We have a lot of weekend trips around the country and the Rhodope mountains have long been on our list. Apart from from being a gorgeously looking outdoors destination, the region is home of 15 reserves/national parks, many natural lakes and a number of major reservoirs*. The mixture of mountain terrain with all these picturesque bodies of water is a great choice for short trips, camping and hiking. The area is not densely populated and you can find some lovely small hotels near the shore for some quiet time away from the city.
I had seen some of the lakes and reservoirs in the area, but I had never been to Tsigov Chark (the photo above) and it just swept me away with its beauty and serenity.
The lush green colors and the island in the middle were breath taking: especially early in the morning when a thick blanket of fog was still swimming upon the water surface. I had a lot of fun taking photos and I highly recommend this area to people who appreciate nature and beautiful landscapes.
We stayed in Villa Santa Maria, which overlooks one of the nicest spots in Tsigov Chark with a view of the tiny island Golaka (the title photo was taken from a spot about 50 m away from the hotel). The place was lovely, with a gorgeous view, and quite neat and clean as well. Also there is breakfast included with really good local cheese and a home made infusion of tea and herbs.
There are many small lakes and reservoirs in the area so a car trip of about 2 hours can give you a really nice concise introduction to some of the best sides of Bulgarian nature. We hopped on and off to see some of the places up close, but the area definitely looks like it is worth exploring so we will probably be back for a camping trip in August.
*A list of some major reservoirs in the Rhodopes:
–Batak: the third largest in Bulgaria
-Dospat: is among the highest altitude reservoirs in he county and it is the second biggest in terms of capacity
-Ivaylovgrad: the longest reservoir (over 30km)
– Vacha: the one with the highest dam wall (144.5m)
– Golyam Beglik– the highest altitude reservoir
-Kardzhali: the third largest in volume in Bulgaria (532mln square metres)
– Studen Kladenets (The Cold Well): the reservoir with the largest area in the Rhodopes
The only thing which majorly annoyed me was finding plastic waste along the way: there is still a lot to be done to educate the general public in Bulgaria how to preserve nature and keep the environment clean.
For those travelers who are keen on culture and history: a visit to the nearby city of Batak is a must. It was the site of one of the most tragic battles in the historical April Uprising (1876). The small city church St.Nedelya was the last stronghold of the local rebels against the Ottoman rule. It became the site of a bloody carnage the memory of which is preserved via glass caskets filled with human skulls and bones near the altar.
The Route between the two major reservoirs