Rila, the highest mountain in the Balkans, and Pirin, the most beautiful one, in a one-week trek along their alpine ridges.
An abundance of crystal lakes and marble mounts, generous vistas and, in addition, the Rila Monastery, hidden in the midst of a pinewood forest.
The difference from the other Rila-Pirin route that we offer is that this one crosses the heart of the mountain without descending to the foot. This, however, involves overnights in cruder conditions.
♦ Rila National Park, and Musala, the highest summit in the Balkans
♦ Pirin National Park, an area protected by UNESCO as part of the world natural and cultural heritage
♦ Rila Monastery, established in the 10th Century and on the UNESCO World Heritage List
♦ Sofia, a city with thousands of years of history. The capital of Bulgaria
Day 1. Arrival.
Arrival Sofia airport and transfer to the Malyovitsa Hotel (1,720 msl) in Rila.
Day 2. The Malyovitsa Hotel – Mt Malyovitsa – Ivan Vazov Hut
The day begins with a careful ascent to the Malyovitsa Hut and the glacier terraces above it. Then, taking a steep path, you reach Elenino Lake (2,500 msl). Next, you climb the emblematic Mt Malyovitsa (2,729 m.s.l.), from which a wide vista opens up. The route continues along the ridge above the cirque and the Urdinite lakes, and reaches Mt Ezerniya, from which an unforgettable view opens up towards the Seven Lakes of Rila, Bulgaria’s most famous mountain lakes. After a brief return to Razdela and a cut below the Mt Otovishki, you end up at the Ivan Vazov Hut (2,300 msl).
Time: 8 to 9 hrs. Ascent: 1,400 m; Descent: 1,000 m
Day 3. Ivan Vazov Hut – Rila Monastery – Yavorov Hut
From the Ivan Vazov Hut the path continues on slowly along the slopes of Mt Varla, and then slopes down towards the Rila River valley, where, at 1,150 msl, is the Rila Monastery. Founded high in Rila in the 10th Century, the monastery used to be an important spiritual and cultural centre during the five-century Ottoman rule. From the monastery, you are transferred by car to the Yavorov Hut (1,740 msl) in Pirin.
Time: 5 hrs. Ascent: 250 m; Descent: 1,400 m
Day 4. Yavorov Hut – Koncheto – Vihren Hut
On this day the longest and the hardest, but also the most beautiful and memorable, trek takes place. From the hut, the path goes up to Pirin’s dry and marble ridge and, traversing it, reaches the hardest section: the stunning karst ridge Koncheto (2,750 msl), which requires a very careful crossing. A brief descent follows, and then the ascent of Pirin’s highest summit, Vihren (2,914 msl).
Time: 9 to 10 hrs. Ascent: 1,300 m; Descent: 1,100 m
Day 5. Vihren Hut – Tevno Ezero Refuge
Initially, the path rises slowly through the Banderishki cirque and past the lakes that are in it. Next it follows a ridge from which beautiful views open up of alternating cirques and dark-blue lakes. Overnight at the Tevno Ezero refuge (2,500 msl).
Time: 6 to 7 hrs. Ascent: 900 m; Descent: 250 m
Day 6. Tevno Ezero – Bezbog Hut
After a brief ascent, the path coasts down past the Samodivskite lakes to Popovoto, the biggest of the Pirin lakes, which has an islet in its midst. Next, after a smooth ascent and a subsequent short descent, the path reaches the Bezbog Hut, which is situated near a lake (2,200 msl).
Time: 4-5 hrs Ascent: 350 m; Descent: 500 m
Day 7. Bezbog Hut – Mt Polezhan – Demyanitsa hut – Sofia
The day begins with the consecutive ascents of the mounts Bezbog (2,645 msl) and Polezhan (2,851 msl), which offer breathtaking views to the surrounding summits and cirques. Then the path slopes down past the Strazhishko Lake towards Damyanitsa Hut. Then a smooth descent follows, to the road (1,500 msl), from where you are driven to Sofia.
Time: 7-8 hrs. Ascent: 700 m; Descent: 1,400 m
Day 8. Departure
Transfers: You'll have a transfers only for the days: 1,3,7,8
Luggage transportation: Luggage transportation is possible only for the days: 1,7,8.
Accommodation: Three-star hotels, in double rooms with baths (days 1 and 7); mountain huts with rooms with 2, 3, 4 and more beds; common sanitary facilities (Day 3); high-mountain hut with rooms with 8, 10 and more beds; outdoor toilets (Day 5); a mountain hut with rooms with 3, 4 and more beds, common sanitary facilities (Day 6).
Handy info: The trek is designed for well-trained mountaineers. Although mountain acclimatisation is not necessary, the daily treks are long, some of them of particular difficulty and with considerable height differences. Accommodation is in mountain huts. Some of the sections of the route will involve the carrying of bulky luggage and additional clothing, because of the absence of roads to the highest and difficult-to-access huts.
Clothing and equipment: Checklist