THE RIDDLES OF THE RILA MOUNTAINS

0
DURATION: 8 days
PRICE: € 510
DIFFICULTY: 2/3 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-September
START/FINISH: Sofia
TOUR TYPE: Self-guided

South-East from Sofia is towering the majestic body of the highest mountain range in Bulgaria – Rila mountains. The name probably has Thracian origin and means ‘well-watered mountain” which will be easily proved by the numerous glacier lakes (more than 180) from where most of the biggest and lush rivers stem. Being one of Europe’s largest national parks, Rila National Park is home to diverse flora and fauna which will be a fairyland for all photographers, nature-lovers, and a pleasant challenge for hikers. It won’t take a long until the scenery changes completely and will leave you stunned. Walking around the transparent waters of lakes with painted on their surface the reflections of jagged peaks or climbing the premier peaks, this self-guided hiking trip will take your breath away every so often that you will truly feel that a heaven is a place on Earth.

The tour includes all ground transfers and upon arrival and departure – transfer from and to Sofia Airport. The treks are arduous and suitable for hikers with some previous experience. Most of the trails are running above the tree line, some of them passing through rocky rivers where steep ascends and descends may occur. You will be given detailed instructions (maps, route notes, and GPS tracks) and for some of the days, you would be able to choose from different hiking trails, pursuant to your fitness, interests, and/or the weather conditions. Located in the green heart of Rila mountain is the largest monastery complex – Rila Monastery (UNESCO). The program may be tailored so you could visit the Holy Kloster which will require an extra night. Discuss with us this or any other options to adjust your program to your personal interest.


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

Day 1: Sofia
Meeting at Sofia Airport and transfer you to centre-based hotel. According to your flight time arrival, you may have time to explore the compact city centre of the Bulgarian capital.
Day 2: Sofia – Mount Cherni Vrah – Golden Bridges – Govedartsi (5,00-5,30hrs; 16,5km; +690m/-1120m)
The most populous city in Bulgaria has a perfect location in a vast valley, surrounded by big mountain chains from every side and lying peacefully and right in the foothills of Vitosha mountain. A warm-up hike towards the highest summit Cherni Vrah (The Black peak – 2290m) will reveal stunning panoramas across the rounded crest of the mountain and the concrete jungle below. To the starting point, you will be transferred by car (50 mins). Once you reach the peak you can take a short break with a cup of herbal tea from the weather station on the top. Then your independent walk will lead you through vast plateau embroidered with numerous flowers during spring and summer until you reach the natural phenomenon Zlatnite Mostove (Golden Bridges) – rock rivers. You will be collected from there and transferred to the foothills of Rila Mountain – in the charming village of Govedartsti (1 hr and 40 mins driving time).
Day 3: Govedartsi circular trail (5,30-6hrs; 20km; +720m/-720m)
For today is planned circular self-guided trekking around the village. You do not need to hurry in the morning but enjoy the healthy breakfast prepared from your hosts and then get ready to hit the trails. The walk will unveil the colourful palette of nature and you will be accompanied by the joyful rhapsody of birds chirping. In the distance, the landscape will be outlined by the jagged ridge of Rila.
Day 4: Govedartsi – The Seven Rila Lakes – Govedartsi (6-7hrs; 16-18km; +1100-1300m/-1100-1300m)
A short car transfer to a nearby hut will mark the start of today’s self-guided walking trip (20 mins driving time). Being a world-known natural site, the group of the Seven Rila Lakes presents in the list of every first-timer visitor in Bulgaria. This is the reason why during the weekends the trails may be too populated but despite the high interest the beauty remains unspoiled and offers stunning views. The lakes are located on a terraced terrain at an altitude between 2100 and 2500 meters and each has a unique shape and a name that perfectly describes it or tells a local legend. From the top located Lake – The Teardrop, you would be able to admire jaw-dropping scenery towards all of them.
Day 5: Govedartsi – Malyovitsa – Scary Lake/Yonchevo Lake or Mount Malyovitsa – Malyovitsa – Govedartsi – Borovets (5,30-6hrs; 12-15km; +880-1040m/-880-1040m)
Bit by bit we add more challenge to your independent trekking and today you have to hike above the tree line, like yesterday, but on more steep and bouldery terrain. In fact, there are two main options to choose from for today’s hike. Often chosen is the main route that runs around mountain huts and shelters, and whose main highlight is the Strashnoto ezero (The Scary Lake – 2465m). Urban legends say that a tourist has experienced a horrific storm near the Lake and when he was asked from where is he coming, the man simply replied: “from the Scary Lake”. In fact, the landscape there is spectacular and no words could describe the serenity of sitting by the rocky shore of the Lake.
Some hikers prefer to add another peak in their travel journals and those people choose to conquer Malyovitsa Summit (2729m) – the cradle of Bulgarian mountaineering and rock-climbing. Although, no “via ferratas” or rock-climbing are present along the pathway to the Summit.
Both opportunities start and end by the parking lot of Central Mountain School – 20 mins driving from Govedartsi. This day you change your base, so after the trek, you will be transferred to Borovets ski resort (45 mins driving time).
Day 6: Borovets – Black Rock – Maritsa Hut – Saragiol King’s Hunting Lodge – Borovets (several options: 2-8hrs; 8-29,50km; +20-1260m/-20-1260m)
Today you won’t depend on any transfers so you could start walking whenever you wish. If you are already a bit tired from hiking, you can choose a short forestry walk and consider visiting in the afternoon the former’s King haunting residence near Borovets – Tsarska Bistritsa.
Another proposal will be a rather long but not steep walk to a little-known part of Rila. The route enters an ancient coniferous forest, runs through Maritsa River Valley, and reaches the hunting lodge of the King – Saragoil, from where you descend towards Borovets.
Day 7: Borovets – Mount Musala – Borovets (5,30hrs; 14,50km; +690m/-690m)
The last day of the hiking program will be devoted to the premier peak not only in Rila or Bulgaria but also at the whole Balkan Peninsula. To start the walk you won’t need any car transfers but cabin/chairlift will be a must (at least in one of the directions). The day could be also alternate with the suggestions for day 6, just mind the working hours of the lift facilities (detailed information in the route notes).
The trek itself won’t be arduous except the last stage from the highest situated lake in Bulgaria – the Icy Lake (2709m). All of the time you will see the rocky silhouette of Musala Peak in front of you while passing through glacier lakes and mountain huts. From the top, you will be rewarded with the unbelievable view of a sea of jagged peaks and rounded green crests. Warm your hands and soul with the fragrant herbal tea served in the weather station on the top.
Day 8: Borovets – Sofia
Departure from Borovets to Sofia Airport (1 hr and 30 mins driving time)
Most customers prefer to call on the Rila Monastery (UNESCO) on their way to Sofia, including one more night there. Check the “Prices, Dates & Remarks” tab for further details.

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 MAP WILL BE PROVIDED UPON ARRIVAL


Limited time offer:

Price: 
510 € 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: 750 € (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 in the itinerary; accommodation and catering as described below; luggage transport; GPS tracks; detailed English descriptions of routes; tourist maps of the Rila; 24/7 emergency hotline, and all local taxes.
Price does not include: cable car tickets; extra food and drink; medical insurance; personal expenses.
Accommodation: three-star and family hotels; en-suite rooms; breakfast every day; supper on Days 2 to Day 4 incl. (options to have supper outside your hotel in Sofia and Borovets resort are numerous).
Best period: this 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).

Extension to Rila Monastery: 90 € per person (in a group of 2 persons or more sharing a double room; single room supplement: 25 €) (included: pick-up from Borovets Resort on Day 8, transfer to Rila Monastery, a guided tour inside the monastery (in English), entry to the museum in the monastery, transfer to Sofia, overnight B&B in 3-star centrally located hotel on BB, transfer to Sofia Airport on Day 9; not included: lunch and supper on Day 8).

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 (Pirin, Rhodopes). 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: 7 days/6 nights (suitable if your flights are on Day 1 and Day 7)
Day 1. Sofia Airport -> Sofia
Day 2. Sofia -> Vitosha Mountains -> Govedartsi (5hrs of walking; 13,5km/8,39miles; climbing 554m/1818ft and descending 977m/3205ft.)
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 -> Borovets (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
Day 5. Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Borovets (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 6. Borovets -> Maritsa Hut (or other options) -> Borovets (From 2 to 8hrs of walking; from 8,10km/5miles to 29,40km/18,3miles, climbing from 20m/65,6ft to 1261m/4137ft and descending from 255m/836,6ft to 1261m/4137ft.)
Day 7. Borovets -> Sofia Airport
* N.B.: Option to book an extension to Rila Monastery (UNESCO) (scroll down for details)

Option 2: 6 days/5 nights (suitable if your flights are on Day 1 and Day 6)
Day 1. Sofia Airport -> Sofia
Day 2. Sofia -> Vitosha Mountains -> Govedartsi (5hrs of walking; 13,5km/8,39miles; climbing 554m/1818ft and descending 977m/3205ft.)
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 -> Borovets (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
Day 5. Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Borovets (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 6. Borovets -> Sofia Airport
* N.B.: Option to book an extension to Rila Monastery (UNESCO) (scroll down for details)

Option 3: 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) -> Vitosha Mountains -> Govedartsi (5hrs of walking; 13,5km/8,39miles; climbing 554m/1818ft and descending 977m/3205ft.)
Day 2. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Govedartsi (5-6 hrs of walking; 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending 1310m/4298ft)
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 -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Sofia (late afternoon drop off at clients’ hotel in Sofia (own arrangements) (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
* N.B.: Option to book an extension to Rila Monastery (UNESCO) (scroll down for details)

Option 4: 3 days/2 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 3)
Day 1. Sofia (morning pick up from clients’ hotel) -> Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Govedartsi (5-6 hrs of walking; 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending 1310m/4298ft)
Day 2. 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 3. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Sofia (late afternoon drop off at clients’ hotel in Sofia (own arrangements) (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
* N.B.: Option to book an extension to Rila Monastery (UNESCO) (scroll down for details)

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 – 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 / Sofia Airport
– All ground transfers as per program
– Accommodation in twin/dbl rooms with en-suite facilities everywhere, incl. breakfast (three-star hotels (Sofia, Borovets) 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 (except the extension to Rila Monastery, when a guide is included)

PRICELIST:
Per person in twin/dbl room / Single room supplement / Solo travelers:
Option 1: 475 Euro / 90 Euro / 730 Euro
Option 2: 455 Euro / 80 Euro / 695 Euro
Option 3: 375 Euro / 55 Euro / 580 Euro
Option 4: 340 Euro / 50 Euro / 495 Euro

Extension to Rila Monastery (UNESCO): Mind the option to extend your stay with a tour to Rila Monastery (pick up from your hotel in Govedartsi ot Borovets). The price is 90 € per person (in a group of 2 persons or more sharing a double room; single room supplement: 25 €). The extension includes:
– pick-up from Borovets Resort or Govedartsi
– transfer to Rila Monastery and then further to Sofia
– guided tour inside the monastery (in English)
– entry fee to the museum in the monastery
– overnight B&B in 3-star centrally located hotel in Sofia
– transfer to Sofia Airport after the night in Sofia
* N.B.: The extension to Rila Monastery can be done on your last tour day without the additional night in Sofia if your flight departs after 16:00 (the price then will be lower: contact us for details)

Share.