Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Bulgaria, Ovchartsi Waterfall is named after a Bulgarian maiden, Goritsa, who lived in the local village and was betrothed to a shepherd called Yovitsa. This was during the time of Turkish slavery, Ottoman rule in Bulgaria during the fourteenth-nineteenth centuries. The Turkish overlord or bey was struck by Goritsa’s beauty (it must have been a slightly terrifying time to be beautiful) and ordered his servants to fetch her for him. Goritsa took to the hills, in search of Yovitsa, who was watching his flocks, but the servants reached her before she could get to him, so she threw herself off the cliff. Ever since then, the waterfall (39 metres) and the river have borne her name.
The waterfall is above the village of Ovchartsi on the northern slopes of Rila Mountain. To get there from Sofia is about an hour and a quarter by car. You take the motorway to Greece (Kulata) and leave the motorway at the signs for Dupnitsa. You actually leave the motorway seven kilometres before Dupnitsa and follow the old road into Dupnitsa, past a succession of second-hand car dealers. On entering Dupnitsa, you take a right just before the OMV petrol station, signposted Sapareva Banya. You then follow this road, ignore a left turn that is signposted Plovdiv and Samokov and continue to the next set of lights, where you turn left for Sapareva Banya and Panichishte. If you take the road for Plovdiv and Samokov, you will have a very picturesque ride alongside the northern slopes of Rila, but you will not be able to reach the villages that nestle on these slopes. This is why you continue to the next set of lights and turn left here. This road takes you through the villages of Samoranovo and Resilovo to Ovchartsi.
In Ovchartsi, head to the central square, where there is a town hall and a children’s playground. Turn right on the near side of the square and go straight up the steep road in front of you, which bears right at the top, leading to a fountain and a place to park. From here, continue on foot. There is an ecopath to the waterfall, and it only takes about fifteen minutes to get there. Admire the view. When we went in February, there was a lot of ice, which made the path very slippery and people were having difficulty going up and down (with the inevitable laughter).
You can also make your way down to the river below the waterfall, but to do this you have to leave the path and climb down a slightly steep slope. Heading upstream, you will come to the lower part of the waterfall, with a wonderful view of the rocks above and trees silhouetted against the light.
Between Resilovo and Ovchartsi is the Resilovo Convent of the Holy Protection. It is a short drive from the road. The nature is beautiful, and the church has stunning frescoes. You can light a candle for your loved ones and enjoy the view back to Sofia!