|DURATION: 8 days
PRICE: € 695
|DIFFICULTY: 3/4 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-September
TOUR TYPE: Guided
Bulgaria may be a small country but it has plenty of hiking routes with breathtaking panoramas and rich cultural and historical heritage.
Join us in one big hiking adventure that crosses many alpine-like terrains, stone rivers, lush meadows coloured by the endemic flora of the two biggest mountain ranges in Bulgaria – Rila and Pirin. You will have the unique chance to climb the highest summit at Balkan Peninsula – Musala (2925m) and also the second-highest summit in Bulgaria – Vihren in Pirin mountain. The program consists of some challenging treks, suitable for really fit hikers. They will be perfectly combined with the opportunity to taste traditional local cuisine, experience folklore evenings, and learn more about Bulgarian history by visiting the majestic Rila Monastery (UNESCO).
The hiking program is based in two main centres which allow alternating the routes in case of adverse weather conditions or for the specifics of the group. The hikes could be done with just a small backpack with most needed items while the main luggage stays the accommodation or get transferred with the vehicle.
There are not enough words to describe this experience, it is always better to live it on your own!
Day 1: Sofia – Bansko
The meeting point is at Sofia Airport. Once the group gathers, we depart towards Bansko, located in the foothills of Pirin Mountain (2,30hrs ride). If you are landing in Sofia on the tour starting date, your flight should be landing before 15:00. If you are staying already in Sofia before the tour starts we will pick you up from your accommodation and drive you to the airport to meet the rest of the group.
Day 2: Bansko – Mount Polezhan – Bansko (5hrs; 7km; +770m/-770m)
After breakfast, we will get transferred to the nearest chair-lift facilities (30 mins driving time). From the upper lift station near Bezbog hut, we set off for the first hike towards Mount Polezhan (2851 m). This will be a warm-up hike for the next following days. It is not considered as challenging, however, some steep stages may occur including the last 20-30 mins before reaching the summit.
The highest granite summit in Pirin is lying peacefully above many jagged peaks and glacier lakes – Disilishki in the north, Polezhanski in the south and Strazhishki in the west. You would be able to see the extraordinary shape of the Gazey Lake or also known as the Lady with the bun!
Day 3: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Banderishki Lakes Cirque – Demyanitsa Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 16km; +615m/-1215m)
Another day devoted to the unique beauty of Pirin mountain. After a short transfer to a nearby hut (40 mins driving time), we will reach the starting point of today’s hiking trek. The trail is not circular so our vehicle will be waiting for us at a different place.
Our route winds around 16 glacier lakes where the silhouettes of the mighty peaks around reflect in the crystal clear waters. We will be followed by the majestic figure of Vihren Summit which we will conquer on another day of our program.
The peaceful atmosphere will be interrupted only by the shadows of the majestic flight of the golden eagle.
Our trail back to the vehicle passes through pristine coniferous forest and soon we will follow a verdant path along Demyanitsa river. (driving time back to Bansko 25 mins).
Day 4: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Mount Vihren – Vihren Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 8km; +960m/-960m)
Enjoy a strong breakfast as today you will need a lot of energy for the biggest Pirin challenge – Vihren Summit! We start from the same hut as yesterday (40 mins driving time). There are several options to reach the home of the Slavic Gods and we will hike through Golem Kazan (The Giant Cauldron). This trek will be undoubtedly spectacular and the best gift is the breathtaking view from the top. Vihren is built up from marble rocks and has a karst topography which explains the lack of streams and lakes around it. Watch your steps while climbing – hidden between the stones might be found the beautiful endangered Edelweiss. Аnd if we are lucky enough, we can spot the shy Balkan Chamonix running on the craggy hills.
Day 5: Bansko – Rila Monastery – Skakavitsa Waterfall – Panichishte (3-4hrs; 9km; +390m/-390m)
Time to say goodbye to Bansko and Pirin mountain as our big hiking adventure continues to towards Rila mountain. This day will be a relief for our sore feet and we will pay some attention to the cultural heritage of Rila mountain. The impressive holy cloister – Rila Monastery, is located approximately 100 km northern from Bansko (or 1 hr and 30 mins driving time) – in the lush green embrace of deciduous forest.
Being the largest Orthodox monastery complex in the country the Monastery attracts many pilgrims from Bulgaria and around the world.
Impressive frescoes from inside and outside the main church, Medieval watchtower, roaring river looping around the majestic walls – this is just a brief illustration of the exceptional historical site you are going to explore!
And the Old Bakery of the Monastery is still active since 1866 and offers amazing flat-fried doughnuts, definitely a must-try before setting off for some hiking!
In the afternoon we will take a short walk to Skakavitsa waterfall (70m) or just stroll around the shady forest paths closer to our base – Panichishte resort. (Sapareva Banya SPA resort may also be used for an overnight stay).
Day 6: Panichishte – The Seven RIla Lakes – Mount Malyovitsa – Govedartsi (7hrs; 18km; +800m/-1200m)
This would be a long day of hiking, full of splendid views! It never takes long before a turn in the path reveals a dramatic change of scenery.
We leave Panichishte early in the morning and our vehicle will stop us by the chair lift to the Seven Rila Lakes (30 mins driving time). We will use the lift in only one direction as the trek is not circular.
The first stage of our trail today passes around the famous glacier lakes each of them with unique names after its characteristic features such as The Kidney (Babreka), The Trefoil (Trilistnika), The teardrop (Salzata) and etc. If the weather is clear from the highest lake (Salzata) we would be able to enjoy the breathtaking panorama of all of the lakes below! Our next target is Malyovitsa Peak (2729m) – the cradle of rock climbing in Bulgaria. Along the trail to the peak, we will be pleased with the views of another group of lakes – Urdini and Elenski. Our hike is at its end, so we descend to a verdant green valley from where we continue to Govedartsi – charming village in the foothills of Rila mountain. (20 mins driving time).
Day 7: Govedartsi – Borovets – Mount Musala – Borovets – Govedartsi (6hrs; 14,50km; +690m/-690m)
A great adventure deserves a remarkable end! So is the climb of the Balkan’s highest summit – Musala (2925m). After a short transfer to the famous ski resort Borovets (30 mins), we will take the cabin lift to reach our starting point. From the very beginning of the hike, we will be able to see the majestic figure of Musala. To reach the summit our path will wind between glacier lakes, stone rivers, and alpine huts. The last stage of the trail is steep but what is expecting us on the top is worthwhile!
From every side, we will be surrounded by the mighty peaks of Pirin, Rhodope, Vitosha, Stara Planina and of course – Rila mountain! We will take as much time as everyone needs to enjoy the serenity of being on the rooftop of the Balkans!
Day 8: Govedartsi – Sofia
Transfer from Govedartsi to Sofia Airport (appr. 1,30hrs). If you are departing on the last tour day, your flight should be scheduled to depart after 11:30. If you are staying in Sofia after the tour we will drop you off at your accommodation instead of the airport.
Hiking time: The time mentioned above each day is tentative. Any stops for rest, picnic, pictures are not included. The calculations are based on the average hiker’s speed to accomplish the hike on flat terrain with an additional 30min for each 300m elevation gain, and a backpack weighing not more than 10-15% of their body weight. However, still, the main criterion is the experience of the client and their fitness.
SCHEDULED DEPARTURES FOR 2023: 17/6, 24/6, 01/7, 08/7, 15/7, 22/7, 29/7, 05/8, 12/8, 19/8, 26/8, 02/9, 09/9
Limited time offer:
Price: 695 € 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: 100 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Rent of hiking poles: 20 €/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 according to the itinerary; English-speaking mountain guide; cable car tickets, and all local taxes.
Price does not include: museum entrance fees; extra food and drink; mountain maps; travel/medical insurance.
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
>If none of these dates suits you, you may consider booking our self-guided trek in the Rila and Pirin, covering almost the same trails
> PRIVATE GROUPS can be accommodated on any other date during the season; 6 or more should book as a group to take advantage of the above price
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