9 June 2016

Cycling tour by Taban River /Tour №2/ August 2008

Most of us have heard about the dry rivers of Dobrudzha but probably very few know that in ancient times those places were full of life both on the land and in water basins. Nowadays, elder people, legends and archaeologists can tell us about them. There used to be big rivers that were navigable, forests and those places have kept quite extraordinary natural sights and attractive areas rich with different representatives of the flora and fauna. As far as I know, a huge part of it is in a preserved area.
Lots of our tours are connected with two of these rivers – the river valley of Suhata River and Taban River. Some sources say that these rivers ran a hundred years ago. They are noted with a dotted line on the maps as they left their beds in the 18-th century. It is also stated that they became underground, and they were marked as running on the old maps from the 17-th till the 19-th century during the period of the Ottoman Empire.
But enough with history … In May 2008 I had  ….how to say it – the courage to agree with the idea of cycling on the bottom of Taban. It was going to be a hot day but that didn’t prevent us from realizing the plan. Nikola and I were off to Kaynardzha village, Silistra area (and there is an interesting story there as well but we will keep it for next time) in the direction of Strelkovo village on the way to Silistra-Dobrich. These areas have a very interesting relief, which can be noticed on travelling from Dobrich to Silistra (if one travels from Varna – for example).
We have had the impression from geography classes that Dobrudzha is flat – ‘The Granary of Bulgaria’ but there are a lot of ‘chairi’ as local people say or canyons that were created by Suhata River and its branches.
As it probably got clear we were riding a bicycle. Leaving Kaynardzha village by bike was a whole skill as there was a 3 km area and to say it simply – a big hill. I was done up there.
*A little digression Nikola has already called me with the nickname – ‘Katya EDVAM DISH (Katya HARDLY BREATHING)’ after the name of the world’s highway cycling champion in 2011 – Mark Cavendish (if you watch cycling on Eurosport channel).
We came to a crossing where the road was divided to - Voynovo village, to Silistra and to Dobrich. Riding a bike on a busy main road wasn’t very pleasant but that didn’t bother us at all, bearing in mind what was following.
Our attention was attracted by the small airport and a few planes in front in that part of the road.

If you don’t know you can visit the above mentioned canyons and rivers if you pay. Many people come here for pleasure and to learn how to fly a plane. The distance to Strelkovo village is about 15 km and although I am a long-distance cycling beginner (hehe not that I will be better) I passed very fast. There was a steep hill before reaching the village. I was flying. A lot of people, who had gone out to do their everyday work, were looking at us with great interest. We saw a small monument in the village in memory of the people who died during the wars but as I flew by I couldn’t take any photos.
At the very end of the asphalt road there was a breathtaking view of Taban river valley and the rocky formations around it.



We forgot about everything here and an adventure began.
The road covered by stones led us to the first rocky formation and a Thracian sanctuary (6-th century B.C. – 3-rd century A.D.) of the divine God of the Thracian Getae Zalmoxis, called ‘Badzhaliyata’ by the locals.

There is a cave about 6 m high. A steep stone path hewn into the rock and a tunnel, considered to have been closed with a wooden door, lead to it

A niche has been carved south of the cave which is said to have played the role of a temple altar heading east. Lots of broken pottery, animal bones and fire traces, showing ancient rituals, have been discovered there. A high rock about 200 m south of the high rock, whose top is flat with a perfectly cut line, is presumed to have been a spot for observing the stars, something like the current observatories.

We can thank Professor Georgi Georgiev Atanasov for all the information on the Internet and in books.
The municipality has made these places accessible for a few years. There are some metal stairs to reach the top. There are some picnic areas and sign boards. It is an interesting place, where one starts asking oneself a lot of questions. Many finds have been discovered which prove chronologically the earliest Thracian sanctuaries in Dobrudzha.

Having visited ‘Badzhaliyata’ we kept on walking on a dirt road through the forest. There was a beautiful, at some places dense wood on the left, and on the right amazing rocky creations. Colourful butterflies were flying around. Suddenly, after a while we got to a road fork where it split up in two. It was obvious no one had been there recently. Tall nettle was trying hard to sting me while I was staggering. The information, which we had in advance, that the road we had to follow to the bottom, was about 5 km, turned out not to be true at all. Various views of fields and woods were revealed and on the right we could see some odd rocky formations and that was even more interesting. The sun was shining brightly and cycling through bushes near nettle was really difficult. We had a rest all the time – of course, because of me. It was noon and the sun was burning. That was one of the hottest days in August. We were equipped with anything possible. Each of us was carrying a rucksack but we ran out of water. Therefore, we broke the planned rest in the forest in a tent we were carrying because without water we would get completely exhausted. The road was winding and it was broiling hot. ‘Who made me go there?!! Crazy!’
Little by little some pebbles and gravel started appearing which meant we were approaching the final destination of our trip in the canyon and namely ‘Voynovo rock monasteries’.

A rock complex that included a cave and an altar at the foot of which a Thracian pottery was found out.

The road Alfatar-Kaynardzha wasn’t far either. We went out to that road and thus cycling on the river canyon was over. It was an asphalt road, not quite busy but upwards it was just horrible. We were about to go up but the heat was unbearable and we were really tired – especially me. 
We reached a forest a bit far from the road. We followed a path and decided to camp for an hour or two until it got a bit cooler and to relax after the hard tour. We put up our tent under the big trees shadow, had a meal, a nap – especially me because Nikola rode his bike for about 2 km to the first fountain of Boynovo village to fill up some water and backwards. Believe it or not, since then we have always carried some additional water with us.
Already refreshed, we set out for the village of Voynovo. After a bend the local micro-dam turned up.

The photo I am showing was taken another time because it even didn’t occur to me to take photos – I wanted to get to the starting point and that to end. After the next turn one of the village fountains appeared. 

The water was cold and refreshing. We renewed our supply with the precious liquid and moved on. The rising ground was getting steeper. I neither thought nor knew what I was doing. I was pushing the bicycle upwards and it pushed me, too – I don’t remember now, I was doing everything automatically. I even didn’t have the strength to grumble. Only a single thought comforted me that after the big mounting we had a great going down. I hardly reached the crossing where we headed to Strelkovo that morning from. I got on my bike, had a few revolutions and literally flew downwards. I loved it ….
As we say, if there isn’t an emotion, there aren’t any memories ….

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