Day one of our tour was supposed to begin in Sofia; however, we had all arrived the day before and been out with our cameras in Sofia already, so instead we headed up into Vitosha mountain to see what sunset would look like over the most unique feature of the mountain, its stone rivers.
Not an easy feat as it turned out. The Stone Rivers are exactly that: A massive tumbling river of gigantic boulders high up in Vitosha mountain right above Bulgaria’s bustling capital city: Sofia. From a distance they look rather like dry riverbeds until you get close and experience the scale of these massive stones, higher even than your head, and you hear the churning river running beneath. They are tricky to photograph as it takes a lot of scrambling and the lichen covering the boulders can be quite slippery.
In the right light conditions the greenish-yellow lichen covering the surface of the stones can give off a golden cast and, with the river running beneath, the stones have also become known as the Golden Bridges. Honestly though, without an explanation you would be hard pressed to find much golden or bridge-like about this natural phenomenon; though Phil did a pretty good job of finding gold in this shot.
The stones were formed in the last ice age by a process of erosion where weathering caused cracks to form and millennia of freezing and thawing cycles broke apart the rocks into numerous rounded boulders. The river flowing beneath the boulders washes away any small debris leaving only the mammoth rocks in its wake.
While the river flowing beneath the rocks is mainly heard and not seen, there are places where it tumbles wildly between trees and boulders.
Steve found these places, where the water rushed and burbled at the surface, to be the most enticing part of the location…so much so that in his excitement to capture that perfect shot, he became the first casualty of the tour tumbling into the water himself, camera and all.
All in all the location offered a variety of shots from dappled sunlight filtering through trees, to Steve’s gurgling streams, to the bare rocky boulders themselves.
And just a little higher up a stunning viewpoint looking out over Sofia and the mountain ranges surrounding her.
After all the scrambling and climbing…and swimming, we returned to the hotel late and almost too tired to eat. Almost that is…instead we scoffed down a huge big meal and then fell into our beds completely satisfied and ready to begin dreaming about what adventures lay ahead in the morning.