Visiting Betty and Nicki’s farm. Tales from the Wild Farm.
Popular as the mentors in a famous reality TV show, Betty and Nicki have to also be known for the wonderful hosts they are. The two built and are still developing their paradise of a farm, located in the Eastern Rhodope mountains. These are people who have grown up as part of nature, survive in it and deliver it to visitors in a most welcoming way.
Travelling from Sofia to Momtchilovtsi, or somewhere along the way, we reach Madzharovo: peculiar village with a few houses and hardly any streets. We are welcomed by Betty who is very smiley but is also quite stern. She’d prepared a packed program for the next three days. We leave our stuff quickly, and we head over to the Black rock, to catch a glimpse of Arda river’s twists and turns. Looking down, we also realize that we’re on the edge of a volcano. Quite the view!
Dinnertime. There is no menu though. Betty and her kids set up the table and our hunger meets the homemade goodness of beef in a pumpkin (Betty’s specialty), salads, lutenitsa, homemade rakia. Later, we’re joined by Nicki, who had been out the whole day, taking care of the herd, moving it from one place to another. We sink in miscellaneous talks with the two hosts and spouses, together in work, raising children, taking care of each other and sending all the love to people around them.
Betty sets the discipline. We’re at the breakfast table early on with warm banitsa, homemade honey, jams, fresh cheese, yoghurt. Today, we’ll walk with Nicki, who’ll show us the herd, made up of fine bred cows and bulls. We count to over 1000 animals that occupy large grassy areas. They know Nicki very well and as soon as we step into the fields, we hear a loving “moo”. Nicki moves the animals from one field to another, in search of good food. He does that till the summer, when he takes them up to Belmeken, so they can enjoy cool air and fresh food. In October, they’re back to their original home, and so on and so forth, following a natural cycle that ensures the animals have freedom, good food and organic conditions of life.
Next, we meet the donkeys who are real friends of the family. Why? Cause they distract the wolves away from the herd that moves frantically once the donkeys start running around. Amidst the buzzing life of all kinds and species are also the wild bees. There is a technique of honey harvesting but we won’t share this secret. The honey is brilliant though.
Third, we meet the wild horses. Magnificent creatures but you need to win their trust so you can ride them. At least until you feed them well.
In the cars and on the road to Ivaylovgrad dam for some kayaking. Brilliant.
Aand we’re back.The sun occasionally hides behind the wings of the enormous vultures. Two thirds of all species of preying birds living in Europe are located along Arda‘s valley. A large number of them fall into the world's IUCIN Red list of threatened species.
For dinner we do roasted lamb at a magical spot just outside the village. I don’t know how many people live in the village but I guess all of them were invited: around 10-15. And so we sat underneath the starry sky, away from the city vanity, laughing, telling stories, forgetting about the ticking clock.
It’s Betty’s turn as she’ll be our guide for the day. Programme’s set and divided into minutes. We drive for 10 minutes until reaching Kovan Kaya: set of rocks along Arda’s watery turns. There are special hidden spots in the rock from where one can observe the majesty of the vultures. A well worth getting up at 4am. Meat is ready for the feast, and your breath stops as the birds come flying around with enormous wings. Perfect for wildlife photographers, coming from all around the world and amateurs like me.
In afternoons, we take it easy. We’re back down to the river to collect semi-precious stones like crystals, chalcedon geodes and many more pretty little rocks. This is not just a hobby for Betty, it’s essentially her educational background, which makes her the perfect person to have around, if you don’t have the eyes to spot the good stuff in the water.
The sun is setting and we do some rafting on the river. For dinner, we’ve got… Well, can’t tell you everything! It’s got to be experienced and felt: there in the wild. And in the right company. Betty and Nicki are one of those people who you definitely need to know in your life. People who do with love what they love.
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July 20 2020
Моля за телефон за връзка с Ники и Бети-организация на 4 дневен тур