Protection of karst landscapes and habitats
The Nature Park “Vrachanski Balkan” is the second largest nature park in Bulgaria with an area of 28,804 hectares. In 1989 it was declared a protected area to protect the karst landscapes and habitats.
The Nature Park covers the whole mountain range, which offers a wide variety of spectacular views in every season.
Large areas of the park are occupied by surface karst forms like hollows, pools and caverns surrounded by beech forests. The thickness of the limestone is about 1,200 m.
More than 600 caves and chasms
Within the boundaries of the park there are fascinating caves and chasms, whose total number exceeds 600.
The Vratsata gorge and the Lakatnik rocks are two of the oldest and the most famous areas for rock climbing and alpinism.
Flora and fauna
The steep limestone rocks are ideal for nesting of different species of birds of prey. The biggest one is the griffon vulture with a wingspan of more than 2.70 m.
The fauna includes 120 species of nesting birds, 30 of the 35 European bat species and a lot of unique troglobiontes (cave invertebrates).
The Nature Park “Vrachanski Balkan” is one of the most important areas for butterflies in Bulgaria.
The flora of the Park is characterised by more than 1,100 different species of plants typical for the karst areas.
The best seasons: Spring and autumn
Spring is the time of orchids and other rare and protected flowers, herbs and mushrooms.
Although there are no big rivers in the park area, during spring time tourists can enjoy the view of several big waterfalls. One of them – Skaklya waterfall – is the highest waterfall in the Balkan Peninsula – 141 m high. There are four other waterfalls with a height of more than 40 m in the park area.
Another good season to visit the Park is the autumn.
The colorful leaves of the forest paint unforgettable pictures on the slopes of the mountains.
Forest fruits can be found everywhere along the trails.
Both seasons are suitable for hiking, botanical tours, nature photography, rock climbing and relaxing.
What else can visitors do in Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park?
- Skiing: In the area of Purshevitsa hut there is a ski slopes and ski rope-line. The only ski slope is with medium difficulty. It is open from January to March.
- Rafting and fishing: Iskar river gives possibilities for rafting and fishing (every fishing shop sells fishing permits for the period of 1st of June to 14th April the next year. A photography and ID card/passport is required.
- Cherepish monastery: The Cherepish Monastery “God’s mother Assumption” lies in the gorgeous Iskar defile on the banks of the Iskur River. The monastery is located near the village of Ljutibrod, 10 km away from the town of Mezdra and 25 km to the south of Vratsa.
- Ledenika cave: It is one of the most beautiful and most visited caves in Bulgaria, situated in Vrachanski Balkan Nature park and 16 km from the town of Vratsa. Information for the tickets, opening hours, etc. can be found at http://www.parkledenika.org/en/home/
- Birdwatching: Birdwatching of vultures in Dolno Ozirovo village. Contact person: Georgi Stoyanov, Phone: +359 878573111.
- Thematic trails: “Karst and Biodiversity”, “Mountaineering for beginners”, “Trail of fairy-tales” and “Trail for health”. All of them are loop routes situated up in the mountain.
- Mountain biking: There are several bike trails with various difficulty. The hotels/guest houses don’t offer mountain bikes for rent.
Goatmilk Festival in May
GOATMILK Festival of memories is an independent, non-commercial cultural festival, a meeting point for people to discuss personal and collective memories.
It attracts local people, artists, journalists, researchers from all over the world. People who love the mountain, the freshly cooked local food, the music, the simple things…
The festival is taking place in Bela Rechka village every year around 24th May and attracts a lot of people from all over Europe.
The slow food movement is another important inspiration for the people who organise the festival. So they carry out many concomitant workshops and events in the summer and autumn.
More info: novakultura.org/en/goatmilk-about/.
Text and photos courtesy of Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park/Krasimir Lakovski