||Northwest Bulgaria > Vratsa > Surrounding areas
Surrounding areas of VratsaHristo Botev National Park in the area of Okolchitsa (located about 20 kilometres south-east of the town, in the very heart of Vrachanski Balkan). In the beginning of June 1876 this place witnessed the last drama that put an end to the heroic epic of the detachment of Hristo Botev. The detachmentss voivoda (leader), as well as the majority of his men, were killed and the rest of them were either caught or scattered in the Balkan. The heart of one of the greatest and most ingenious Bulgarians, who left to the generations the example of his heroic life, his unsurpassed political journalism and some 20 poems, which are a majestic peak in Bulgarian poetry, ceased beating. And he was just 28 years old... In 1937-1938a 35-metre monument with a volunteers crest was erected at Mt. Okolchitsa (it can be seen from a long distance far away in the plain and the mountain) to honour the heroism of Botev and his detachment forever. In the valley of Yolkovitsa, on a natural crag the place of death of the poet and revolutionary is marked. At a distance of 300 metres away from this natural monument is located the Okolchitsa Chalet (a complex of 5 panel bungalows with a restaurant, 84 beds in rooms of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 beds, one can make a reservation in the Tourist House in Vratsa). Each year on 2nd June the area hosts national celebrations in honour of Botev and all those who fought and gave their lives for Bulgarian freedom. All participants in the national tourist march along the Botevs trail from the Kozlodoui bank on the Danube River arrive on the day before the celebrations and a large campus town is erected. Besides the Botevs trail, this is the final destination of many other marked hiking tracks. During the summer there is a regular bus transport from Vratsa, and for the rest of the year - regular bus transport is provided to the village of Chelopek, and there are 8 kilometres more to the area. For about 3-4 hours one can reach the place along a marked hiking track starting from the town and passing close to the interesting waterfall of Skaklya.
The Ledenika Cave is also situated in the Vrachanski Balkan, south-west of the town (16 km asphalt road and approximately 2.30 hours on foot along a marked tourist track). This is one of the most interesting Bulgarian caves, which is electrified. There are several halls with wonderful formations, the most impressive being the Concert hall (60 m long, 46 m wide and 22.7 m high) which has a fantastic acoustics. It has hosted a lot of concerts. The entry fee is just a symbolic one. Next to the cave there is a tourist settlement. Ledenika Chalet (850 m above sea level, tel.: 092 24411, 86 beds in 2 suites and rooms of 2, 4, 5, and 6 beds) is nearby, too. In the direction to the settlement there is also an open-chair lift, its initial station being between the town of Vratsa and the village of Zgorigrad, which is located immediately to the south end of Vratsata Gorge. There is regular bus transport to the lift.
Vratsata - the fantastic gorge of the Leva River, immediately to the south of the town. Its western rocky massif, full of miraculous cliffs, some of them reaching 350 metres height is extremely impressive. The whole region is karst (as well as the entire Vrachanska Mountain) and is a paradise for the rock climbers. There are dozens of different categories of climbing routes. The area hosts a large and nice Alpine House and there are a lot of nice meadows scattered along the river, suitable for camping. Vratsata attracts thousands of admirers of nature both from Bulgaria and abroad. From the centre of the town the place can be reached within half an hour on foot. Another possibility to go there is to use the bus transport to the village of Zgorigrad, located on the other side of the gorge. The Botev Alley, 120 km long, from Kozlodoui to Okolchitsa, reproduces exactly the route of Botevs detachment with all the historic sights along the trail. The closest of these historic landmarks are the Botev meadow on the Veslets Hill, where the detachment had to overnight, and Milin Kamuk, where the detachment fought a severe all day long battle on 30th May and gave 15 victims, among which the colour-bearer- Nikola Simov (Kourouto). There are monuments erected on both places. One can reach these spots on foot or using the regular bus transport to the village of Kostelevo (for Botev meadow) and to the villages of Mramoren and Banitsa (for Milin Kamuk). Vratsa is an important and frequently used departure point for hiking tracks round the beautiful and glorious Vrachanski Balkan, which is part of Western Stara Planina Mountain (refer to the Stara Planina Mountain related chaper herein).