Okolchitsa – Hristo Botev’s National Park

There is hardly a Bulgarian who has not heard of the Okolchitsa peak in the Vratsa Mountain - in 1876, Khristo Botev and his company fought here their toughest battles over three days outgunned and outnumbered by a far superior enemy. Many of them perished here, with the death place of the great Bulgarian poet and revolutionary Khristo Botev not far away.

At the summit, also known as Vola (1048 m), a memorial was erected in 1926 in the form of a huge reinforced concrete volunteer corps cross honouring Botev's fellow rebels who perished for Bulgaria's liberation from Ottoman rule. The monument is 26 m tall, and a chapel named "St. George” stands at its foot.

The Khristo Botev Memorial Park is located 8 km from Chelopek and 20 km from Vratsa. It can be reached both by tourist trails and an asphalt road, which is in a reasonably good state of repair. The monument's venue was chosen in 1901 by a special committee, with nine of the surviving Botev rebels in its membership, who identified the site of the last battle.

Every year on June 2 a national commemoration is held at the foot of the monument. This is where the national Kozloduy - Okolchitsa trek along the path of the Botev's detachment comes to its final point. The trek has been carried out every year since 1946 without a single gap. The monument is listed among the One Hundred National Tourist Sites (NTS 100).

Another trail named, "In the footsteps of Botev's Company" starts about 500 m from the top, on its left side, leading to Botev's death place. It is in an area called Yolkovitsa, about 2 km from where the trail starts. It is a circular one-hour route, trailing the battle path and the Chetniks' fate.

Not far from here, in the Rashov Dol area near Lyutibrod, the last battle was fought by the company's surviving members. This is the route to get there: Okolchitsa Peak - Pogledets - Rashov Dol - Lyuti Brod "(3 hours).

The Vola Open Air Festival is held every other year, in August, (hyperlink https://www.facebook.com/VolaOpenAirFestival/). It is a unique party under the stars in the wonderful Vratsa Mountain, featuring a 48-hour a mix of innovative, non-commercial music, e.g. house, hip-hop, drum and base and grime, with more than 300 headliner Bulgarian and foreign artists. The fest's agenda also features circus tricks, acrobatics and workshops. Participants stay in tents. The next Vola Open Air edition will be in 2021.

Useful information:

You can have your 100 NTO stamped at the Baba Iliytsa Museum in Chelopek or in Vratsa Regional History Museum.

Keep in mind that the road is not snow-ploughed while the northern slopes may experience snowfall and ice-overs well into late spring. There is a themed Botev's Company Route trail from Vratsa to the Memorial, equivalent to three-hour walk.

The lawn below the monument is equipped with a small shelter with a fireplace and picnic amenities.

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