Bulgaria Balkan Peaks
15 Days / 14 Nights
Sofia - Borovets resort - Maritsa river valley - Dolna Banya - Yastrebets chalet - Mussala - Seven Lakes chalet - Rila monastery - Partizanska Polyana chal - Bansko - Vihren lodge - Vihren - Dobriniste - Besbog chalet - Tevnoto Lake - Kamenitsa chalet - Rozhen Monastery - Sandanski - Sofia
The south-west region of Bulgaria is a rough sea of ridges and peaks separated by valleys filled with virgin forests of spruce and pine, and with a wealth of flora and fauna to observe. As well as having the opportunity to visit the fascinating hill villages of Bansko and Melnik, our trekking rout is through the two major ranges, the Rila and Pirin mountains. There are claimed to be 140 lakes in the Rila, and have given the mountains their name. Rila is an ancient Thracian word meaning "mountain full of water". Few ranges in Europe have so many rugged peaks; 132 are over 6500 feet and 78 rise above 8000 feet. The highest is Moussala (9397ft), the highest in south-east Europe. The Pirin mountains are characterized by many limestone peaks, alpine streams and lakes. Our rout not only takes us into the heart of the range, now on the world heritage list, but to the top of Vihren, at 9564ft, its highest summit. Through sparsely inhabited, both ranges nevertheless have a sophisticated network of trails, all waymarked, and mountain refuges, reflecting the popularity of hill-walking of Bulgaria.
GRADE AND QUALIFICATIONS
This trek is graded B/C and should be within the capabilities of any normally healthy individual who is used to hill walking, and has some backpacking experience. The C grade aspect of this trek is reflected only in need to backpack for the periods indicated below. The rout is not difficult and average daily walking time is around 5 hours. For Days 5 to 9 and Days 11 to 13, it will be necessary to backpack - but not communal food supplies. Otherwise, all you need carry only a light daypack with items for the day.
FOOD AND ACCOMODATION
All food and accommodation are included in the tour cost. Apart from Sofia and Sandanski, where we will be in hotels, most of the time we will overnight in chalet/mountain lodges. These are generally well-furnished, have dormitory accommodation, and other the range of basic facilities one would expect from mountain refuges elsewhere in Europe.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHINGIf you are already a hiker or backpacker you will probable already have much of the clothing and equipment required. As in all high mountains the weather can suddenly turn extreme; waterproofs, a worm sweater and good walking boots are essential items to take. A sheet sleeping bag, or similar, is recommended. A detailed list of personal equipment and clothing will be sent with confirmation of reservation.
Although Bulgaria lies in the very south-east corner of Europe the climate is never extreme in summer. Better described as moderate continental, we would expect daytime temperatures between 68 and 75 F. Perhaps a degree or two cooler higher in the mountains. Given the time and location of our treks, we would not expect any significant rainfall other than summer showers, and perhaps a rare thunderstorm.
The following itinerary is intended as a working guide only. It is subject to variation as a result of weather, local conditions and governmental restrictions. We reserve the right to alter (lengthen or shorten) any trek at any time if necessary.
Dates: 18.6.2005, 16.7.2005, 20.8.2005, 10.9.2005
- please ask
- board: F/B (breakfast and dinner) ;
- 14 overnights in hotels and chalets ;
- all transfers;
- guide in English;
- entry taxes ;
- Participants - min 4 pax
Prices do not include
- personal clothing and equipment
Day 1Arrival in Sofia airport, transfer and overnight in Borovets (4290ft).
Day 2After breakfast we walk along the Maritsa river valley to Chernata Skala (Black Rock). The vertical eastern face of this rugged feet rises several hundred feet above the river. The observation platform on the cliff-top offers fine views over Raduilvillage, the Dolnobanska hollow and the town of Dolna Banya. Return to Borovets for dinner and overnight.
Day 3This morning a 15 minute chair-lift ride take us up to its terminus at 5984ft. A hour and a half's walk away is the Chakur Voivoda lodge (6562ft). A little over an hour's walking brings us to Sarugyol meadow and fine views of Deno peak (9153ft), the valley of the Prava Maritsa river and the Moustachal and Moulichal peaks. The Sarugyol lakes are another hour's walk from here. They owe their names (Sarugyolis the Turkish word meaning "yellow lake") to the abundance of yellow flowers surrounding them in summer. We then hike up Shatara peak (8186ft) for some fine mountain views. After enjoying a picnic lunch, we descend via another rout to take the chair lift to Borovets (6 hours walking).
Day 4This morning we take the gondola-lift to Yastrebets chalet (7710ft) to the heart of the Mussala section of the Rila mountains. To the south, about two and a half hour's walk away, is the Mussala massif. We ascend on a winding path past the Mussala lakes to the top (9397ft). All around is a vast skyline of mountain ridges; the magnificent Rila, the marble cliffs of the Pirin to the south, to the north-west the dome of Vitosha, the Sredna Gora in the distance to the north, and the endless slopes and ridges of Rhodope massif to the east. After a picnic lunch we descent to overnight in Borovets (5 hours walking).
Day 5For the next four days, till Day 8, we will be backpacking. Transfer by coach to Vada mountain lodge in the North-Western Rila. After a pack lunch we trek to Seven Lakes, some of the most picturesque alpine lakes in the Rila mountains. If the lower part of the cirque, by the sixth lake,
is Seven Lakes chalet (7205ft). Dinner and overnight here (five hours walking).