Mount Vitosha Trails

Mount Vitosha Trails, Veneta Nickolova, Daniela Konstantinova

Mount Vitosha Trails There is hardly a European capital city, which is so beautifully close to the mountain the way Sofia is. 15 km away from its center the slopes of Mount Vitosha accommodate the citys picturesque suburbs. Countless marked trails have their starting points there taking tourists uphill to wonderful oases of wild nature, worlds apart from the present-day roaring civilization. For Sofias residents and visitors Mount Vitosha is a favorite stopover for recreation and fun. On weekends regardless of the season and of the weather, tourists line to get on the lifts, impatient to go up above the smog-blanketed traffic-fumed city. And indeed, on many occasions Sofia is deeply immersed in thick fog, while Vitosha offers sunny skies and warmer temperatures. In the summer people are keen to experience its refreshing coolness. The air of the mountain is crystal clear, and the serenity of wooded slopes is only broken by the ripple of its dashing rivulets. %LIMG7Almost 90% of the mountain belongs to the territories of the Vitosha Nature Park. The biosphere reserve of Bistrishko Branishte falls into its eastern portion where an expanse of spruce forests is under protection. A special trail leads up to the Turf Branishte Reserve, protecting more than 300 ha of high-mountain turf land. More than 100 bird species inhabit Mount Vitosha as well as a stunning diversity of insects and wild animals. More than 50% of the plant species common in Bulgaria have habitats in Vitosha. This exceeds the entire flora that you can come across in UK or Holland, explains Toma Belev, Director of the Vitosha Nature Park. However this invaluable nature wealth has come under threat from the overwhelming inflow of tourists. Some three million of them go to the mountain annually in search of recreation and fun. According to Toma Belev however Mount Vitosha has enough alleys and recreation spots to accept the ever rising inflow of tourists. In the winter most people flock to the northern portion of the mountain where is the Aleko skiing center offering excellent skiing opportunities and facilities, Toma Belev told Radio Bulgaria and added: As a matter of interest, Vitosha is the birthplace of half of the sports practiced in Bulgaria starting from hiking with the historic climbing of Cherni Vruh (The Black Peak) that rises at 2290 m above sea level. The first skiing center in Bulgaria originated near the Aleko Chalet. Caving too had its beginnings in Vitosha after all Bulgarias longest cave, Duhlata, is here. Kominite (The Chimneys) locality with its vertical rocks is the perfect place for climbing. %LIMG4For visitors eager to learn, special educational trails have been marked and equipped with information panels. Another attraction for them is the Museum of the Bear in the northern slopes of Mount Vitosha. Nature-lovers often stop at the Belite Brezi (White Birches) locality where the Owlet Museum stands. Very soon a new museum will open in Mount Vitosha focused on dragonflies with their habitats being in the mountains humid areas. One picturesque trail will take you to the breathtaking Boyana Waterfall descending from a height of 15 m. In close proximity stands the celebrated Boyana Church dated to 10 c. and featuring on UNESCO world heritage list owing to its unique frescoes from 13 c. Mount Vitosha is also unique for its striking stone rivers the moraines. Most of our visitors 80% or even more, come to the mountain for hiking tourism. For the purpose Vitosha is dotted with special picnic spots. Marked tourist routes offer rescue shelters too. Mountain trails take you to chalets and recreation homes offering coziness and calm amid the alpine beauty of Mount Vitosha, concludes Toma Belev, Director of the Vitosha Nature Park.