The oldest ski resort in Bulgaria, Borovets (1350 m) is situated under the lee of the highest mountain on the Balkans – Rila Mountains. Until the middle of the last century when the ski resort was open, the evergreen forests full with game were the most attractive part of a holiday area, well visited by wealthy Bulgarians. Tsarska Bistritsa, the favourite hunting lodge of two Bulgarian kings, was built near the resort at the riverside of Bistritsa River. It is opened for visiting and that is a great chance to take a close look to the private life of the last king of Bulgaria – Boris III.
The temperate climate and the perfect conditions for skiing make Borovets one of the most popular winter resorts in Bulgaria. Situated only 70 km away from the capital Sofia, on the northern slopes of Rila Mountains, this beautiful place offers splendid opportunities to practice wide variety of winter sports. The most popular of course is the alpine skiing. The season may last almost 5 months – from December to April and the heavy snowfall assures the necessary quantity of snow. There are 24 ski-runs with different level of difficulty and total length almost 60 km. The longest one is 12 km long.
Three ski centres, located in central places in the resort, are the spots where everyone can find its personal challenge of the mountain and the snowy slopes. For those who want to practice ski-running there are built specialized traces with the required width (6 m). Biathlon is the other winter sport which takes place here and there are special installations constructed for that purpose. And of course Borovets is the best place for the snowboarders because of the many ski-runs with different difficulty and the two snow parks. We should not forget that the mountain is a place where everyone need to be careful and prepared, so don’t take unnecessary risks.
The evergreen pine trees covered with snow offer a breathtaking view but the summer gives a different perspective to the mountain. Borovets is located in one of the most beautiful mountains in Bulgaria, Rila. Large part of it is included in the biggest national park in Bulgaria with the same name and there are four unique reserves on its territory. The nearest to the resort is the Central Rila Reserve which enveloped the highest peaks of the mountain – with Musala (2,925 m) at the head. One of the most popular hiking routes is to the top of this peak. It takes about 3 hours in the one direction and it’s worth every step of the way. The first part of this amazing hiking itinerary is beginning with the gondola lift which will take you to Yastrebets Peak, at the foot of Musala. The ascent after goes along mountainous terrain at relatively high altitudes (above 2400 m) so be prepared with proper equipment. One hour away from Yastrebets is Musala Hut and further are situated the seven crystal pure lakes, one of which is the highest in Bulgaria and the Balkans – The Icy Lake. The last part of the walking is the hardest one but at the end you will find yourself at the top of the world. The amazing view will take your breath away and will stand engraved in your memory forever.
One of the most significant objects which you cannot miss is the area of the Seven Rila Lakes. They are situated near the town of Sapareva Banya, around 50 km away from Borovets. A chair lift leads to the first step of the path – The Seven Rila lakes Hut. Just 45 away from it is the shallowest lake of the seven, named The Fish Lake (Ribnoto ezero). There is a legend about two giants who were in love and lived in this amazing paradise till one day evil power killed one of them. From the sad tears of the one who survived was born these pure drops – the lakes. Maybe that legend gave the name of the highest lake – the Tear (Salzata). The most distinctive feature of each one of it is leading to their names – The Eye (Okoto), The Kidney (Babreka), The Twin (Bliznaka), The Trefoil (Trilistnika) and The Lower Lake (Dolnoto). One thing is clear, this area is a truly peace of heaven.
In 2010 a network of traces both for advanced and beginners in mountain biking were constructed in Borovets, served by one of the chair lifts. Different downhill and cross country routes encircle the resort and offer extreme adventures for everyone interested in this mountain sport. The duration of most of it is around two hours and there are options for children and parents to spend some time together surrounded by the fresh air and amazing nature. What a perfect idea for the summer vacation!
It is not coincidentally that the old Slavs named Rila – the mountain abounding in water – because three of the longest and high-watered rivers in Bulgaria originate in it – Mesta, Maritsa and Iskar. One of the most picturesque defiles in Bulgaria is formed by Iskar River. Swift-flowing waters offer high adrenaline emotions for all fans of rafting. It is not necessary to be professional in this sport, the only thing you need is a brave spirit.
Borovets is a perfect solution for every season and every person who loves the wild nature and extreme sports. Rila Mountains will show you its secrets and will stay in your heart so you can have no choice but return here again.
Author: Lyuben Grancharov
“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” (Augustine of Hippo). I enjoy filling up the page, called “Bulgaria”, both working as a guide and writing about the mountains of Bulgaria on this blog.