Kom-Emine is the last section of the E3 European long distance path that connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Black Sea.
The Bulgarian part starts from Mount Kom (2016 m) very close to the border with Republic of Serbia and follows the backbone of the Balkan Mountains (Stara Planina in Bulgarian), that gave its name to the whole peninsular, before reaching the Black Sea coast more than 600 km later.
En route the trail ascends all the iconic peaks of the Balkan Mountains range in Bulgaria, including around 30 with altitude of over 2000 m, some of them with a pronounced alpine relief.
The path officially ends in front of the lighthouse at Cape Emine, which is the easternmost point of the Balkan Mountains, but just half an hour downhill hike is the amazing fine sanded Irakli Beach where the ramblers can wash away the dust and the fatigue, accumulated during the long days of walking.
Kom-Emine is the most popular route in Bulgaria and thousands of tourists cross it on foot or by bike every year. Occasionally the ultramarathon enthusiasts use it as an arena for setting records – the fastest (supported) time being just shy of 4 days and 8 and a half hours.
Mount Kom (2016 m) (43°10’26.0″N 23°03’07.5″E)
Cape Emine (42°42’05.0″N 27°54’00.2″E)
Which cities and towns does the E-path pass through
Lakatnik, Kotel, Planinitsa village, Daskotna village, Dobra polyana village, Kozichino village, Emona village.
Between 600 and 700 km depending whether the rambler always follows the ridge trail or choses to descend to some mountain huts and villages.
Ground path of the E-path
- Mt. Kom – Petrohan Hut – 3-4 hours;
- Petrohan Hut – Proboinitsa Hut – 5 hours;
- Proboinitsa Hut – Trastenaya Hut – 6 hours;
- Trastenaya Hut – Leskova Hut – 6 hours;
- Leskova Hut – Vitinya Pass – 10 hours;
- Vitinya Pass – Chavdar Hut – 6 hours;
- Chavdar Hut – Momina Polyana Hut – 8 hours;
- Momina Polyana Hut – Eho Hut – 9 hours;
- Eho Hut – Dobrila Hut – 11 hours;
- Dobrila Hut – Botev Mountain Shelter (alpine traverse) – 10 hours;
- Botev Mountain Shelter – Mazalat Hut – 10 hours;
- Mazalat Hut – Buzludzha Hut – 9 hours;
- Buzludzha Hut – Ski base Gramadliva – 10 hours;
- Ski base Gramadliva – Chumerna Hut – 11 hours;
- Chumerna Hut – Vratnik Mountain Shelter – 9 hours;
- Vratnik Mountain Shelter – City of Kotel – 8 hours;
- City of Kotel – Varbitsa Pass Hut – 9 hours;
- Varbitsa Pass Hut – Hazim Gorskia Mountain Shelter – 12 hours;
- Hazim Gorskia Mountain Shelter – Topchiysko Hut – 12 hours;
- Topchiysko Hut – Village of Kozichino – 6 hours;
- Village of Kozichino – Cape Emine – 11 hours.
The Bulgarian section of E3 route is well waymarked with standard red markings as well as signposts.
The exposed parts of the route have also winter markings – metal poles painted with black and yellow on which azimuth plates are mounted.
Traditionally, the Bulgarian part of E3 is covered by moderately trained tourists for 21 days with an average daily duration of the hikes from 7 to 12 hours at the end of which a hut or a shelter is reached. If desired, some of the stages can be further divided in order to make the walking less tiring.
Most of Kom-Emine does not require special technical training, but there are some sections in the Central Balkan National Park with pronounced alpine relief that are suitable only for more experienced hikers, especially in winter when crampons are highly recommended.
The ramblers must bear in mind that Stara Planina acts like a natural climate barrier and the weather changes are sudden, and fogs, strong winds and thunderstorms are common even during the summer months.
Numerous mountain huts and shelters are available for overnight stay in accordance with the recommended 21-day itinerary. The capacity of some of them is limited and in high season hikers should book well in advance in order to guarantee their stay. The use of tents is generally permitted, but outside of the protected areas where strict restrictions are imposed.
Kom-Emine path passes through just two towns and a few villages and the possibility of buying groceries is quite limited. Most of the mountain huts and shelters along the trail offer some cooked meals, but the variety is rarely diverse. Some of the ridge sections have no drinkable water source and it is important to stock up for the day.
For most of the trail Kom-Emine traverses the ridge of the Balkan Mountains, but at regular intervals it crosses the national road network and that can be used to organize additional supplies or to join or leave the path if you plan to walk it in sections.
Tourists need the usual personal equipment suitable for high mountains with possible low temperatures even during the summer season.
In winter Kom-Emine is suitable for only experienced and well-trained hikers, equipped with all the necessary mountain gear like ski or snowshoes, crampons, ice axes, etc.