MOUTH OF VELEKA RIVER PROTECTED AREA
It is located within natural park Strandja very close to Sinemorets, 5 km south of Ahtopol, 20 km from the town of Tsarevo, 95 km south of Burgas.
Access from the village to the sand split at the mouth – 42°03’50.31” N, 27°58’40.92” E; 25 m above sea level
Moth of the river (changes periodically depending on season and weather conditions) - 42°04’09.94” N, 27°58’05.99” E; 6 m above sea level
Boat Pier for boat trips on the upper and lower reaches of Veleka River - 42°03’37.24” N, 27°58’00.38” E; 7 m above sea level
Panoramic observation area (at the entrance to the village, left along the trail to the crooked tree on the hill above the river) – one of the most popular places for panoramic pictures of the mouth of the river - 42°03’50.90” N, 27°58’19.34” E; 15 m above sea level
Tzarsko kladenche - 42°03’00.05” N, 27°54’56.87” E; 67 m above sea level
THE MOUTH OF VELEKA RIVER
CATEGORY: protected area
Size: 1511.2 hectares
District: Burgas, Municipality: Tzarevo, Town/Village: Ahtopol, the village of Brodilovo, the village of Sinemoretz
Documents declaring it a protected area: Order №608 of 01.09.1992
Documents for changes:
1. A change of the mode of activities by Order №РД207 of 11.06.1999
2. A change of the mode of activities by Order №РД-560 of 12.07.2007
Purposes for declaring it a protected area:
1. Preservation of the typical landscape of the coastal zone, the rock formations, and fiords.
2. Specific xerothermic vegetation and abundant fauna.
Mode of activities:
1. Prohibited: Industrial and residential construction, mining and geological surveys, construction of new roads, opening mines and quarries, extraction of aggregates from rivers and coastal sands;
2. Prohibited: pollution with domestic, industrial and other waste;
3. Prohibited: access to caves in the sea cliff;
4. Prohibited: access of motor vehicles except those used for forestry and agricultural activities;
5. Prohibited: sailing of any vessels on Veleka River between September 15 and June 15, and between June 15 and September 15 sailing of any vessels except for organized boat trips in the section between the river mouth and the site of Tzarskoto kladenche under the following conditions: maximum number of boats sailing on the route must be 4, the speed of the boats must not exceed 4 knots; the river must not be polluted with fuels, oils and other waste.
6. Prohibited: designation of sites for camping and campfires without the written consent of the regional structures of the Ministry of Environment and Water without marking the location of these places with permanent and visible signs; any camping and campfires outside the locations designated and marked for that purpose according to the regulations;
7. Prohibited: picking, damaging or destroying of wild plants with the exception of planned felling of trees and collection of herbs by the local population in quantities intended for personal use;
8. Prohibited: felling of trees between March 30 and September 1, afforestation with alien trees, carrying out clear felling and reconstructions, starting new dirt roads, felling of live hollow trees, and trees with nests with a diameter of over 0.5 m, removing wood except by pack animals;
9. Prohibited: hunting, except: hare – during the hunting season and in agricultural lands; wild boar, red deer, fox and jackal - from 1 October to 31 December, deer – from 1 October to 30 November, snipe – from 1 January to 28 February with a special permit for hunting from Tsarevo City Council, and complying with the regulations of the hunting development project;
10. Prohibited: fishing except sport fishing in the area where Veleka river flows into the sea to the bridge at the village of Sinemorets of the allowed for fishing types of fish except eel and carp, under the conditions, rules, methods, standards and deadlines set by the law;
11. Prohibited: chasing, gathering, catching and killing all wild animals which cannot be hunted according to this order, regardless of their condition or stage of development; setting up game fields and any equipment for feeding animals and hunting;
12. Prohibited: grazing of pigs and goats while for the other livestock grazing is limited to 0.5 animals/ha for cattle and 3 animals/ha for other livestock;
13. Prohibited: plowing of grassland, cutting reed between March 1 and July 31, using phosphorus-containing pesticides, using motor pumps for irrigation of agricultural lands;
14. Prohibited: searching for objects of archaeological value except when this activity is organized in accordance with the regulations.
Overlap: (partial or complete)
1. Natural park: STRANDJA
2. ЗЗ from the Birds Directive: Strandja
One of the most picturesque and beautiful places on the south Black Sea coast. It encompasses an area of1511.2 ha around the mouth of Veleka River and the lower part of its catchment basin. It protects the valley of Veleka River, the nearly 500 m long sand split and part of the Black Sea coast. The split is several dozens of meters wide, which changes according to season and weather conditions. Often during winter and spring it is covered in flood waters from Veleka River. Interesting communities of rare plant species such as cottonweed, woundwort, sea carrot, coastal umbrell, etc. can be found here. On the river you can see the endangered species yellow water-rose (Burduche). Its only natural habitat is in Natural Park Strandja.
Over the protected area there passes the European “highway” for birds – the migratory route Via Pontica. Outside the nesting season, here there are birds which use the wetland for wintering or resting during their flight such as small and large grebes, common cormorants, shags (a globally endangered species), and mute swans. Other bird species can be seen only in the sea near the coast – black-necked grebe, shags, red-crested pochard, shelduck, several species of gulls, etc. There are 32 species of fish in Veleka River, 7 of which are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria - eel, carp, kutum, rainbow fish, three-spined stickleback, etc. Another interesting group is that of the marine mammals – the region is one of the few places where it was possible to see the now extinct on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast monk seal (a globally endangered species).
The protected area is part of Natural Park Strandja and also of Veleka – Rezovska rivers. It is defined as a priority wetland of national importance. The area is also part of the protected zone "Strandja" under the European Union Birds Directive from Natura 2000 network.
Conservationists lead a serious battle to protect the mouth of Veleka River from the massive construction along the Black Sea coast. There is significant investors’ interest and pressure to gain permission for construction in the Ayrodi area located south of Ahtopol, right on top of the northern rocky slopes above the mouth of the river. This is one of the last undeveloped and unspoiled spots of wildlife.
Popular tourist places to visit in the protected area are:
Panoramic observation area – one of the most popular places for panoramic pictures of the mouth of the river. It can be reached in a few minutes on foot if on the left of the entrance to the village, you take the trail leading to the popular crooked tree, distorted by strong winds, on the hill above the river. This spot reveals a beautiful view of the split, the mouth of the river, the beach to the northeast, and the green hills of Strandja to the northwest.
A walk along the sand split to the mouth of the river, good seasons – summer and autumn. Sometimes in spring the sand split is hard to reach because of the high waves and the disappearance of a small part of the beach under water (at the beginning of the sand split), as well as because of the large river spills. In good weather it can be reached easily on foot, going down a path to the beach in the northeastern part of the village (at the end of the last street).
A boat trip on the upper and lower reaches of the river – starts from the pier on the river on the right side, immediately after the bridge across the river before Sinemorets. The boat trip upstream gets to Tzarskoto kladenche area where there is a good picnic shelter. It can also be reached on foot in about 2.5 hours along the dirt road on the right bank of the river. The shelter is 7 km away from Brodilovo, 10 km from Sinemorets and can seat 20 people.
The pier below the bridge across Veleka River is also a suitable place for picnicking – there is a shelter which can seat 8 people and there is also a fireplace.
A walking geological route Ahtopol – the mouth of Veleka River. It takes about 2 hours. It starts from the port of Ahtopol or from the south end of the town and goes south following the beach curves, along the rocky hills above the beach. There are slight climbs followed by slight descents above the quiet bays. In May the hills are dotted with several species of orchids and many wild flowers. The trail gets to an observation area on the rocks above the mouth of Veleka River which reveals beautiful panoramas. This is the end point of the route. There are two ways of going back to Ahtopol. One is to backtrack, and the other is to continue walking southwest, up along the river, and get to the bridge across Veleka, where you can take the asphalt road.