Tourists are welcome in the only campsite in Rusenski Lom Nature Park

The camping ”Koukeri” (source: Katerina Koleva)

We talk to its founder, Katerina Koleva, about tourism in Rusenski Lom Nature Park and the conditions the campsite offers

Vladimir Mitev

Mrs Koleva, in May 2021 you opened the only campsite in the Ruse region, located in the village of Koshov in the Rusenski Lom Nature Park. Why has this part of Bulgaria had no campsites until now and how will your project contribute to the development of tourism in this area?

In general, campsites in Bulgaria are not among the most numerous and popular places to stay, which is good in a way because it preserves and maintains the idea of staying and sleeping in the middle of nature itself. Of course, the Black Sea coast is known for its wonderful natural givens for campin, but recently the rest of the country has also started to offer quite good conditions for travellers with their own caravans or tents. As for our area and why it didn’t have camping before, I don’t think I could answer that question. I think this is partly because potential investors are not aware of the region and its possibilities. And it is known that camping is relatively easy to access, which probably implies a concern for the investor that their investment will have a very slow return. In our case, the issue was a bit different – I have been working in the tourism receiver business for several years and our experience has shown that there is a demand for this type of facility. So, about three years ago, we decided (as a family) to take the plunge and set up a campsite, thus trying to draw the attention of local and foreign tourists to the Rusenski Lom Nature Park area, where we are located and which, unfortunately, is still a too little known treasure.

What does the campsite offer tourists?

The campsite is relatively small and offers about 25-28 places for tents, caravans, places are equipped with electricity and water, in accordance with all modern requirements. We offer sanitary facilities with hot water, including for guests with reduced mobility, as well as a kitchen area with fridges, stoves and washing machine. From the photos on our website you can see the location of the campsite itself, which offers spectacular views over the river canyon. We have various outdoor entertainment facilities and recently a small swimming pool to cool off in the summer days.

How is nature in the camping area? What hiking trails and sites are in the area? What kind of hiking is the area around the campsite suitable for?

The nature in the park is unique, which is also suggested by the fact that the area has been declared protected, due to the many species of animals and plants that can be seen. Especially from the campsite there are numerous nature trails leading to different points in the nature park which are suitable for hiking or cycling. The rare birds attract a lot of enthusiasts who come to observe them with appropriate equipment. Again, the location of the campsite offers an exceptional opportunity for such observation without disturbing the natural living conditions of the birds.

In the Middle Ages, the Rusenski Lom Nature Park was a place for hermits (isihasti). What historical and religious sites are in the area where the campsite is built?

Of course, not only nature lovers have something to see in the area of the Nature Park – the place is known as one of the largest centres of the Ishaist monks in the Middle Ages, and their rock churches can still be visited. Popular guidebooks will direct visitors to the main sights and churches, but the many monasteries and rock churches remain hidden, some of which are even difficult (but not impossible) to visit. We also offer our guests guided tours of the park, during which they can get to places known perhaps only to locals.

In the advertisements for the campsite, it states that it is only 100 km from Bucharest. To what extent do you expect Romanians to be interested in it? How do you think your initiative will be influenced by your proximity to Ruse and Bucharest?

Our Romanian neighbours are welcome to the campsite and I think they would be interested, especially as there are no other such places in the area. It might make them consider staying with us on their way to the sea or to the mountains, or if they start or end their tour via the nearby border crossing point. I think our proximity to the border will make many of our neighbours who enjoy camping turn their eyes to this wonderful park with excellent opportunities for active hiking, and we’ll make sure they have a relaxing holiday.

Photo: Katerina Koleva (source: Katerina Koleva)

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