Pirin Mountains + extension (in Rila/Vitosha/Rhodopes)
The Pirin is perhaps Bulgaria’s most picturesque and most alpine mountain. The rocky outcrop known for its marble and granite peaks and rich flora and fauna is listed by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site. The Pirin has over 60 peaks rising to over 2500m/8200ft, with the highest, Vihren (2914m/9560ft) the target of one of our treks. The routes transit ridge crests or weave among Cirques dotted with crystal-clear blue glacier lakes and offer an exceptional variety of incredible views.
N.B. Note that this tour has high difficulty and is only meant for people with previous experience in high mountain/Alpine hiking, including tracing rocky slopes, handling rough terrain, passing remains of snow-drifts, possessing adequate reaction in foggy or stormy weather conditions etc. Very good physicial fitness is necessary.
***WANT TO MAKE A LONGER HOLIDAY?***
THE ITINERARY OF THIS TOUR COULD BE COMBINED WITH EXTRA DAYS, SPENT ON SELF-GUIDED HIKING IN RILA, VITOSHA OR RHODOPE MOUNTAINS (scroll down for details)
Day 1: We meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to Bansko where you will spend the next four nights (transfer time is appr. 2,30-2,45hrs). Each day you will have transfers to the beginning of the trailhead and back later in the afternoon. During the holiday you will be able to explore two different parts of the Pirin Mountains: the Karst regions around Mt. Vihren, comprising mighty cliffs and steep slopes (and housing the century-old spruce forest of the Yulen Reserve) and the more green areas around Mt. Polezhan and Mt. Bezbog (where you could find also numerous glacial lakes).
Day 2: Pre-arranged transfer brings you up to the Vihren Hut (appr. 30min) where you set off on a hiking trek through the pretty Cirque of the Banderishki Lakes. From there, you go across into the neighbouring valley and the Todorini Ochi Lakes and thence through the thick spruce forests of the Yulen Nature Reserve on to the valley of the playful Demyanitsa River. Stunning sceneries will be expecting you behind every corner. (16,50 km; 5,30 hrs of walking, climbing 800m/2600ft and descending 1200m/3900ft.)
Easier and shorter version is also available for that day in case of bad weather conditions or if you don't feel confident enough for the original route above. Loop walk among the lakes in the Bunderishki Lake Cirque will take you to all five of them, where you can have rest on their shores and enjoy the serenity of the rocky outcrops around you. (7,5 km; 3,30-4,00 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 700m/2300ft)
Day 3: Today, you visit one of the Pirin’s greenest parts near the Bezbog Hut (transfer time each way: 0,50 hrs). The car will drop you off at Gotse Delchev hut, from where you need to board the chairlift to Bezbog hut. This is the setting-off point for an extraordinarily panoramic walking trek to the Polezhan summit (2851m/9354ft). The summit offers perhaps the most wonderful view in the Pirin, with no fewer than 17 lakes visible, including the largest and deepest glacier lake in the mountain: the Popovo Lake. (7,50 km; 4 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 700m/2300ft)
Again easier walk is available if you wish to relax that day before the hardest Day 4. Instead of climbing Mt. Polezhan, you can continue on to Popovo Lake and spend the day there. (7,50 km; 3 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 250m/815ft). Or of course you can combine both hikes (12,50 km; 5,30hrs).
Day 4: Time to attempt the Pirin’s premier summit, Vihren (transfer time each way: appr. 30min). You trek through the Golem Kazan (The Giant Cauldron) area beneath the breathtaking sheer 300m/1000ft northern wall of Vihren, whose dolomite precipices offer shelter to rare edelweiss flowers and fretful herds of Balkan Chamois (wild goats). The views are genuinely overwhelming, yet they are just the prelude to the panoramas that open up from the summit over a sea of jagged peaks all around. (8,50 km; 5,30 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 1000m/3300ft.). On the way back to Bansko you can stop for a short visit to the oldest Bulgarian tree - the Baikushev's Pine Tree (more than 1300 years old, situated just above the road).
Day 5: Transfer from Bansko to Sofia Airport in connection with your flight (appr. 2,30-2,45hrs).
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
Accommodation: three-star hotel (note this is a centre-based tour in Bansko) on bed & breakfast basis; en-suite rooms;
OPTIONS FOR EXTENSIONS:
>> to RILA MOUNTAINS: one, two, three or four days self-guided hiking to the lakes and peaks of the highest mountain on the Balkans (see the program of Day 3 to Day 7 here)
>> to VITOSHA MOUNTAINS: one day self-guided walking (see the program for Day 2 here)
>> to RHODOPE MOUNTAINS: one, two, three, four or five days self-guided hiking in the probably most idyllic Bulgarian mountain (see the program of Day 2 to Day 6 here)
>> Visit to Rila Monastery (UNESCO) on the way to Bansko (or back)
N.B. People, who would consider some of the above extensions, normally book a few hiking days before Pirin in Rila Mountains (the latter being slightly easier for hiking and good for acclimatization to the higher and steeper slopes of Pirin). This is also the best way to include a visit to Rila Monastery, when travelling between the hiking centres of Rila and Pirin.
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Best period: mid-June - mid-September.
Group size: Min. 2 persons
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; detailed route notes in English and map.
Price does not include: extra meals and drinks; chairlift tickets (appr. 7 Euro/pp); medical insurance (make sure it has adventure sports coverage); entry fees and personal expenses.
Limited time offer:
Price: 370 €
Single room supplement: 50 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Rent of hiking poles: 15 €/person