Kaloyan Peychev/ March 28, 2020

guided trail running trip in Central Balkan
Beautiful trail in Central Balkan in late June

The idea of this article is to help people to decide easier whether they need a guided or self-guided tour. I will try to point out the most important pros and cons between the two activities, according to my personal professional point of view.

Guided tours

+ Having a local mountain guide by your side can always be helpful. Usually a good guide’s responsibility is to prepare the route according to the customer’s experience and current abilities. Navigation along the route, weather prediction or even changing the route due to bad weather should be the guide’s responsibility. This makes it easier for the clients to enjoy other details like the scenery for example, which is one of the most important things when you explore new places.

+ Usually the guides know the best places for taking the best photo around or can suggest a scenic place for a picnic. Or they just know the next place to refill water, which may be very important when it comes to trail running. 

+ A local guide makes the communication with the local people very easy. Not to be underestimated – in case of an accident the guide’s skills and communication with the mountain rescue service can play a crucial role! In a country like Bulgaria very few of the foreigners can barely read the Cyrillic alphabet.

+ Sharing the moment with other people is something that you can’t really explain on social media.

  The guiding service is less cost efficient for one or two people or smaller groups. 

If you take part in a group with random people, there’s always the chance for you to be faster or slower than the others. Of course this should not be an issue in groups where people know each other. And of course you never know if you are going to meet someone interesting 🙂

Self-guided tours

+ We have to admit that for many people trail running is a solitary activity. Being alone on the route gives you the wonderful connection with nature and often complete satisfaction.

+ When you are alone or with your friends you can be sure that you know each other and you don’t have to deal with somebody else’s slow pace.

+ For experienced people navigation, map reading and planning of the trip is the natural thing. You just have to find some info about the route, a map or a GPS track, check the weather forecast and you’re ready to go!

+ It is cheaper when you don’t pay for mountain guide service.

+ You can feel free to change your plan whenever you want, without affecting other people’s schedules.

Being alone in the mountain makes you vulnerable in case of an accident. Wild animals (rarely) or shepherd’s dogs can also be a thing to deal with.

You can miss something really interesting along the route just because you don’t know it is there. 

A mountain guide can really make your trip much more interesting by suggesting good food, restaurants, thermal pools around, places of interest and so on. After all travelling in a different country is not just a trip – it should leave precious memories for a lifetime!

I hope that the information above is really useful if you were in doubt what to choose. Of course, when it comes to planning a multi-day trail running trip there are many things that should be made specially for it. You may need other services like for example support by a vehicle for your luggage, extra food or equipment. Or maybe you wonder where to store your casual luggage for a few days (while running) after you are done with your business trip?

This is the main purpose of this website – to help you fully enjoy your time in Bulgaria while practicing your favorite mountain trail running! Enjoy it and thank you for reading.

You can explore the prepared guided tours here. Or if you prefer to go to the mountains on your own – check out the self-guided section. 

If you still wonder whether to do a guided or a self-guided tour or you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me – I will be happy to help.

vitosha - a great mountain for trail running
A November sunset over Vitosha mountain
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