Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bulgaria – mountains and ski resorts

Eight Bulgarian mountains tower over 2000 m above sea level, each of them with its own character and particular beauty. The highest, the Rila and Pirin Mountains, are situated in the southwest and the Balkan Range divides the country into two, almost equal parts. The Rhodopes Mountains are the largest ones and the Vitosha Mountains lie just south of Sofia. More than one-third of Bulgaria is mountainous.

Rila Mountains

Rila Mountains are the highest in southeast Europe with Mount Mussala (2925 m) the highest. It has a rugged, alpine beauty, with rocky ridges, bristling peaks, plunging precipices, numerous wildflowers, and more than 180 sparkling lakes and streams. The Rila Mountain range is declared a national park. The second biggest ski resort in Bulgaria is Borovets on the northern slopes of the Rila Mountains.

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains take its name from Perun, the Slavic God of thunder. The highest peak, Mount Vihren, tops 2914 m. These mountains are the wildest and most rugged of the Bulgarian ranges, with the northern part having a truly alpine relief with jagged peaks, sharp crests, numerous glacially sculpted circuses, and over 170 glacial lakes. The Pirin Mountains are also declared a national park. The biggest Bulgarian ski resort is situating above the town of Bansko.

The Balkan Range

The Balkan Range is the longest chain on the peninsula, stretching for over 600 km. it is the natural border between southern and northern Bulgaria and plays a role as a climatic border. Situated where the Continental and Mediterranean climates meet, the mountain is an unequalled territory for biogenesis incubator of biodiversity in Europe. The Balkan offers spectacular natural sites, such as the Iskar River canyon and the Belogradchik Rocks. The central part of the Balkan is declared a national park with nine reserves.

Rhodopes Mountains

Rhodopes Mountains are relatively low but possess their own distinctive beauty, and are an ideal place for hiking and biking holidays. The Rhodopes Mountains are called the “Green Heart” of Europe for their large areas with pine trees. Unique natural sites in Rhodopes include: Trigrad and Buynovo as high as 40 meters, the rocky “mushrooms” of Beli Plast, and the Zimzelen Rocks. Rhodopes lies on the border with Greece, and the culture and climate have obvious Mediterranean influence. Two ski resorts are situated here – the third biggest at Pamporovo and a small one at Chepelare.

Vitosha Mountains

Vitosha Mountains rise up just beyond the outskirts of Sofia. Inhabitants flock to its slopes on weekends for hiking excursions. The Vitosha Plateau and moraine “Rock Rivers” are a typical and impressive landscape. Vitosha Mountains are declared a nature park with two reserves. The ski runs on Vitosha begin at Aleko Centre.

Ski resorts

The Bulgarian mountains are sure to have snow from the end of December until mid-April. The ski resorts are situated in southern Bulgaria. They are modern and attract much attention. The four biggest ski resorts are Bansko, Borovets, Pamporovo and Vitosha.

Borovets is the oldest and second largest ski resort in Bulgaria and is situated on the northern slopes f the Rila Mountains, at the foot of Mount Musala (2925 m). Borovets is a modern ski resort with luxury hotels, restaurants, discos, shops and a good choice of ski runs and lifts. Eight snow guns for artificial snow are installed and secure good snow coverage. Nightlife and night skiing are equally great

Bansko has a population of 12.000. This historic town is located at 925 m above sea level at the foot of Pirin Mountains. Bulgaria’s biggest ski resort is situated above the town. The skiing conditions in Bansko are the best in Bulgaria. The mountain has 44 snow guns working to cover 80 percent of the skiing surface. It is a snowboarder’s paradise with a newly established snowboard park. Night skiing is available on well-lit ski runs.
Bansko provides a unique combination of great skiing and of cozy Bulgarian Revival Period atmosphere. The local taverns charm locals and visitors with style, traditional music, local cuisine, and a good selection of wines.

Pamporovo nests in the heart of the Rhodopes Mountains. The skiing area is on the slopes of Mount Snezhanka. Strong influence from the Mediterranean forms the resort’s mild climate and heavy snowfalls in the winter. The resort has six snow guns for artificial snow. Dog sledge driving and night skiing will be available by winter, 2005.

Vitosha Mountain hosts the fourth biggest Bulgarian ski resort. It is on the eastern slopes of the highest Mount Cherni Vrah at 2290m. The resort is only a 45 min drive from Sofia. A gondola lift from Sofia brings skiers up to over 1800m. The skiing season starts in late December and lasts until April.

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