In this post I will cover one of the best natural attractions for me in Bulgaria – the Canyon of Waterfalls. This is an ecopath near Smolyan/resort of Pamporovo, that despite being absolutely impressive and must-see, is still little known. I assume the reason is that it has only recently been renovated and word has not spread out yet.
So, what is the Canyon of Waterfalls?
This is a 6 km ecopath that starts nearby one of Smolyan neighbourhoods – Sredoka – and goes through 46 waterfalls! To walk the ecopath simply enter the city of Smolyan and look for signs for Sredoka (until recently they didn’t have many signs for the Canyon of waterfalls, hopefully they’ll put some soon). When you enter Sredoka, always keep to the right so you end up on a village road with desolate agricultural buildings. Drive 1-2 kms and on your right you’ll see a small sign for the ecopath. Leave the car and put comfortable shoes on 🙂
Walking the path is maybe 3-4 hours to an entire day, depending on whether you go with kids, make photos, have picnic, etc. No kids + photos in a leisure pace make 4 hours for the whole path.
The tourist center is a bit further up the path (never entered it, had always been closed on my visits), and just beyond this center start the amazing views – to Gerzovska river, the waterfalls and Rhodopi mountains. The waterfalls are big and small, all very beautiful, with the highest one – Orpheus – falling from 68 m height!
At all places the ecopath is secured, steps are made where necessary and in general, it is very safe and pleasant, even for smaller kids. If you want, you may grab some good with you and have a picnic in some of the specially designed huts along the path. In the summer you can also cool off with a dip in the water 🙂
A great asset of this path are the specially designed viewpoints in the higher areas of the path. There are benches and you can relax and stare either at the waterfalls or the stunning views of Rhodopi mountains. Very pleasant to walk, safe and beautiful ecopath.
I would advise dedicating a whole day to this ecopath, to enjoy it in full at a modest pace. If you go to Smolyan for a whole weekend, here’s what you can do on your 2nd day:
- Visit the Planet observatory in the city of Smolyan. Been there so many times and every time seem to learn something new 🙂 Make sure to check their admission hours as they only let you inside in groups, at specific times of the day.
- Visit Uhlovitsa cave, one of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria. It’s 30 kms from Smolyan, have in mind the last group enters at 4 pm.
- Go to Momtchil’s fortress (check GreetBulgaria’s article on the fortress) – recently renovated fortress of the Bulgarian ruler Momtchil offering amazing views to the whole of Rhodopi mountain. Some days in the summer (August mostly) they also have a special audio-visual show at the fortress, with lots of sounds and light effect.
- Visit the village of Smilyan, famous for its special beans. I’d actually recommend staying in Smilyan and relax in the green rather than in the city. Smilyan is some 18 kms from Smolyan, you can find a lot of family guest houses there (find a few on booking.com too) and have your hosts cook you delicious local dishes.
In general, Smolyan region has one of the most beautiful nature and it’s a favorite destination of mine for relaxation, both in summer and winter (=ski in the winter resort of Pamporovo). However, if you want to explore the region and its sights and have not been here before, make sure to use GPS. Most tourist sights are next to small villages, the signs might be missing now and then so – better have a backup option 🙂 Enjoy!
Note: apologize for the phone quality of the photos. I doubt however that any photos can capture the beauty of this place, so go check it out 🙂