SUMMITS AND LAKES OF THE RILA & PIRIN MOUNTAINS

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DURATION: 8 days
PRICE: € 540
DIFFICULTY: 3/4 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-September
START/FINISH: Sofia
TOUR TYPE: Self-guided

Looking for an independent trekking tour to test your hiking fitness? Bored of the popular walking destinations in the Alps and the Pyrenees? You have come to the right place, looking at our most scenic self-guided hiking trek, which covers the very best of the highest Bulgarian mountains: Rila and Pirin. And for peace of mind – with all ground transfers included!
Climb the giant of Rila, Mount Musala (2925m), highest in Bulgaria and on the Balkan Peninsula, trace dramatic ridges, visit the world-famous UNESCO site Rila Monastery and thrill on the challenging climb to the Pirin summit of Mount Vihren (2914m). Panoramic mountain views will take your breath away along an almost infinite series of trails to alpine meadows, rocky Cirques, remote glacial lakes and onto spectacular ridges and summits.
This trip is not suitable for novices as you’ll be trekking above the tree line, amongst some of the most unknown and interesting mountains to be found in Europe. No rock climbing experience is needed and no “via ferratas” are present. It is meant for well-trained hikers with previous experience of dealing with bad climate conditions up in the mountains (incl. fog, thunderstorms etc.) and for people used to walk over rocky slopes, overtaking steep ascends/descends now and then. The terrain in the Pirin and Rila is alpine and includes trails over steep slopes, where sure-footedness is necessary on a couple of occasions. Small patches of snow may still be present on some of the trails until the end of July.
You walk every day with just a daypack. The rest/unnecessary luggage either remains inside the transfer vehicle, or in your accommodation. Easier and harder options are available for most of the days.


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

Day 1: Sofia – Govedartsi
We meet you at Sofia Airport and take you to the village of Govedartsi, where you will have three overnight stays.
Day 2: Govedartsi – Borovets – Mount Musala – Borovets – Govedartsi (5,30hrs; 14,50km; +690m/-690m)
The attempt on the Balkans’ highest summit Musala (2925m) is left for the first hiking day. To do so you get a transfer from Govedartsi to Borovets resort, where you board the cabin lift to the trailhead. The path is not particularly arduous, yet is particularly panoramic, with the rocky face of Musala visible the whole time while you transit a number of Cirques, glacier lakes, and mountain shelters. The view from the peak to surrounding uplands and peaks is head-turning.
Day 3: Govedartsi – The Seven Rila Lakes – Govedartsi (6-7hrs; 16-18km; +1100-1300m/-1100-1300m)
A shaded path through the Rila’s ancient spruce forests takes you up to the alpine parts of the mountain and the Cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes. Located at between 2100 and 2500 metres 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.
N.B. You can extend your program in Govedartsi with more nights to include a climb to Mount Malyovitsa, or make The Scary Lake circuit, etc. Contact us for details.
Day 4: Govedartsi – Rila Monastery – Bansko
You bid farewell to Rila and set off for Pirin. During this day, which is meant for relaxation you will stop for a short visit at Rila Monastery, 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 analogue of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Thence, you proceed to Bansko at the foot of Pirin Mountains, which will be your base for the following four nights. In the afternoon you can stroll along the cobbled streets and the charming ancient houses in the old part of the town.
Day 5: Bansko – Mount Polezhan – Bansko (5hrs; 7km; +770m/-770m)
Car transfer brings you above Dobrinishte resort, at Gotse Delchev Hut. Chair cable car then takes you up 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. You use the classic route through the northeast ridge, which is not difficult or too steep, except the last 20-minute stage of the summit.
Day 6: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Banderishki Lakes Cirque – Demyanitsa Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 16km; +615m/-1215m)
Pre-arranged transfer brings you up to the Vihren Hut 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.
Day 7: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Mount Vihren – Vihren Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 8km; +960m/-960m)
Time to attempt the Pirin’s premier summit, Vihren. You trek through the Golem Kazan (The Giant Cauldron) area beneath the breathtaking sheer 400m 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. The proposed trek is circular, but if you do not feel well on exposed slopes you can do the standard there-and-back trail.
Day 8: Bansko – Sofia
Transfer from Bansko to Sofia Airport in connection with your flight (appr. 2,30hrs).

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 and hiking experience of each client.

A DETAILED ROUTE BOOK AND MAPS WILL BE PROVIDED UPON ARRIVAL


Limited time offer:

Price:
540 € 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: 
810 € (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 for the daily treks as per itinerary; accommodation and catering as mentioned; GPS tracks; detailed route notes in English and maps; 24/7 emergency hotline and all local taxes.
Price does not include: extra meals and drinks; lift tickets (appr. 15 Euro/pp); travel/medical insurance; entrance fees for museums.
Accommodation: family-run pension including breakfast and dinner (Day 1 to Day 3) and 3-star hotel on bed & breakfast basis (Day 4 to Day 8; there are numerous options to have dinner in the taverns and restaurants of Bansko).
Best 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).
(this program is meant to suit Tuesday-Saturday arrivals; as for the climb to Mt. Musala a cabin lift is needed (which doesn’t work Monday and Tuesday), should you wish to travel on different days of the week (i.e. Sunday to Monday) we will have to rearrange the program and possibly put Pirin before Rila, but no hikes will be lost); 

SUBMIT A REVIEW ABOUT THIS TOUR


Impressive self-guided walking

5.0 rating
September 13, 2019

We had an excellent week of walking in Bulgaria. Everything worked well, the accommodations were mostly good, breakfasts were sufficient and the luggage transfers worked well. The scenery varied a lot – from shrub-covered hills with endless herbs and wildflowers to craggy peaks rocky trails carpeted with moss, as well as very impressive lake and river valleys.

Lotte Verbeke, Belgium

summer trip in bg mountains

5.0 rating
September 13, 2019

Excellent! The trails are very nice, I could say spectacular! The mountains – green, clean and challenging!
I am grateful that I did this self-guided tour!

Melanie Robinson, Ireland

Self-guided trip to the Pirin and Rila Mountains

5.0 rating
June 24, 2019

Read the original review on TripAdvisor
We are 2 friends who decided to travel in Bulgaria for about a week.
Two days in the Pirin Mountains and two days in the Rila Mountains.
This is the first time in Bulgaria for my Friend and for me this is the second time.
The tour was organized by Traventuria company. The organization included transfers from and to the airport.
Transfers to and from the tracks, room Reservations, maps and Clear detailed explanations of the tracks.
The service of the company employees was at the highest level! Drivers are nice and always happy to help! Unfortunately I do not remember the names of the drivers except radi and that’s really a pity.
The creation of communication by mail was also very quick and efficient. The service we received Mainly from Yuliana Angelova was patient, quick, efficient and smiling.
in brief,
I recommend Traventuria company, definitely upgrading the experience of the trip and in general.
Thank you.

Itzhak, Israel

5 *

5.0 rating
June 20, 2019

I loved this walking tour of Bulgaria. It was challenging at times but the experience is well worth it. The maps and the route notes are easy to follow and the hotels made us a packed lunch for the following day which was great.
If you are more into lakes you will definitely like the two treks to Seven Rila Lakes and Banderichki Lakes (Rila and Pirin). The “day off” was a great idea between the mountains, Rila Monastery is absolutely amazing.

Lucas Dupont, Belgium

Self guided summits and lakes of Rila and Pirrin Mountains

5.0 rating
September 27, 2018

Read the original review on TripAdvisor
Every transfer was spot-on time with friendly drivers. The hikes were challenging as expected but led to some spectacular scenery. Pre-training and good hiking shoes, preferably boots, a must. Trails were well labelled with coloured markers and the route notes were very detailed and easy to follow. Accommodation was good. An excellent package and well priced.

Millermarka, Australia

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 (Rhodopes, Vitosha). 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: 9 days/8 nights (suitable if your flights are on Day 1 and Day 9)
Day 1. Sofia Airport -> Govedartsi
Day 2. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
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 -> Govedartsi (5-7,30hrs of walking; from 12km/7miles to 18,7km/11,6miles, climbing and descending from 880m/2887ft to 1600m/5249ft.)
Day 5. Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko
Day 6. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo Lake -> Bansko (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)
Day 7. Bansko -> Demianitsa Hut/Bynderishki Lakes cirque -> Bansko (6-7hrs; 16km/10miles; +700m/2300ft, – 1100m/3650ft)
Day 8. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 9. Bansko -> Sofia Airport

Option 2: 7 days/6 nights (suitable if your flights are on Day 1 and Day 7)
Day 1. Sofia Airport -> Govedartsi
Day 2. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
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 -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 5. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 6. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo Lake -> Bansko (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)
Day 7. Bansko -> Sofia Airport

Option 3: 6 days/5 nights (suitable if your flights are on Day 1 and Day 6)
Day 1. Sofia Airport -> Govedartsi
Day 2. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 3. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or 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.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 4. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo Lake -> Bansko (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)
Day 5. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 6. Bansko -> Sofia Airport

Option 4: 6 days/5 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 6)
Day 1. Sofia (morning pick up from clients’ hotel) -> 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 2. Govedartsi -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 3. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi (5hrs; 12km/7miles, +/-900m/3000ft.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 4. Bansko -> Demianitsa Hut/Bynderishki Lakes cirque -> Bansko (6-7hrs; 16km/10miles; +700m/2300ft, – 1100m/3650ft)
Day 5. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 6. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo lake -> Sofia (late afternoon drop off at clients’ hotel in Sofia (own arrangements) (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)

Option 5: 5 days/4 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 5)
Day 1. Sofia (morning pick up from clients’ hotel) -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 2. Govedartsi -> The Scary Lake/Mt. Maliovitsa -> Govedartsi 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 -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 4. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 5. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo lake -> Sofia (late afternoon drop off at clients’ hotel in Sofia (own arrangements) (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)

Option 6: 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) -> Borovets -> Mt. Musala -> Govedartsi (5-6hrs of walking; 14,20km/8,82miles; climbing and descending 690m/2264ft)
Day 2. Govedartsi -> The Seven Rila Lakes -> Panichishte -> Bansko (4,30 hrs; 12km/7,5miles, +750 to 1000m/2500 to 3300ft., -350 to 600m/1100 to 1800ft.)
or 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.)
or Govedartsi -> Rila Monastery -> Bansko (transportation only with enough time left at the monastery) for a suppl. of 25 Euros per car (1-3 pers.) and 40 per bus (4-8 pers)
* N.B.: Exact option should be decided at the time of booking
Day 3. Bansko -> Mt. Vihren -> Bansko (6hrs of walking; 7,3km/4,5miles; climbing and descending 960m/3150ft.)
Day 4. Bansko -> Mt. Polezhan/Popovo lake -> Sofia (late afternoon drop off at clients’ hotel in Sofia (own arrangements) (5hrs of walking; from 6,9km/4,3miles to 7,9km/4,9miles; climbing and descending from 770m/2526ft To 840m/2756ft)

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 where this is included in the itinerary – 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/Airport
– All ground transfers as per program
– Accommodation in twin/dbl rooms with en-suite facilities everywhere, incl. breakfast (three-star hotels (Bansko) 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

PRICELIST:
Per person in twin/dbl room / Single room supplement / Solo travelers:
Option 1: 570 Euro / 100 Euro / 890 Euro
Option 2: 485 Euro / 80 Euro / 755 Euro
Option 3: 460 Euro / 70 Euro / 715 Euro
Option 4: 470 Euro / 70 Euro / 730 Euro
Option 5: 415 Euro / 60 Euro / 645 Euro
Option 6: 380 Euro / 50 Euro / 590 Euro
* extensions to Rila Monastery, when given as an extra option, should be added to the above price

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