Due to its geographical location, Bulgaria has a unique set of natural wonders, every single one of which is worth seeing. However, when you hear the word “canyon,” your first thought would probably be of the Grand Canyon in the US, not one somewhere in Eastern Europe. But there are indeed a lot of them throughout the country. And today, I want to take you on a digital hike in the area of the Emen Canyon.
The canyon is located in the northern part of the country, 25km west from the nearest big town, Veliko Tarnovo, and 210km from the capital city, Sofia. Nature and time have created it around the Negovanka River, where there is also the oldest eco-path in Bulgaria. There are two defiles – an upper and a lower one. A village with the same name – Emen, marks the border between the defiles.
This natural sight has appeared in the neolithic era, together with the cave, which bears the same name – Emen Cave. The latter is among the longest in the country – 3113 m and is a home to different types of bats. This is why the cave is not open to visitors, as they might disturb the bat populations. This decision has been issued by local organizations that are trying to preserve national and European nature reserves. The area around Emen Canyon has been declared a natural reserve in November 1980 and in this way, protected by law.
The canyon`s tallest cliffs rise to 90m in height. Here, there also is a waterfall called "Momin Skok," which is 10m tall and has a beautiful pool with crystal clear waters. You can have a picnic, go fishing, hiking or rock-climbing here, as long as you have the right equipment and do not disturb the habitat.
There is a folk-tale circling in the area, according to which three young maidens jumped from the cliffs into the waterfall to escape the Ottoman soldiers who were following them. The name of the Emen Waterfall, “Momin Skok,” means “A maiden`s leap,” which suggests that the tale might actually be true.
The eco-path, which is the first established one in the country, is a popular place for hikes and for spending quality time in nature. The eco-path bears the same name as the river – Negovanka. For the trek, you need about three hours. The difficulty of the area is average, which means that you need to have the necessary shoes as well as warm, comfortable clothes, suitable for a hike. Throughout the path, there are wooden bridges, sheer cliffs, steep hills, so you need to be prepared and be very careful. Still, if you are brave enough to do it, you will be rewarded with many picturesque views.
If, after the hike around the canyon, the waterfall and the cave, you still have energy, I advise you to go back to Veliko Tarnovo (30km from the canyon area) and visit Tsarevets hills. The canyon and the hills are among the many proofs that wonders still exist, even in a small country like Bulgaria!
This Bulgarian Grand Canyon - Emen Canyon, like everything in the country, is only a smaller version of the actual Grand Canyon, but it is definitely just as beautiful. Witnessing the picturesque views during the hike would be worth the effort you would put in. Bulgaria`s nature wonders could be found around every corner if you look for them.
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