Hiking in Balkan Mountains 19-20 November
A two day hike in Central Balkan National Park, Bulgaria. This is one of the three national parks in the country, located in the central parts of the mountain, that gives the name of the whole peninsula – Balkan Mountain (or Stara Planina in Bulgarian).
The hike (its still early for snowshoeing in Bulgaria) started on Friday evening from Karlovo, a small town in the foot of the mountains. The weather was relatively cold (-4 in Sofia in the morning), clear and sunny. Two hour trek took us to Hubavets Hut, where we spent the night (having a nice dinner – mushroom and rise sup). Early morning start and about 4 hours walk took us to the main summit of the mountain.
This is the most alpine-like route in these mountains – a long traverse of the main ridge, crossing a few peaks above 2000 m. and finally reaching the highest point of the mountain – Mount Botev (2 376 m.) There is still some snow drifts from the north side, remains from the October snowfalls, but it wasn’t a problem, although the trail is quite narrow at some parts and crosses some exposed slopes.
After about 10 hours walk we reached Botev Shelter, a small chalet at the foot of Mount Botev. It takes about 30 min to reach the top from there. The buildings on the top are meteo and radio repeater stations.
On the next morning we descended back to Karlovo along Stara Reka Valley (Old River Valley) which is one of the great places to enjoy the Autumn in the mountains of Bulgaria. The Stara Reka Reserve, situated here, protects many rare plant species, including broad-leaf trees, which are colored in yellow and red in Autumn. Well, we missed that – its already winter in the mountains – but still very, very beautiful.