Osogovo Mountains are located in the Kyustendil region, Western Bulgaria and Republic of Macedonia. It is around 110 km long and 50 km wide. The highest point is Mount Ruen – 2251 meters on the border between the two countries and is one of the 100th Bulgarian national tourist sites. It is ranked fifth in height among the mountain peaks in Bulgaria after Rila, Pirin, Stara Planina and Vitosha. Divided by the border, it’s very attractive for tourists from every country, but most from Macedonia and Bulgaria. The highest point on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia is Tsarev Vrah 2085 m.
The legend about the origin of name Osogovo is that it was given by the Saxon miners who were mining gold and silver in the region in the past. According to the legend, the name originates from the Old Germanic words “Osso” (god) and “gov” (place) which means “a divine place”.
The climate of Mount Osogovo is transcontinental, the highest – parts – typically mountainous, but mostly along the Struma river there is an inter-Mediterranean influence.
The mountain is a huge granite massif of crystal rocks. It has a distinguished volcanic relief made of conic peaks and volcanic tuff.
The flora has vertical coverage in three zones.
• under-mountainous zone up to 1000 meters where trees like oak, ash, hazel, and others can be found.
• the mountainous zone between 1000 and 1800 meters covered mostly with beech trees
• sub-alpine zone covered with bushes of juniper and grass pastures.
The mountain rivers and are a natural habitat for the barbell, the chub, and the mountain trout. From the animal world, a wild rabbit, a squirrel, a common sleepwalker, a fox, a roe deer, a wild boar, a meadow lizard, a viper, a rain forest, a mountain frog, Balkan trout, black barbell. 11 of the birds that can be seen in Osogovo are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria.
The relief of the mountain is varied (high peaks, rounded, deeply cut river valleys), while it is easily accessible and passable between May and November.
Osogovo provides excellent opportunities for hiking, paragliding, deltaplanerism, ski, touring, snowshoeing, rafting, horseback riding, and mountain bike rides, thanks to the network of black roads with predominantly mild and moderate slopes. The Bulgarian part of the mountain could be crossed on foot or by mountain bike for 2 days (sleeping in one of the mountain settlements). In Osogovo mountains there are 4 ornithologically important sites. Declared by BirdLife International, a global environmental conservation organization, as sites of global and regional importance for bird conservation and observation.
The Thermal Zone with hot mineral springs (74 ° C ) with curative properties is located in the town of Kyustendil. They are concentrated in the fracture separating the Osogovo Mountain from the Kyustendil valley. It has proven healing properties.
There are three main accommodation places:
Hotel “Tri Buki”
Osogovo hut and chapel “St. Peter and Paul”
Osogovo is the first hut in Osogovo Mountains and one of the first in Bulgaria. It was opened on July 12, 1928. Traditionally, on this date is made a sheep sacrifice. A local orchestra takes care of the festive mood.
From Kyustendil to the heart of the mountain, where are the above-mentioned tourist accommodation, you can reach by car or taxi for about half an hour (20 km) by an asphalt road. From there, most of the routes begin – different in duration and difficulty, which pass through areas of significant species diversity, including rare, protected and endangered species, endemic, relict and healing plants. The most frequently visited route is to the Ruen peak.
Ruen Peak is the highest point in the Osogovo Mountains and the fifth-highest peak in Bulgaria.
There are three main starting points for an ascent of Ruen Peak are:
• the Osogovo hut (a walk of 3 hours and 50 minutes to the top),
• the “Tri Buki” hotel (3½ hours walking time)
• the village of Gyueshevo (3½ hours walking time)
The ascent is gentle, without any precipitous inclines. The peak is also accessible by a mountain bike. There are two-way stations on the trail – Beg Bunar village (which has a spring) and “Ruen” hotel.
On a clear day, the panoramic views from the peak are more than impressive. The view to the north is possible to reach the parts of the western Stara Planina mountains, to the northeast can be seen the Konyavsko, Lyulin, Vitosha, and Verila Mountains, to the southeast is the Pirin Range. It can be also seen Shar Mountains and the mountains of southern Serbia to the northwest.
Every year, the Tourist Association of Osogovo in the city of Kyustendil organizes a hike to the peak together with the Ruen Mountaineering Club from the Macedonian city of Kriva Palanka. The people from both countries are celebrating at the peak on the border.
Featured Photo: Ruen Peak, Osogovo Mountains, photo by Wikipedia user Dido3