If you’re visiting Veliko Tarnovo, take some time out of the city’s attractions and visit the stunning Emen gorge, cave and waterfall. The Emen Canyon is a picturesque haven of beauty where you can walk some 50+ metres above the river and along the gorge’s eco-trail which has been shaped from the Negovanka River that runs through its valley.
Beginning just on the northern side of the village you can start your tour at the lower level where you’ll find the 3km long Emen cave. In the days under Socialism, a military base, storing arms, used to be situated above the cave with an elevator shaft taking them down to the cave where mushrooms were grown and cheese ripened by local state farmers.
Walking out from the darkness of the cave, the sunlight welcomes you back into the sounds of water and an intensity of colour that brings all kinds of nature lovers for the fauna and flora unique to gorge area in Emen. To reach the upper part of the gorge there are steep rock steps to guide you upwards; be aware though that during rainy times, the ground is very slippery.
From the top of Emen gorge, the trail takes you through woodland on one side and stunning views of the gorge with the occasional cave openings on the other side. Amazingly, still (just about) standing are the original wooden bridges connecting the enormous rocks protruding from each side of the cliff edge; remnants from the time the canyon was first proclaimed a protective reserve in 1980 and later attempts at making the area hiking-friendly. Once a Roman settlement, archaeologists have since found artifacts on the site dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages.
ALONG EMEN GORGE
A photo opportunity above the rocks and precarious steps offers a break in the hike and a chance to see close exactly how high these limestone rocks cut through and shape the valley below. Down below, the waterfall can be heard but only the large pool it runs into can be seen.
At the end of the upper trail, we slip down a muddy hill with only some steps in intervals to help us, along with branches of trees and anything else sturdy enough that will stop me sliding downwards. A few moments later, having passed through crevices from the rocks and over another small bridge, the waterfall comes into sight.
The official name is Momin Slok Waterfall or Girl’s Leap Falls, is named after the story of three Bulgarian girls who jumped from the top to escape the capture from the Ottomans. They’re sheltered by the rocks above making a secluded pool for a dip, if only the weather was more favourable.
The Emen Waterfall
Directions from Veliko Tarnovo to Emen Gorge