PEAKS AND LAKES OF THE PIRIN & RILA MOUNTAINS

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DURATION: 8 days
PRICE: € 595
DIFFICULTY: 3/4 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-September
START/FINISH: Sofia
TOUR TYPE: Guided

Enjoy Bulgaria’s most picturesque alpine treks, climbing the Balkans’ tallest summits: Musala (2925m) in the Rila and Vihren (2914m) in the Pirin. Our route crosses huge national parks with broad alpine meadows and serrated summits, glacier lakes, stone rivers, encountering rare plant and animal life. The programme includes a visit of the Rila Monastery, listed by UNESCO and one of Bulgaria’s best-known sights.
The walking treks are rather arduous and suited to very fit people experienced in alpine walking. The hiking programme is based in two main centres (one each in the Pirin and the Rila), allowing the routes to be additionally adapted to group specifics, and to be undertaken with only a small backpack with a day’s supplies of water, food, and clothing. There are sufficient alternative walking routes in case of bad weather.
You walk every day with just a daypack. The rest/unnecessary luggage either remains inside the transfer vehicle, or in your accommodation.


Day 1: Sofia – Bansko

We meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to Bansko at the foot of Mount Pirin (appr. 2,45hrs).
Day 2: Bansko – Mount Polezhan – Bansko (5hrs; 7km; +770m/-770m)
30min transfer to Gotse Delchev hut above Dobrinishte resort. Chair cable car to the Bezbog Hut. This is the setting-off point for the hiking trek to the Polezhan Summit (2851m) which offers one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Pirin, over 17 stunning glacier lakes, including the largest Popovo Lake (30m deep). Polezhan is the 5th highest summit in the Pirin. It is surrounded by three Cirques with three groups of lakes – Disilishki in the north, Polezhanski in the south and Strazhishki in the west. We use the classic route through the northeast ridge, which is not difficult or too steep, except for the last 20-minute stage of the summit. Descend and transfer back to Bansko (time permitting there is an option to try the local thermal pools of Dobrinishte that same afternoon).
Day 3: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Banderishki Lakes Cirque – Demyanitsa Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 16km; +615m/-1215m)
Today, we visit one of the most picturesque parts of the Pirin: the Banderishki Lakes Cirque (30min transfer to the trailhead). Many trekking routes cross this beautiful area. We pass among some of the 16 glacial lakes, revealing one by one as we climb the terraces. The walking trek through the Todorina Porta takes us directly to the Yulen Nature Reserve, from where, by way of the Todorini Ochi (Todora’s Eyes) Lakes, we descend into virgin fir groves to the Demyanitsa Hut. From here, we follow a shady path along the Demyanitsa River. 15min transfer back to Bansko.
Day 4: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Mount Vihren – Vihren Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 8km; +960m/-960m)
The target today is Mount Vihren: Bulgaria’s second-highest and the Pirin’s highest summit (the trailhead we reach again by 30min transfer). Breathtaking views offer themselves to us as we climb through the Golem Kazan (The Giant Cauldron) area bounded by the 400m tall northern face of Vihren. Today you will explore the Karst parts of Pirin, which are also home to the endangered Edelweiss, the elusive Wallcreeper and the shy Balkan Chamois (wild goats). We will do a circular climb of the summit and will eventually descend back to Vihren hut, where we will board the transfer vehicle for another 30min drive down to Bansko.
Day 5: Bansko – Rila Monastery – Skakavitsa Waterfall – Panichishte (3-4hrs; 9km; +390m/-390m)
We bid farewell to Pirin and set off for Rila. Our first stop is the Rila Monastery (2hrs drive from Bansko), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the most famous and largest Christian monastery in Bulgaria. The exceptional frescoes in the central church form a gallery of masterpieces of Renaissance art and could be considered a Bulgarian analog of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Thence, we proceed to the Panichishte Resort (1,30hrs drive from Rila Monastery), where we visit the Skakavitsa Waterfall (70m) before supper or simply ramble in the shady woods near our mountain lodge (the SPA resort Sapareva Banya may also be used as a place to stay overnight).
Day 6: Panichishte – The Seven RIla Lakes – Mount Malyovitsa – Govedartsi (7hrs; 18km; +800m/-1200m)
We go by cable car to the foot of the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque. Trekking past the Lakes (each named after their most characteristic feature, like The Kidney Lake, The Twin Lake, The Trefoil Lake, etc.), we continue along the crest where we enjoy further stunning views towards the Urdini and Elenski Lakes and the Rila Monastery in its deep valley beneath us. Passing the Malyovitsa Summit (2729m, known as the cradle of Bulgarian rock climbing and mountaineering), we descend into the valley of the same name and settle into a family hotel at the village of Govedartsi.
Day 7: Govedartsi – Borovets – Mount Musala – Borovets – Govedartsi (6hrs; 14,50km; +690m/-690m)
Today, we climb the Balkans’ highest summit: Musala (2925m). A cable car takes us from the Borovets Resort to the setting-off point for the trek (We reach Borovets resort after a 30min transfer from Govedartsi). The serrated wall of Musala never leaves our sight as we ascend through stone rivers and past glacier lakes and alpine huts. The genuinely impressive view from the peak to the surrounding mountains offers a deserving end to the whole adventure. As we celebrate with a cup of fragrant herbal tea, we can enjoy the summits of all major mountain ranges in Bulgaria – Balkan, Sredna Gora, Vitosha, Rhodopes, Pirin and of course – Rila. Descend and transfer back to Govedartsi.
Day 8: Govedartsi – Sofia
Transfer from Govedartsi to Sofia Airport (appr. 1,30hrs).

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, the group size and the hiking experience of each client within the group.


GUARANTEED DEPARTURES FOR 2020: 20/6, 27/6, 04/7, 11/7, 18/7, 25/7, 01/8, 08/8, 22/8, 29/8, 05/9, 12/9
GUARANTEED DEPARTURES FOR 2021: 19/6, 26/6, 03/7, 10/7, 17/7, 24/7, 31/7, 07/8, 21/8, 28/8, 04/9, 11/9

Limited time offer:
Price: 595 € 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)
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 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

SUBMIT A REVIEW ABOUT THIS TOUR


Fantastic organisation, friendly tour guide and very well planned throughout the 7 days

5.0 rating
July 30, 2019

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Very impressed with the organisation of Traventuria and the entire week spent with them. The team were incredibly supportive when my flight was cancelled and I missed the first 1.5 days of the 7 day hiking trip. From when I (finally) arrived i felt in safe hands and was very impressed with how well organised everything was, from small details such as what we’re having for dinner to the larger details such as pick up/ drop off in between walking trips. We were a small group on a hiking trip and Nadia our guide couldn’t have been more friendly, cheerful, enthusiastic and encouraging for our group throughout those tough hikes! A huge thanks once again for the patience and continuous support.
I would not hesitate to strongly recommend Traventuria for your tour trip in Bulgaria, the whole team are knowledgeable and I’ve no doubt will provide more than your money’s worth for your trip.

Cassie S, London, United Kingdom

Trip of a Lifetime: Peaks and lakes of the Pirin and Rila mountains

5.0 rating
July 23, 2019

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I first visited the Seven Rila Lakes in 2010 and dreamed of going back. This time, though, I wanted to take a longer hike and to see as much of the Bulgarian mountains as possible. I signed up with Traventuria for the “Peaks and lakes of the Pirin and Rila mountains” (8 days).
First of all, Traventuria’s organization of the trip was excellent, with attention to all the smallest details. I received ample information before my arrival and the pickup was at the exact time planned. I met the guide – Kaloyan – and the seven other members of our group. We got along fabulously from the start.
The hikes were amazing. Due to weather conditions, the itinerary of the first day was changed as visibility would not have been good on the mountain, but Kaloyan made our forest trek memorable. This also gave my muscles a chance to acclimate to the hiking. There was unseasonably cold and wet weather on some of the other days as well, but that didn’t stop us. We made it to the Vihren, Malyovitsa, and Musala peaks in style.
Accommodations in the family-run guesthouses were comfortable and the food was excellent. Kaloyan made sure that we would have different dinners each night and we ate at a number of local restaurants, giving everyone a chance to experience Bulgarian cuisine. The night of Bulgarian folklore was particularly enjoyable.
Kaloyan kept us going at a pace that was comfortable for all members of the group and his explanations of the country’s culture, history, and nature were knowledgeable and interesting. His professionalism made everything go according to clockwork and we were never rushed, getting a good chance to take in the amazing scenery and fully enjoy the experience.
Overall, the hike was a trip of a lifetime, the fulfillment of all my expectations and dreams. I highly recommend Traventuria as a company and Kaloyan in particular as a guide.

EllisShuman, Jerusalem, Israel

Great company to travel with...

5.0 rating
July 22, 2019

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We did not do a day tour, but rather an 8 day tour with this company through the Rila and Pirin Mountains. The company was professional in their communication, and our guide, Kaloyan, was absolutely fantastic. Also, being a local Bulgarian company, the price was better than other companies we considered. Overall, great value for money, and I would certainly recommend.

l2jperry, Memphis, Michigan

Well organised, good leadership, challenging hikes

5.0 rating
July 16, 2019

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We went on the 8 day hiking trip to the Rila and Pirin mountains. The driver/guide was Eduard. Everything worked very well, the hotels and meals were fine, the walks and scenery spectacular. Eddie was very good as a hike leader and organiser, making necessary changes to the itinerary to cope with the immediate weather conditions. Highly recommended.

Scott, United Kingdom

Lakes and Mountains of the Rila and Pirin 6 days self-guided

5.0 rating
July 11, 2019

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After a brilliant walking tour in the Rhodopi last Autumn we were back with Traventuria less than a year later to visit the higher mountains in the early summer. What a great decision! The walks in the Rila and Pirin were full of interest, with wonderful scenery, and breathtaking wild flowers both in quantity and variety. This was a 2-centre holiday in the lovey village of Govedartsi in the Rila, and at Bansko in the Pirin – a very different and much more developed place, but still with its own charm and interest. Both hotels were good, with excellent food and hospitality in the simpler village setting, and outstanding hospitality from Kris and Marya at the Hotel Rahoff in Bansko. Pickups and transport worked seamlessly and on-time, and the trip notes were entirely accurate, used together with the maps provided. The altitude of the walks, up to well over 2900m, does have some effect but we gradually got used to it. Ironically, one of the easiest walks is the highest peak, Musala, climbed on day one! We all felt some dizziness that day at almost 10 thousand feet, but the actual walk was straightforward, with access via the Borovets gondola. The last day we attempted Vihren, the highest of the Pirin, which is much steeper and more challenging, and owing to poorer weather, we decided to stop half way up and spent the rest of the time bird watching and doing botany. Probably if we had opted for the “tourist route” there and back, instead of the more difficult round route, we might have summited – but the alternate choice was extremely rewarding. The only day where we felt the walk was too ambitious was the 7 Rila Lakes from the Vada hut. That is a very low starting point, and having to gain all that height through forest, and walk all the way back down, made all 7 lakes impractical in the time and with our energy levels. There is an easy way to cut the trip to 5 lakes though, so this was chosen. People ascending using the chair lift would have no trouble completing all seven, but that starts from a point a long way by car from Govedartsi. The other outstanding day for me was the ascent of Polezhan, which is technically undemanding, but gives the most wonderful panorama across varied terrain of that part of the Pirin. In all, a successful and brilliant trip, self-guided in a group of 6 reasonably fit over-60’s!

Paul Richardson, United Kingdom

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