The Lakatnik cliffs

Lakatnik, along with Vratsa is the place every halfway serious Bulgarian rock climber has been to. Lakatnik itself is a small village not far from Sofia and it is famous for the rock formations surrounding it. The river Iskar made its way through the Balkan carving a beautiful limestone gorge which is nowadays a perfect location for climbing enthusiasts.

Getting to Lakatnik takes about an hour and a half, even though it is only about 70km away from Sofia. The road meanders alongside the Iskar river and you will pass several villages and villa settlements. Right next to railway station Bov there is a famous ecopath called the Vazov’s ecopath which will lead you to the beautiful Skaklya waterfall, so should you have a free weekend, you can combine climbing with a picturesque hike.

The Skaklya waterfall

The Lakatnik cliffs site is most popular during early spring and late autumn as the endless rocks with thousands of holes, cracks and small caves are also a home to lizzards and snakes, some of which venomous.

So many holes and cracks in the rock 🙂 I was afraid to stick my hand in them and would spend time knocking around each one to scare any possible venomous fauna

Another thing is, that due to its orientation, the rock just gets too hot in the summer, so Lakatnik was the logical choice for season opening in late February this year 🙂

There are over 250 routes equipped at the so-called ‘Vrzhite dupki’ part – Вражите дупки – meaning ‘The enemy’s holes’. For a better overview they are separated in sections, from A through Q. There are several sites in this area, all known under the general name Lakatnik cliffs, but they do offer different routes and are situated within a few kilometres of each other.

To get to Vrazhite dupki, follow the road alongside the river and at the sign for Gubislav village – Губислав – make a left turn. In less than a kilometer you will reach a small parking space where you can leave your car and walk the path upwards to the rocks. Alternatively, for the first sections of the site, drive after the parking spot for another 500 meters and leave your car at a sideway on the left – the path to the rocks is on your right.

Sector Q is at the far right end

There are route difficulties for everyone, most of the lines are not too long either. In sector A, where we were, one would need 13 quickdraws tops, so none of the routes are over 25 meters.

There is apparently a good spot to camp out at the Lakatnik rocks, I myself haven’t spent the night there, but some friends do it regularly. It is worth it to get a tent with you, as the nature around is really beautiful and offers quite a few good hikes. Quite close to Vrazhite dupki is the Transtenaya hut where you can try a fantastic bio raspberry red wine which they produce.

Another famous feature of the area  is the tiny little house built 300 metres above the river called Orlovo gnezdo – Орлово гнездо – meaning Eagle nest.  The cabin is accessible only via a steep climb and was built in 1938 by some of Bulgaria’s leading alpinists. It has become to be one of the symbols of the Lakatnik cliffs and I have my mind firmly set on seeing what its interior looks like this year 🙂

If you are looking for a place to meet many climbers and combine the rock adventures with some grade A hiking in the Balkan, then definitely head for Lakatnik 🙂