Stara planina

May 2015

Walking from Kalofer to Karlovo, along the Byala Reka river via Rai hut and the Stara Reka reserve.

10/5, day 1: KALOFER – BYALA REKA

We took a morning train from Burgas to Kalofer. There were several nice old buildings around the central square in Kalofer.

A cool and impressive monument near the central square of Kalofer.

Already from the central square we could see our destination for tomorrow’s hike: the Rai waterfall. The snowy peak behind the waterfall is Botev (2376 meters) which is the highest peak of Stara Planina.

Here we met Lalyu, a very friendly and helpful guy who runs website. He had fixed a jeep taxi for us. The taxi drove us to a monastery, where Lalyu had booked a room for us to stay in. Thank you very much, Lalyu! :)

The courtyard of the monastery. Our room was on the upper floor of the building to the right.

View from our room towards the valley that we will walk tomorrow.
Outside the monastery we saw a very rare and beautiful bird, called Golden Oriole (Sommargylling in Swedish and Oriolus oriolus in Latin).

In the afternoon we walked the Byala Reka ecotrail, which is a circuit route into a wild canyon. The trail was beautiful, and we were impressed by all the bridges, ladders etc – it must have been hard work to construct this trail! It was very well maintained as well, and with nice information boards (though mostly in Bulgarian).

One of seven(!) fire salamanders that we saw on the ecotrail.

Restaurant near the entrance of the ecotrail. I was surprised to see this, since you can’t really drive here with a normal car. The road really requires a jeep…

Playground on a meadow behind the restaurant. You can camp here too (the place is called Bivak Byala Reka).


Walking north along the green-marked trail.

The trail zigzagged up through the forest. It just rained a little bit, but the ground was wet enough for the fire salamanders to appear. We saw five of them during this day.

When we reached the Paradzhika meadows the green trail markings were quite poor. We had to search for the trail a couple of times, but eventually found the correct route. Once we reached the blue-marked trail at the upper part of Paradzhika, the markings were good again.

It started to rain so we missed some of the views along this trail. But on the other hand, the forest became very beautiful in the mist.

The Rai hut

Inside the Rai hut

And now the rain stopped, revealing the beautiful surroundings. A few hundred meters from the hut is the Rai waterfall. It is 125 meters high, one of the highest in the Balkans.


This day was sunny, so we started out by enjoying the magnificent views around the Rai hut.

View from the Malkiya Kupen hill, a short walk from the hut.

We followed the blue trail, passing below the waterfall again.

Last view of the waterfall…

Last view of the hut. The Malkiya Kupen viewpoint is the one nearest to the hut.


The snow-covered peak Botev (2376 m) in the background.

Chamois again

Crocus flowers

Entering Stara Reka valley

The Vasil Levski hut. A very nice hut. Clean bathrooms with hot showers, and nice lentil soup. Here we met other hikers, a group of three men from Plovdiv. They were the very first other people we met so far on the hike, except for the hut staff and a couple of shepherds. The next day we met one other hiker, and that was it… We watched the news in the hut on TV. It showed that armed people had entered Macedonia from Kosovo, and they discussed how this would affect Bulgaria, and if it could lead to a war involving Bulgaria. The event is known as the Kumanovo clashes.


We spent this hole day in nice forest along the Stara Reka river. Very easy and enjoyable walking!

A break at the Balkanski Rozi hut

Trowing rocks in the river – a game that never gets old :)

We stopped at the Hubavets hut for a nice meal.

Bulgarian yoghurt with blueberries

White-throated dipper (Strömstare in Swedish)

Stara Reka canyon

Karlovo in the distance

Having a superb meal in our favorite restaruant in Karlovo: Mehana Vodopad

Vasil Levski street in Karlovo, between the center and the railway station.




August 2014

A two day circuit hike between Björkliden and the Låktatjåkka hut. The first overnight in an alpine hut for Finn.

DAY 1: Björkliden – Låktatjåkka

The glacier and lake next to the Låktatjåkka hut

Låktatjåkka hut

The hut is from the 1920s, and the interior is charming. They serve good food, and is famous for their waffles.

View from the hut

Sara was here in 1988 and found their entry in the guestbook :)
Lena found an entry from when she was here in 1962.

Old guestbook from the 1940s

Finn’s first overnight in an alpine hut. But first some reading and playing before bedtime.

At first it was misty, so we waited, hoping for it to clear up…

…and so it did. View to the north. On the opposite side is the Vadvetjåkka national park. The flat valley floor was once covered by a gigantic glacier


We walked back a slghtly different route, higher up along the ridge.

In the morning the weather was very clear, so we climbed the Låktatjåkka peak again.

The lake on the left is Torne träsk. It is 70 km long, 800 meters deep(!) and surrounded by mountains on all sides. It’s not Sweden’s largest lake, but perhaps the most majestic one.

The U shaped mountain in the distance is called Lapporten (“the gate of Lapland”)

I have often seen green lichen on the rocks, but in these mountains there are also yellow and orange ones.

Finn stretching his legs. It’s fun to be carried on the back for a while, but after an hour or so it’s more fun to run around :)

My mother with the mighty Torne träsk lake in the background

The vegetation in this area is just amazing. I wonder what the place looks like in a month, when the autumn colors have arrived.

The “Syndafallet” waterfall

This small hut is an unstaffed café with a superb view. This is where you should sit in winter, drinking coffee and watching the Aurora Borealis!

Lapporten (“the gate to Lapland”) in Abisko national park, seen from our hut in Björkliden.


August 2014

This page contains a few day-hikes we did in Björkliden. We rented a hut with a superb view.

Our hut in Björkliden

The view from our hut. Torneträsk is a huge lake, 70 km long, 800 meters deep(!) and surrounded by mountains. Lapporten (“the gate to Lapland”) is the perfect U-shaped valley in the distance to the right.

View from the hut after a thunderstorm.

The strange light after the storm.

Clouds crawling over the mountains on the opposite side of the lake.

“Silverfallet” waterfall

This nice waterfall is situated near the shore of Torneträsk lake, directly below the Björkliden resort.

Torneträsk lake seen from the bridge above the waterfall

The beach of Torne träsk lake

“Kratersjön” Lake & the route of the railway workers

A nice little circuit hike of about 8 km to “the crater lake”, then down to the cemetary of the railway workers, and finally the “rallarvägen” route back to Björkliden.

Our first stop was this little cabin, which is an unstaffed café with superb views. I would like to return in winter, so sit here and drink coffee while watching the Aurora Borealis :)

Just leave money in the jar and take what you want :)

“Badsjön” lake with an outdoor hot tub. A good place for a swim :)

A nice thing about Björkliden is that you are above the forest immediately. You can reach superb, alpine, arctic mountain nature withou effort.

“Odon” berries (edible)

Cloudberries, a real delicacy

Candy for Finn :)

A shelter next to the “crater lake”

Finn is making his first alpine hike :)

Walking on interesting rocks

An old hiknig sign where all the text had faded away…

The cemetary of the railway workers. We then walked back to Björkliden along Rallarvägen (“the road of the railway workers”)

Climbing “njulla” peak

The Njulla peak is about 1150 meters high or so, and rises more than 800 meters above the Torneträsk lake. The view from there is superb, though the visibility was quite poor when we climbed it, unfortunately.

The first time Finn is climbing a proper peak :)

View to the east from the peak

Descending along winter markings

We suddenly found ourselves walking in a thunderstorm, but Finn was kept dry under the raincover.

“Syndafallet” waterfall

The nature immediately above Björkliden resort

We made a small barbeque here

The classic “bread on a stick”

Syndafallet waterfall

Finn really enjoys sitting on the back :)

Syndafallet waterfall from above

A swim in “badsjön” lake.


August 2014

A hike in an exceptionally beautiful fairytale valley in Lapland. Huge boulders are scattered in the valley, and in the end of the valley is an alpine lake with clear waters.

We parked our car and walked 0.5km up to the Låktatjåkko railway station. From there the path continued up towards the entry of the valley.

Entering the valley, the landscaped that opened up before us blowed my mind!

Grandfather Micke is making Finn laugh

Trollsjön, “the troll’s lake”, at the end of the valley

A lemming (lämmel) up close

“Granater” is a type of jewel that is common on the rocks here


April-May 2013

A hike above the fjord-like Kotor bay via the Lovcen mountains to the fairytale village of Svety Stefan.

DAY 0: Dubrovnik

Before the hike we spent a night in Dubrovnik. This is a good basepoint since there are daily buses from here to Kotor.

The old town was super-beautiful but packed with tourists on the main streets. The backstreets were quiet though, and we found a superb vegetarian restaurant called Nishta.

DAY 1: Perast – Svety Andrija fort

We started the hike in the small town of Perast. It is a very beautiful small town of old venetian houses along steep, narrow streets. There are several churches and old palaces. It is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

We followed a poorly marked trail, that zigzagged up the mountain. Great views of the Boka Kotorska “fjord”. The small strait on the photo is all that connects the bay with the Adriatic.

At the end of the bay is the town Kotor and the snowy peak in the background is Štirovnik (1769 m).

First view of the Svety Andrija fort, built by the Austrian army in the 19th century.

Fortified campsite


Mt Orjen (1894 m) covered by snow. This is the highest peak by the coast in Montenegro. It is said to be the rainiest place in Europe (not that it rains very often, but when it rains it REALLY rains).

European green lizard

The trail followed the old Austrian army road, and passed several deserted villages.

The steep part on the left is about 1000 meters high.

An old, ruined chapel

A deserted village next to Graz peak. The terraces would have been a nice place to pitch a tent :)


Water is not easy to find along this trail. This well in a village had a small amount of water. It was the first water we found since the cistern under the floor of the Sveti Andrija fort.

I find it amazing that there has been villages in this rugged place

Another dream-site for camping

Shortly before Mali Zalazi village. We walked over the twin peak (Luk) to the left.

Velji Zalazi village

Third water-place on the hike so far: a deep well where we had to use a rope and our pot (with a stone inside) to get to the water. (My friend Micke who walked here the following year found this well to have very smelly water, so don’t rely on it…)

The church was preserved, but most of the village in ruins.

The ruined village is visible to the right. What a spectacular location!

The peaks belong to the Lovcen national park, Sitrovnik (1789 m) to the right and Jizerski vrh to the left.

Finally some fresh food and beer, at a restaurant near the Krstac pass.

View from the Krstac viewpoint above Kotor, 1000 meters down

Old house at Vucni Do.

Our campsite in Vucni Do. The tranquility was disturbed when a car came driving over the meadows and parked less than 100 meters away. Two men started a very noisy petrol-powered generator that powered a large lamp and loud music. So much for enjoying the peaceful nature…


The trail followed a snowy track through the beech forest.

We had to cross several places where avalanches had destroyed the forest. It was very tiring to cross, and quite dangerous too.

Avalanche area. A wilderness right next to the Mediterranean Sea :)

Relieved after crossing the last avalanche area.

Looking back to the saddle between the peaks, where we had walked earlier the same day.

Dinner at a fancy hotel in Invanova Korita. We could have stayed in the fancy hotel but chose to camp in the forest instead as real hikers :)

There were lots of people here having picknick. Mainly families with kids but also some guys that were here to party. We were offered a beer from their fridge :)


More snowy tracks with many fallen branches, quite tiring to walk here…
A nice view of Sitrovnik and Jizerski vrh peaks. The building on top of the latter peak (on the right) is a famous mausoleum dedicated to the country’s national poet called Njegos.

Another view of the Lovcen wilderness from Babia Glava

Walking on the ridge after Babia Glava was really nice. The tiny island that is vagely visible on the coast to the left is Svety Stefan, where we will end our hike.

The area was full of sinkholes, and reminded us a bit of Galicica in Macedonia.

Brajici village

Kosmac fortress above Brajici village, also built by the Austrians.

We pitched our tent right in front of the fort, with a view of the ocean. The island is Sveti Stefan, the goal of our hike.

Enjoying the sunset in the evening


A lovery trail, very easy walking and excellent ocean views

From the Ogradenice church, which is up on the ridge, we descended on a jeep road. In the forest we found this old van that had been converted into a monastery :)

A monastery above Sveti Stefan.

Sveti Stefan. This used to be a fishing village until the Jugoslav government turned it into one big resort. It is still a stunning view :)