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The upper course of Arda River - only for adventurers and lovers of wild nature and gourmet experiences

Photo: facebook.com/kreposttamogilitsa

The upper course of Arda River in the Western Rhodopes nests a series of small villages with typical Rhodope stone houses and tiled roofs, while the local population successfully develops rural and adventure tourism. Smilyan, Gorna Arda, Mogilitsa, Sivino and several other settlements regularly welcome guests, including tourists from Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, as well as Japan and Korea. People come for the nature and ... the culinary temptations.

Many people say Smilyan is a real paradise because in addition to the crystal-clean air and beautiful landscapes, the village captivates with home-made Rhodope-style dishes, as beans are an indispensable part of the cuisine.

And what about the superb locally produced cheeses that are exported all over the world? In the village dairy factory, one can taste traditional Rhodope dairy products and see how local people have been processing milk since times immemorial, how they manually churn butter and make various kinds of cheeses. “The region also offers the so-called gourmet tourism," says Iliya Godev from the Tourist Information Center – Smilyan.

A whole series of natural wonders, caves and deep chasms in the surrounding area ignite the imagination of travelers and adventurers.

The "Uhlovitsa" Cave is the most popular and easily accessible one. It is known for its beautiful underground formations and is part in the list of 100 National Tourist Sites. In order to visit the rest of the caves along the river one should contact the local adventure clubs, Iliya Godev recommends.

"The Golubovitsa cave system with an underground river is one of the undisputed attractions in the region. Tourists can take a boat ride underground, enjoy an alpine trolley ride near its entrance, or try their rock climbing skills on the Via Ferrata trail. A local tourist company provides guides for two small caves. One is Nadarska Cave, for which you need specialized cave equipment and lighting, and the second is the Tipitsa cave, famous for the bones of a prehistoric cave bear found there. The cave near the village of Koshnitsa is also very interesting. On its vault tourists can see remains of a Thracian fortress," Iliya Godev tells Radio Bulgaria.

Iliya Godev recommends that we also hike to Kom peak in the Rhodopes, which is 1569 m high and should not be confused with the peak of the same name above Berkovitsa.

"The view from the top of the summit is very beautiful and offers an incredible panorama of the Bulgarian and Greek part of the Rhodopes. To the south of the top you can pass through the protected area Livadite, where in the second half of June to the beginning of July you will enjoy the flowering of a large deposit of the beautiful Rhodope endemic plant - Lilium rhodopeum.

And of course we must not miss the Arda river and its springs, which can be reached by off-road trips organized by guides in the villages of Mogilitsa and Arda or by foot," Iliya Godev says in conclusion.

See also:

Publication in English: Al. Markov

Photos: facebook.com/kreposttamogilitsa, facebook.com/SmilyanVisitorCenter, hodih.com, Radostina Chernokova

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