THE GREAT TRIAD – BOTEV, MUSALA & VIHREN PEAKS

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DURATION: 8 days
PRICE: € 695
DIFFICULTY: 3/4 (of 4)
BEST PERIOD: June-September
START/FINISH: Sofia
TOUR TYPE: Guided

This is probably the most demanding of all guided hiking tours we run, although not special climbing skills are required, but stamina and really good physical condition. Within a week time you will be able to climb the giants of the three most notorious mountains in Bulgaria – Rila (Mt. Musala, 2925m, being also the highest on the Balkan Peninsula), Pirin (Mt. Vihren, 2914m) and the Balkan Mountains (Mt.Botev – 2376m). Incidentally these three summits are located in the territory of the three national parks in Bulgaria and along with their purely hiking merits you will be able to enjoy stunning panoramas, unique nature phenomena, diverse and rare flora and fauna. Carefully chosen and scenic walking routes will allow you the possibility to explore on foot the best of Bulgarian mountains and test your personal stamina.
Difficult/demanding itinerary for really fit hikers with previous experience in mountain trekking. There are no acclimatization or preparation walks planned in this itinerary, so please do your best to get in shape prior departure in order to fully enjoy the climbs and the majestic beauty of the three summits.
For the night in the hut in the Balkan Mountains (Day 2) you need to carry a change of clothes (you will not have access to your main luggage that same evening). On Day 4 and after it, you will only carry a daypack. The rest luggage will remain inside the accommodation, where you will be staying.


Day 1: Sofia – Plovdiv

Meeting at Sofia Airport and transfer to Plovdiv for overnight stay. Plovdiv is one of the oldest settlements in Europe and the second biggest town in Bulgaria. If we have free time in the afternoon we will tour the Old Town, which offers a cocktail of unbelievable stories, heroic legends and breath taking architecture from different historical periods. It is an authentic open-air museum preserving exhibits from Thracian, Slavic, Roman, Turkish and Bulgarian times – all located within a walking distance from each other.
Day 2: Plovdiv – Kalofer – Rai Hut (4-5hrs; 8km; +750m/-0m)
Early morning we will transfer to the trailhead at the foots of the Balkan Mountains. Steadily ascending path, revealing the mighty beauty of The Southern Dzhendem Reserve, will lead us through open meadows and shady Beech forests to the Rai (Heaven) Hut. The latter is perched on a picturesque ridge, overlooking the sinister gorges of Byala Reka and Toundzha rivers, and standing just below the highest waterfall on the Balkan Peninsula (The Heavenly Waterfall, 125m high), which we will have time to visit later in the afternoon. Overnight stay in Rai Hut.
Day 3: Rai Hut – Mount Botev – Rai Hut – Kalofer – Govedartsi (7-9hrs; 17km; +850m/-1600m)
More stunning panoramas expect us today as we continue hiking up along The Tarzan’s Trail towards Mt. Botev. Sheer slopes, lush green meadows and vertical rock faces will be accompanying us on our way to the highest peak in the Balkan Mountains. Once we have made it to the top we will descend along another scenic route, revealing views to The Northern Dzhendem Reserve and the main ridge of the mountains. Passing by the Rai Hut we will descend further down to where we started the day before. Here we will board our van and transfer to the Rila Mountains and the charming village of Govedartsi – our base for the next two nights area.
Day 4: Govedartsi – The Seven Rila Lakes – Govedartsi (6-7hrs; 16-18km; +1100-1300m/-1100-1300m)
Today we will tour probably the most eminent part of the Rila Mountains – The Seven Rila Lakes, situated in a picturesque cirque between 2100 and 2500m a.s.l. Shady path through a dense spruce forest will bring us up in the alpine zone of the mountain, where we will start exploring the famous glacial lakes. On a clear day the views from the highest lake to the lakes below us and the ridges around us, are impressive.
Day 5: Govedartsi – Borovets – Mount Musala – Borovets – Govedartsi (5,30hrs; 14,50km; +690m/-690m)
Target today is Mt. Musala – the highest peak in Bulgaria and on the Balkans. Despite its height the trek will not be too difficult with the exception of a few short steep stages. A cabin lift ride from Borovets resort will save time, leaving us on Yastrebets Peak, where our hiking tour will start. The jagged massif of Mount Musala will be enjoyed during the whole trip as we walk through rocky cirques, glacial lakes and mountain refuges on our way to the top. And the views from there will be really rewarding. We will admire many other peaks of Rila Mountains, the marble pinnacles of Pirin Mountains, Vitosha and Sredna Gora mountains, the rounded summits of the Rhodope (Rodopi) Mountains and the long body of the Balkan Mountains.
Day 6: Govedartsi – Rila Monastery – Stob Pyramids – Bansko (1,30hrs; 2km; +80m/-80m)
Relaxing day, devoted to visiting probably the most famous tourist attraction in Bulgaria – Rila Monastery. Behind the 20-metre high walls lie impressive monastery buildings, a church and a chapel with valuable murals. The next stop on our way to Pirin Mountains are the picturesque sand formations of The Stob Pyramids, where we will make a short walking tour. Later in the afternoon we reach Bansko – the biggest and most modern ski resort in Eastern Europe, but a very quiet and charming mountain settlement in summer.
Day 7: Bansko – Vihren Hut – Mount Botev – Vihren Hut – Bansko (6-7hrs; 8km; +960m/-960m)
Today we will attempt Mount Vihren, the second highest peak in Bulgaria and the highest in the Pirin Mountains. The scenic circular trail goes steeply up to the Golyam Kazan (Big Cauldron) cirque, bounded by the dramatic 400m high vertical north wall of Mount Vihren. This Karst region is famous for the diversity of endemic or rare plants, with the Edelweiss among them. Small flocks of timid Balkan Chamois can also be seen on the way. After a strenuous climb, we reach the peak and enjoy the breath-taking view of the surrounding mountains. On the way back we will take a short break at the oldest tree in Bulgaria, over 1300 years old.
Day 8: Bansko – Sofia
Transfer to Sofia Airport for departure. (2,30hrs drive)

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.


Price:
695 € per person in twin/dbl room (1 night in a dorm in the mountain hut)
Single room supplement: 90 € (obligatory for all individual clients; not available during the stay in the mountain hut)
Rent of hiking poles: 15 €/person
The price includes: transfers from/to Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only) and all ground transfers as per program; accommodation and meals as mentioned above; English-speaking mountain guide; lift tickets; VAT and all local charges.
The price does not include: museum entrance fees; other meals and drinks; tourist maps (can be requested in advance when booking the tour); tips; medical insurance; alcoholic drinks; personal expenses.
Accommodation: Mountain hut in a dorm with shared facilities (Day 2) and family-run pensions/3* hotels (rest days) in en-suite rooms on half board (breakfast & supper included).
Group size: The tour is organized on private basis only and the price below is based on at least 4 persons traveling together; smaller groups or individuals – please contact us for a price offer;
Best period: mid June – mid September

SUBMIT A REVIEW ABOUT THIS TOUR


Superb!

5.0 rating
September 1, 2019

I have traveled a lot in Europe and I got tired of the populated mountain trails of the Alps and the Pyrenees. I really needed to try something new, to experience what is like to hike off-the-beaten-path and that’s why me and my family decided to look for a hike somewhere else but not Europe. In fact, we were attracted by the idea to explore the Balkans (which I know is part of Europe!)  as we never gave really a chance to this colorful corner of the Old Continent!  After a long time of research, it turned out that the highest peaks at the Balkans are in Bulgaria so there was no doubt what our next destination will be. To be honest, we knew Bulgaria only because of the summer resorts!  What a shame… And wow! What an impressive landscape! This place could be perfectly described as heaven on the Earth and you have to let nature convince you! There are so many things to try, so many places to be and so many foods to taste! The first days of the program hit really hard but being so far from the crowds is a true remedy for the soul! And you have to believe me, the Waterfall Rai which in Bulgarian is translated as Heaven is … Heaven itself! Every little detail from the program was totally well-planned and we left the country with only good memories to warm us during the winter days! Now I know where I will return when I want to be closer to nature and feel the serenity! 

Patrick Bennett, USA

Wonderful

5.0 rating
June 29, 2019

Read the original review on TripAdvisor
We liked the people, the nature, the culture, our group and our guide.
Great mixture between hiking and Bulgarian culture.
Good or excellent accommodations!
Again at any time!

Paradise66742836895

My favourite challenge

5.0 rating
August 25, 2018

This was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life! although the trip was meant for 4 persons, we were only 3 (me, my girlfriend and her brother), Traventuria managed to offer us an affordable price and unique experience! I have traveled a lot in the past years and I have been in the Alps, Ural and Appalachian mountains and now I could proudly add Balkans into my travel journal! Such an enchanting mountain ranges, so many colors, so much fun, and thrill! I wanted to take the trip as self-guided but due to some reasonable circumstances I agreed to have a guide and in fact, he made the adventure memorable! Koko (this was his name) was very funny, immensely knowledgeable, and spread only positive vibes. As I said we were three persons, hiking on three mountains and each of us fell in love with a different mountain. For example, me, I was speechless in front of the marble gigantic figure of Vihren (the highest summit in Pirin mountain). I could compare the experience with some treks I took in the Alps! Definitely, Pirin has own charm, much more different from the other two mountains Rila and Stara Planina (The Balkans). My gf, she loved Rila. We had trekked to the most visited sites ( I  guess, mainly because of the people we met along the way) – The Seven Rila Lakes and Musala ( the highest Balkan peak!) And Olie, his brother, he loved Stara Planina and the Heavenly Waterfall! What I want to say is that the program varies from green paradise, through lakes and rivers and rocky rough terrains – changing every now and then! It offers so many landscapes, so many breathtaking views, the accomplish of each hike is like a gift from the fortune – that mountains let you conquer them! I am very very very excited and full of happiness because of my Balkan Adventure! 

Jarek Kaminski, Poland

Thanks, Alex!

4.0 rating
November 1, 2017

We want to say big thanks to our guide Alex and all of the staff that helped us live this once in a lifetime adventure!

Ruth Dawson, USA

Wild, wild horses!

5.0 rating
July 7, 2016

The chance to conquer the three highest summits in Bulgaria among which is the highest one at the Balkans really attracted us. The guide was very professional and gave a lot of information, also taught us the steps of their traditional folklore dance “horo”
And as it was sung in one song of The Rolling Stones – “Wild, wild horses” – that’s what you will see a lot in Balkan Mountains!

Rebecca Taylor, USA
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