Srem’s Secret Places: The River Wash

‘Join us on a series of horse-back tours to discover Srem’s forgotten and secret places…’ 

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The Srem Drusta/River Rug Wash

Washing  the huge, heavy traditional Bulgarian rugs might not seem like the perfect day out for most, but in days gone by, it really was!

Maybe its the way Bulgarians always seems to add limitless and delicious BBQ-ed meats, a splash of (mostly homemade) alcohol and hours upon hours of relaxed dining and conversation- to pretty much any occasion, which makes anything and everything fun!

In days gone by, the annual spring-clean of the rugs was no different. The event saw whole families, groups of friends and even whole streets, head towards the village ‘Drusta’ for a day of Goliath- washing, picnicking and river fun.

Traditional Bulgarian rugs are big, colourful and heavy, and after a winter of wear and traditional petchka (stove) use, they were all desperately in need of a good wash. Given their size and delicacy, this activity called for some specialised equipment to gently and effectively wash and dry the vast rugs.

The unique river ‘Drusta’ system was designed for this purpose. It sees a length of river diverted into a high overhead water channel, which then falls with considerable force into a vast circular wooden basin located beneath. The rugs are slathered, beaten and swirled clean by the falling water and circular action.  After washing and rinsing, the they’re then removed to dry on the numerous solid wooden washing lines which criss-cross the area, and the festivities began in earnest.

Sadly, today the Srem Drusta has fallen into disrepair, the water channels have become over grown and the washing pit grown with grass. Yet the forest picnic benches are still maintained, the BBQ is still usable and of course, the wooded river location is still beautiful, shaded and pristine.

In fact, the exact location of the Drushta is now only known to the older residents, who remember its hey-days, while many of the younger generation have no knowledge of the site at all.

 

The Experience

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Meet your horse at Konna Baza Sakar, if you’re a non-rider, learn the basics of steering, understanding your horse and get fitted with safety equipment. 

The ride to the Drusta takes approximately one to one and a half hours. Experienced riders will have several opportunities to try trot and canter, although beginners will stick to walk. The site is reached via old village track through the reserve. Expect to see some of the varied and diverse grasslands/wild-flower meadows which the reserve is famous for, interspersed with deciduous forest (home to some of the village’s many beehives) and farmland. The terrain allows riders the opportunity to see wild hare, deer, tortoise, plus numerous bird species and insect life.

Once at the river (you will cross it on horseback), the horses will be un-tacked and allowed to graze, while you enjoy a delicious picnic, play in the river and/or explore the tracks and woodland, or simply relax in the unspoiled forest.

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In and around the river, you’ll find Srem’s tiny fresh water crabs, numerous species of dragonfly (several of which are endangered), water-boat-men, squirrels, deer and small freshwater fish.

Children are encouraged to try mini-fishing with our supplied equipment, plus bug and river-life catching with nets- also provided. Adults can take an heirloom traditional blanket and enjoy a spot of forest bathing, reading or just snoozing. Plus there are miles upon miles of unexplored forest and tracks to discover.

 

The Details

The experience takes approximately 4 to 5 hours, with one to one and a half hours riding and the remainder spent picnicking, playing and relaxing.

The ride is escorted by and experienced horsewoman and guide.

At the river you are supported by back up vehicle with horse-care groom and first aid kit

Traditional heirloom Bulgarian blankets, camp chairs, small fish fishing equipment, insect catching nets, are all provided.

Picnic options include bring your own, and we’ll transport it, or have our pre-made and delicious international option, which includes: quiche, sausage rolls, fresh salad, tortilla/ham rolls and more, plus cutlery, plates, selection of juices, napkins etc. (prices vary depending on option).

The experience is available for up to 5 riders and an additional three non-riders can be accommodated in the 4×4 support vehicle.

For more information on this ride or other options, please call: +359 (0)879178522 or message us at konnabazasakar@gmail.com