Nature

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CHERNI VRAH

Sofia is perhaps an exception to the unwritten rule that every great city should be located either at sea or near a major river. Bulgaria's capital has a rare advantage, though: within an hour you can leave behind the noise and bustle of downtown and be climbing up a mountain.

With its 2,290-metre-high peak of Cherni Vrah, Vitosha is Bulgaria's fourth highest mountain. It is in the southern part of the Sofia Plain, and a mountain view or a house on its slopes command higher real estate prices in some parts of the capital.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 13:37
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HIDDEN WATERFALL

Travellers don't expect to find a waterfall in the middle of the rolling hills of the Danube Valley, and yet, surprisingly, it is there – hidden amid karst crevices and known only to a handful of people.

The waterfall in the village of Hotnitsa is one of these unexpected sights. In fact, it is one of the two reasons for the relative fame of this village in the Veliko Tarnovo region. The other is the large colony of British expats, which accounts for some 10 percent of the Hotnitsa population.

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 11:38
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GOD'S BRIDGE

Lilyashka Bara, the brook that flows near the village of Lilyache, a few kilometres from Vratsa, is a quiet and peaceful stream. It would be no different from dozens of other rivulets that flow past dozens of other villages, if it wasn't for a quirk of nature. Lilyashka Bara may look mild and gentle, but sometimes it overflows suddenly, surging in an unstoppable tide, sweeping away everything in its way – from mills to bridges.

Fri, 12/30/2011 - 11:04
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The Timok

ALL QUIET ON THE TIMOK

Knee-deep in the water, the fisherman casts his line. He pays no attention either to the small sheep outlined on the opposite bank or to their shepherd's distant shouts. The two men can see each other quite clearly but do nothing to acknowledge it. They act as if they were on different planets.

And in a way they are. The fisherman is wading in Serbian waters, the shepherd and his flock are in Romania, and we are observing the scene from Bulgaria. We are all divided by the Danube and its tributary, the Timok.

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 15:51
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IN THE DEVIL'S FOOTSTEPS

Travel agencies often use the word "paradise" to describe Bulgaria’s natural landscape and holiday hideaways. If you consult any Bulgarian about somewhere in the countryside you are thinking of visiting, you will probably hear the phrase "a piece of heaven" at least once. Even in the national anthem Bulgarian land is referred to as "Heaven on Earth". However, as you become more familiar with the country's geography and history, you'll come across fewer signs of heaven and many more of hell. The Devil and his kingdom appear in the names of rivers, caves and natural phenomena.

Mon, 05/23/2011 - 10:13
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God's Eyes

FOR CAVERS AND MAD PEOPLE ONLY

When you see Karlukovo, near Lukovit, for the first time, you'd be hard put to believe that you are in the part of Bulgaria richest in karst rocks. The settlement lies among low, monotonous hills and there's nothing – not even a signpost pointing to a tourist sight to indicate that underneath this modest landscape lies a labyrinth of caves. It is the result of thousands of years of action by wind and water, which carved the pliable karst rock and formed caves, magical shapes and whirlpools.

Thu, 08/19/2010 - 17:05
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DEAD BLACK SEA

“There is no bluefish, the bonito is imported from Turkey and was frozen two years ago. We don't serve sprat!” No matter what restaurant you go to on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, this is what you'll hear. Talk to a fisherman and you'll get even more depressed. “There's no fish in the sea this year, apart from some lucky scad,” he'll say. Freshwater trout and North Sea salmon are now the standard in a country that has a sea of its own.

Sun, 06/01/2008 - 14:42
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BIRDSPOTTERS

"We are not all lonely nerds and train-spotters". That is what most birdwatchers feel they need to add in defence of themselves when confessing to their secret passion for finding and following their feathered friends. Birders have often been labelled as compulsive "list tickers" or "twitchers" whose love for avian wildlife comes second to their desire to accumulate an ever increasing number of bird sightings. With over 10,000 species of birds worldwide there is plenty of scope for those with this obsession, but the range of people interested in this pastime is wide and varied.

Sun, 06/01/2008 - 14:25
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DOWN THE WATERFALL

“How can I describe it?... I can call it 'Airy',” Stefan says of the feeling he experiences when plunging down waterfalls, a diversion known among extreme sports fans as “canyoning”. The last time I heard him use the word “airy” was when he was describing rock climbing in Lakatnik. Then, when I found myself hanging on a piece of rope some 400 yards from the ground, I began to realise what he meant. It was rather scary, I must admit. So this time I am a bit more sceptical.

Tue, 05/01/2007 - 17:24
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