Stara Planina (Balkan Mountain), 2018-2020.

This long (over 500km in total) mountain chain is shared between Serbia and Bulgaria, with the Serbian part being 2169m high at Midžor peak. The area is quite diverse in both natural life as well as geology. The most notable waterfalls in Serbia are here, and some can be a real challenge to visit. Some even have no names, or their names are now forgotten as the vast majority of native residents have abandoned these areas. So it is up to new visitors to re-discover Stara Planina's natural traits and give them new names.

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Foothills of Žarkova Čuka (VR)

Foothills of Žarkova Čuka (VR)

Approximate midway of trail from Babin Zub to Midžor peak.


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Midžor peak (VR)

Midžor peak (VR)

At 2169m altitude this is the highest point of eastern Stara Planina, at the border between Serbia and Bulgaria.


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Vladikine Ploče cave

Vladikine Ploče cave

Located close to the middle of river Visočica's canyon, this cave is a challenge to reach. A steep rocky path descends into the canyon and leads to cave entrance. The cave itself is couple of hundred meters long and accessible without special equipment, although extreme caution is mandatory. Deep inside some nice ornaments can be seen.


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Kaluđerski skokovi waterfall

Kaluđerski skokovi waterfall

This is officially the highest waterfall in Serbia, with a total of 232m drop. It is actually a series of water cascades, but since these are not interrupted by steady flow it counts as a single waterfall. Water collects from numerous springs directly below Midžor, and the waterfall forms between 1550m and 1300m of altitude. The stream is most abundant in early spring (April), so that's the best time to visit.


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Kaluđerski skokovi waterfall (VR)

Kaluđerski skokovi waterfall (VR)

Short moment of sunlight


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Above Durmanica point (VR)

Above Durmanica point (VR)

Walking the foothils of Midžor after climbing out of the "Kaluđerski do" valley, where the waterfall is.


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Arbinje valley

Arbinje valley

Arbinje counts as potentially the most beautiful river valley of Serbia, formed by Dojkinačka reka (Dojkinci river). In early spring the vegetation is yet to wake up from hibernation, and snowfall in May is not at all uncommon here. The head of the valley is strongly curved towards south-east in the direction of Kopren plateau on which the springs of Dojkinačka reka lie (Tri Kladenca springs - three small lakes). Shortly after their waters join, a spectacular waterfall forms (also named Tri Kladenca). Unfortunately due to severe weather (heavy snow), it was not possible to reach it on this trip.


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Kopren foothills panorama (VR)

Kopren foothills panorama (VR)

At 1963m altitude Kopren dominates the southern end of Serbian Stara Planina. It overlooks the large Kopren plateau, on which many springs form that later join and form rivers. Waterfalls are everywhere here, the most notable being the Tri Kladenca waterfall on Dojkinačka reka and Kopren waterfall on Dabičin potok. With 103m of drop, Kopren waterfall is the most spectacular on Stara Planina as it is almost vertical in its lower and upper sections. Similar smaller waterfalls with no names can be found in close proximity, but most of these exist only in spring.


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Vrtanj peak panorama (VR)

Vrtanj peak panorama (VR)

1562m high peak on Serbian - Bulgarian border.

Ponor

Ponor

Most of Stara Planina in this region is composed of red sandstone rock. Ponor is a karst depression sitting at a relatively high altitude of 1413m, making a notable exception in this landscape. It's got its name after the natural sinkhole at its bottom where water stream emerges from the rock, only to disappear again a dozen meters away. The sinkhole is more like a small cave and is accessible, but relatively short. However in spring when the water is abundant, at the end of the cave a person can hear the roar of waterfalls hidden deep under the mountain. At the base of this particular ridge is the Vrelo, a typical karst spring with one peculiarity - almost every year the outflow stops for just one day in autumn. Research indicates a complex system of siphons and underground lake connections producing the phenomenon.


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Lakes of Stražna Čuka (VR)

Lakes of Stražna Čuka (VR)

This long ridge slowly climbs towards its culmination point - the Kopren Plateau and the Kopren Peak. Along the way a number of small ponds exist on the flat grasslands (after passing the Stražna Čuka peak), some persist even through summer. Lakes are not common to Stara Planina, making this place kind of unique.


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