VITOSHA, RILA & PIRIN – THE GREAT SNOWSHOEING ADVENTURE

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DURATION: 8 days
PRICE: € 690
DIFFICULTY: 2/3 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: January-March
START/FINISH: Sofia
TOUR TYPE: Guided

Revel in the beauty of nature amid winter. Sense the calm of winter magic in three of Bulgaria’s best-loved mountains: the Vitosha Nature Park, Rila and Pirin national parks. Our snowshoeing trek passes old mountain forests, high plateaus, steep slopes and valleys, tiring us pleasantly before an evening spent in a peasant family hotel with a glass of red wine with appetizing local specialities. The itinerary includes a call at one of Bulgaria’s most renowned sights: the UNESCO-listed Rila Monastery.
Snowshoe walking appears easy fun, yet calls for some stamina because any walking through snow can be tiring. Even if you have not tried this type of locomotion, you will rapidly get used to using the poles and snowshoes on thick, fluffy virgin mountain snow. The programme is moderate to difficult and suitable for people in good physical shape. Depending on the weather and snow cover, your guide may change the proposed routes.


Day 1: Sofia

We meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to the hotel where the group will overnight.
Day 2: Sofia – Vitosha Mountains – Govedartsi (4-5hrs; +150m/-600m)
Today, we traverse Vitosha: the most popular destination for Sofianites. Starting from the Aleko Hut (at 1810m a.s.l.), we shall trek along the crest of the mountain through the Torfeno Branishte Nature Reserve to the famous Zlatni Mostove (Golden Bridges) stone rivers. We then transfer for overnight in a cozy family-run pension in the village of Govedartsi, Rila Mountains.
Day 3: Govedartsi – Malyovitsa – Govedartsi (5hrs +550m/-550m)
After breakfast we transfer to the nearby resort Malyovitsa. From there we start climbing up towards Yonchevo Lake (at 2013m a.s.l.). As we walk out of the woods we will enjoy the panorama to the neighbouring peaks and deep valleys of Rila. Eventually we walk down through an old coniferous forest to get back to Maliovitsa along a different route. (5hrs of walking, climbing 550m/1800ft and descending 550m/1800ft)
Day 4: Govedartsi – Borovets – Icy Lake Refuge – Borovets – Govedartsi (5,30 hrs; +650m/-650m)
Today’s aim is to get to the foot of Bulgaria’s, and the Balkans’, highest summit: Musala Peak (2925m). We climb to the starting point of the route by cable car from the Borovets Resort and then continue snowshoeing to the highest mountain refuge in Bulgaria – The Icy Lake (2710m a.s.l.). At this point the rugged summit of Musala will be facing us from a very close distance, but as long as the last stage will require the use of ropes and crampons in winter we will have to skip this part. Then we turn back along the same route to overnight at Govedartsi again.
Day 5: Govedartsi – Panichishte – The Seven Rila Lakes – Bansko (5-6hrs; +400-500m/-400-500m)
A brief transfer takes us to the Panichishte Resort where we board a cable car to the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque (between 2100 and 2500m a.s.l.) for a tour among the lower five of them. Though frozen and covered in thick snow in winter, the area remains rather pretty. Our day ends in a typical family hotel at the famous ski resort of Bansko in Pirin Mountains, where we stay for the next two nights.
Day 6: Bansko – Mount Bezbog – Bansko (4-5hrs; +500m/-500m)
Another short transfer takes us above Dobrinishte resort to board the chair cable car to the Bezbog Hut. This is the setting-off point for the hiking trek to the Bezbog (No God) Peak (2645m high). Stunning panoramas of the neighbouring summits and ridges will be accompanying us as we make our way to the top. Transfer back to Bansko.
Day 7: Bansko – Rila Monastery – Sofia (2hrs; +100m/-100m)
We leave Pirin and transfer to one of Bulgaria’s top tourist attractions: the Rila Monastery listed by UNESCO. The latter is the largest and most significant Bulgarian Orthodox Church establishment. The 20m high walls shelter impressive cloisters, a church, and a chapel with unique murals and museum collections. A short walk can be performed in the area to the cave of St. John of Rila (the monastery founder) or to the picturesque sandy pyramids of Stob. Then we continue on to Sofia, where we have gala dinner and last overnight.
Day 8: Sofia
Transfer to Sofia Airport.


GUARANTEED DEPARTURE DATES FOR 2021:
30/1, 06/3, 20/3

Limited time offer:
Price: 690 € per person in twin/dbl room
Single room supplement: 100 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Price includes: transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only) and all other transfers in the itinerary; accommodation and catering as in the itinerary; English-speaking mountain guide; hire of snow shoes and poles; cable car tickets and all local taxes.
Price does not include: museum entry charges; extra food and drink; mountain maps; medical insurance; personal expenses.
Accommodation: three-star/family hotels; double/twin rooms with en-suite facilities everywhere; breakfast and supper included.
Best period: January – March

> PRIVATE GROUPS can be accommodated on any other date during the season; 6 or more should book as a group to take advantage on the above price

SUBMIT A REVIEW ABOUT THIS TOUR


Excellent trip

5.0 rating
March 3, 2020

I have visited Bulgaria two times during summer and once in the winter ( for skiing ) but never for snowshoeing. That was the main reason I decided to do something not typical for me and booked the trip. Of course, I was a little bit nervous a few days before arrival as I did not know what to expect from the guide, from the hike itself (would it be harder for me, or not) the accommodations, food (as I have special diet) and so on. Before even booking, I contacted the company ( I remember it was weekend) and I got a message that my request will be handled on Monday the latest but what a surprise, a customer agent contacted me the same day, a few hours later, answering to all of my questions! My first impression was that I can rely on their services so as soon as I got my flights booked, I reserved my place in the program. Being vegetarian and allergic to lactose, I have some difficulties eating outside and I was a little bit concerned about the menu, I did not want to eat only potatoes and rice, haha. Luckily, I got the chance to point my special diet during the reservation process and I could say that along the route on every place we ate there was a dish, specially prepared for me, and I did not get repetitive meals more than twice. Last but not least, walking with snowshoes is not a big deal, of course, I felt a bit tired the first two days but then I got used to it and it was perfect. I really loved every hike but my favorite one is the trail to Bezbog peak. From Rila Monastery, on the last day of the program, I remembered my first visit in Bulgaria back in 2015 and I felt nostalgic (good old days). The winter fairy-tale is as much impressive as being there during summer. Moreover, I could say that in winter there are fewer people and my pictures were better, haha. To summarize this – highly recommended! 

Bart Vinke, Netherlands

8 days snowshoeing Vitosha, Rila, Pirin

5.0 rating
March 2, 2019

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This was an excellent trip – well organised, beautiful locations, expertly guided, great food.
Our guide Mitko did an excellent job of guiding the walks and driving us, but also provided interesting information as we went and made sure we didn’t miss out on any great food! Although he hadn’t been told I was a vegetarian, he sorted this out at late notice and I ate really well all week.
Trips to the thermal baths and to visit the “babouskas” for dinner were special highlights.
Highly recommended!

Alex Wilcox, United Kingdom

Well organized

5.0 rating
February 28, 2019

I loved the trip and the people in the group! We shortly became friends mainly because of the hospitality of our hosts and the friendly guide we had! I felt in safe hands let myself enjoy every minute of the winter adventure. It was my second time snowshoeing and I am happy I choose Bulgaria this year! The booking process was very smooth and when I had some questions I received reply very fast. I will definitely come back in summer as I want to walk on these trails and admire the green and blossoming charm of nature. 

Ko-Hsin Huang, Taiwan

Snowshoing Vitosha,Rila and Purin

5.0 rating
February 13, 2019

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I had a wonderful experience in Bulalgaria. Our Guide for the week Mitko was everything you hope for experienced, friendly ,helpful and very generous with his knowledge. We felt in safe hands at all times and had a super holiday

Angelika Renger, Germany

8-days Snowshoeing tour in Bulgaria

5.0 rating
February 12, 2019

Read the original review on TripAdvisor
Two days ago I finished an amazing 8-days snowshoeing tour in Vitosha and Rila mountains. It was a great experience. First, the organization was impeccable. Accommodations, transfers, food, tours etc. was very good organized and at a high level.
Second, special I have a special appreciation to our guide, Dimiter (Mitko) Samounev. He was very professional, patient, knowledgeable, and give us much more than I was expected. He explained to us the history of Bulgaria, advised for the best restaurants and SPA and all this in a very pleasant and friendly way. I highly recommend Mitko to anyone who wants to hike, snowshoeing or travel in any other way in Bulgaria.

Leonid, Israel

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