- Transfers from/to Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only)
- English-speaking mountain guide
- Lift tickets
- Museum entrance fees
- Other meals and drinks
- Tourist maps (can be requested in advance when booking the tour)
- Medical insurance
- Alcoholic drinks
WHAT TO EXPECT
Over a week, you will climb the giants of the three most notorious mountains in Bulgaria – Rila (Mt. Musala, 2925m/9596ft), being also the highest on the Balkan Peninsula), Pirin (Mt. Vihren, 2914m/9560ft) and the Balkan Mountains (Mt.Botev – 2376m/7795ft). These three summits are located in the territory of the three national parks in Bulgaria. Along with their purely hiking merits, you will be able to enjoy stunning panoramas, unique natural phenomena, diverse and rare flora, and fauna.
Difficult/challenging itinerary for 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 prepare prior to departure in order to fully enjoy the climbs and the majestic beauty of the three summits.
Day 1 - Arrival
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 the tour has free time in the afternoon, explore the Old Town, which offers a cocktail of unbelievable stories, heroic legends, and breathtaking 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 - Balkan Mountains
Early morning the tour will transfer to the trailhead at the feet of the Balkan Mountains. Steadily ascending path, revealing the mighty beauty of The Southern Dzhendem Reserve, will lead you 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/410ft high), which the tour will have time to visit later in the afternoon. Overnight stay in Rai Hut. (4-5 hours, uphill/downhill walking: 750/0m)
Day 3 - The Tarzan’s Trail
More stunning panoramas to expect today as you continue hiking up along The Tarzan’s Trail towards Mt. Botev. Sheer slopes, lush green meadows, and vertical rock faces will be accompanying you on your way to the highest peak in the Balkan Mountains. Once you have made it to the top, the tour 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 the tour will descend further down to where you started the day before. Here the tour will board our van and transfer to the Rila Mountains and the charming village of Govedartsi – base for the next three nights area. Overnight in a family-run pension. (7-9 hrs, uphill/downhill walking: 850/1600m)
Day 4 - The Seven Rila Lakes
Today you will tour probably the most eminent part of the Rila Mountain – 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 you will start exploring the famous glacial lakes. On a clear day, the views from the highest lake to the lakes below you and the ridges around you are impressive. (6-7 hrs; uphill/downhill walking: 750-1000/750-1000m)
Day 5 - Mt. Musala
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 you on Yastrebets Peak, where your 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 your way to the top. And the views from there will be really rewarding. 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. (6 hrs; uphill/downhill walking: 750/750m)
Day 6 - Rila Monastery
A relaxing day, devoted to visiting probably the most famous tourist attraction in Bulgaria – Rila Monastery. Behind the 20-meter high walls lie impressive monastery buildings, a church and a chapel with valuable murals. The next stop on our way to Pirin Mountains is the picturesque sand formations of The Stob Pyramids, where we will take 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. (1,30 hrs, uphill/downhill walking: 80/80m)
Day 7 - Mount Vihren
Today you will attempt Mount Vihren, the second highest peak in Bulgaria and the highest in the Pirin Mountains. A scenic path 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. After a strenuous climb, the tour reaches the peak and enjoy the breath-taking view of the surrounding mountains. On the way back, you will take a short break at the oldest tree in Bulgaria, over 1300 years old. (6-7 hrs, uphill/downhill walking: 1000/1000m)
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.
Rent of hiking poles: 15 €/person
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 & dinner included).