The Pirin National Park was established in the 1962 and has since become a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Vihren region of the park is most closely associated with the town of Bansko with its 16 Century walled houses at the centre and it is in this region of the park where Bulgaria's onldest tree grows – the Baykusheva Fir, which is more than 1,300 years old. Vihren Peak at 2,914m is the highest point in the Pirin Mountains, second only to Musala in the Rila Range which at 2925m is the highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula.
View the storks on the roofs of houses in the village. These feed off the small fish and frogs which are abundant in the stream passing within a few yards of our property. Swallows nest in local houses. The fields of the valley contain a variety of songbirds, together with numerous birds of prey.
Narrow gauge railway
Railway enthusiasts and train spotters will delight in a trip on the highest railway in the Balkans, travelling between Dobrinishte and Velingrad, while passing through a series of gorges and tunnels with panoramic views of the countryside along the way. The journey is approximately 100km, taking about 2 ½ hours and stopping at small mountain stations. Carriages are basic but comfortable and are usually occupied by a mixture of locals, backpackers and conventional tourists. The cost of a one way ticket is about £2.
The Four Paws Bear Sanctuary in Belitsa
It is well worth a visit to this modern rescue centre for dancing bears, partly funded by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, occupying a 120,000 square metre site in the Rila mountains and is the largest bear conservation area in Europe, being home to 27 bears rescued from dancing and performing in Eastern Europe.