One of my favourite eco trails in Bulgaria is the Tryavna – Bozhentsi eco trail. I wouldn’t say it is very scenic (most of the time you are in a forest), but it was the first eco trail I ever did and also there are not so many tourists, so this year (May, 2019) I have decided to do it again.
To start with, you can start the hike from Tryavna or Bozhentsi. I personally prefer to start from Tryavna, as the last 20 minutes of the hike are only a dirt road going down, so I think if you start the hike from Bozhentsi it would be a bit ... boring. Also, I always like to spend the night at the beautiful village of Bozhentsi - it is very romantic and suitable for couples. Furthermore, Tryavna is very easy to reach by bus and train. Of course, I recommend you stay in Tryavna for a day too – the restaurants offer delicious meals and there are many sightseeing places.
But let’s go back to the hike. I would like to point out that there are three trails between the beautiful town of Tryavna and the romantic architectural reserve Bozhentsi, but so far I have only chosen the “yellow” one. It starts at Brashlyana complex (a hotel located on a hill with an amazing view over Tryavna, around 15 minutes away from the city center by foot). I started the hike at 7.15 AM when the grass was still wet, but you can start later during the day too. I will include the timing of some important places where the trail gets tricky, so that you have an idea where to pay attention:
7.15 AM: There are a couple of bungalows behind the main hotel part and the yellow trails starts just behind the last bungalow (bungalow #12). There is a dirt road and a transformer station behind the bungalow (a big column, you will see it on your left even when you are in front of the bungalow), so make sure that at the dirt road you go left. At the transformer station the road splits in two (one for the Yellow trail and one for the Blue trail). If you also want to go along the yellow line, you will see the sign on the transformer station pointing right and downhill - it is a dirt road leading into the forest.
7.20 AM: Five minutes later you will reach a meadow where it is not entirely clear where you need to go, but there are two indications. Firstly, on your right side you will see pine trees – on one of them you will see the yellow sign pointing you should go left. Also, you can see that the well-trodden path goes left too, so you can follow the trail. So, yes, in general you have to go left soon after you reach the meadow and you will also shortly enter the forest via a dirt road.
7.25 AM: This is definitely one of the trickiest part of the trail. You go out of the forest, you reach a big meadow, see a couple of villages in the distance on your right side and the dirt road goes downhill to the right. However, you should actually continue straight! There is not really a well-trodden path, but just keep straight (don’t follow the dirt road that goes downhill). There are bushes and trees that cover the trail, but if you keep straight, you will enter the forest and see the dirt road that again follows the yellow sign.
7.30 AM: The trail soon splits and you should go left (there is a sign on the tree). You will reach a small river and you should cross it. After you cross it, you will enter the second tricky part of the trail. Every time we go there we spend 20 minutes looking for the trail. The area you reach looks like a slope (going downhill to the north) covered with bushes and trees and it is not very clear where you need to go. This year someone has even put a cabel (with electricity!!!) around a part of it. To be precise, you should up for a bit (so south, not downhill to the north) and then again go right to enter the forest (as soon as you enter it, you will see a couple of trees with the yellow sign). Basically try to use any well-trodden path you see (if the electricity cabel is still there, just go around its south side and enter the forest).
8.00 AM: So we give around 20 minutes to find the way on the meadow. After you enter the forest, you will soon reach a dirt road with red sign of the Tryavna marathon which happens every year in summer. You will also shortly see a river. Make sure you still follow the yellow sign which goes parallel and right next to the river for a few minutes. You will soon reach a small bridge, benches and a small cave (you can’t enter it, though). Thankfully, the first time we tried this hike there were people having picnic, so they told us that the trail continues on the top of the cave. This means you have to climb the rocks for about 5 minutes. It is not very steep (I am afraid of heights and it was still okay for me), but I wouldn’t say it is suitable for children. On top of the hill you will reach a well-trodden path that goes uphill and in around 5 to 10 minutes you will also reach a road which connects the villages in the area.
8.20: After you reach the road, you have to go left towards Genchovtsi village (you will reach it in five minutes). One of the most confusing parts of the trail is also located in the middle of the village. There is a sign that says “Bozhentsi ecotrail” and points to the right, but you should definitely stick to the main road and keep straight!!! You will also see a yellow sign shortly after you pass the confusing sign - so keep straight on the main road. There is a guy who lives in the last house of the village and usually helps tourists with directions. The best advice he has ever given us is that from this point on, you will go on dirt roads and reach a couple of meadows, but you should always try to go straight and don’t go left to enter the forest. Following his instructions, I can confirm that the rest of the road is a mix between dirt roads in the middle of the forest and meadows. Indeed, when you reach meadows (I think there are three in total) do not go left to enter the forests but keep straight.
9 – 9.15 AM: Around two hours after starting the hike, you should be in a forest (in 2018 the signs were quite bad there, but in 2019 there were new signs so you can easily find the right way) and you reach a big dirt road that (I guess) connects villages around Bozhentsi area. Here you go left along the dirt road (there is a sign too).
9.25 AM: Around walking for about 10 minutes on the dirt road, you should see a tree with probably 20 signs on it clearly pointing that you should go right and downhill (on another dirt road) to reach Bozhentsi village
9.45 AM: The dirt road will take you to Bozhentsi village in about 20 minutes. You will see a couple of streets - each street will take you to the "city center". Bozhentsi is a beautiful village around 20 km away from the town of Gabrovo (which has good both railway and bus station). Usually, there is a shuttle bus from Bozhentsi to Gabrovo around two times a day, but you can also ask a local to take you there or to help you order a taxi from Gabrovo to pick you up from Bozhentsi.
Things to bear in mind: