Northwestern Bulgaria – an underestimated treasure
Finding new places in your own country, places that we, Bulgarians, do not appreciate, is one of the most wonderful opportunities that we can be offered each day. At the end of August, thanks to WWF Bulgaria, I had the pleasure of being part of a two-day initiative to promote a less visited Bulgarian region – the Northwest.
Unfortunately, it is one of the poorest parts of the European Union and here the locals often call it after its nickname – “Northwasted region“. However, for me, this is far from being the case. People are strange birds, we are so roboticized and “modernized” that we have forgotten the true meaning of the word richness. Owning the assets we have, here in Bulgaria, is incomparable and it is nice to go around and get to know the regions better because that is the only way we can figure out where are we from and what we have.
The magic of Northwest Bulgaria is in the clarity and the pure air, the soils, the waters, the unique natural diversity that this paradise offers are only part of its richness. All those features have the incomparable potential to revive this region.
It is wonderful that the people who live in this part of Bulgaria are standing behind the bold mission to create and offer quality alternative tourism using what the region provides them with. That is why today I will tell you a little more about the sights here, about where you can go and what you can do. If you are curious to find out more, read below.
That is how our adventure starts in North-Western Bulgaria!
Early in the morning we leave from Sofia to one of the most magical places in Bulgaria – the Iskar river Gorge. There hides a place with history, a place that would bring nostalgia to our homeland and to our history – the place where Grandpa Yozo has welcomed and sent the trains. It opens a wide panoramic view over the stunning nature of Stara Planina, described in the works of Ivan Vazov.
Anyone who gets a grasp of this view will experience an indescribable emotion. At the site, there is a monument of grandfather Yotso, looking at the train rails. There is also a beautiful and well-kept garden with a large gazebo. In addition, for the hungry people, there is a tavern where you can eat traditional Bulgarian dishes.
In the vicinity is a park where you can enjoy a pleasant walk and explore a collection of animals made of wood. This is an unusual place worth visiting because it will give you moments and views that you will not be able to forget. The photos will show you what I mean exactly.
A few meters above the historical complex of Grandfather Yozo is located the first eco-tourism stop – Eco Youth Camp in the village of Ochin dol.
You can reach the sights and the camp with a car – 60 km from Sofia to Vratsa via the Iskar Gorge or by train: Levishte station, then walk 4 km on an asphalt road or 2 km on a trail;
The camp has 32 sleeping spots as follows: 1 room with 2 beds, 1 room with 4 beds, 3 rooms with 6 beds and 1 room with 8 beds. All rooms have their own bathroom;
The overnight stay in the base is 10.00 BGN per person, tourist tax included;
The panoramic site of Grandpa Yozzo is worth it and you will not regret a single second spent there;
After the good start of the program, we focused on the nature conservation center Natura in Vratsa. The Center provides us with up-to-date and interesting information about Vratsa Balkan Nature Park. Together with other services they can provide you with mountain guides and educational programs, you can find more information on their website at: http: www.vr-balkan.net
We continued north from Vratsa and our next point was Prevala village. There we sweetened up our day and our thoughts thanks to the hospitable reception of the confectionery and shop – “Sinevka”. We had the pleasure of tasting authentic recipes for jam, as well as getting through the whole process of the way real jam is prepared. More information can be found on the pictures.
This is the end of our first day. We stayed at hotel “Kiprovets” in Chiprovtsi. Located in the city center it has a delicious restaurant and the rooms are bright and compact.
On the second day we visited one of the newly discovered attractions in the region – Venetsa cave. It opened for tourists 2-3 years ago and has since been the preferred destination for more travellers.
It is located near the village of Oreshets, Vidin. The cave is considered to be the most beautiful in Bulgaria due to the fact that it has unique galleries with a wide variety of cave formations. Also the cave has the only installation of artistic lighting in the country that contributes to a fabulous experience.
A 400-meter hiking trail, a parking lot and a new information point at the entrance of the nature landmark are built;
The tour of “Venetsa” cave takes about 1 hour;
adults – BGN 6,00;
pensioners – BGN 4,00;
students – BGN 3.00
For group (with verification list):
adults – BGN 4.80;
pensioners – BGN 3,00;
students – 2.00
Tour and introduction talk – 6,00 BGN
Winter: 9:00 – 16:00;
During the Christmas and New Year holidays the cave will accept visitors with a preliminary request.
Contact phones: 0884 572 372; email – firstname.lastname@example.org .;
9:00 – 18:00
Day off: Monday
Employees have 1 hour lunch break. The last group enters an hour before the end of the business day;
Finally, following our underground adventure, we headed to some beautiful and wide mountainous fields that resemble the Alps. This is farm “Repliana” among the green areas where undoubtedly some of the happiest sheep live. The farm offers amazing sheep’s cheese as well as yoghurt.
It is located at the entrance of the village of Replana;
The products are offered seasonally as early as May until the end is August / September;
For contacts you can contact Dimitar Ivanov, owner and farm worker;
You can also go on the spot to taste the products themselves, as well as to take a selfie with the happy sheep;
I would like to thank WWF Bulgaria very much for the invitation and the trust! For me it was an unforgettable and positive adventure in which I realised the unique potential for development of this region!