Hiking in the Rhodope Mountains > The Source of Arda River and Kaleto Fortress 

The Source of Arda River and Kaleto Fortress near Koshnitsa village | Hiking Trip in the Rhodope Mountains

Arda River is the longest river in the Rhodope Mountains. The 290 km (180 mi) long river flows through the territories of Bulgaria and Greece-as a tributary of the Maritsa River. The source of Arda River is located in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains near the village Gorna Arda, about 55 km from Pamporovo and 133 km from Plovdiv. It is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the Rhodopes.

The picturesque hike to the source of Arda River begins just outside the small village Bilyanska, with population of less than 30 people, and passes through flowering meadows with open views, pristine oak, beech and pine forests.


While supremely peaceful, this hike requires you to carry your passport at all times, as the border between Bulgaria and Greece is only 500 meters away.

The total length of the hike to the source of Arda River is about 6.5 km (4 mi), the elevation gain is moderate about 350 meters, and it takes about 3 hrs to complete it. The cold spring water feels particularly refreshing on a hot summer day when everyone is welcome to relax at a nearby picnic site before continuing the trip to one of the many attractions in the area. 

For the second half of the trip, there are a few options available to choose from:

1. Visit Kaleto Fortress and Cave near Koshnitsa village. Kaleto is a late-antiquity fortress located on top of a marble karst peak and above a passage-cave. Build during the 6th century it had the functions of a military fortress providing shelter and controlling the traffic and communications along the Central Trans-Rhodopean Roman Road, a road that connected the historical region of Thrace (Northern Thrace) with Western Thrace and the Aegean sea, an area that became the center of medieval Greek commerce and culture,


The fortress has no entrance fee and is accessible through a steep, and in some parts slippery, 1 km long path with only 150 meters elevation gain. There are a few viewing platforms built on top of the fortress that offer beautiful views to the valley and the nearby villages. Numerous wooden benches and resting spots are built along the trail. 

2. Visit Uhlovitsa Cave. An impressive cave more than 3.5 million years old very rich in cave formations like stalactites, stalagmites, pillars, dendrites and the spectacular flowstone formation known as the Icefall at its end.

The cave is reached by a steep path (800 m long ) and 190 metal stairs. The temperature inside the cave is constant 10-11 C. Entrance fees are 6 BGN adults, 3 BGN children. Last visit is at 4:00 PM.

3. Visit Agushevi Konatsi, in Mogilitsa village, a 19th century Ottoman mansion declared as a national monument of art and culture in 1964. The mansion operates as a museum. There is a 5 BGN entry fee, 2,5 BGN for children.



Hiking trip to the source of Arda River and Kaleto Fortress and Cave near Koshnitsa Village. 


All year round (depending on the weather). 

Departure and Return Point:

This trip can be organized from Plovdiv, Pamporovo and Smolyan area. 


Starting from 19 euros per person (for 4 persons group).

Transport, if needed, is charged based on the total kilometers of the trip at 0,35 euro cents per kilometer. 

Please contact us for a price quotation through the form below specifying your transportation needs and the starting  point of the trip- Plovdiv, Pamporovo, Smolyan etc.

What is Included?

Local English/Spanish/Bulgarian-speaking guide(s).

What is Not Included?

Transport. If needed, transport is charged separately at 0.35 euro cents per kilometer. 


Food, drinks and other personal expenses.

Optional visits: entrance fees to Uhlovitsa Cave (adult ticket 6 BGN, children 3 BGN ) and Agushevi Konatsi (adult ticket 5 BGN, children 2,5 BGN )


Private passenger van or similar (depending on the group size)

Duration, Difficulty and Elevation plot:

Tour duration time: about 6-7 hours.

Difficulty Level: Moderate. *The trails are generally in good condition with a few steep and slippery sections. Proper footwear is highly recommended. 



Please bring packed lunch (sandwich) and a snack. There is a good traditional restaurant in Smilyan village that serves local Rhodope mountain food. 


What to Bring:

• Clothes and footwear suitable for hiking (ideally hiking boots). We recommend that you dress in layers and that your jacket, trousers and footwear are waterproof. In summertime, please consider wearing a hat and bringing along sunscreen. The sun is strong in the mountains!

• Water (at least 1 liter)

• Packed snack for lunch/picnic outdoors

• Cash for personal use


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Contact Us!

Slow Tours Bulgaria, Plovdiv 4000, Bulgaria

+359 876 866 511




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