It was the last day of March 2019 – “Pod Kamiko” ecotrail (in English “Under the rock”) had been long on my list of must-visit places, especially because of the old and scenic stadium where the ecotrail starts. The stadium is called “Skalata” (The Rock) as it is surrounded by rocks.
I caught the early train from Sofia to Gara Bov village (takes around one hour and goes along the beautiful Iskar gorge). The railway station of Gara Bov is called “Bov” so I got off there and the next step was to go to “Skalata” stadium. The road to the stadium starts directly behind the railway station – you should basically walk straight up the hill for about 10 minutes. The GPS will also take you there. Travelling by car to Gara Bov village is also possible, but it will also take you one hour and the trip is not as scenic as the train trip. You can either leave your car close to the railway station or in front of the stadium where the ecotrail starts.
Once you reach the stadium, you will see a map of the area that will show you two ecotrails – one marked in green (“Pod Kamiko” ecotrail), the other one marked in blue and heading to a house where the famous Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov used to live (Vazova kashta). The second one is actually part of the Vazova ecotrail that will take you to Bovska skaklya waterfall - one of my favourite places! On the map in front of the stadium you will see that the “Pod kamiko” ecotrail forms a circle – from the stadium at Gara Bov village you go along Bovska river direction Bov village (it is a different village!!!) and Pod Kamiko waterfall. After you reach the village and the waterfall, you head back to Gara Bov village but on a different route. It took me around three hours in total and I was quite positively surprised by the freshly made signs (white-green-white) along the ecotrail – in old travel blogs I had read that a couple of people got lost, which was close to impossible in my case. I would say there are only three to four places where you have to be careful, but I will mention them in the description below.
First part: Gara bov village to Bov village
You start the ecotrail by entering the old stadium – at the end of the stadium you will see Bovska river. It is important and useful to point out that during the first part of the ecotrail you pretty much walk right next to the river (its opposite direction though) – either on its left or right side. So behind the stadium there is the first “adventure” – crossing the river thanks to a small old wooden bridge, so that the river ends up on your left side. Then, you go up a small hill for a couple of minutes and reach a wooden bench (I hope it is still there when you are there) and if you turn around, you will enjoy the amazing view over the stadium. A couple of meters behind the bench, the road splits – make sure you go to left. There is a sign, but it is actually on a stone behind your back so you won’t see it straight away. After you go left, you will reach the river and you have to cross it one more time so that it ends up on your right side.
Again, the signs were very good (marked either on a tree or stones along the ecotrail), so standing at one sign, you should be able to see the next one. If you don’t see a sign for more than 50 meters, I recommend you go back and see if you made a mistake somewhere. From time to time, the path splits, but there are usually clear signs which way you need to go.
In about 40 minutes after the bench, I reached the second “tricky” point of the trail. You walk on a big rock next to the river and it seems like the path goes straight. However, there is a sign on the rock you are walking on pointing right – you actually have to cross the river and go right along a dirt road. At this point it may seem as if you are heading back to Gara Bov village, but soon you will have to turn left (there are signs, so don’t worry) back to Bov village and walk for about 10 minutes. The signs there are rather rare, but it is a dirt road with no splits, so you can’t get lost. The dirt road is located on a small hill so on your left in the distance you will see the houses of Bov village – this is where you need to go. The dirt road will take you to a small wooden bridge that you need to cross and from then on the path will take you up the hill to reach the waterfall and the village. Some of the signs are marked on stones, so be careful not to miss them.
I would like to mention the third “tricky” place (at least to me). Shortly before you see the waterfall, the path splits. There is an old metal arrow that points straight – however, this path will take you to the road (which cars use) to go to Bov village. Keep in mind that you should never reach this road, so if that’s the case – you need to go back and see where you missed the white-green-white sign. So at the tricky point I actually had to go right - the sign was again behind my back marked on a tree. Once I got back on the right way, I saw the waterfall on the right side – it is a high waterfall falling from the rocks at Bov village.
At this point you will probably take plenty of photos, but I think the better view is when you reach Bov village. You will have to turn left (again around a tree, you will see a sign painted on it) direction a couple of pointy rocks. One of them is actually named “the fireplace” – it is a tall rock with a hole in it (and hence, the resemblance to a fireplace). You go around the rock and go up a few meters to reach a big meadow in Bov village. This is where will also see the waterfall from above and this is where I took the photo.
Keep in mind that the ecotrail continues along one of the roads in Bov village (there are signs) – the road is on the left side of the meadow. At this point you have to go where the waterfall falls – over there there is a wooden bridge and from there on the road that takes you back to Gara Bov village is pretty much only a dirt road.
In total it took me one hour and a half to finish with the first part of the ecotrail.
Second part: Bov village to Gara Bov village
As mentioned, the second part is 90% about walking along a dirt road. There is also water and a couple benches on the way.
Around 10 minutes after I crossed the wooden bridge at the end of Bov village, there is a rather “tricky” part – the path splits in two at a couple of benches and something that looks like a grave with a cross. You have to go right (not left) – you should see a white-green-white sign close to the “grave”.
Soon after this part I reached something like a fence (maybe for animals or cars?) on the dirt road. I simply went around it as the ecotrail continues along the dirt road. Soon I saw a really old house and a big meadow where you will enjoy the view over Iskar gorge and the surrounding villages. At the meadow you might spend a couple of minutes to look for the next sign - here you have to go right down the hill (there is a sign on one of the trees, so be careful – I saw it immediately, but that might not be the case for you).
After this part you go down the hill to reach something like a small church and benches and then you go back on a dirt road between the forest. There are a lot of signs, so it is not easy to get lost. At the end you should reach Treskavitsa river and go right along the river back to the stadium. You should reach Skalata stadium in about 10-15 minutes.
Once I reached the stadium, I saw a lot of people who were just starting the ecotrail, so I am glad I caught the early train and had a chance to enjoy my time in the mountains.
The second part of the ecotrail took me also around an hour and a half, so I had lunch at Gara Bov railway station and caught the train back to Sofia.
In general, I recommend good sports shoes as well as bringing water and some snacks/food with you – it is not a short trail, so you might get thirsty or hungry.