Rila and Pirin-the giants of the Balkans
This is an introduction to two of the largest Bulgarian mountains –very picturesque and so different. They could offer you everything – stunning sharp peaks, jaggy ridges, old pine tree forests, crystal clear glacial lakes and stunning views you will never forget.
That is one of our best seller – the program covers the highlights of the both mountains and during the hikes you will be guided through some of the best itineraries on the top list. Visit of Pirin and Rila National Parks is a dream for most of the Bulgarians, impressing with unique flora and fauna, relaxing atmosphere and adventurous spirit. You cannot simply hike around – this is a passion for the life time. It will be our pleasure to take you around and to share our knowledge and experience with you.
Dates: from June to September
Group size: minimum 6 persons
Level Of Difficulty: Medium to Difficult, suitable for people in good physical shape, some previous experience in the mountains is an advantage.
Price: 595 euro per person; single room supplement 90 euro per person
Included: Transport from and to Sofia airport on transfer days; transfers as per itinerary, English speaking guide; accommodation in 3* hotel with private facilities on HB basis, lift tickets where applicable, all local taxes and parking tickets.
Not included: flight tickets, personal mountain insurance, single room supplement (90 euro per person), entrance fees (for museums, hot mineral springs etc), lunch/ lunch packs, any food and drink during the hikes, mountain maps, personal expenses, tips.
Transfer from Sofia / Airport to Bansko. Accommodation in a 3* hotel.
The day starts with a short transfer to the nearby resort of Dobriniste. We take the chairlift to Bezbog Hut and our hike starts from the top station at 2250 m. This is a very scenic part of Pirin mountain and our destination today is Mount Polezhan – 2851 m, rated as the 4th highest peak in Pirin. En route we will enjoy wonderful views towards the surrounding lakes. Popovo lake is the largest in Pirin mountain with a small picturesque island. Truly magnificent hike just to warm us up for the upcoming days. On the pathway we could get familiar with interesting representatives of the local flora like the Gentiana and the Calendula. Sometimes if we are lucky we could see some mountain goats (Balkan chamois). On the way back we could stop for lunch to taste fresh trout fish in some of the restaurants nearby. Approx. 5-6 hours hike, 1 hour on chair lift (30 min each way), 1 hour drive (30 min each way). ↑600 m; ↓600 m; Distance 8 km.
The highlight of Pirin – today we will explore the Banderitsa cirque with the stunning lakes and breathtaking views of the granite peaks of Todorka. This is a very long but scenic itinerary starting from Vihren Hut on Banderitsa River. After a short hike lakes unveil one after another showing their beauty. We nearly reach Todorka peak – one of the symbols of the mountain. Then we descend into Damianitsa Valley. Throughout the itinerary we see 3 groups of glacial lakes – 10 lakes in total and lots of flowers in different colours. We could stop for lunch at a small cosy mountain hut before ending our adventure. Approx 8-9 hours walk, ↑ 700 m; ↓1100 m; Distance 16 km.
Our destination today is the highest peak in Pirin – Mount Vihren at 2914 m. We start the day very early to get some advantage and enjoy the sunrise on the way to the peak. At some point during the summer (mid July – mid August) we could see the edelweiss flower – endangered plant for Bulgaria, only inhabiting parts of Pirin and The Balakan. This is a very demanding and challenging walk, however once on the top we could enjoy wonderful views being on the highest peak in Pirin and the second highest in Bulgaria. In the afternoon we could stop to see the oldest pine tree in Bulgaria – Baykusheva Mura – estimated age over 1300 years, before returning to Bansko for a deserved break.
Duration of the hike ~ 6-7 hours, ↑1000 m; ↓1000 m; Distance 7 km.
After breakfast we check out and leave Bansko and Pirin Mountain. Today the program is relaxing and we stop first to visit The Rila Monastery – the biggest monastery, part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, founded in the 10th century by Ivan Rilski – a hermit who lived in a cave nearby. A guided walk is included and you will learn more about the interesting history of this vibrant place. Then in the afternoon we continue with a short hike towards Skakavitsa Waterfall – the highest in Rila mountain. We overnight in Sapareva Banya – a famous Bulgarian SPA resort.
Approx. 3 hours hike, ↑300 m; ↓300 m; distance 5 ½ km
This is a very long and interesting day, voted by many hikers as the best day of the holiday. Today we start with a short transfer towards the 7 Rila Lakes chairlift. The 7 Rila Lakes cirque is probably the most popular landmark in Bulgaria visited by thousands of people every year. Most of the lakes are deeply frozen for 8 months of the year. We walk in the cirque to see all the 7 lakes and then moving on the crest, enjoying vast panoramas towards the Rila monastery to the south.. Our next destination is the iconic Malyovitsa peak – the dream of the most Bulgarian mountaineers. Then we descend into the valley of Malyovitsa River and could stop for a short break in a small mountain hut. Accommodation in the village of Govedartsi for 2 nights.
Approx. duration of the hike – 8-9 hours, ↑630 m; ↓1000 m, Distance 19 km
It’s not possible to come to Rila and not to walk to Mussala peak – the highest in Bulgaria. After breakfast we drive to Borovets – the oldest Bulgarian mountain resort. We get on the gondola for 30 min and our hike starts from the top station at 2350 m. The itinerary is very diverse and dynamic. On the way we will see the group of 6 lakes – Mussala lakes. The highest is called the Icy lake also the highest in Rila. After a short photo break we continue towards the highest peak enjoying the dramatic surroundings and finally getting on the top. On the way back we could stop in some of the mountain huts and to drink a cup of herbal tea before getting down the resort. A wonderful final of this epic holiday.
Duration of the hike ~6-7 hours. Journey on the gondola 1 hour (30 min each way); 1 hour drive (30 min each way). ↑600 m; ↓600 m; Distance 13-14 km.
Return to Sofia / Airport