Golden Sands is a natural park in Bulgaria located 17 km north of Varna and an area of 1320.7 hectares.
It is bordered by the resort of Golden Sands. To the north, it is bordered by Kranevo, to the west by the lands of Kichevo and Osеnovo, to the east by the road Varna – Kranevo, and to the south by the land of Varna. The average altitude is 110 m. The highest point is Chiplak Tepe (269.3 m). The areas between 101 and 200 m high prevail. Its total length is 9.2 km and its average width is 1.2 km. On the territory of the park, there are developed tourist routes, recreation areas, green schools are organized. It is the smallest natural park in Bulgaria.
It covers part of the slopes of the Frangen plateau. The relief is hilly with a pronounced landslide, tiered character. The steep Aladzha monastery – Gorno Germe, Chiplak Tepe – Golden Sands, and Kaleto – The White Wall are descending to the sea of the rock wreaths. Through its territory pass the valleys smelly water, Giurgenlak and Batty bunar. The territory of the park is part of the Black Sea climatic subarea of the Continental-Mediterranean climatic region. The value of precipitation is 513 mm, with a spring maximum and an autumn minimum.
According to the criteria of the World Union for The Protection of Nature is placed in the fifth category of protected areas – protected landscape. It was declared the People’s Park on February 3, 1943.
The park was established on February 3, 1943, under the name “Golden Sands” National Park with an area of 240 ha, covering the territory from Aladzha Monastery to the old Bulgarian – Romanian border. It is the second declared park in Bulgaria after Vitosha National Park (announced on 27.10.1934). In the 50s of the 20th century, the construction of the Golden sands resort began on the territory of the park, gradually occupying most of the park area. This necessitates that in 1979 the areas of the resort should be removed from the territory of the park while adding a new one to it and in general the park increases its area. A new extension followed in 1981, leading the park to its current area of 1,320.7 ha.
In 1956 the first Park Development Project was developed, which envisages the reconstruction of forest plantations and their transformation into a park, as well as measures to strengthen the downpours in the area. In parallel with forestry events, tourist infrastructure and superstructure are built, washes, recreation areas, places, walking routes, eateries, and accommodation are built.
In 1996, a park administration was established as a division of the National Forest Management with the main purpose of preserving and maintaining biological and landscape diversity. In 2001, following changes to the Protected Areas Act, the park was recategorized from “folk” to “natural”. In 2005 the Visitor and Information Center of the park was opened, which also houses the park administration (official name – Golden Sands Nature Park Directorate).
The flora of the park includes about 500 species of higher plants, with the total number of rare, endangered and protected species being 21.
The territory of the park falls within the zone of two floristic districts – the Black Sea coast and northeastern Bulgaria. The vegetation in the park forms the following ecosystems – long-form indigenous ecosystems, indigenous ecosystems with dominance (most often oaks), derived ecosystems of the kelp, shrub ecosystems, and cultural ecosystems.
Long-form ecosystems occupy about 2% of the territory of the park and are formed as a result of high soil humidity in the lower parts of the terrain. Since this humidity is smaller and shorter-lived than the typical long-distance forest here, the species diversity is less. The forest is rarer than the typical longoz, as a result of which more light penetrates the development of lianas, and therefore these ecosystems resemble tropical forests. Typical tree species are mandrian, polish ash, lipa, plain gabber, etc. Lians are represented by ivy, wind, scrips, humpback, etc. Among the herbaceous species stand out the rare and protected – underdeveloped lindorum, Caucasian primrose, and eastern lopoum.
Indigenous ecosystems (dominated most often by oak) occupy the more elevated forms in the central part of the park. They present almost all species characteristic of the area and meet chewy populations over the age of 100 years. Species diversity is greater than in long-range ecosystems. The main chewing species are different types of oak (blagun, hairy oak, etc.), as well as man-made, large-leafed leek, plain gabber, etc. There is a wide variety of herbaceous species – different representatives of the Salepic family (the so-called “Bulgarian orchids”), several types of sharpness, rare and protected species – snowdrop, Caucasian primrose, forest owl, etc.
The derived ecosystems of the kelp
The derived ecosystems of the kelp gaber are mostly found in the southwestern part of the park (higher landslide sites) and in the central part – in the lower places. They are usually of screw-up origin and occupy mainly rocky and drier places.
Shrubby ecosystems occupy steep landslide terrains with shallow soils and rock bases mainly in the northern part of the park. Dominant shrubs are jasmine, tree run, lilac, blackberry, and wicker. Many of the rare and endangered species in the park are found here.
Cultural ecosystems are the result of human activity, and coniferous forests are significantly more than those of deciduous ones. From the first group, plantations of black pine, cypress, and cedar are most often found.
In zoogeographical terms, the territory of the park refers to the Northern Zoogeographical Subregion, the Black Sea region, in which terrestrial animals characteristic of Central and Northern Europe predominate.
On the territory of the park, there are 7 species of amphibians, 18 species of reptiles, 37 species of mammals, and 88 species of birds. Amphibians are represented by one species of newt (Balkan crested newt) and 6 species of frogs, including one endangered Balkan garlic.
Reptiles are represented by different types of turtles, lizards, and snakes. Endangered species are the yellow-beaded and the mouse fig. From the venomous snakes is found the viper.
Among the mammals stand out 10 species of bats, numerous species of rodents, fox, deer, wild rabbit, Eastern European hedgehog, wild boar, badger, etc.
Of the bird’s permanent inhabitants of the park are about 50 species, the rest are migratory. The majority of them are protected species. The most common species of protected birds are a large, apoel thrush, aliga, a green woodpile, red neck, cherry, common buzzard, papunyak, etc. Above the park passes one of the two migration routes in Europe – Via Pontica.
There are 5 classic walking routes and 4 specialized – children’s, dendrological, cycling route, and for people with special needs (including people with wheelchairs and blind). The routes have different durations – between 40 minutes and 4.5 hours and represent the biodiversity of the park. Along them are located recreation areas, tea rooms, and look playgrounds. They are suitable for hiking, nature-cognitive tourism, cultural and cognitive tourism, cycling tourism, children’s tourism, photo tourism and for people with special needs
Since 2005 a Visitor and Information Center has been operating, offering leadership on the routes in the park, thematic talks, information publications, and publications, etc. It also houses the park administration – Golden Sands Nature Park Directorate.
The balls in the park are for the most part powered by local springs.
- “Kovshak thema” – it is located between two of the largest meadows in the park, giving the name of the locality. Often visited area by the citizens of Varna.
- “Aladzha” – located next to the asphalt road Vinnitsa – Zl.sands under the rock monastery. The tap has a large flow rate. The starting point of “Blue” and “Yellow” routes.
- “Jubilee” – restored by the tourist company “Rodney Balkans” and named after their 60th anniversary. In the summer season, the water greatly decreases.
- “1300 years Bulgaria” – located under the “Aladzha” hut part of the “Blue” route. Nearby there is a recreation area and a panorama of the park and the resort.
- “Kalyova Thishma” – Located next to the Shipbuilder Hut. With a very small flow rate.
- “St. Seven-Numbered” – Located at the intersection of the yellow, green, and red routes.
- Yanakieva – Located on the diversion for “Equestrian Picnic” near the road Varna-Kranevo. It’s dried up since the summer of 2003.
- Jo. Minkov – Built in memory of the forestry Y. Minkov. The tap is dug into the ground. The water is drinkable!!!
- Veterans’ Corner – Supported by veteran tourists. It is located near the yellow route, at a turnoff after the gully
- Bejana (small) – In the area of Bejana area. Water “appears” seasonally. The tap is overgrown with shrubs and wrapping plants