Where the jackals howl…

Bulgaria – what do you know about this country? What associations do you have? Probably very few, perhaps of a political nature or that there is a rather well-known “party mile” on the Black Sea in Bulgaria. Or that Bulgaria is the financially weakest EU country.

We at least knew virtually nothing about this country. No one had ever told us about Bulgaria or had even been there before. Obviously there is nothing to report about a country that you don’t hear about…is certainly more than enough if we plan 2 weeks for the western part in this stage and then possibly another 2 weeks for the eastern part next year…we thought before entering the country.

But fiddlesticks!

Bulgaria enchanted us so much that we stayed there for no less than 9 weeks! And during this time we “only” chugged down the geographical centre from north to south and explored western parts of the country. Despite very active travelling – we have a total of 40 pitches during this time and therefore usually move on after just one night, but only cover a total distance of a good 1500 km in the country.

Bulgaria now means for us – nature, nature, nature, mountain landscapes and mountain panoramas as far as the eye can see, very open, friendly people and delicious food.

Nature is apparently relatively untouched and pristine. There are 4 mountain massifs in the country, stretching more or less through the entire west, with peaks as high as 3000 metres. We explore three of these mountain landscapes and discover huge beech forests in the Central Balkan Mountains, eternal spruce forests in the Rhodope Mountains and mountains full of pine forests in the Pirin. These are primeval forests…especially the conifers are often so thick and tall as we have never seen before. Fortunately, you won’t find forests in rows and rows in these areas. These are natural mountain forests where fallen trees are allowed to lie and provide important habitat in the natural cycle. They are forests where bears and wolves actually still exist. For once in the Rhodope Mountains, we see the imprints of bear paws in the mud again – unmistakable and creating humbling goose bumps.


How powerful this brown bear must have been


Bear paw prints, very easy to see even in the puddle given the size!

And right at the beginning, it is mid-October, we experience a truly magical natural spectacle:

We are standing in the Danube plain, in the Rusenski Lom Nature Park, at the end of the road, surrounded by forest. Earlier we had visited the impressive rock church of Ivanovo, which is over 600 years old and still has most of its beautiful ceiling paintings.

Afterwards, we took a nice walk on the other side of the river, which seems quite wild and pristine – here, too, there were several rock churches, which all together formed a monastery, but now, unfortunately, they can no longer be visited for some years.

Huge limestone cliffs run through these areas, with a river in the middle that has formed a kind of very wide gorge over millions of years, thus preserving this landscape from the otherwise surrounding agriculture of the Danube plain.

While we were still walking, we discovered a paw print in the mud about the size of a dog and wondered what kind of animal it could have come from. We had not yet seen any free-living dogs, which, unlike in Romania, are much rarer in Bulgaria.

We were just getting close to the car again when we heard them – long, animal-like sounds, some howling, some screeching, some cheering. We are totally out of our minds, thrilled, incredulous, hold our breath, get goose bumps, enjoy every one of the total of about 90 seconds and think: “Wolves!”. But no, some time later we are allowed to learn that this is what 16s sound like! 🙂 Also during the night we hear this howling again and again and also at other campsites around the nature park. We consider ourselves very lucky to be welcomed in Bulgaria in this original way.

This is certainly also due to the low season, which has now definitely begun – most of the sights are only open until the end of October and there is hardly anything going on in terms of tourism. We only see German travellers once and only twice long-term travellers of other nationalities. Otherwise, we are to ourselves in this incredibly beautiful, colourful, luminous autumn nature.

There are other natural and cultural wonders to discover in the area around Rusenski Lom: Firstly, the Orlova Chuka Cave, where amazing rock outcrops can be found next to stalactite formations and through which a very cordial guide leads us with singing interludes. And secondly, the rock monastery of St. Basarbovski from the 12th century and the ruins of the fortified town of Cherven, which was built around 600 AD and was inhabited for about 1000 years.

In this gallery you can comfortably click through the impressions described:



After this nature-rich week – by the way, also the first rainy week ever in our journey so far! – through smaller and larger towns in the direction of the Central Balkan Mountains.

And we treat ourselves to a few café visits, including a delicious cake and pie feast. We realise that we only have to pay about a third to a half of the money compared to the prices back home. Wonderful for those with a sweet tooth like us!


We really enjoy ourselves every now and then 🙂


Shopping in Bulgaria is also an experience for us right from the start – thanks to Cyrillic writing we can’t decipher anything at first. The only thing left to do is to explore the displays with our eyes – and they are very happy about even more exotic foods like tahini in different variations, very diverse vegetable displays in front of the shops entice us in and even packaged cakes, pies and biscuits can be found en masse. “They just know how to eat!” soon became a common phrase for us 🙂

As we are mostly travelling in very rural areas, we quickly discover that despite all this, the supply situation is great – almost every small village has a small supermarket where you can find everything you need in a comparatively tiny space. The shopkeepers and the other customers are always extremely helpful, attentive and eager to help – so despite our language barriers, we get everything we need and have nice short contacts with the local people while shopping.



In addition, we discover other aspects of Bulgarian culture – for one thing, the music that sounds oriental to our ears, which is played on local stations and which certainly sets the mood. Then there are the beautiful stone houses with their stone roofs, the traditional way of building in Bulgaria.

And we soon come across the customary way of commemorating the deceased and announcing their passing: A4-sized posters, each with a portrait photo, name, age, date of death and lines of text. These posters are hung all over the place – on the front door of the house where the person died, often accompanied by a big black ribbon made of cloth or paper, on electricity poles, bus stops and even on trees. A completely different way of dealing with grief and death than at home…and a positive way for us.

Click through the following gallery to discover impressions of the Bulgarian cities:



From the town of Veliko Tarnovo, we follow the so-called “path of the sun” through the region of the Central Balkan Mountains, where we also touch the borders of the national park there. We are allowed to marvel at the magnificent beech forest mountains here and can hardly get enough of them. We experience a particularly great panoramic view from the Trojan Monument, which stands on a mountain at the pass of the same name. Here we spot the first snow on the higher mountains and find ourselves briefly above the tree line. Even at this altitude of 1500 metres, it is only 3 degrees during the day – time for the winter jackets!

It is a radiantly beautiful autumn day and the sun shines brightly with the golden beech leaves. Only the temperatures are dropping steadily, especially at night, of course. During the day we wrap up warm and are always outside, in the evening we go into our mobile home, heating on until bedtime…and wake up in the morning to increasingly cool temperatures in the “bedroom”. How amazing that our bodies seem to adapt well to this too. First 15 degrees in the morning feel cold in the living room…at some point it’s only half of that 😉

Thanks to the reliable boiling heating, we quickly enjoy our breakfast again in the warm, as long as we eat indoors, and afterwards we are even more pleased about the warm water, which was heated by our construction via the heating air flowing through the boiler.

In the following gallery you can see the landscapes of the Central Balkan Mountains:



In the next article about the rest of our time in Bulgaria, we will introduce you to someone very special and take you on a journey through the mountain landscapes of the Rhodope and Pirin Mountains.

During the “quiet time” it was also quieter here on weltenleben.de – the next posts will be more frequent again. To be informed directly about new contributions – and only then! 😉 – you can easily sign up for our email distribution list (in the desktop version on the left column, on mobile devices below the posts).

We are happy about all regular followers! 🙂

For the new year we wish you much joy, serenity, health and beautiful life-enriching moments.



Sophia and Chris

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