Iskar gorge and Djuglata
Centrally located in the Iskar gorge is Tservovo, an hour north of Sofia by train. Tserovo is a small village eight kilometres north of Svoge and is most famous for its rock formation 'Djuglata'. For thousands of years, Iskar river's immense force has created rock formations spread through the canyon. A perfect example is Djuglata, near Tserovo's train station. It consists of horizontally layered rocks piled up until an impressive 18 metres. The interesting rock formation resembles a human head, as is said by many. The sight was declared a natural landmark in 1964.
Day trip from Sofia, cool off by the river
Getting to Tserovo from Sofia is a breeze, which makes it ideal for a day trip. Likewise, it is easy to combine with a visit to Svoge or Lakatnik. Upon arrival, exit the train on the right side, even though the station building is on the left. Then take the stairs down from the platform. Take a left and you get to the Djuglata rock formation in approximately a hundred metres. For further splendid rock formations; continue on the same street until you reach a gigantic, red wall of solid rock. It's been spectacularly shaped by the once majestic river passing right beneath it. To reach this spot, walk down a field of grass between the houses. Do wear long pants as there are some tall plants and branches that could sting. Alternatively, walk further left and turn right onto the gravel path, making a small detour. Now you've arrived at Iskar river and the massive rock wall on the other side of it. On a hot day it is delightful to bathe your feet in the chilly water, even more so with a cold beer bought in one of the local stores.
Tserovo from above
If you'd like to see more of Tserovo - possibly from above, return to the train station. On the other side of the station building, a steep path leads to the village center. On the main square, a local restaurant caters any need for lunch or just for a drink. From the main square, you cannot miss the gigantic rock wall rising up right behind the center. Yet another spectacular example of a rock formation that gives the region its unique character. You can hike all the way up there, taking at least one hour and a half. Only going up halfway is already interesting, you'd still get a beautiful view of the valley. You ascend the path from the mountain's left side. Starting from the main square, head towards the mountain. Cross the main road, after that take the first left. The road turns into gravel and you can see a sandy path lead up into the forest. You can easily follow the trail even though there are no marked signs. Once you made it up, you have a view of Tserovo village and the Iskar gorge. Stay well clear from the ledge, however. There is no fence whatsoever.
After making your descend back to Tserovo, trains frequently leave for Sofia. Alternatively, you could take a train to Svoge or Gara Bov and spend the night there.
Tserovo - Dobarchin - Mecha Polyana
Also, right behind Tserovo goes a path to Dobarchin village. It's nearly abandoned - not many people live there anymore. The path takes some effort to find. In this case, Google Maps is your best bet because so far it's the only app showing the path between Tserovo and Dobarchin. You walk through a dense forest and then end up in the Ponor mountains. A fantastic hike, which ascends but is not too steep. Besides, you'll have some shade on hot days. Near Dobarchin, you'll end up walking through the fields and are out in the open. You'll find two crosses, which are called 'obrok', singular or 'obrotsi', plural. Placing these crosses is an old custom from the Pagan times, before Christianity reached Bulgaria.
From Dobarchin, you can get back to Tserovo but why not head south to Iskrets. You'll pass by or through Tsar Ferdinand sanatorium complex, which is now largely closed and abandoned. There is only one functioning building. The air in this part of the country is fresh and healing and for that reason, the sanatorium was built here in 1908. This is a private property so taking pictures is forbidden, there are cameras and you're being watched. In the beginning of the terrain, near the main road between Iskrets and Svoge, is the Iskrets monastery. You can walk by there and take some pictures.
Alternatively, from Dobarchin, go northwest to Mecha polyana, meaning bear meadow. Now an abandoned settlement, which was made a part of Dobarchin in 1986. There are just some people returning to the settlements in the warmer months of the year. The area is beautiful, Mecha polyana is in a corner surrounded by the Ponor mountains and with wide views towards the valley. This village is in one of the most beautiful settings I have seen in Bulgaria. You may see the pictures in the album below - check the descriptions, they are in the end of the album.