Въча / Vacha

One a September getaway in the western Rhodopes took us to the magnetic Vacha Dam. In addition to picturesque views from the road itself, there is also a short eco-trail, which gives the opportunity to look from above and walk in nature. The area is amazing, and there is a variety of activities around Vacha to satisfy any desire. If you haven’t visited it, I advise you to!

Where is located, how to get there and where to stay

Vacha Dam is located along the river of the same name and is 18 km long. It has had the current name since 1999, and before that it was called “Antonivanovtsi”. It’s located only 50 km from Plovdiv, and the capital Sofia is 170 km away, which can be traveled in just over 2 hours. It’s one of the important reservoirs on the territory of Bulgaria, and it also manages to become an excellent destination for recreation and tourism!

Perhaps the most popular place to stay around the Dam is the Chilingira Complex, you can’t miss it – to the right of the main road. If you don’t plan to stay there and just come for a walk, you can park your car in one of the free spaces in front of the hotel or in the designated parking lot a little after it. We stayed for one night, as we expected much more from the base itself and the restaurant, but the view from the terraces is definitely worth it! In the afternoon we enjoyed the sunlit slopes, and in the morning a slightly gloomy atmosphere…

We’re going up

Our main goal is the eco-path, and its beginning is on the metal steps to the bus stop opposite the complex. You can look at the detailed map and get a clear idea of what awaits you. Its length is nearly 2 km and at a leisurely pace it takes about 1 hour to go and a little faster on the way back. Well, it’s time to go up! The first section is the most difficult, about 5-10 minutes of steep ascent leading to a panoramic platform with a great view… The biggest slackers can end here, but it’s definitely worth moving on!

Forward on the path

The route only continues straight along the ridge, the ascent being considerably easier. All the while the dam falls to our right and some interesting view point to the floating houses can be found through the bushes. There are places that allow a peek to the left as well, where the main road curves around the northern shore of the Vacha. And if you remember the map at the beginning, several more panoramic views of the dam were marked there, which in turn are very similar. For them, you can find your way around the ruins of ancient stone houses…

Our end point – Kutryov stone

Note that the route isn’t marked and you have to follow the beaten path to the right! After the first turn, the route becomes almost flat and after a short while another right turn follows, to reach the final destination of the walk – Kutriov stone. We sit down to rest, and in front of us is the unique nature of the Rhodopes. The green slopes dramatically overhang the blue waters of the Vacha and dominate the picturesque landscape…

More viewpoints around Vacha

After breakfast and morning coffee with a view of the dam, we decided to go down its south shore! I advise you to do so, because every turn reveals a beautiful view. The first place is the designated parking lot, located 200 m from the Chilingira complex (which I mentioned to you at the beginning). Many birdhouses are built on the trees, and among them you can see the pontoon structures in the dam. And on some of the other detours we had the opportunity to get even closer to the water houses… Drive slowly, enjoy the great scenery and stop wherever you get the chance!

The mineral spring near Mikhalkovo

Ending up at the village of Mikhalkovo (14 km from Chilingira), we couldn’t miss one of the four springs in Europe with naturally sparkling mineral water with a temperature of 16-26 degrees Celsius! It’s located about 2 km after the village, right next to the factory entrance. It is from the house next to the barrier that you can buy bottles and fill yourself with mineral water. You can find out about its composition and healing properties from the information boards around the spring. The place is extremely well maintained and the water is really great, we filled more than one bottle…

The Dam wall

The tour is coming to an end, but we have one more place to stop on the way back – the Dam Wall. We stop now, not when we arrive at the Vacha dam, because the road extension is on that side. Be careful when crossing! It’s worth spending a few minutes around the huge structure of the dam wall… The dimensions are impressive – 420 m long and 144.5 m high, which makes it the highest dam wall in Bulgaria!