pamporovo. Progled is a small resort village with good traditions in accommodating and entertaining tourists; it is suitable for both summer and winter recreation. Due to its proximity to the winter centers of Pamporovo and Mechi Chal, the village is well-known among ski enthusiasts as a great alternative for accommodation.

The area of Kutsinsko Blato, overlooking Progled, has been declared a natural landmark, and is one of the rare places on the Balkan Peninsula where from mid-June to the beginning of July you can see the beautiful rodopski krem (Lilium rhodopeum). This is an extremely beautiful bright yellow endemic flower, listed in the Red Data Book of the Republic of Bulgaria as an extremely rare plant that needs protection.

Progled offers good accommodation and dining options for visitors. 

достига от  кръстовището на главния път Чепеларе – Смолян - Пампорово, където има малък паркинг, а над него е забележителният гранитен  Паметник на  полк. Дичо Петров. Отклонението в източна посока води по стръмен път нагоре към  с. Проглед,  разположено  на около 1370 м.н.в. Селото е на 4 км от курорта Пампорово. Проглед е малко курортно селце с традиции в обслужването на туристи, подходящо както за летен, така и за зимен отдих. Поради близостта му със зимните центрове Пампорово и Мечи чал,  селището е познато на любителите на ски-спорта, като подходяща алтернатива за настаняване.

Местността  “Куцинско Блато” над Проглед е обявена за природна забележителност и е едно от редките места на Балканския полуостров, където от средата на  месец юни до началото на юли може да се види разцъфтял  китния родопски крем. Това е изключително красиво ярко жълто цвете, включено в “Червената книга” на редките и застрашени от изчезване видове на България като крайно рядко, нуждаещо се от защита растение.

В Проглед има туристически обекти за настаняване и за хранене. 

44B "Belomorska" street,
4850  Chepelare, Bulgaria
mail@chepelare.bg

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Phone: +359 3051 / 82-80,
Fax: 03051/82-79

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This site is a donation from Siika Anastasova Katsarova - raised in Chepelare, currently Vice President of the European SPA Association and chairman of Bulgarian Union of Balneology and SPA Tourism.