Epic waterfalls and the eternal search for the re-energization from nature is what spring and summer months are made for! If you want to plan a day trip from Sofia to an inspiring location in the middle of the truly spectacular Bulgarian mountains, you should definitely consider a visit to the Vazova Ecotrail and the majestic Skaklya Waterfall! The gentle burble of the river, the delicate bird singing and the fresh scent of spring blend together to create the perfect setting for a relaxing day trip from Sofia. Keep reading below for the ultimate firsthand guide to Vazova Ecotrail and how to start planning your trip!
Getting to Vazova Ecotrail
Located only 50 km away North of the Bulgarian capital, Vazova Ecotrail is a fantastic choice for a day trip from Sofia. The path connects the villages of Gara Bov and Zasele so both are a good option to start from. Regardless of your pick, though, traveling by car would take you through the scenic Iskar Gorge. Keep in mind that the road winds along the entire way and the drive can take about an hour from Sofia.
Starting Point Gara Bov Village
GPS Coordinates: 43.03546, 23.33784
I strongly recommend starting the trail at Gara Bov. The first part might seem a bit steep, however, it is truly spectacular as the path beautifully winds along the river. If you are not planning on renting a car, you can also easily travel to Gara Bov by train. As there are frequent trains running almost every hour, catching the train from Sofia Central Railway Station to Gara Bov should be fairly easy. The train ride takes about an hour and costs between 5 and 10 BGN round trip. You can sit back and relax this old-fashioned journey through the picturesque Iskar Gorge.
If you are traveling by car, you would need to follow Route 16. As you get to Gara Bov Village, you will see multiple signs showing you the way. On the second “Vazova Ecotrail” sign, you would need to turn left and shortly after you will find a small road widening, where you can leave your car.
Starting Point Zasele Village
GPS Coordinates: 43.03968, 23.33046
While, I personally chose Gara Bov as the starting point for the Vazova Ecotrail, the small village of Zasele also has some advantages. At an altitude of 950 meters, you will be immediately greeted by the truly remarkable mountainous views.
As you are passing by the small villages along the Iskar Gorge, you would need to take a left as you are leaving Tserovo. There is a sign, which says “Vazova Ecotrail”. This road will take you to starting point Zaseleve Village.
If you a beginner hiker, check the link below for the 10 essential hiking tips for beginners!
Note: On our last day trip from Sofia to Vazova Ecotrail we decide to start at Gara Bov Village, so keep in mind that the information provided below about the trail follows the direction from Gara Bov to Zasele Village.
The entire Vazova Ecotrail takes about an hour and 30 minutes one-way and can be divided into two parts. While the first part is relatively flat and easy, the second can be a bit more challenging because you find yourself hiking up steep steps carved into the rocks. Halfway through the trail you are treated to spectacular views of the 85 meter tall Skaklya Waterfall. Below you will find detailed information about both sections of the trail and what to expect from the hike.
From Gara Bov to Skaklya Waterfall
You will find the trailhead by a little water fountain and a sign that says “Вазова Екопътека”. The path is extremely pleasant as you walk alongside a beautiful meandering stream.
Once you reach the first wooden bridge you will see a small cave in the rocks on the right side. The path continues left and takes you through the lush green forest. Up next comes a steady incline. Mind you, this is not a difficult trail, but is more than a simple walk on level ground.
After some time, you will be treated to the first glimpse of the stunningly beautiful Skaklya waterfall in the distance. As we were visiting during the spring, the plentiful water was pouring over the steep cliffs to create a series of three majestic cascades.
The trail carries on for another 10 – 15 minutes before you find yourself standing at the foot of the waterfall. This is the spot where you would want to take your time. Not just for a quick break and the compulsory photos, but also to fully experience the tremendous force of the waterfall.
Note: It takes about 30 minutes of walking in normal pace to reach the waterfall. If you are pressured for time, you can finish the trail here and head back.
For those who persevere through the next section, you will be treated to remarkable panorama views from the top! Keep in mind this second section is a bit steeper than the first and will take about 40 minutes at a decent pace, but it is worth it!
When you are ready to continue your hike up to Zasele Village, be careful to find the correct path! The trail continues to the left of the waterfall, however, the path disappears beneath the stream’s flowing water over the rocks. We made the mistake to continue to the right and lost about 15 minutes searching for the trail before realizing we had to go back.
When crossing the stream look out for the larger, more stable rocks to step on. Next, the path takes you into the shady forest. This is the last spot to enjoy the flat and easy trail, as after this the trail pitches higher.
There is approximately 1 km before you reach the end of the Vazova Ecotrail, however, the elevation gain is quite substantial. Concrete staircases and ramps have been added to support you for this final bit of the hike.
The scenery here is completely different from the first part of the Vazova Ecotrail. Dramatic vertical cliffs dominate the skyline to the right, whereas rolling mountains span the horizon.
It is worth taking a break in the green meadows on top to admire the breathtaking scenery. You will also find the rushing river, which drops abruptly and creates the magnificent Skaklya Waterfall.
While Vazova Ecotrail is quite scenic, Skaklya Waterfall will definitely be the highlight of your day trip from Sofia. While the entire waterfall is close to 120 meters tall, it descends into a series of three remarkable cascades. The highest one is approximately 85 meters and can be best admired from the top of the cliffs.
Once you are standing at the foot of the waterfall halfway through the Vazova Ecotrail, you will find yourself at the second cascade. With a height of about 30 meters, the waterfall drizzles onto the rocks and sprinkles water drops into the air. Be sure to step into the waterfall’s wake if you want a quick mid-hike shower!
History of Vazova Ecotrail
First established back in the 1970s, Vazova Ecotrail has quite an interesting and intriguing history. It is strongly believed that one of the most significant poets for the Bulgarian literature, Ivan Vazov, found inspiration for his novels while hiking up to Skaklya Waterfall. So if you are also in the search for creativity, Vazova Ecotrail might be just the day trip from Sofia that you need for the muse to strike! Back in 2007, when the path was designated as one of the official Bulgarian ecotrails, the current wooden bridges and benches were constructed while the night lights and the information signs were also added.
When to Visit
You can easily plan a day trip from Sofia to Vazova Ecotrail year-round. If you would like to fully enjoy the beauty of the stunning 85 meter tall Skaklya waterfall, though, you would need to visit during the spring months. As we took our trip in May, we got to admire the waterfall in all of its glory. It was not just the spectacular pouring waterfall, though! With the first signs of spring, light green, fresh leaves sprouted on trees and bushes, soft purple lilacs were starting to bloom to create a picture-perfect scenery along the entire way!
Tips For Visiting Vazova EcoTrail
Despite being an easy ecotrail, having good walking/hiking shoes is advisable.
Watch your step! We saw a viper snake to hide in between the rocks.
As we visited during the Coronavirus pandemic, we decided to bring our own snacks, instead of counting on the few restaurants nearby.
Never forget – pack up your trash and leave nothing behind except your footprints!
If you are planning on visiting during the weekend, make sure to have an early start to your day. The trail can get fairly crowded in the afternoon.
Enjoy this great spring day trip from Sofia and collect happy memories!
Have you been to Vazova Ecotrail? If you have not would you love to plan a day trip from Sofia and get to admire the stunning Skaklya waterfall?