8-day challenging guided walking tour in the Rila and Pirin Mountains of Bulgaria
This is our more advanced version of the Classic Rila-Pirin Tour 8-day guided walking route that covers the best of the mountains of Bulgaria. . The day treks are strenuous, but totally doable for active people in average fitness condition. The terrain is sometimes rocky and demanding, but the routes entirely follow marked and established tourist hiking trails within the Rila and Pirin national parks.
The route includes two days with +1500-1600 m of ascend and covers the peaks of Polezan and Vihren in the Pirin Mountains. It includes crossing the Marble Ridge of Pirin with its tiniest part – The Foal or Koncheto ridge. Also a night in one of the most charming huts in Pirin – Yavorov Hut. In Rila we will do a full crossing of the main ridge from the Rila Monastery to the north side, above the Seven Rila LakesFurther you`ll visit Rila with the peaks of Musala (the highest on the Balkans) with Musalenski Lakes and Malyovitsa with the Dear`s Lake – both the highest and the most beautiful in the Rila Mountains. A cultural and rest day in the middle of the itinerary includes a visit to the world famous Rila Monastery.
Transfers and luggage transfers are provided everyday and hiking is with a day pack only. The accommodation is in family type hotels – 2 nights in Bansko – a small town, located between the main mountain ranges of Bulgaria, 3 nights in Govedartsi village, Rila, 1 night by the Rila Monastery and 1 night in a mountain hut.
Options to add a night in Sofia or to upgrade to higher class SPA hotels are available.
Brief itinerary of the tour:
Day 1: Arrival in Bansko, Pirin Mountains, accommodation for 2 nights;
Day 2: Pirin Mountains – Polezan Peak, up to 2851m, 4:30h of walking, option to extend with another peak;
Day 3: Pirin Mountains – Mount Vihren – The Foal and the Marble Ridge – Yavorov Hut – 9:30h;
Day 4: Yavorov Hut – the Rila Monastery, accommodation by the monastery;
Day 5: Rila Mountains – Rila Monastery – Baucher Ridge – The Green Ridge – 9:30h. Accommodation in Govedarsti village – 3 night stay;
Day 6: Rila Mountains – Malyovitsa Peak, up to 2729m, 7h;
Day 7: Rila Mountains – Musala Peak, up to 2925m, 6:30h;
Day 8: Departure to Sofia.
Detailed tour itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival day
On the first day of your trip you`ll be collected from your hotel in Sofia or the Sofia airport and driven to the first location of your walking trip in Bulgaria – the town of Bansko. While it is a busting ski destination during Winter, now you will find Bansko a charming quiet town that is worth visiting and exploring for a while – the old stone houses and the church, the small museums and the lively main square with mountain view. If you have the time do not miss the Sunday open market where locals (and not only) from the region offer their production. Bansko also has a good choice of traditional restaurants, some bars and other entertainment. The natural thermal pools of the nearby villages of Dobrinishte and Banya are easily accessible.
Accommodation in a quiet family hotel in the center of Bansko for 3 nights – double/twin en suite rooms and delicious homemade dinner.
Day 2: Mount Polezan
2851m ;4:30hrs ↝6.3km ↑595m ↓595m
First day up the mountains. About 40 min transfer will take us to Gotse Delchev Hut at around 1400m above the sea level. There is a chair lift service up to 2240m near Bezbog Hut, the start point of the trek for today.
The highest point for today is Mount Polezan, the fourth highest peak in Pirin. It is a very panoramic peak, with views towards the main mountain ranges in the region – Rhodopes, Rila, Pirin and some Greek mountains are clearly visible in good weather. Lift back down and transfer to Bansko, some free time to look around the town.
Day 3: Mount Vihren& The Marble Ridge
2914m; 9:30hrs ↝15.3km ↑1500m ↓1660m
This is your most challenging day. The route goes through the highest peak and the main ridge of Pirin, crossing the famous Foal ridge. Close to the Edellweiss flowers ,the chamois and with endless panoramas of the mountains in all directions.
The day starts with a 20 min transfer up to the start point above Bansko. An 800 m ascent will take us to the col between the highest peaks of Pirin – Vihen and Kutelo. First we climb Vihren, then, returning back to the col, we will climb the peak of Kutelo and further follow the ridge towards The Foal.
The Foal is the dream of every local mountaineer and hiker, a 300 m knife sharp part of the ridge. It is well secured with a metal railing and no specific equipment or technical skills are required to cross it, but good stamina, focus and lack of strong fear of heights.
Further we continue along the ridge and finally descend to Yavorov Hut, one of the best mountain huts in the country.
Accommodation in dormitory rooms. Please note the main luggage is not transported on that day, so we bring toothbrush, towel and spare clothes with us.
Day 4: Yavorov Hut – Rila Monastery
1720m ;4:00hrs ↝10km ↑200m ↓700m
This is a more relaxing day after the big ridge day and before our next challenge. Today we have a 2h pleasant ascent through the beautiful forests of Pirin down to the meet point with our transport.
1.45h drive will take us to the area of the Rila Monastery – the biggest one in the country and a UNESCO site. We will stop for lunch by one of the local fish farms. Further 30 min drive to the start point of our afternoon hike through Rila Monastery Nature Park, famous with its biodiversity and forests. We will visit the cave of the founder of the Rila Monastery – Ivan Rilski, and will finally descend back down to the monastery. Visit and accommodation in a nearby family hotel.
Day 5: The Rila Monastery – Baucher Ridge – The Green Ridge – Govedartsi
2600m ;9:30hrs ↝21.6km ↑1650m ↓1300m
We start our hiking day from the gates of the Rila Monastery. We follow a curving old horse trail through the broad leaf trees, the pine forests, near the shepherds settlements and the alpine meadows of the high parts of Rila.
All the way up to the Razdela Pass at 2600 m, from where we can enjoy the view of the famous Rila Lakes area from above and away from the mainstream of visitors. Further we descent down via the Green Ridge to a point close to Govedartsi village – our next location.
Accommodation in a family hotel for 3 nights.
Day 6: Mount Malyovitsa 2729m
7:00hrs ↝13.7km ↑1000m ↓1000m
We are aiming the most beautiful prominent peak in the Rila Mts today – Mount Malyovitsa. 25 min transfer will take us to the start point at 1760 m, at the border of the Rila National Park. The walking trail follows Malyovitsa River and for about an hout we reach Malyovitsa Hut. Further up the valley the route follows the easiest terrain in order to reach the Dear`s Lake, located at 2480 m. The last section up to the top takes less than an hour – we reach the main ridge, with clear views towards the Rila Monastery at the bottom of the valley south from us, as well as the Pirin Range, Vitosha Mountains, large parts of the Rila Mountains and Musala Peak. After we reach the peak of Malyovitsa, we would walk back on a similar path, drive to the hotel in Govedartsi.
Day 7: Mount Musala 2925m
6:30hrs ↝14.4km ↑650m ↓650m
The natural finish of our walking adventure in Bulgaria is to climb its highest peak – Mount Musala. This morning, a 30 min transfer will take us to the ski resort of Borovets, where we take the Yastrebets gondola lift up to nearly 2400 m.
We would start hiking with 1h of nearly flat terrain until we reach Musala Hut. The next stage is up to Ledeno Ezero Hut, located in the foot of Musala, at 2700 a.s.l. We follow a marked tourist trail winding through the bottom of the glacial valley, near the blue Musala Lakes. Last effort will take us up to the peak – around 45 min of walking a steeper zig-zagging trail up to the top of Musala. Same way back to your hotel in Govedartsi for a last third night there.
Day 8: Departure
There are a few options for that day:
Main one, calculated in the cost – we will drive you from Govedartsi straight to the Sofia airport or Sofia city center. The ride takes less than 2h.
We can drive you to Sofia on the previous evening, after climbing Musala and change the last night in Govedartsi with accommodation in Sofia. Please request us for the additional cost.
We can extend the itinerary with a day of self-guided cultural&historical explore of Sofia plus additional night there. We will offer you a great way to get to know the city self-guided.
- hiking boots with ankle support or waterproof trainers with stiff sole plus trekking poles
- rainproof/windproof jacket with hood
- quick dry type long sleeve pants
- a thin down jacket or a fleece layer
- rucksack 25-45l
- sun protection – lotion, glasses, hat
- rain protection – rucksack cover or raincoat
- a pair of thin gloves and a warm hat
- personal first aid kid – any medicines you take, blister kit
- trekking poles highly recommended
- water bottle – 1-1,5l, snacks
- in case you have a hut accommodation in your itinerary: although nearly all huts provide bed sheets, we recommend you to use your own travel liner.
Best season to visit – July to September