The Belmeken to Rila Monastery Traverse is an altitude mountain bike route that crosses the highest mountain range on the Balkans – Rila Mountains from the east to the west, traversing their southern slopes. Our route connects two famous areas in these mountains – the Belmeken Range and the Rila Monastery area. It goes in an elevation range between 1100-2200 m. Our main luggage will be transferred for us by the accompanying vehicle, except on the night at Macedonia Hut.
- Mountain biking the highest mountain range on the Balkans
- Visit to the Rila National Park on a bike, overnight in a mountain hut
- The biggest Bulgarian historical and cultural treasure – Rila Monastery
Difficulty level: we grade this trip as Difficult – we follow only forest/macadam/dirt roads with medium steepness and there is no any technical descents but we’ll do between 24-38 km/day and at one day we climb 1200 m of elevation. A very good physical condition and basic skills in off-road downhill are important to enjoy the route.
The best period for this route is June to October.
A 2,5 hours long transfer will take us from Sofia to Belmeken Dam in Rila Mountains. The winding mountain road will let us ascent up to 2000 m, where our bike trip starts. We get a panoramic macadam road that goes to Treshtenik area above the town of Yakoruda. Accommodation in the area.
From Treshtenik we follow some forest roads down to the Belitsa Dancing Bears Park – a sanctuary for “retired” Brown Bears used as a street attraction in the past.
The baby bears used to be stolen from their parents and trained to “dance” on the music of some traditional instruments like Gadulka. This was the way of making living for whole Gypsy families, before the official ban. The bear abuse is not allowed anymore and all the suffering animals were taken to the sanctuary to spend their last days in a protected environment, as their introduction back to the wildlife seemed impossible.
From the Bear sanctuary we go up and down, following the large network of dirt and asphalt roads that will finally take us to the beautiful Dobursko Village at 1100 m. Accommodation in the village. Visit to the locally famous Dobursko Church.
The most demanding day. We’ll cross the mountain ridge and reach the isolated mountain hut of Macedonia. We follow a macadam road that goes up to Semkovo holiday area and further to Karaalanitsa locality at 1900 and than, cutting the peaks of the main ridge, reaches a saddle between the Bear Peaks – the Small Bear and the Big Bear, where Macedonia Hut is located at an altitude of 2166 m. Accommodation at the hut. Our main luggage is not transferred today.
A quick descent from the hut and we start a short climb to another saddle at 2200 m. That’s our gate towards the long descent along Radovitchka River Valley. This long valley will take us down to Iliyna River Valley and finally to the Britchebor locality, a little bit below the famous Rila Monastery. A final 4 km asphalt ascent to the monastery. Visit to the famous cultural sight. Afternoon drive to Sofia.
Contact us for any questions and prices.
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.