The best of the Rila and Pirin in four days
A relatively demanding tour, which is a shorter version our week-long bestseller Hiking trek in the Pirin and Rila mountains. Unlike the latter, which runs on scheduled departure dates with groups comprising international clientele, this tour is meant to go as a private trek and as such it can start on any date to suit your travel plans (between mid-June and the end of October). There are trails in the below itinerary, passing over stone rivers, so previous hiking experience in similar conditions would be good.
This short hiking vacation is meant for people who already stay in Sofia (thus being able to start early in the morning on Day 1) and continue their stay in Bulgaria right after the tour (as they will be dropped of again in Sofia in the evening of Day 4). Note that the below program is still a sample, which can be modified in any way (even adding more hiking days, or alternative routes, for example including a hike to Mt. Musala (2925m).
You walk every day with just a daypack. The rest/unnecessary luggage either remains inside the transfer vehicle, or in your accommodation.
Day 1: Early morning transfer from Sofia takes you to the beautiful Malyovitsa Valley and thence high over the alpine Cirques and small lakes, sheltering also the secretive Strashno Ezero (The Scary) Lake. From there we descend to the Yonchevo Lake and finish the loop again at Malyovitsa resort. We stay overnight in a family-run pension in the nearby village of Govedartsi. (walking: 12km/7miles, climbing and descending 900m/3000ft.)
Day 2: Transfer to Panichishte resort and a refreshing chairlift ride will bring us to the trailhead, exploring the Cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes. Located at between 2100 and 2500 metres (6900 to 8200ft) above sea level, these famous glacier lakes will charm you with their magnificent scenery which you can survey from the edge of the highest one. (walking: 6km/4miles, climbing and descending 500m/1700ft.). After a circular walk among the lakes we continue on to Bansko at the foot of the Pirin Mountains National Park, where we will spend the next two nights. Time permitting on the way to Bansko we can make a short detour to the most famous UNESCO site in Bulgaria: Rila Monastery.
Day 3: Pre-arranged transfer brings us up to the Vihren Hut (appr. 30min) where we set off on a hiking trek through the pretty Cirque of the Banderishki Lakes. Loop walk among the lakes will take us to all five of them. We 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)
For hikers, that are really fit (sure-footedness is required as well), we have another option: to attempt the Pirin’s premier summit, Vihren (2914m a.s.l.). We 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; 5,30-6,00 hrs of walking, climbing and descending 1000m/3300ft.).
Day 4: Car transfer brings us above Dobrinishte resort, at Gotse Delchev Hut (appr. 40min). Chair cable car then takes us up to the Bezbog Hut. This is the setting-off point for the hiking trek to the Polezhan Summit (2851m/9354ft) which offers one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Pirin, over 17 stunning glacier lakes, including the largest Popovo Lake (30m/100ft deep). Polezhan is the 5th highest summit in the Pirin. It is surrounded by three Cirqueswith three groups of lakes - Disilishki in the north, Polezhanski in the south and Strazhishki in the west. We use the classic route trough the northeast ridge, which is not difficult or too steep, except of the last 15-minute stage of the summit. (5hrs of walking, climbing and descending 650m/2100ft.). Arriving back to our car, we hit the road for a transfer to your accommodation in Sofia (appr. 3hrs).
Notes: you may book additional nights in Sofia before or after the tour, or book day trips with us to culture centres like Plovdiv, the Bachkovo Monastery, Koprivshtitsa, Starosel, or Veliko Tarnovo.
Accommodation: three-star and family hotels; rooms with en-suite facilities; breakfast and supper.
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.
Walking difficulty: difficult to challenging walks for fit hikers with good hiking experience in Alpine terrains; please come prepared with suitable hiking boots and clothes for mountain trekking.
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Best period: mid June – October
Price includes: transfers to and from your accommodation in Sofia (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 in case you decide to visit Rila Monastery; extra food and drink; mountain maps; medical insurance; personal expenses.
Group size: Min. 2 persons
2-3 persons: 495 €/person;
4+ persons: 380 €/person;
Single room supplement: 40 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Rent of hiking poles: 15 €/person