Hiking and Bear Spotting in Bulgaria

August 20, 2008

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Previously a dancing bearHiking day! I’ve been itching to get outside since I was in Bucharest. Thankfully, Bansko has a lot of hiking opportunities since the mountain is used for skiing in the winter. We drove up to the last lodge area where the road ends and hiked for a few hours alongside the creek. Incredible views! It was so nice to be out in nature. I spent a little too much time rock hopping and got a little too comfortable in my surroundings, as there was a falling incident. I banged my left ankle up and have scratches up and down my shins. Oddly I didn’t really feel any pain, but I was bleeding so that raised some alarm. We took a break by the creek, and then hiked back down to the trail head. Today was probably one of my favorite days thus far. I want to come back in winter!  bear-sanctuary-bulgaria Hiking in Bansko BulgariaAfter lunch, we visited the Dancing Bear Sanctuary in Belitsa. Although incredibly depressing, it was amazing to see how the bears have been rehabilitated. One of the requirements for Bulgaria to gain entry to the EU was for the cruelty of animals to be outlawed, as it was still legal to have dancing bears in the streets of Sofia. From a young age, “dancing bears” would be disfigured and mistreated, in attempts to train and show them in order to make money. The Sanctuary was created to house these bears and also in attempts to rehabilitate them. There are several fenced walking paths through the 3 acre park. At first I wondered if we would see any bears, but we ended up finding quite a few! It was so neat to see them on the other side of the fence walking or laying around, especially since they’ve all been saved from being tortured and they couldn’t live in the wild on their own. The girl at the front chatted to us about the bears and apparently I’m a lot like a bear… they’re vegetarian, but they do like fish and they love honey. ;)