Area: 717 km²
Central Balkan National Park was designated as a protected area in 1991. Situated in the Central Bulgaria it covers 71,670 hectares with other half covered by virgin forests. The highest peak of Central Balkan National Park is Botev mountain at 2,376 meters above sea level. Over 130 animals and plants that inhabit Central Balkan National Park are on the endangered list. However you should probably watch out for the big stuff like brown bears, wolves and vipers. The official site of the Central Balkan National Park contains a lot of information about activities and provides enough information about the region. If you don't want to read it at least check the weather conditions. Central Balkan mountains can be tricky through out a year and knowledge of the conditions is very important. Every year careless tourists get caught in the open by the elements and die. Don't let this happen to you.
Raysko Praskola (Райско пръскало) or Heavenly Spray is the tallest water fall in the Central Balkan National Park as well as all of the Balkan peninsula. It measures at 125 meters in height and falls from the Botev Peak (2376 meters) starting a small creek that later becomes Byala Reka or White River. Tourists commonly come here to make pictures of the geological formation as well as climb the rock cliffs. It is also possible to arrange a paragliding drop from the top of the mountain. The flow of the Raysko Praskola is particularly strong in the late spring when the snows melt.
The relief of the Central Balkan National Park is highly fragmented. The high mountain peaks alternate with deep valleys and canyons. The origin of the relief of Stara Planina is shaped over time by both endogenous and exogenous relief-forming forces. The main types of rocks from which the foundation of the National Park is built are South Bulgarian granites, sandstones and crystalline shales. Signs have been found that at an altitude of over 1800 m, glaciers have been involved in the formation of the mountain's relief in the past.
Rock formations and vertical stone massifs occupy over 2000 hectares of the park. This represents about 3% of its total area. Among the sites declared rock phenomena are Rock Bridge, Markova Dupka and Kalchovi Kamani. The area of the North Djendem and Djendema reserves is especially beautiful. In one place there are rock formations, vertical rock walls and centuries-old forests. The park offers a wide variety of valleys, canyons and gorges. Some of the most famous are the Tazhan Gorge, the valley of the Sokolna River and others.
The karst covers a small part of the protected area, but on the other hand the karst areas here offer a wide variety of caves and precipices. One of the largest karst areas in the National Park is located on the territory of the Steneto Reserve. Here is the Raichova Dupka, which is the second deepest abyss cave in Bulgaria - 377 m.
The territory of the Central Balkan National Park falls into three climatic zones. The parts with an altitude of over 1000 m fall in the mountain climate area. The weather on the northern slopes of the mountain is a result of the peculiarities of the temperate-continental climatic region, and on the southern - of the transitional-continental climatic region.
The park, and especially the higher parts of the mountain, are characterized by strong winds. Strong storms are common in the highest parts of the protected area. On more than half of the days in the year winds blow with an average speed of 10 m / s. In spring, the south winds reach speeds above 20 m / s.
Throughout the year the temperatures are relatively low. Characteristic is the frequent and rapid change in meteorological conditions. Winter temperatures are very low. The average monthly temperature for January is between -9 and -3 ° C. In the high parts of the mountain the snow cover lasts more than 6 months, as the thickness of the snow reaches over 2 m. The mountain is characterized by thick fogs.
The wet days are over 280. The highest annual precipitation for the park is measured in the area of the hotel. "Ambaritsa" 1360 l / m2. These are also some of the highest values for the country.
The most variable in meteorological terms are the ridges of the mountain at an altitude of over 1900 m. Botev Peak is one of the places in Bulgaria where the highest values of winds and precipitation are measured.
The main watershed of Bulgaria passes along the ridge of Sredna Stara Planina. A large number of Bulgarian rivers spring from the territory of the mountain. Vit, Osam and Rositsa spring from the larger rivers of the Danube outflow region (Northern Bulgaria) from the territory of the park. Among the larger rivers in the Aegean outflow region, springing from the park are Byala Reka, Stryama and Tundzha. The average annual volume of water formed on the territory of the Central Balkan National Park is 460 million cubic meters. In dry years it drops to 290 million cubic meters, and in moderately wet years it rises to 530 million cubic meters. The waters have good qualities and represent a significant part of the drinking water reserves in Bulgaria.
The river thresholds are typical for the mountain. On the territory of the park are some of the highest and most impressive waterfalls in Bulgaria, called here in most cases sprinklers. This name comes from the local dialect, typical of the Central Balkan Mountains. Some of the most famous waterfalls in the national park are Paradise (124.5 m), Vidim (80 m), Karlovo (26 m) and Kademliysko sprinkler (72 m).
A large part of the surface drinking water in the country springs from the territory of the park. The average annual volume of water springing from the Central Balkans is 460,000,000 cubic meters. In drier years, this volume decreases by about 150 million cubic meters.
The flora in the Central Balkan National Park is extremely diverse. Nearly 2350 species and subspecies of plants have been identified, of which over 1900 are higher plants. Among them are about 170 species of plants with medicinal properties. Here you can see 229 species of mosses and 256 species of fungi.
Forest areas cover over 55% of the territory of
the Central Balkan National Park, which represents more than 1% of
the total forest area in Bulgaria. The forest massifs are evenly
distributed on the two slopes of the mountain. Forests of natural
origin are 97% of all forests in the park. The average age of
forests is over 110 years, and that of deciduous forests over 120
The forests of the park are the "guardian" of the water and the main source of oxygen in the area. Forests are a major factor in maintaining the microclimate in which many rare animals live.
The best represented plant belt here is the beech forest belt. Above it is the coniferous belt, presented in separate places (no continuous belt is formed). Depending on the conditions and altitude in the park there are also cer, blagun, hairy oak, maple, hornbeam, hazel, spruce, white fir, white fir.
Of particular value are the beech forests, which are typical of the Balkan Mountains. Their average age here is 135 years. They stretch at an altitude of 900 to 1600 m. On the territory of the park are over 7% of all beech forests in Bulgaria and one of the largest and best preserved beech forests in Europe.
The higher plants found in the national park represent more than half of the higher flora of Bulgaria. Of these plants, 12 species and subspecies are local endemics (distributed only in this place). In addition, 10 Bulgarian and 67 Balkan endemic plant species have also been identified. 30 species are protected under Bulgarian legislation, among which are the daffodil pine, the Blagoev mad tree, the round-leaved sundew, the edelweiss, the yellow mountain cream, the Stara Planina primrose and others. 81 species are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria, 9 are in the Red List of Europe, 10 species are endangered worldwide according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Species from world and European red lists are the Transylvanian bell, the star-colored cap, the inseparable cap, the cornflower cornflower, the steff buttercup, the Bulgarian dill.
Nearly 170 species of plants with medicinal properties have been identified in the Central Balkans. This is a significant number and is a major part of all such plants in Bulgaria. Of the medicinal plants, 22 species are included in the Red Book of the Republic of Bulgaria. 16 species are under a special regime of management and use.
Among the species found here are the most popular in folk medicine species such as thyme, St. John's wort, raspberry, wild strawberry, ochanka, medicinal Easter, medicinal primrose and mouse ears.
There is a large number of species from the Mushroom Kingdom, found in the park. More than 250 species of mushrooms have been found, which represents about 12% of all species of mushrooms on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. There is a direct human interest in edible species. The most common edible species of mushrooms are mushrooms, champignons, dandruff, duck leg and others.
Their collection is allowed for both personal and commercial purposes, after the issuance of a permit by the park management.
The large territory of the park, as well as the great climatic and relief diversity, determine the exceptional diversity of the animal world.
Nearly 2390 species and subspecies of invertebrates have been identified on the territory of the Central Balkan National Park. Of these animals, 260 species have been declared rare worldwide, 85 have a limited range within the Balkan Peninsula, and over 50 species are found only in Bulgaria.
Nearly 30 species and subspecies of invertebrates have been found, which are found only in the Central Balkan Mountains and nowhere else on Earth. The largest number of endemic species of invertebrates are from the groups of orthoptera, beetles and butterflies.
Of particular importance for the Protected Area is the conservation of 19 species of animals that are threatened with extinction on a planetary scale. 35 of the species found here are included in international nature conservation lists. Despite the large number of animal species found, scientists estimate that these are only 3/4 of all species found in the park. For this reason, its intensive study continues in this direction.
On the territory of the Central Balkan National Park a large part of all vertebrates found in Bulgaria are protected.
Most of the mammals found in Bulgaria find refuge
in the Central Balkans. 18 species of bats, 17 species of small and
16 species of large mammals were found here.
All of the identified bat species have been declared endangered species in Europe, and eight of them are globally endangered. The European and World Red Lists include species such as the snow vole, the snipe, the wood warbler and the common sleeper. Here is the largest population in Europe of brown bear, inhabiting a protected area. Among the mammals widespread in the park are the representatives of the order Insectivores and more precisely the Eastern European hedgehog and the mole.
Hoofed mammals are widespread in almost all parts of the park. This group includes deer, stags and wild goats included in the Red Book of Bulgaria. In the past, their numbers have declined due to unreasonable human behavior. Today, thanks to the efforts of the park directorate in terms of protection of their species and habitats, the number of these species is stable.
There is a large number of predators in the national park. Here they are 12 species - wolf, jackal, fox, bear, weasel, black and colorful ferret, squirrel, goldfinch, otter, badger, wild cat. Of particular interest is the otter, whose distribution in Bulgaria is extremely limited. The otter is included in the Red List of World Endangered Species. with regard to the wild cat, it should be noted that the park has its purest population, not only in Bulgaria but also on the Balkan Peninsula. The goldfinch population has declined significantly in recent decades. The number of representatives of this species has decreased due to human intervention.
Central Balkan National Park is recognized as an Ornithologically Important Place of World Importance because it preserves all species of birds from the alpine biome found in Bulgaria and significant populations of other bird species worldwide. A total of 224 species of birds are found in the park. 123 species have been identified during the breeding period, 22 of them are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria. Here the interesting inhabitants of the Alpine biome breed - the variegated swirl, the rock-climber and the yellow-billed haidushka garga.
16 species of diurnal birds of prey have been identified in the park. Of great interest is the population of bald eagle, which covers nearly 5% of all birds of the species nesting in Bulgaria. Another species of interest is the Imperial Eagle, which is listed in the World Red Book.
The European lists of endangered animals include the white-tailed buzzard, the eagle, the peregrine falcon and the peregrine falcon. The Law on Biological Diversity of the Republic of Bulgaria protects the species Chernoshipa Kestrel, Mountain Partridge, Owl, Ural Ululitsa, Sparrow Oystercatcher, Little Flycatcher, Colorful Rock Thrush and Black Woodpecker.
14 species of reptiles have been identified in the National Park. The largest number of them can be seen in the higher parts of the Mountain. The species of viper and live-bearing lizard are often found here. The viper is a poisonous snake, typical for the high parts of the Bulgarian mountains. In the lower ones, the cinderella is found in its place.
On the open slopes, where the sunshine is longer, there are short-legged lizards, Crimean lizards, and in some places wall lizards. The most common snakes are the honey snake and the mouse snake.
There are 8 species of amphibians on the territory of the Central Balkans. Characteristic of both the park and the whole mountain are the species of rainforest, long-legged forest frog and large toad. In some parts there are also species of green toad and tree frog, which is on the list of endangered animals worldwide.
Central Balkan National Park also covers the high parts of the Balkan Mountains. In this way, the upper reaches of the rivers flowing from its territory enter it. 6 species of fish have been identified, which represents 1/2 of the number of all identified fish species in the Central Stara Planina. There are Balkan trout, hazel, glavoch, Balkan barbel, rainbow trout (not a local species) and gray trout. Of particular conservation importance among the fish of the Central Balkans is the Balkan trout - a species considered endangered in Europe. The population of this trout in the park is of national importance.
Hiking is best developed in the national park.
Numerous routes and hiking trails have been created (over 470 km).
The park directorate takes care of maintaining the conditions for
practicing summer and winter tourism here. Much has been done in
recent years to place markings and markings that make it easier to
navigate and follow existing routes. A large number of safety
facilities, shelters, recreation areas, interpretive programs, etc.
have been created. Specialized routes have been created for horse
and bicycle tourism, for observation of specific flora and fauna,
for observation of the historical and cultural landmarks located on
the territory of the park, etc. The precise management of the
visitors in the Protected Area aims at better preservation of nature
in its natural state.
Numerous huts and holiday bases create conditions for both short-term and longer stays. The chalets located within the national park are 20 and are subordinated to the Bulgarian Tourist Union (BTU). The total capacity of the chalets is over 1400 beds. The holiday bases are departmental and have a capacity of over 250 beds.
A large number of historical and cultural landmarks have been discovered on the territory of the Central Balkan National Park. The protection of the various remains is one of the main tasks of the park, the implementation of which is again taken care of by the Park Directorate.
Archaeological excavations in some parts of the protected area have revealed many objects that testify to the craftsmanship developed here in the past. A large number of the found objects are stored in the Museum of Folk Crafts in Troyan. Objects from ceramics, woodcarving, iconography, etc. were found.
Another place where you can see objects typical of the region of the park in the past is the open-air ethnographic museum - Etara in Gabrovo. There are presented the various crafts and activities of the society of that time in a form close to the original. There are also museum exhibitions in Karlovo, Sopot, Klisura, Kalofer and other cities around.
The territory of the Central Balkan National Park is divided into 5 zones. Zoning allows for the delineation of areas with specific regimes, norms and actions for park management. The zones contribute to a better organization of the activities for the allocation and use of resources and to a clearer definition of the rules of conduct for visitors to the protected area. According to the Protected Areas Act (PAA), the following zones have been identified, mapped and described: Reserves Zone, Human Impact Limitation Zone, Tourism Zone, Buildings and Facilities Zone and Multifunctional Zone.
Reserves area includes the existing 9 reserves in the park. There are samples of natural ecosystems, including characteristic and / or remarkable wild plant and animal species and their habitats. These are areas of primary conservation importance - the first category according to the classification of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Reserves area has the highest level of protection.
Area for limiting the human impact
"Human impact limitation zone" includes the areas around the reserves (existing buffer zones) and the areas of high conservation importance that could receive reserve status, the areas for ensuring biological exchange between the reserves and the areas with rich biodiversity. This area is designed to deter, limit or mitigate adverse human impacts and their effects on reserves and cultural and historical heritage.
The "Tourism" zone includes the paths (excluding those that cross the reserves that remain in the "Reserves" zone), the shelters, the sites of cultural and historical heritage, the camping places, the places for lighting fires and for short-term recreation, the viewing places, the specialized places for interpretation and educational activities, places for existing sports facilities, places for extreme sports and the main entry and exit points for tourists. The purpose of this area is to offer opportunities for sustainable tourism, recreation and leisure in a way that does not harm wildlife, as well as to ensure the safety of visitors.
Buildings and facilities
Zone "Buildings and facilities" covers all objects
of capital construction, their adjacent subprojects of technical and
structural nature and the overlapping terrains on and around them
depending on the envisaged easement boundaries. In general, these
are the complexes of buildings with different character and purpose,
the huts, the other buildings that offer accommodation, the
buildings with special regime of use, the sites of DNP, the belts I
of the sanitary protection zones, cantons, electricity network,
roads and road facilities , fire reservoirs and reservoirs. The
management of the area aims at minimal negative impact on the
biological diversity, the landscape and the general condition of the
wild nature in the park.
The "multifunctional zone" includes all other areas of the park that do not fall within the above zones. These are mainly natural areas, where, unlike other areas, no special measures are provided for the convenience and safety of visitors. The main purpose of the multifunctional zone is to protect the natural state and processes in natural communities, ecosystems and habitats, as well as to provide opportunities for environmentally friendly livelihoods and long-term benefits from sustainable use of natural resources in certain areas.