After my video of a Hidden waterfall in Pirin Mountain, posted on my Youtube channel, I have been challenged by other travel bloggers to write a guidance, how to localise and reach this glamorous attraction. The secret waterfall in Pirin mountain, Bulgaria, is not easy to find. To be honest, I have postponed any action of writing for a while, because was considering should I do it or not. Don’t get me wrong, but I was a bit selfish and hesitant, thinking of the consequences.
I generally avoid overcrowded, noisy places, visited by too many people, who are spoiling the charm of the spot. “My waterfall” is still pretty unknown, kind of virgin and untouched by such a crowded attention. It’s wild, natural and primitive. Definitely not easy to find. A real gem. No well established routes or signs to. It’s just one of the few left not urbanised yet natural wonders. Along with the nearby hot mineral springs in the heart of a volcano, the secret waterfall is reachable and accessible for a limited number of visitors, mostly locals or advised by the locals sightseers, who learn how to get in there, to watch and enjoy it.
On another hand, though, I feel a bit guilty for keeping such a beauty for myself only. Yes, I have been lucky and one of those limited number of people who had the chance to climb down to the hidden waterfall, staring at it, dunking a foot in the crystal water, appreciating the tranquility and the rare purity. Finally I took that “hard” decision to share “my wonder” with the readers, so here comes the secret revelation 🙂
Let’s start with the name. This secret waterfall in the heart of Northern Pirin Mountain in Bulgaria is called Popina Luka. The height is 15 m (49 ft), whole year running with crystal cold water. It’s located on river Sandanska Bistritsa, near the city of Sandanski (about 15 km drive by car), 180 km away from the capital Sofia.
The waterfall is about 1230 m (4035 ft) above sea level. The best way to approach it is to go firstly to the city of Sandanski, then take the road to the North side, heading to Lilyanovo village. After passing the village, about 10 km (6 miles) further, you would see a sign with directions to the nearby waterfall. Unfortunately that sign is written only in Bulgarian language (Cyrillic alphabet). If it helps, there is an Orthodox chapel nearby, so it could be kind of a landmark. Also the hut “Yane Sandanski” is quite close.
The upper side of the waterfall is very close to the road. You just have to park the car and to find (by magic) the path you should take downhill to the waterfall. It takes about 5 minutes to get off the road and walk to the upper step of the waterfall. There are two steps, which makes the scenery outstanding. Be careful, the slope is very steep, no holders, extremely uneven, covered by stones and tree roots. But is achievable 🙂
Then from the upper step, through some slippery river stones, the visitor could go down to the lower step of the waterfall and its water pool. Wish to dive and swim in these crystal waters? Brrrr… I won’t recommend it. I have been there on the first days of August, when is supposed to be the hottest time of Bulgarian summer. The air temperature, even over 1230 m (asl ) is +30 degrees Celsius (usually in the mountain forest is chilly). And now comes the surprise. The water temperature was max …12/13 degrees Celsius (55 F). I guess you may find it pleasantly cooling in a hot day. Okay, try it, but the risk is yours. And remember I warned you 🙂
Well…I’ve seen some strangers bathing, swimming and even diving, regardless the freezing water, but with my lower level of resistance to frost, I was even unable to watch them. My fingers got completely frozen of the view and unable to push the photo shooting button. I am not kidding at all. I guess for Northern natives, grown up in Alaska or Scandinavia, could be a very pleasant bathing experience. But for a “desert woman” like me, it was a pure icy spectacle.
So, to summarise:
Name: Popina Luka waterfall
Location: about 15 km (10 miles) away from the Southern Bulgarian city of Sandanski, Pirin Mountain
Elevation: 1230 m above sea level (4035 ft)
Height of the fall: 15 m (49 ft)
Water temperature: 13 degrees Celsius (55F)
Best season for visiting: July – September
GPS coordinates: Latitude: 41° 40′ 14.39″ N , Longitude: 23° 23′ 22.19″ E
I hope you would find and enjoy “my secret waterfall” as I did. Feel free to leave a comment or a feedback, I’ll be happy to hear about your waterfall experience. 🙂