Getting There: Batak Lures Skiers, View Fanatics and History Connoisseurs

Society | October 10, 2002, Thursday // 00:00

Whoever loves to ski and loves to do it in Bulgaria, has already visited the obligatory Borovets, Pamporovo and Bansko. But there is another ski site in Bulgaria, brand new actually, that has the potential to overshadow the fame of the resorts just mentioned. So, be sure you are among the pioneers who visited Batak, a town in the heart of Phodopi Mountain, in its first years as a ski resort. Batak's piste opened in 2001 offering ideal conditions for traditional skiing, snowboard and cross-country skiing. Although the alpine track it is now 1500 m long, it seems the initiators who attracted 30 percent German share in the enterprise just can't get enough. They say another 1500 m are yet to come so that Batak could boast one of the longest pistes in Bulgaria. It already offers excellent facilities for both novice and experienced skiers. The Pomagalski-type draglift stretches up to 712 m but soon it, too, will be longer.

The specific thing about Batak is that it is not one of those small towns that are all about skiing. Ski enthusiasts may be pleasantly surprised that this site could offer various other attractions as well. Batak is a historic town and a mountain resort with rich traditions. Locals there look and actually are like the stern mountaineers you have heard about. During the 1876 April uprising of Bulgarians against Turkish yolk, hundreds of Batak residents were slain in reprisal for their defiance and refusal to convert into Islam. The memorabilia of this tragic event are worth seeing. The big artificial lake near the town has attracted water sport fans and fishers for years. View fanatics find a paradise here as 3000 m mountain peaks surround the valley where the town cuddles up to.

Starting from Sofia, you can reach this mountain resort catching the train to the region's central town Pazardzhik and then taking a bus to Batak. Train ticket prices vary from BGN 4 to 7 depending on how comfortably you want to travel to Pazardzhik. Bus ride may be uncomfortable but it costs only BGN 3. If Plovdiv is you starting point, you could travel directly to Batak in a considerably better bus for BGN 5. If you choose to hit the road by car, watch out the dangerous curves on the mountain track Pazardzhik-Batak.

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