SUMMITS AND LAKES OF THE RILA & PIRIN MOUNTAINS

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DURATION: 8 days
PRICE: € 540
DIFFICULTY: 3/4 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-September
START/FINISH: Sofia
TOUR TYPE: Self-guided

People are curious by nature, passionate to enrich their knowledge, and born to travel. If this brief description perfectly matches your personality and you seek for your next adventure, we have a proposal! A self-guided walking trip that you have to list in your travel journal!
Balkan Peninsula is rich in mountain ranges and the highest and most attractive ones are located at the territory of Bulgaria. You can spend a week trekking across the alpine landscape of Pirin and Rila mountains, whose majestic peaks etch the sky. Throughout your independent hiking journey, you will have the chance to experience the local hospitality, pamper yourself with а traditional dish, and learn more about the cultural and historical heritage of Bulgaria. In the itinerary are planned treks to the two highest summits in Bulgaria one of each is also the highest one at the whole Peninsula (Musala (2925m) and Vihren (2914m). The scenery will change so often that you will have many excuses to stop and admire the divine beauty of nature. At the end of each walk, you will be grateful for the chances you had to discover this unique remote region of Europe.
You walk every day with just a daypack. The rest/unnecessary luggage either remains inside the transfer vehicle or in your accommodation. Easier and harder options are available for most of the days.


/The tour program can be shortened or extended. Check the tab below the itinerary for details./

Day 1: Sofia – Govedartsi
Meeting at Sofia Airport and transfer to Govedartsi village, located in the outskirts of Rila mountain (1 hr and 30 mins driving time).
Day 2: Govedartsi – Borovets – Mount Musala – Borovets – Govedartsi (5,30hrs; 14,50km; +690m/-690m)
Your walking trip will have a remarkable start with attempting the Rila’s premier summit Musala. To reach the starting point of the hike, you will be transferred to the famous ski resort Borovets (30 mins driving time) from where you board the cabin lift. The trail transits through lush slopes which during the winter are very popular with the skiers and snowboarders. While the face of Musala will be always in front of you, the trail will wind around glacier lakes and mountain huts. Despite being the highest peak, the route is not difficult except the last stage which is a bit demanding. Your efforts will be rewarded with spectacular panorama so you better bring your camera with you!
Day 3: Govedartsi – The Seven Rila Lakes – Govedartsi (6-7hrs; 16-18km; +1100-1300m/-1100-1300m)
Today’s hike will take you through a shady forest to an incredible alpine landscape above the tree line. The trail will gently ascend and reveal the peculiar shape of each one of them. The highest one – The Teardrop, located at (2500 m) will greet you with amazing views towards the other ones, which are lying peacefully on the terraced terrain below. To avoid the big crowds you are not going to use the chairlift but will be transferred to a nearby hut from where your trekking adventure will starts (20 mins transfer in each direction).
NB! If you are flexible with dates, the program could be extended so you could attempt to hike to the cradle of the Bulgarian mountaineering – Malyovitsa Peak (2729 m. Or to the attractive Scary Lake. Contact us for more information.
Day 4: Govedartsi – Rila Monastery – Bansko
Time to say goodbye and leave the rocky crest of Rila Mountain behind your back as your self-guided walking tour continues towards another impressive and picturesque mountain range – Pirin. Before reaching your base – Bansko village, you will have the chance to explore some of the cultural and historical heritage of Bulgaria in the face of the largest monastery complex – Rila Monastery. Under the aegis of UNESCO since 1983, the Holy Kloster became very popular with foreign visitors, and especially after the fall of socialism in Bulgaria became the main point of interest for all those interested in architecture, Orthodox Christianity, or simply want to pin this site in their travel maps.
In the morning you will be collected with a car and the driver will leave you some hours so you could continue your self-guided exploration around the complex. Do not forget to try the traditional for Bulgarians flat fried donuts called “mekitsa”. They are still produced by the old bakery of the Monastery, you will recognize the place by the long queue. Waiting for 10-15 mins will be worthwhile as these pastries are extremely delicious especially when flavoured with powdered sugar.
Day 5: Bansko – Mount Polezhan – Bansko (5hrs; 7km; +770m/-770m)
The day will start with a short (30 mins) transfer to the nearby Gotse Delchev hut. Today’s hike will let you explore the more verdant part of Pirin mountain, dotted with many glacier lakes that will be visible as you gain elevation. The starting point of the hike starts from the lake behind Bezbog hut which you will reach via a chairlift. The trail is above the tree line and soon you will leave behind your back even the dwarf pine trees. Polezhan Summit is one of the highest granite peaks in Pirin and is towering at 2851m. The most spectacular panorama will be definitely from the top, overlooking towards three groups of glacier lakes, among which is the Upper Gazey Lake also know as The Lady with the bun due to its odd shape.
N.B.: In case of bad weather or if you are feeling tired, there is an easier option is available – trek to Popovo Lake (3,30-4hrs of walking; 7,6km, climbing and descending 396m).
Day 6: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Banderishki Lakes Cirque – Demyanitsa Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 16km; +615m/-1215m)
A pre-arranged transfer will take you to Vihren hut (45 mins driving time) from where normally a lot of hiking trails start. Today you will follow the one that winds around a group of 16 glacier lakes. The group is named Banderishki Lakes but each of them has its own name such as Fish Lake or The Eye. The pristine nature will amaze you so it would be necessary to take short breaks just to admire the surroundings! At the end of the trek, you will enter a shady spruce forest voiced by the rumbling Demyanitsa river. You will meet there the driver who will take you back to Bansko (35 mins driving time).
N.B.: For those who want to save their energy for tomorrow’s most challenging hike, they could take a loop around some of the lakes and finish back from where they have started (Vihren hut). Also applicable in adverse weather conditions.
Day 7: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Mount Vihren – Vihren Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 8km; +960m/-960m)
Time for you to attack the highest summit in Pirin and also the third-highest at the Balkan Peninsula (after Musala in Rila and Mytikas in Olympos) Vihren (2914 m). The marble giant looks like a truncated pyramid when seen from Bansko. Make sure you have a strong breakfast as today you will need lots of energy to reach your target. The hiking trail will reveal the raw beauty of this rocky part of Pirin mountain. It will traverse the circus Golem Kazan (The Giant Cauldron) where could be observed wild goats and also the endangered Edelweiss flower. The spectacular panorama from the top will leave you speechless and you will forget about the pain in your tired legs. Take time to admire the divine beauty of stretching sea of peaks and valleys before going back the same way.
Day 8: Bansko – Sofia
Bansko – Sofia Airport/city centre. Transfer time approximately 2,30-2,45 mins.

Hiking time: hiking time only is mentioned on each day (not including stops for pictures, picnics, breaks etc.); these are based on an average hiker’s speed of 4-5km/hr on flat terrain, additional 30min for each 300m elevation gain, and a backpack weighing not more than 10-15% of your body weight. Still, this varies a lot on the terrain and hiking experience of each client.

A DETAILED ROUTE BOOK AND MAPS WILL BE PROVIDED UPON ARRIVAL


Limited time offer:

Price:
540 € per person in twin/dbl room
(Already saw a tour with similar program and price? Give us a chance to convince you why our offer is much better!)
Single room supplement:
90 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Solo travelers: 
810 € (incl. also sgl room supplement)
(Traveling solo? Ask us to join you to an existing reservation in order to reduce the above price)
Rent of hiking poles:
15 €/person
Price includes:
transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only) and all other transfers for the daily treks as per itinerary; accommodation and catering as mentioned; GPS tracks; detailed route notes in English and maps; 24/7 emergency hotline and all local taxes.
Price does not include: extra meals and drinks; lift tickets (appr. 15 Euro/pp); travel/medical insurance; entrance fees for museums.
Accommodation: family-run pension including breakfast and dinner (Day 1 to Day 3) and 3-star hotel on bed & breakfast basis (Day 4 to Day 8; there are numerous options to have dinner in the taverns and restaurants of Bansko).
Best period: mid-June – mid-September; traveling on later dates is also possible (till the end of October), but with a program reduction (the climb to Mt. Musala will be waived since the lift used for it won’t be working after mid-September).
(this program is meant to suit Tuesday-Saturday arrivals; as for the climb to Mt. Musala a cabin lift is needed (which doesn’t work Monday and Tuesday), should you wish to travel on different days of the week (i.e. Sunday to Monday) we will have to rearrange the program and possibly put Pirin before Rila, but no hikes will be lost); 

SCROLL DOWN FOR ALL DATES

Suggested versions of the original 8-day tour (mind the possibility to add extra days and hikes in other mountains of Bulgaria (Rhodopes, Vitosha). We are flexible on making any combination, which would suit your travel plans.
For full description of each day check the original 8-day tour or get in touch with our travel agent for details. Detailed route notes, maps and other documents will be provided to you on Day 1 by the driver who will be doing your transfer.

Option 1: 9 days/8 nights (suitable if your flights are on Day 1 and Day 9)
Day 1. Sofia Airport -> Govedartsi
Day 2. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 3. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Govedartsi (5-6 hrs of walking; 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending 1310m/4298ft)
Day 4. Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
Day 5. Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko
Day 6. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo Lake -> Bansko (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)
Day 7. Bansko -> Demianitsa Hut/Bynderishki Lakes cirque -> Bansko (6-7hrs; 16km/10miles; +700m/2300ft, – 1100m/3650ft)
Day 8. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 9. Bansko -> Sofia Airport

Option 2: 7 days/6 nights (suitable if your flights are on Day 1 and Day 7)
Day 1. Sofia Airport -> Govedartsi
Day 2. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 3. Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
Day 4. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 5. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 6. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo Lake -> Bansko (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)
Day 7. Bansko -> Sofia Airport

Option 3: 6 days/5 nights (suitable if your flights are on Day 1 and Day 6)
Day 1. Sofia Airport -> Govedartsi
Day 2. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 3. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 4. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo Lake -> Bansko (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)
Day 5. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 6. Bansko -> Sofia Airport

Option 4: 6 days/5 nights (suitable if you are already staying in Sofia before the tour starts and extend again your stay there after the tour ends on Day 6)
Day 1. Sofia (morning pick up from clients’ hotel) -> Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
Day 2. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 3. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi (5hrs; 12km/7miles, +/-900m/3000ft.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 4. Bansko -> Demianitsa Hut/Bynderishki Lakes cirque -> Bansko (6-7hrs; 16km/10miles; +700m/2300ft, – 1100m/3650ft)
Day 5. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 6. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo lake -> Sofia (late afternoon drop off at clients’ hotel in Sofia (own arrangements) (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)

Option 5: 5 days/4 nights (suitable if you are already staying in Sofia before the tour starts and extend again your stay there after the tour ends on Day 5)
Day 1. Sofia (morning pick up from clients’ hotel) -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 2. Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi Govedartsi (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
Day 3. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 4. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 5. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo lake -> Sofia (late afternoon drop off at clients’ hotel in Sofia (own arrangements) (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)

Option 6: 4 days/3 nights (suitable if you are already staying in Sofia before the tour starts and extend again your stay there after the tour ends on Day 4)
Day 1.
Sofia (morning pick up from clients’ hotel) -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 2. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 3. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 4. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo lake -> Sofia (late afternoon drop off at clients’ hotel in Sofia (own arrangements) (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)

Hiking time: hiking time only is mentioned on each day (not including stops for pictures, picnics, breaks etc.); these are based on an average hiker’s speed of 4-5km/hr on flat terrain, additional 30min for each 300m elevation gain, and a backpack weighing not more than 10-15% of your body weight. Still this varies a lot on the terrain and hiking experience of each client.
Where hiking specifics are not mentioned for a certain day, only transportation services are included (with time allowing sightseeing on your own in Rila Monastery where this is included in the itinerary – contact us for details).

Best period: the tour can start every day during the period mid-June – mid-September; traveling on later dates is also possible (till the end of October), but with a program reduction (the climb to Mt. Musala will be waived since the lift used for it won’t be working after mid-September). Advance booking is required as some accommodations are small and get fully booked months in advance.

Included:
– Pick up at Sofia/Airport
– All ground transfers as per program
– Accommodation in twin/dbl rooms with en-suite facilities everywhere, incl. breakfast (three-star hotels (Bansko) and family pensions (Govedartsi)
– Dinner included in Govedartsi
– Luggage transfers
– Detailed route notes and maps
– 24/7 emergency hotline

Not included:
– Lift tickets and entry fees
– Drinks and extra meals
– Guiding services

PRICELIST:
Per person in twin/dbl room / Single room supplement / Solo travelers:
Option 1: 570 Euro / 100 Euro / 890 Euro
Option 2: 485 Euro / 80 Euro / 755 Euro
Option 3: 460 Euro / 70 Euro / 715 Euro
Option 4: 470 Euro / 70 Euro / 730 Euro
Option 5: 415 Euro / 60 Euro / 645 Euro
Option 6: 380 Euro / 50 Euro / 590 Euro
* extensions to Rila Monastery, when given as an extra option, should be added to the above price

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