I met Dimo last year in a mountain hut in Rila. We became instant friends since then and we traveled together in Bulgaria last year. I met him this January and shared my plan of traveling the hell out of Bulgaria this year and asked him that he should join me. Being a total sport he is, he said sure let’s do it. So in February, we decided to visit Prohodna and Belogradchik as kick off. Here is a photo travelogue of our journey over the weekend!
Prohodna is a cave in north central Bulgaria, located near the village of Karlukovo in Lovech Province. The cave is known for the two eye-like holes in its ceiling, known as the Eyes of God. And when I see two eye-like holes, they looks exactly like eyes.
Me and Dimo met at Mall of Sofia after work on Friday evening. There, we got ourselves Pizza, bought water and beers and then went to Decathlon to buy myself hiking shoes. Around 8 in evening, we hit the road again. After driving 15 minutes after Botevgrad, we decided to stop the car on highway, jump the fence and go in bushes to take the dark sky pictures. The whole week was sunny and clear but today is was getting a bit cloudy and I was concerned that by the time we reach Prohodna, it will be completely cloudy. Here is one of the picture I took
From there, we continued driving straight to Karlukovo and stopped like 5 kilometers from Prohodna to take pictures of sky again. Here is one
Later we reached the place where we were supposed to stay. It was a nice place next to river called “Национален пещерен дом Петър Трантеев” or “National cave house Peter Tranteev”, we dropped our bags in our room and had chicken soup at the restaurant. After late dinner, we came out to go to cave. It was too dark and we couldn’t find the cave and for quite some time, we drove/walked here and there. As a result, we ended up near next to this lake
After much search and walking through mud, we found the entrance of the cave. We went in there and it was an experience out of this world, I’ve spent nights alone in mountains without anyone for miles around me, but I’ve never been scared. But this place had something so spooky about it that I felt goosebumps the moment I entered the cave. I could hear my breath echo, bats making noises from time to time. And the most scary part was looking up at these eyes. Water was dripping from the roof and that would make it look as if the eyes are crying.
I got so freaked out that while changing shutter speed of my camera, I ended up pressing wrong buttons and instead of taking pictures in Raw format, I took pictures in the smallest jpeg format. Even if I had taken picture in Raw, it wouldn’t describe the magic this cave has to offer at night!
After spending significant amount of time there, we came back to hotel and crashed. I woke around 7 AM in morning and went to balcony to find this awesome view. Mind blowing, we couldn’t see it like this last night
After getting ready, we went out again and started exploring the place in day light, it looked completely different compare to last night, we walk around here and there and took nice pictures
After walking around, we decided to go into caves again to see them in day light, and even though the eyes still looked great in day time, I think the real fun is see them in night! We also went to connecting caves and I even saw a scorpion and bats hanging upside down in caves. I got freaked out and came out of cave.
After spending quite sometime outside, we went back to hotel. Had awesome lunch (salad and kebabche) and then decided to leave. Before we leave the town, I really wanted to see how the eyes look like from top so we started searching for it and after sometime, we found them
Through Bulgarian Villages
After that, we started driving and instead of taking highway, we went through 10s of villages. For me, it was quite an experience to see those villages. It was like time has stopped there. During that drive of 3 hours, we stopped at several villages to take pictures
We stopped at another place to take the following picture
Driving further, it was time for sunset and we came across a small hill, so we decided to stop and get up to take awesome pictures. We parked car on highway and went up hill
After spending 30 minutes here, we continued the remaining 20-25 kilometers journey to Belogradchik and by the time we reached there, sun was almost setting down. We drove the places I checked online but it turned out it was closed, nonetheless I ended up taking nice pictures from there.
A little bit about Belogradchik, it is a town in Vidin Province, Northwestern Bulgaria. The town, whose name literally means “small white town,” is situated in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains just east of the Serbian border and about 50 km south of the Danube River. The town is famous for its unique and impressive rock formations, the Belogradchik Rocks, which cover an area of 90 square kilometers and reach up to 200 meters in height. The town is also famous for its Fortress from Roman Empire times.
For spending the night, we found an alternative cheap but good quality hotel, dropped our stuff there and went out to eat at a nearby Serbian restaurant. Food was awesome there
After eating, we came back to hotel, rested a little bit and then around 11, we went out again as the night became clear to take some night photos. We drove here and there and took some nice photos
After spending an hour or two, we decided to go back to hotel. We crashed immediately and woke up next morning to a clear sky. By the time we left the hotel, it was getting foggy. We bought coffee and croissant to eat and went to Fortress. We were the first one to get into Fortress in morning and three dogs decided to join us. It was really foggy at this time, which turned out to be good as it made the whole place look like mystical. Some pictures of fortress and dogs
From a certain place within the castle, you can see a good amount of rocks, we hiked here and there and found these awesome places and took pictures
After spending 2-3 hours there, we decided to go back down and eat lunch at the same Serbian place and had more meat and cabbage there.
Now that our stomach was full, we drove almost non stop back to Sofia and ended journey around 6 in evening. It was a very satisfactory weekend and I managed to see more awesome places in Bulgaria!