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Chepelare

a magic combination of sea breeze and forest freshness where anyone can spend a holiday according to his own ideas and requirements

Located 80 kilometers south of Plovdiv in the scenic Chepelarska Valley, Chepelare is Bulgaria's highest-situated town. Wedged into a narrow valley at an elevation of 1,140 meters, the picture-postcard locale claims to have the cleanest air as well as the highest number (300) of sunny days in the country. Yet despite all that sunshine, enough precipitation falls to provide the area with plenty of snow.

Chepelare has a noticeably spiffier look than its Rhodopean neighbors, as evidenced by the modern new pensions and renovated former state hotels sprouting along the steep spruce-covered slopes that rise above town. This prosperity is largely due to spill-over business from nearby Pamporovo, one of Bulgaria's two main international ski resorts The 3,000 residents of Chepelare are noticeably friendlier and more eager to please than at tourist-hardened Pamporovo. While most winter and summer visitors to the region opt to stay at Pamporovo, which is a purpose-built resort, Chepelare offers an authentic Rhodopean, as well as a less-expensive, alternative.

Chepelare has its own ski area, Mechi Chall (Bear Peak), located at the outskirts of town. A double chairlift to the 1,820-meter summit accesses two runs (one advanced, the other intermediate).The summit of Mechi Chall is more than 200 meters higher than Pamporovo's Snezhanka peak and the 720-vertical meter drop is nearly twice as great. Winter hours are 8:30-4pm closed Mondays; an all day adult lift ticket is $8; summer hours depend on demand. Chepelare has Bulgaria's only ski factory, which turns out some 15,000 pairs a year for domestic and international customers. The town also boasts a Speleology Museum. Set inside a cave, the museum is the only one of its kind in the Balkans .

The international ski resort of Pamporovo is eight kilometers up the valley, with a host of large hotels and all the expected amenities. The nightlife there is non-stop. Narechenski Bani is a major spa resort which utilizes slightly radioactive mineral water (31 degree celsius) to treat intestinal and metabolic ailments.

 

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