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By Julia Van Peer
"While ascending the gradually rising trail, the Balkan’s diverse wildlife comes into action: ‘wild’ horses with waving manes graze next to playful chamois goats, while enormous eagles circle the grounds for prey."

The Central Balkan, part of the larger Balkan Peninsula, counts endless wonderful hiking opportunities, the Botev Peak being only one of many. Here nature is preserved in the best of ways, embracing a wealth of fauna and flora.


As each season offers a unique quality, autumn is my all-time favourite, accommodating much less tourists and indulging the curious adventurer with areas lighting up in spectacular tones of ruby-red and golden-yellow. 


A shepherd guiding his sheep through the lush green meadows in Kalofer.

The beginning of this hike is accessed through the town of Kalofer, a small village at the foot of the mountain range displaying incredible monuments of nature. Starting from a grassy meadow, often grazed by flocks of sheep, the path climbs in elevation between gigantic rock columns.


While several muddy dirt roads intersect on either side, in the end they all merge in one common track. Hereafter the thicket of autumnal beech forest is traded for a dry hay-landscape overgrown with low woodland.


Panorama near the Raisko Praskalo Waterfall.

Continue following the well-trodded path, you’ll be reaching a brilliantly placed bench with stunning views over the forested valley, with your last challenge of the day clear-cut in the background. Guiding you through a marvellous carpet of fallen leaves, over a pristine mountain river, and between mossy rocks, the sturdy path turns into a steep twisting ascent until the river is left far below.


Arriving at the Ray Mountain Lodge shortly afterwards, you still have enough time to climb a little bit further and admire the Raisko Praskalo Waterfall (also called 'Heavenly Spray'). Not only is it one of the highest waterfalls in Bulgaria, with an impressive fall height of 125 metres, it is also one of the most stunning thundering waterfalls in the whole Balkan Peninsula.


After a while descend back to the Ray Lodge and place your tent near the outdoor fire pit, or appoint yourself a comfortable bunkbed inside. 


The water of the Raisko Praskalo Waterfall thundering down at an enormous speed.

After a few revitalizing hours of sleep, the desire to resume your hike awakens you. Leaving the lush hills behind, the meanwhile rocky trail shoots up the mountainside, eased by metal cables. Beyond the last curve the bouldering rocks vanish and you gaze upon yours truly, the Botev Peak. She almost seems close enough to touch, but in reality it will take you another 2 hours to set foot on the top.


While ascending the gradually rising trail, the Balkan’s diverse wildlife comes into action: ‘wild’ horses with waving manes graze next to playful chamois goats, while enormous eagles circle the grounds for prey. 


A 'wild' horse grazing peacefully next to freshly washed laundry at the Ray Lodge.

Reaching the top, the area widens into a high level plain where you can wander to your heart’s content, revealing sweeping views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Apart from the weather station and radio tower, there is one tiny bar to be found, kept open by a lovely man who stays here winter and summer. Enjoy the amazing views and gather your strength before descending back down on the other side of the mountain, where a gorgeous canyon is revealed.


Despite the unclear signs the gently declining path speaks for itself, making it possible to take in the beauty of it all. Once arrived where you started, look back one more time. In the many years to come you’ll always remember this as an extraordinary hike. 


Stunning vistas appear at the summit of the Botev Peak. 


  • Length of the trail: 33 km 

  • Duration: 2 days (with stopover at Raisko Praskalo Waterfall); 1 day (without stopover)

  • Elevation gain: 1 710 metres

  • Highest point: 2 376 metres

  • Starting point: Kalofer (free parking)

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Optimal period: June – October


  • Ray Mountain Lodge: Meaning “Heaven”, the mountain lodge overlooks the canyon Dzendema, meaning “Hell”. 

  • Contact information: +359 88 296 6492


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Hi there!

I'm Julia, a Belgian native who loves to travel and explore off the beaten places all over the world. Discover more on how to fill your travels with adventure, warmth, and colour. Learn more about me here.

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