As I wrote in this article on the Lakatnik cliffs, I had my mind firmly set on climbing to the Eagle’s nest – Орлово гнездо – a tiny house built on a cliff 300 metres above the Iskar river close by to the village of Lakatnik. I wanted to do it this summer, however, the season was coming to an end and I was slowly beginning to doubt the success of the mission, when finally a weekend with good weather was announced, all other plans were set aside and Sasho and I decided to finally do it.
The weather was sunny and warm and the meanders on the road offered wonderful views of the small mountain villages the road passes through.
To get to the tiny house in the cliffs, which was our ultimate goal, it’s best to drive past the village of Bov and to stop at the small restaurant right at the road – it is currently being renovated and I don’t know whether it will keep its name, but it used to be called “The cave” – Пещерата. We left the car right next to the restaurant and walking 30 meters towards where we came from, we saw the beginning of the path on our right side. Next to it is a pretty mountain creek that quenched my dog’s thirst on the way down.
We were carrying a lot as we didn’t know what the routes were like exactly, so we had two full sets of equipment and were not looking forward to the 20-minute walk upwards to the beginning of the routes.
On the way upward we saw a sign directing to the Темната дупка – Dark hole – cave and we decided to go and take a sneak peek. It was worth it! It is supposed to be 8km long, but we only looked at the entrance with its interesting looking human-made columns.
The way over there is short and very picturesque, as the path increases its altitude quickly and offers a dazzling view over the river canyon.
After the mandatory several pictures we took off for the climbing routes. The walk upwards wasn’t as difficult as I expected in spite of the heavy rucksacks; after about 15 minutes we were at the foot of the cliff with the small hut.
I was surprised at how many people were already there. On the other hand, Lakatnik is an A list location for climbing, so the several climbing teams and a couple of guided courses were actually to be expected.
We climbed slowly and a little bit extremely, as one of the routes I ascended merged with another, already climbed route, so I had no bolts available to clip the rope onto. As the route was quite easy, I improvised and used one of the metal ropes to which the little house is attached to clip a quickdraw and kind of free soloed the last several meters.
Two friends came by and joined us but they were too lazy to climb. They only wanted to brag a little – one with his killer dog and the other one with his drone.
Long story short, we were finally able to take a close look at the remarkable little hut built over the river canyon and all in all it was a fine, albeit a bit short autumn day.
Now let me tell you about the Sunday that followed 🙂 Bearing in mind that the weather was so good and that it was going to change soon, we made plans for a hike to the Trastenaya hut on the next day. Again we drove in the same direction, but turned to the village of Bov before we reached Lakatnik. From there it’s about two hours of hiking to get to the Trastenaya hut which produces wonderful bio certified raspberry wine on which we had set our hearts.
When we stopped at the center of Bov, Sasho mentioned there was supposed to be a waterfall nearby, so we took a small detour to see it.
The woman we asked about it pointed us quickly, but towards where we saw the waterfall from above, so we had to walk a little bit further to see it in all its glory from the front.
While walking toward the full view of the waterfall, we saw also some beautiful rock formations which were titled The Fireplace – Камината – in Google maps.
Then we were on our way to the hut. On the way Sasho told us an interesting story about the villages in this area – as they are quite high up in the mountain, they often lack churches and the locals took up a tradition to set stone crosses in meadows, where they would gather on religious holidays. Every cross is connected to a certain saint day in the orthodox calendar. Then families are “assigned” a cross and a saint and so they gather their fellow villagers on the saint’s day for a celebration at the cross.
The path upward was easy and the views were so beautiful due to the autumn colours of the mountain. We met several huntsmen on our way and heard several shots – apparently the season was already open for wild boar.
We walked for about 2 hours and in spite of being somewhat uncertain of the exact direction, Sasho’s gut turned out to be a good enough GPS and we finally made it to Trastenaya.
We were so excited to get the bio raspberry wine, but we were unfortunately too late, a large group before us bought out the raspberry wine, so we had to make good with the merlot/raspberry mix, which was also okay. By that time it had already become rather chilly, so we didn’t stay too long. It was also full of people due to the hut’s accessibility by car. And many people are always a turn off to me 🙂
I can only recommend a trip in the proximity of Lakatnik, due to the beautiful nature and the many outdoor activities one can engage with. A group of climbers had done the smarter thing and had booked nights at the hut from Friday on, they spent the Saturday climbing and hiked on Sunday, also a great option if you want to spare yourself the trip back and forth to Sofia.