Rafting; how to enjoy the Struma rapids

Jul 23, 2012 No Comments by

White water rafting, Bulgaria

Rafting on the Struma; July 2012

Rafting is one of many alternative Bansko summer activities from free guided hiking to ATV’s listed in The Essential Guide to Bansko, so it is with great pleasure I welcome a new Bansko Blog blogger, Natasha Bamford. Natasha is from Bamro property management and BanskoRentals. She joins her clients in a rafting trip on the river Struma and shows us all how to enjoy rafting the Struma.

ready to raft

Spring and summer Bansko activities

Nastasha believes that it is the summer time when Bansko has the most offer. From rafting, hiking, mountain biking, golf, the Jazz Fest, the Good Beer Show, the Opera Fest, and a three peaks mountain bike race I agree. Bansko now has summer time activities and events that has something for everyone. For all the family, and for all interests. Over to Natasha…

Preparing for the rapids

…”We decided to show a few friends and Bamro clients what else Bansko has to offer, starting with Rafting! Just a forty minute drive from Bansko is the location of X-Club, one of a few centres along the Struma Valley with an array of white water equipment ranging from rafts to two person kayaks.

You will probably know the Struma valley from your travels between Sofia Airport andBansko – a stretch of river that follows the road before you start the ascent up the mountain road from Simitli town.

The Struma River runs all the way to Greece through the beautiful Kresna Gorge. On this stretch of the river there are numerous rapids which intermittently rise from the calmer waters in between.  Fed by the mountain snow melt, the Struma can offer the most challenging of conditions, but towards the end of June/early July the waters are often much calmer. And the temperatures warmer.

Perfect conditions for beginners like us.

The X-Club base is a wooden hut situated on the river’s edge.  It has an area with good quality wetsuits and buoyancy aids. A tempting bar space with plenty of cool beers. Apres rafting beer — a non negotiable reward.

All of the staff are members of the Bulgarian national rafting team. They are experienced rafters and kayakers whose knowledge of the river and its obstacles, we were soon to learn, was impressive.

After changing in to our rafting gear, we were given a safety briefing. Dimitar, our guide, explained what we should do if we fell in and then how to sit properly on the raft. He then provided detailed instruction on the various paddling techniques.

Enough theory.

It was launch time!

Rapid times

River Struma rafting

The river meanders gently for several kilometres. This gave us the chance to learn how to paddle — before riding the rapids.  Just seeing the countryside, and the gorge, from the river was an experience in itself.

Jumping in the clear waters, whilst floating gently downstream, and cooling off from the 35C heat was pure pleasure.

Once in the Kresna Gorge, the rapids begin; short bursts of white water appearing. With obstacles to avoid.

And very quickly you reach the next rapid, then the next. And so the white water rafting experience goes on.

All was going fine. But suddenly our raft came to a halt. We were perched on a large rock — in mid-rapids.

All much to the entertainment of our group.

Our instructor was promptly out of the boat, and dislodging our raft. We were hoping Dimitar would be quick enough to climb back aboard. And he was, of course.

Our adventure finished 10 km, and two hours, from our starting point. After carrying the raft up to the road above, we deflated the raft and stowed it in the awaiting minibus. Our rafting guide drove us back to the X-Club base. Followed by a drink, and a bite to eat in a restaurant overlooking the River in the Kresna Gorge, this wrapped up an afternoon. A day out I’ll remember for a long time.

The best time of year to go rafting

Rafting on the Struma is a great way to see get up close and personal to this beautiful country. Dramatic rock formations, abundant wildlife and lush countryside.

April to early June sees the rapids at their most extreme. So with our new found rafting confidence, and knowing what to expect, we will return for more white water thrills, and spills.”

Thank you Natasha for your blog.

If you have a story to tell relating to Bansko — then drop me a line. Bansko Blog: reaching over 100,000 unique visitors per annum.

www.rafting.bg.  April to end of July.  The price is 50 BGN per person. Includes rental of wetsuits, footwear and buoyancy aids.  You will need to wear swimwear and sun cream and take small money for drinks. Six person rafts, plus two person kayaks, are offered with guides for groups as small as two persons.  Children are also able to raft when the water is less fierce. Tamer routes from families wishing to experience a day on the river.  Top tip: ask for their photographer. For a small supplement, they will take photos of you riding the rapids.

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About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.
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