Photos: Iliyan Vachurov
There are fewer and fewer summer weekends left, and if you think our ideas for eco trails are too easy for hikers, the route to Botev Peak is right for you. Climbing the Tarzan Trail is not the easiest of hikes, and although it can be done in a day, we advise you to set aside Saturday and Sunday if you don’t have sufficient experience and excellent physical fitness.
The starting point for the ascent is the Panitsite locality, located 6 km from the town of Kalofer, at the foot of the mountain. You can easily get there by car and leave your vehicle there because an uphill crosswalk awaits you. At first, there is a steep slope, but then it goes on a relatively flat stretch, so the first part can be considered as a pleasant walk in the mountains, in the scent of the forest and the incredible view of the Balkans in all its beauty. In some places, there are benches for relaxation and two fountains to pour water from, so except for a 30-minute forest climb to the hut, there is no heavy climbing.
The Ray Hut is also the place where we advise you to sleep to gather strength to attack the summit. It was built above the gorge of Dzhendema and is located on a meadow under theRayskotoPraskalo waterfall. It is the highest permanent waterfall on the Balkan Peninsula. It collects water from the snowdrifts located below the summit that form the Praskalska River and is 124.5 meters high. The terrain and nature are impressive, and the cliffs attract many rock climbing enthusiasts.
From the hut begins the next stage of climbing to the top. It is important to note here that there is no even place from Botev to it - everything is uphill and steep. Keep this in mind because you will need sturdy shoes and a lot of enthusiasm. Shortly thereafter, you will reach the Tarzan Trail, which you will know from the fact that it is almost vertical, quite rocky and narrow. It bears the name of meteorologist TodorBozhkov, nicknamed Tarzan, who first traced it in the 1940s and, ironically, later found his death there. Ten years ago, a steel rope was installed on the most dangerous stretches, helping people to move safely. After its end, the road continues up steeply again, but it’s no longer so dangerous. The top may look close from here, but it's still about an hour away. However, the panoramas that are revealed are breathtaking everywhere.
Getting to the top is like a real reward after the test of climbing one of the most extreme routes. Although not the highest in Bulgaria, getting to Botev along the Tarzan Trail is a real challenge for all lovers of mountain hiking. There you can pick up a booklet for the 100 national tourist sites and, after a short break, head back down. Be sure to take thick clothes too, because the weather is quite variable above, the wind is often strong and it can turn from sunny to rainy in just minutes. If you do not want to return along the same route, take the Botev Peak - Marinka Shelter - Mihailov Shelter –the former Bunker Shelter – the barns - Panitsite, which is easier but not so picturesque.
If, however, you find Botev Peak too great of a challenge, take the ByalaReka eco-trail, which will also immerse you in the greenery of the Balkans, but without so much physical effort.
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