Arda River and its meanders in Eastern Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

Arda is the largest river in the Rhodope Mountains and the second largest tributary of the Maritsa River, after the Tundzha River. The Arda River flows almost entirely in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains.

People bathing and enjoying the Arda River flowing through Eastern Rhodope Mountains near the town of Madzharovo, Bulgaria

The Arda River springs from the Ardin Peak in the Rhodope Mountains. The most remarkable are the meanders that the river forms by making its way through the mountains. Its length is 250 km, and on its way, it supplies three of the largest dams in Bulgaria. The Arda River leaves Bulgaria shortly after the border with Greece, where it flows into the Maritsa River.

The so-called “Abrasive wells” in the “Sheitan” gorge near “Studen Kladenec” Reservoir on Arda River in Eastern Rhodopes are unique rock formations. The rocks are coulee from active volcanic activity millions of years ago. The big holes are visible in the rocks, which geologists call abrasive wells, formed by the scraping activity of harder rocks. They are of various sizes – from a very small to huge ones – with a diameter of 7-8 m and a depth of 10-15 m. These holes are located in the riverbed and are convenient shelters for the fish wintering in the gorge.

View of the Abrasive wells in the Sheitan gorge - nature phenomena in Eastern Rhodope Mountains near Studen Kladenec Reservoir, Bulgaria

There are several places where you can best enjoy the fantastic views and panoramas of the Arda river and its meanders.

The first one is nearby the former mining town of Madzharovo, where the Arda River makes a big turn, forming a beautiful valley. On one side of the road is the river, and on the other – colossal cliffs (more than 300 meters high). It would not be unusual to see vultures circling above your head.

Geologists believe an ancient volcano existed in the area, and the river carved its meanders through the crater of this volcano. One of the most picturesque roads in the Rhodopes and Bulgaria is from Madzharovo to the village of Borislavtsi on the shores of the “Ivaylovgrad” Reservoir. There are several viewpoints from which you can enjoy the most magnificent panoramas to the river’s curves.

High angle view of Arda River in Eastern Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

High angle view of Arda River in Eastern Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

Another popular place to enjoy and photograph the bends of the river is around the “Kardzhali” Reservoir. The most famous of these is the so-called “The Turn” (Zavoyat), located on the dam’s southern shore between the villages of Ribartsi and Star Chitak. There the rivers Borovitsa and Arda merge, and the place is magical. 

Access to these meanders is a little more complicated – from Kardzhali drive in the direction of the town of Ardino. At the village of Kobilyane, turn right and drive until you reach Borovitsa, the main settlement in the area. Then you will reach a crossroads. To the right, the road leads to the villages of Star Chitak, Ribartsi, and Suhovo, where you will find the famous “The Turn” of the “Kardzhali” Reservoir. Near Suhovo, you will see the rope bridge, one of the landmarks of this area. 

The road on the left leads directly to the shore of the “Kardzhali” Reservoir. You will pass two hotels with restaurants, where you can stop for lunch and enjoy the magnificent view of the “Kardzhali” Dam. Continue along the river into the mountains to the villages of Dolna and Gorna Spoluka, Rusalsko, and Lyubino. You can enjoy the meanders of the Arda River from different viewpoints on this narrow and in some areas quite broken road. 

Stay in the hotels mentioned above, at a hotel in the village of Borovitsa, or you can return to Kardzhali, where the choice of accommodation is much more diverse. You can explore this area for about a day, but stay longer if you have time since it is well worth it.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

The preparation of a guided tour program/offer is free of charge. You’ll get a package price from us up front, which will include the services of a professionally qualified tour guide; pick up and drop off from your hotel/accommodation; transportation by A/C vehicle, fuel and parking expenses; accommodation, transfers from/to airport and all other additional services you might need.

 

You will obtain from us a Final Trip Plan of this tour in both web and pdf formats. Please have a look at sample web version with photos, maps and video here. Please download a sample version of a Final Trip Plan in pdf format here.   

You can use the Final Trip Plan to make the needed reservations and reservations by yourself.

The Final Trip Plan of the trip will contain: a web version of the tour; a pdf version of the tour (see the sample above), а short description (Resume); Basic information about the trip (duration, places to be visited, tour mileage, the period of travel;  а trip budget with detailed expenses table (downloadable pdf file); а Google map with the itinerary and bookmarks for places, hotels and restaurants; а link to a Google Earth interactive map with features like “Street view”, 3D etc; A link to a Google KML file, which can be uploaded to a cell phone and used during the trip; а detailed program day by day with activities and places to be visited, recommendations for accommodation and nice restaurants with links for bookings and reservations.

 

Additionally to the Final Trip Plan we make all the bookings and reservations on your behalf. We do this through our licensed travel agency “Thousand Voyages” Ltd.

  • Transportation and logistics: We coordinate, book and manage all the transportation elements of your trip – planes, trains, rent-a-cars, busses… everything to and from your destination, and between various places during your trip. 
  • Accommodation: We coordinate, book and manage all of your selected accommodations. We recommend the best selections at every destination on your trip, including hotels, airbnbs, bed and breakfasts, that fit your tastes, budget and are available during your travel dates. You will find the names of the properties in Final Trip Plan, with connections to the websites or booking forms. Sometimes the chosen by us accommodation is not on booking.com or any other platform, especially those in the distant areas. In this example we provide the name of the owner and a telephone number. 
  • 24/7 emergency support with a dedicated travel consultant: 4/7 Support throughout your journey (SMS, Email, Skype).

 

Secure Payments upon delivery of services: We offer two options: 1) PayPal – You will receive a PayPal invoice with the total amount to be paid. You can pay using your credit card or PayPal account; 2) A Revolut Business Account (in Euro) (UK) for a bank transfer.

Money Back Guarantee: In the unlikely case that you are not fully satisfied with our services, we offer a 100% money back return policy.

Discounts: We offer a 20 % discount voucher for the following service;

 

INTERESTING BOOKS

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TRAVEL SERVICES, WHICH MIGHT HELP WITH YOUR TRAVEL TO BULGARIA and THIS REGION

We would be glad to help you reach this place. Please use one of the options above. Please also have a look at all the services we offer in Bulgaria here. For your stay in Bulgaria or to organise the trip by yourself, you may use the travel services we recommend and work with, and which you can book by yourself using the links beneath. Of course, you always can contact us at any time, and we will do our best to help.

 

Hotels/hostels/apartment rentals in Sofia and Kardzali (Kardzhali), the center of Kardzali Province, where most of the meanders of Arda river are located

Hotels in Sofia

A collection of nice hotels in Sofia

Hotels in Kardzali (Kurdzhali)

Hotels in Kardzali (Kurdzhali), the center of Kardzali Province, where most of the meanders of Arda river are located

Аirbnb rentals in Kardzali (Kardzhali)

Nice properties for rent via Airbnb in Kardzali (Kardzhali), the center of Kardzali Province, where most of the meanders of Arda river are located
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