Location: Stara Planina Mountain Type: hiking; nature landmarks; Bulgaria Suitable for children: yes; with a baby carrier for babies and toddlers
Sometimes, you have to go through hell in order to reach paradise. That`s what awaits you if you decide to visit Rai hut and Botev peak. They are located in the Central Balkan National Park, Stara planina mountain, Bulgaria (rai is the Bulgarian word for paradise). Not surprisingly the reserve which you have to pass so you can reach the hut is called Dzhendema (translated from Turkish dzhendema means hell). At the end of the road, however, you will be rewarded with magnificent views, fresh air, divine peace and a walk through the clouds. And the clouds are literally at your feet, because the hut is located 1430 meters above sea level.
Rai hut and Botev peak
The Central Balkan is the highest and steepest part of Stara planina. The highest peak is Botev peak and the hut lies at its foot. Not far is also the highest waterfall in the country – Raiskoto pruskalo, with a height of 124.5 meters.
Be prepared: you can`t reach the hut by car but only by foot, accessible by several routes. You can go through Panitsite area above the town of Kalofer or through Karlovo and then Levski hut. The first route takes from 4 to 6 hours, and if you choose the second you will have to stay for the night in Levski hut. Either way the strip marking (blue and white) will be your guide, and be sure – the view is very picturesque.
If you decide to go on this hike, no matter the route you choose, be well equipped (with comfortable shoes and warm clothes) for a long and sometimes steep road. It is best to visit the hut in the spring, when you will enjoy Raiskoto pruskalo in its full splendor, or in the summer.
And also: book the hut in advance and note that the rooms are with 4, 5, 7 and 10 beds – you could be put in a room with someone else. Check its Official Facebook page and take a walk around with Google street view. There is a bathroom (external) and a dining room, where typical Bulgarian food is offered. Tip: ask for purjeni filiiki (french toast) or mekitci (fried dough) for breakfast – they are pure hеaven!