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A short morning walk right next to Sofia

To fill a scorching hot summer day, which this Saturday indeed turned out to be, we decided to take a short, non-challenging early morning walk starting from a well known Vitosha hut – Selimitsa – Селимица to the next hut on the path – Ostritsa – Острица. To get to Selimitsa hut you’d have to drive westward from Sofia, toward the village of Kladnitsa situated right at the foot of mount Vitosha. The drive takes about 40 minutes. We left around 8am, which, in retrospect, was even late, next time we’ll try to get there earlier trying to avoid the crowds. The place is very popular with Sofia citizens, as it is very easily accessible, but at the same time it is a ‘real’ serious mountain, with all its benefits such as a cool clean air, a cold mountain creek and many paths to roam for those willing to leave the side of their car.

After getting to Kladnitsa village, take the road going “upwards” from the central square (or just ask any local you see). The road meanders along the mountainous terrain ever ascending to the hut. At the end of the road there is a small parking lot and a barrier indicating the beginning of the natural park. We left the car at the parking and headed for Selimitsa hut, which is a mere 5-minute walk from the parking lot. From there on after passing several summer houses, we entered a deep cool forest, the trees rising high above our heads provided sweet shade.

The beginning of the path

The path was very picturesque, at one point we passed a stone river consisting of large moraines, so typical of Vitosha. Every now and then, a gap among the thick forest would allow us to see the beautiful scenery below us.

A stone drinking fountain was a great place to splash out faces with ice-cold mountain spring water.

There were many huge stones scattered around the path, we used the opportunities to do some grade 3b (very low, haha) bouldering, even the dog decided to participate. It was such a nice walk, the heat had still not overtaken the forest and we were able to enjoy the sun without the nowadays traditional fear of skin cancer and all kinds of UV rays plagues.

After having walked for about an hour and a half at a slow pace, we heard what sounded like a very big dog barking. Some people we met (the first ones on the path) told us they had passed the dog and that it was on a leash. Having been reassured like that we marched on determined and saw Ostritsa hut. The dog, a huge ferocious-looking Bulgarian shepherd was barking relentlessly at Buck, who really only wanted to play. Alas, we did not let him. Here some pictures of the hut and its fierce guardian:

Luckily there was another set of early bird tourists who directed us to the Ostritsa peak, which is extremely close to the hut, no more that a five-minute walk upward, The peak itself does not look like the peaks we’re used to seeing in the taller parts of Bulgarian mountains, but it’s more of a huge meadow with some of those moraines scattered around. We sat there for brunch enjoying the amazing view overseeing dam Studena Студена.

 To reach the peak itself was not very easy, but we still managed. I also gathered some herbs from the meadow, there were so many of them and I can only imagine the sweet-smelling tea they are going to turn into.

On the way down we met many more people, which was a signal for us that we had taken the right decision going as early as possible. The topping on the cake, however, was the endless crowds of people who had “camped” around Selimitsa hut, having left their cars and opened their mats within 3 meters of the cars. Barbeques sizzling,  hammocks lightly swaying in the wind, chattering buzz and trash everywhere. If you are looking for  a quiet spot to enjoy the solitude of nature, this is not it, or at least not at lunch time. Otherwise, a fantastic walk! Highly recommended!