Kapitoto TV Tower Trek – avoid like a plague

Kapitoto TV Tower hike

Hey everyone. I was actually contemplating whether or not I should post about my last journey in Sofia, Bulgaria. Well, technically, I think it was in Bojana rather than Sofia. Why? My hike was supposed to be a simple 3.5 hours hike to the Kapitoto TV Tower that turned into 18 hours nightmare.

So I set out to leave my hotel at around 4 PM, get to the TV tower by 8 PM and get to bed before midnight … I thought it was a great plan but it wasn’t. As a matter of fact, I got to the TV tower by 11 PM (7 hours or hardcore climbing, rock climbing, maneuvering through dangerous paths that a simple slip could end me, etc … ).

And then I thought about catching a taxi at the top and get home but guess what? Yello taxi app didn’t work, calling them didn’t work because it was outside Sofia and the road name was unknown. So I had to walk for 20 km using roads (because I certainly was NOT gonna use the same route to go back). And you know what? My phone also died so I got lost. I was lucky I was in Sofia already and I had a rough idea of where I was but I was still wandering too much before I finally got to my place ar 7:30 AM.

How it began

Kapitoto TV Tower hike
Kapitoto TV Tower hike

Anyway, to tell you entire story, I need to go back to why I did this route. I looked at the iPhone maps app, it said walking 10 km to the TV Tower would take 3.5 hours or so. OK, I thought, I can walk 10 km and then, perhaps, catch a taxi at the top and get home. After all, I am actually training and I want to do higher and longer hikes anyway … little did I know that it would turn into survival for life …

So there I am, out and about and it starts raining like crazy. Raining and also thunderstorm hitting the Vitosha mountain. I thought – “OK, I am kinda hungry, I’ll just quickly get to this restaurant and if it stops raining after I’m done eating that burger, I’ll call it a sign”. Guess what? All clouds were gone, sun’s out and all. I thought it was it – the sign I was waiting on. So I continued my walk for about another 6 km.

Finally, I reached the mountain’s ground and I see only 2.2 km (1.3 miles or so) left to the destination without taking altitude into consideration. I was still on the ground and the height that I needed to get to was 1.3 km. Meaning that my trek would include very steep climbing …

Kapitoto TV Tower hike begins

Kapitoto TV Tower hike
Kapitoto TV Tower hike

So there I was, started my hike across the lower forrest. It was easy, I thought, while not flat, there was a little but of elevation. Broken and fallen trees. I quckly made the first half mile. Now only 0.9 miles left and I was, maybe, at 400 metres height. However, then the climb became steeper. It was also muddy. It was daylight so I used both hands to hold onto the bases of trees … like a Tarzan. At some point I was about to quit it as I was really tired but then I looked down and thought – “well damn, it really is steep and if I go down now, I may also have a higher chance to slip and get hurt or worse” … so I continued the climb.

After an hour or so I finally made quite a bit of progress. I see only 0.6 miles left to my destination. It was still bright and my phone showed that only 30 minutes left to my destination … even though it was around 7 PM. I thought I would still make it to the top before the darkness falls. I genuinely thought that I was about to end the steepest and hardest part of my trek soon and would just walk towards the TV Tower on a flat surface … boy was I wrong …

At some point I made it onto the short flat path. However, on one of the side of it – mountain like a wall, you can’t climb it up, it’s just not possible … on the other side – slope so deep that if you slip – you fall maybe 100 metres and likely die. So here I was, on my path of survival. One wrong step – and I am out of commission. Fatigued, pain in legs, tired, etc … here I make my first step. I feel that at that moment adrenaline kicked in. There was really no way back, only way forward into the unknown.

The darkness falls

Kapitoto TV Tower hikeSo after slowly making through the very narrow path, the darkness falls and I am still about 0.3 miles away from the top. Of course, now I end up using one of my hands for lighting (iPhone’s lighting). That means climbing is even harder because I can’t use one of my hands for holding onto trees or rocks. Lucky I was still under influence of adrenaline, stronger than gorilla, painless and had infinite amount of energy to move forward. So there I was, making my way to the final few metres of my destination. Then I end up against 2 metres rocks that I needed to climb. These were almost vertical. On this trek I already done some mild rock climbing even though I have never done rock climbing before …

On top of the world

Slowly but surely I climb up the rocks and here I was – next to the Kapitoto’s TV tower. There were also some other people who actually drove to the tower with no climbing. I then wondered what they thought of me … either that I am idiot for doing this or the hero.

Either way, scared to death, fatigues, exhausted, hurt, bruised but undefeated.

However, my story doesn’t end here. That’s only first 7 hours of my nightmare. Then I thought I would take a taxi home but guess what? The taxi app didn’t work, calling them didn’t work either because they wouldn’t understand where I was. Anyway, I looked at my phone, there is 12 miles (20 km) walk home using the roads that cars use to get up to the TV Tower. I thought – “OK, I’ll just have to walk for 4 or 5 hours and I’ll be home in no time).

The way back home

So there I start my walk home. It’s pitch black – on one side there is forest with very steep hills (I’d know, I just climbed one), on the other – slope so deep that if you fell – you’d be hurt really badly). Anyway, the road was wide enough for 2 cars so I really was not afraid or anything even though it was pitch black and thunder all over the mountain. I thought to myself – “well, if mountain didn’t kill me, thunderstorm and black forrest won’t kill me either” …

Encounter loose stray dogs

Of course, it didn’t, however, my phone’s battery was almost out. So I finally get out of the forrest and I see some houses next to the road. There are 2 loose stray dogs that start barking at me. I was thinking “Oh come on, if mountain couldn’t kill me, what can those 2 midgets do to me?”. The dogs weren’t small – one of them was collie, the other – some random dog but big. I was also looking for something to defend myself just in case. So I pick this iron bar and put on my shoulder. Lucky, dogs stopped barking at me as I approached them. They were completely clueless and confused because I wasn’t afraid of them. After a while there were another 2 stray loose dogs thats were barking. They were on the other side of the street but again, they did nothing to me.

Now I am about 4 miles away from my apartment, my phone dies. I had only 20 levs in my pocket (of course, I had my wallet in my pocket with card that I could get money out). I finally find a taxi at the taxi rank. The guy couldn’t find the address. So I say “just drive on this main road for 4 km). I look at the taxometer, it says 16 levs. I told him to drop me here. Then I walk around the area for another 2 hours clueless where I was. I knew it wasn’t far from National Palace of Culture or City Stage. From there, I could easily find me apartment, no problem.

Problems solved

AftermathThen I finally find the ATM, take enough cash out so I can take taxi home. I find another taxi rank and tell him my address. This time, the taxist found the address, took me there. Apparently, I was 2 km away from the address.

Anyway, I came back to the apartment at 7:30, just in time to take a shower, pack my stuff and leave to catch my flight at 11:25 (which was also delayed by an hour or so).


What did I learn from this experience? I am stronger than I thought. I need to work on some skills and also need to get mountaineering equipment such as walking sticks and ropes (and also learn how to use them). Helmet with the light and many other things. Also, adrenalise rush is such an interesting thing. Gives you powers of god.

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Who is Don Mazonas?

I am entrepreneur, businessman, traveller, dancer, DJ, gamer, book reader, etc ... you can learn more about me here.

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