The Kaiser’s Road in Rila

The Kaiser’s Road is a route which follows a historical high mountain road in Rila Mountains. The road crosses the main ridge of the mountains from the north to the south, ascending up to 2450 m at Zavratchitsa Saddle. The former road – as there is only remnants from what was a large dirt road for carriages – starts from Borovets and ends at the town of Yagoruda.

 

The Kaiser’s Road from Zavratchitsa Saddle. The road descents to the south, cutting the slopes of Pesokliva Vapa Peak.

 

Borovets is nowadays famous as a ski resort, but before WWII it was a holiday area for the Bulgarian aristocracy. The Bulgarian king Ferdinand (Bulgaria was monarchy until WWII) had a residence in Borovets as well as a couple more hunting lodges higher up in the mountain. It was his idea to build roads through the mountains, and he did two: Borovets-Yakoruda and Govedartsi-Rila Monastery. The story says one of the reasons for building this complicated and expensive infrastructures was that the king wanted to show the beauties of his country to his expected guest – the German Kaiser. That’s why the route is nowadays known as “The Kaiser’s Road”. Of course without regular maintenance the roads were quickly claimed back by the severe mountains – the avalanches and rockfalls destroyed most of the infrastructure and nowadays they exist only as a tourist trails through the beautiful Rila National Park.

 

Highlights:

  • We cross the mountains from the South to the North along the historical Kaiser’s Road
  • Mountain biking the highest mountain range on the Balkans
  • Visit to the Rila National Park on a bike, overnight in a mountain hut

 

Difficulty level: we grade this trip as Difficult – we follow macadam dirt roads and single tracks with medium steepness, we’ll do 17 and 28 km and 300-600 vertical meters a day. 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 July to September.

 

In many sections there is only a single track left from the original large road

 

Itinerary:

Day 1, Bansko – Granchar, 17,5 km, + 600 m

Workout day: today we climb the mountain following some nice panoramic roads. The starting point of our journey is the town of Bansko, located in the foot of Pirin Mountains. A 45 minutes long  transfer will take us to the small holiday area of Semkovo at about 1700 meters above the sea, start point for our biking route. From Semkovo we follow a panoramic macadam road that goes up to Treshtenik area. Further ascent takes us to Granchar Hut, located at about 2200 m above the sea near the glacial Granchar Lake – our accommodation for tonight.

 

Day 2, Granchar – Borovets, 28 km, + 300 m

The long descent day: after 8 km of ascent along the winding road we reach the main summit of the mountains at Zavratchitsa Pass at 2450 m and than descent towards Zavratchitsa Hut. The highest massif of Rila and on the Balkans – Musala Ridge, is on our left side. Further we take a nice single track that goes up and down and reaches Chakur Vojvoda Hut. The last section is a long descent down to Borovets ski resort at 1300 m.

 

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.