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World's countries : Bulgaria

Central Balkan National Park
photograph by Emil Rashkovski

Central Balkan National Park

The Central Balkan National Park (Bulgarian: Национален парк Централен Балкан) lies in the heart of Bulgaria, nestled in the central and higher portions of the Balkan Mountains. Its altitude varies from 550 m. near the town of Karlovo to 2376 m. at Botev Peak, the highest summit in the mountain range. It was established on 31 October 1991. The Central Balkan National Park is the third largest protected territory in Bulgaria, spanning an area of 716.69 km² with total length of 85 km from the west to the east and an average width of 10 km. It occupies territory from 5 of the 28 provinces of the country: Lovech, Gabrovo, Sofia, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora. The national park includes nine nature reserves covering 28% of its territory: Boatin, Tsarichina, Kozya Stena, Steneto, Severen Dzhendem, Peeshti Skali, Sokolna, Dzhendema and Stara Reka.

The Central Balkan National Park is one of the largest and most valuable of the protected areas in Europe. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Park as Category 2. The national park and eight of the nine nature reserves are on the UN list of Representative Protected Areas, and four of the nature reserves are included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme. It is a full member of the WWF-led PAN Parks.

The park falls within the Rodope montane mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion of the Palearctic Temperate broadleaf and mixed forest. It is home of rare and endangered wildlife species and communities, self-regulating ecosystems of biological diversity, as well as historical sites of global cultural and scientific significance. The flora is represented by 2340 species and subspecies of plants. Forests occupy 56% of the total area. There are 59 species of mammals, 224 species of birds, 14 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibia and 6 species of fish, as well as 2387 species of invertebrates.

photograph by Sevdelin Atanasov


Kutelo (Bulgarian: Кутело) is a summit in the Pirin mountain range, southwestern Bulgaria. With a height of 2,908 m it is the second highest peak in Pirin after Vihren (2,914 m), and the third one in Bulgaria, behind Musala (2,925 m) in Rila and Vihren.[1][2] Kutelo is a double peak with a small saddle between the two parts, the lower being only one meter below the higher one, at 2,907 m. Seen from the town of Bansko it appears higher than Vihren.[2]

Like Vihren, which towers to the south, Kutelo is built up of marble[2] but its slopes though sheer are not so rocky and it is not very difficult to climb. On the north-eastern slopes there are alpine climbing tracks of category II "b". The Premkata saddle is situated to the south and leads to Vihren[1] while to the north is the narrow karst edge Koncheto which links Kutelo to the summit of Banski Suhodol.[1][2] There are no marked tracks to the summit of Kutelo, but on the slanting western slope among the rocks is nestled the track between the Vihren refuge and Yavorov refuge. This track also leads along Koncheto. In the homonymous waterless cirque to the north-east there are snow-drifts all the year.[2] To the south-east is the cirque Golemiya Kazan with Europe's southernmost glacier, Snezhnika.[3] Pirin's second glacierlet, Banski Suhodol Glacier, is situated below the northern face of Kutelo.

Kutelo is home to chamois and on its slopes grow edelweiss (Leontopodium nivale) and a number of other rare herbaceous plants.[1]

Rila lakes
photograph by Renita Kostadinova

Seven Rila Lakes

The Seven Rila Lakes (Bulgarian: Седемте рилски езера, transliterated: Sedemte rilski ezera) are a group of lakes of glacial origin (glacial lakes), situated in the northwestern Rila Mountains in Bulgaria. They are the most visited group of lakes in Bulgaria. The lakes are situated between 2,100 and 2,500 metres elevation above sea level.

Each lake carries a name associated with its most characteristic feature. The highest one is called Salzata ("The Tear") due to its clear waters that allow visibility in depth. The next one in height carries the name Okoto ("The Eye") after its almost perfectly oval form. Okoto is the deepest cirque lake in Bulgaria, with a depth of 37.5 m. Babreka ("The Kidney") is the lake with the steepest shores of the entire group. Bliznaka ("The Twin") is the largest one by area. Trilistnika ("The Trefoil") has an irregular shape and low shores. The shallowest lake is Ribnoto Ezero ("The Fish Lake") and the lowest one is Dolnoto Ezero ("The Lower Lake"), where the waters that flow out of the other lakes are gathered to form the Dzherman River.

The Seven Lakes chalet are a main tourist attraction in Bulgaria because of the inspiring natural beauty of the place. The lakes are located one above the other and are connected by small streams, which form tiny waterfalls and cascades. You can find tourist accommodation in the lakes' vicinity. It lies on the northeastern shore of The Fish Lake, at an elevation of 2,196 m. The most appropriate time to visit the lakes is summer, in July and August, when temperature is above 10 degrees Celsius and the risk of sudden storms is lower. During the rest of the year the weather is unfriendly to tourists. Sometime in October the lakes freeze and don't melt before June. The ice cover can reach up to 2 meters.