Vitosha, Sofia's jewell

It really is a gift to have a mountain near the city. You can look at it from the window when the hectic life has its grip on you. And you can lose yourself in the great outdoors, the moment you have a few hours available.

Vitosha is an old mountain near Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. According to those who know such things, it is an inactive volcano.

It is an immensely beautiful place to hike or ski, offering a shadowy forest for the summer months and an alpine landscape higher up (the highest point is the Black Peak at 2292m). It is a sad thing to see civilization crawling up the mountain year by year, but this is the unfortunate result of two factors - a desire to develop the tourism industry (because there’s nothing else left); and a rampant corruption (making said development an uncoordinated mess).

With Sofia getting bigger, there is an incessant flow of people to the mountain. But without the necessary conditions for responsible tourism, be it education or simple enforcement of the laws, there are heaps of junk that volunteers are struggling to remove.