Hiking trek in the Pirin & Rila mountains
Enjoy Bulgaria’s most picturesque alpine treks, climbing the Balkans’ tallest summits: Musala (2925m/9596ft) in the Rila and Vihren (2914m/9560ft) in the Pirin. Our route crosses huge national parks with broad alpine meadows and serrated summits, glacier lakes, stone rivers, encountering rare plant and animal life. The programme includes a visit of the Rila Monastery, listed by UNESCO and one of Bulgaria’s best-known sights.
The walking treks are rather arduous and suited to very fit people experienced in alpine walking. The hiking programme is based in two centres (one each in the Pirin and the Rila), allowing the routes to be additionally adapted to group specifics, and to be undertaken with only a small backpack with a day’s supplies of water, food, and clothing. There are sufficient alternative walking routes in case of bad weather.
- Pirin Mountains are the country's second highest mountain, considered also the most beautiful one. One can find here more than 170 glacial lakes and a large number of rare plants, including the edelweiss and the famous Baikusheva Fir, the latter almost 1,300 years old.
- Rila Mountains are the sixth highest in Europe, coming after the Caucasus, the Alps, Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and Mount Etna. The name Rila is allegedly of Thracian origin and is thought to mean "well-watered mountain", owing to Rila's abundance of glacial lakes (about 200) and hot springs in the faulty areas.
- Rila Monastery is one of the most remarkable monuments on the Balkan Peninsula equally for its size, natural surroundings, architecture, wall paintings and ancient history dating back to the 10th century.
Day 1: We meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to Bansko at the foot of Mount Pirin.
Day 2: Chair cable car to the Bezbog Hut. This is the setting-off point for the hiking trek to the Polezhan Summit (2851m/9354ft) which offers one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Pirin, over 17 stunning glacier lakes, including the largest Popovo Lake (30m/100ft deep). (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft to 840m/2756ft)
Day 3: Today, we visit one of the most picturesque parts of the Pirin: the Banderishki Lakes Cirque. The walking trek through the Todorina Porta takes us directly to the Yulen Nature Reserve, from where, by way of the Todorini Ochi Lakes, we descend into virgin fir groves to the Demyanitsa Hut. From here, we follow a shady path along the Demyanitsa River. (6-7hrs of walking; from 15,3km/9,5miles to 7,8km/4,85miles; climbing from 612m/2008ft to 470m/1542ft and descending from 1215m/3986ft to 470m/1542ft)
Day 4: The idea today is to climb Vihren: Bulgaria’s second-highest and the Pirin’s highest summit. Breathtaking views offer themselves to us as we climb through the Golem Kazan (The Giant Cauldron) area bounded by the 400m/1300ft tall northern face of Vihren. (6-7hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,54miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 5: We bid farewell to Pirin and set off for Rila. Our first stop is the Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thence, we proceed to the Panichishte Resort, where we may visit the Skakavitsa Waterfall (70m/230ft) before supper. (3-4hrs of walking; 9km/5,6miles; climbing and descending 390m/1280ft)
Day 6: We go by cable car to the foot of the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque. Trekking past the Lakes, we continue along the crest where we enjoy further stunning views towards the Urdini and Elenski Lakes and the Rila Monastery in its deep valley beneath us. Passing the Malyovitsa Summit, we descend into the valley of the same name and settle into a family hotel at the village of Govedartsi. (6-7hrs of walking, climbing 800m/2600ft and descending 1000m/3300ft.)
Day 7: Today, we climb the Balkans’ highest summit: Musala (2925m/2596ft). A cable car takes us from the Borovets Resort to the setting-off point for the trek. The serrated wall of Musala never leaves our sight as we ascend through stone rivers and past glacier lakes and alpine huts. The genuinely impressive view from the peak to the surrounding mountains offers a deserving end to the whole adventure. (6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 8: Transfer from Govedartsi to Sofia Airport.
Dates, Prices & Remarks
GUARANTEED GROUP DEPARTURES FOR 2019:
22/6, 29/6, 06/7, 13/7, 20/7, 27/7, 03/8, 10/8, 24/8, 31/8, 07/9
GUARANTEED GROUP DEPARTURES FOR 2020:
20/6, 27/6, 04/7, 11/7, 18/7, 25/7, 01/8, 08/8, 22/8, 29/8, 05/9, 12/09
Accommodation: three-star (Bansko), tourist class/basic hotel (Panichishte) and family hotels (Govedartsi); double/twin rooms with en-suite facilities everywhere; breakfast and supper included.
Best period: mid June - mid September
Price: 555 € (limited time offer)
Single room supplement: 90 €
The price includes: accommodation and boarding as mentioned above; transfer to/from Sofia airport; English-speaking guide and private transfers throughout the tour; lift tickets; VAT and all local taxes.
The price does not include: maps (could be requested in advance when booking the tour), other meals, drinks, entrance fees, tips, personal expenses, travel/medical insurance.