“Strange” and “unusual” are definitely two words that pop into my mind when I think back on our trip to Pobiti Kamani, also known as The Stone Desert in Bulgaria. The name itself is pretty telling as all around the area stone columns dot the landscape, poking out of a desert, like oddly shaped fingers. Joey and I had a blast on our visit to Bulgaria, spending hours upon hours playing amid these humongous petrified rock pillars.
Located near the city of Varna, Pobiti Kamani, roughly translated to “stones beaten into the ground” is a UNESCO World Heritage site well worth a trip if you are visiting the area. This desert landscape is filled with naturally occurring hollow columnar rock formations, showing like the remains of an ancient forest built completely out of stone.
Pobiti Kamani’s upright stones vary in size with some measuring as tall as 9 meters (30 feet). They vary from hollow to solid cylinders. The stone’s diameter ranges from 0.3 to 3 meters (1 to 9 feet) thick. Some were so big I could practically sit inside them!!
The total area of the Pobiti Kamani rock forest covers 13 square kilometers. Seven large and several separate groups are located north and south of Beloslav Lake. The Dikilitash rock group is in the best state of preservation. The Karierata rock group includes man-made outcrops.
In order to preserve this strange geological phenomenon, the site was designated a natural landmark in the late 1930s. Nowadays, it is part of the ecological network Natura 2000. This area has a big conservation value as the largest inland sand habitat in the country with specific flora and fauna. As mentioned above, it eventually progressed into a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Pobiti Kamani is a unique place to visit. The only other similar formations known on the planet are in Shark Bay and Nambung National Park in Australia.
There are several theories surrounding the Stone Desert’s origin with nothing fully conclusive to date.
Some speculate that the formations are a result of environmental factors such as sea waves, wind, rain, prismatic weathering. Others explain the phenomenon with, the stones being coral complexes or lower Eocene natural gas seepages termed “bubbling reefs”.
While we still cannot say which of these ideas is the best explanation for Bulgaria’s Stone Desert origin – the idea of human creation has certainly been excluded.
The cost to visit Pobiti Kamani is Лв3 Lev ($1.80 USD) payable at the shop entrance. Depending on who is working they might actually charge Лв5-6 Leva. If you would like a guide through the forest this is an additional Лв3 Leva ($1.80 USD).
Getting to the Stone Forest is about 15 minutes via car or 45 taking the local bus. A taxi ride costs between Лв8 and Лв11 Leva ($5.00 and $7.00 USD).
The Stone Forest can be accessible 24 hours a day as it is not gated in. The summer operating hours are every day from 9 AM to 7 PM except for Monday when they are closed. The winter operating hours and Monday to Friday. Available tour times are between 10 AM and 5 PM.
We would recommend allowing yourself 2 hours to hike and enjoy the stone attraction with the preferred visit time being between 2 PM and 6 PM.
Pobiti Kamani is somewhat secluded and there are no restaurants and cafes close by. Make sure to pack a lunch or at the very least snacks. Also make sure to bring bottles of water as you are walking and hiking in a desert-like setting.
The Stone Forest address is:
Varna-Sofia Old Road
Varna, 9144, Bulgaria
Their contact number is: +359-52618011
Their contact email is: [email protected]
Have you been to the Stone Desert of Bulgaria? How much fun did you have walking between the gigantic vertical pillars of prehistoric rocks?
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