Bansko is predominantly famous as the most modern ski resort in Bulgaria, situated in the foot of the Pirin Mountains and visited by many Bulgarian and foreign tourists. Actually the town is located in a very strategic position, between the main mountain ranges of the country – Rila, Pirin and the Rhodope Mountains. They’re all different as landscapes and offer various challenges for those who attempt them in winter. The number of activities one can practice here in winter is not limited to the skiing only. We believe that those who visit the area miss a lot if they don`t try to go away from the hassle of the resort, even for a day. The best and easiest way to see the beauty of the winter mountains close by is the winter walking on snowshoes.
While Pirin is a severe, steep mountain with rising up to 2914 meters slopes, the south slopes of Rila are more gentle and easy for snowshoeing. Bansko is a good start base for day trips both to Rila National Park and Pirin National Park. Rhodopes are unique with their position between the higher mountains and offer great views both towards Rila and Pirin. The old an isolated villages, where people keep the same lifestyle as 100 years ago, are the other attraction in this range.
Ortsevo Village in the Rhodopes
Snowshoeing around Ortsevo Village in thе Rhodope Mountains – some claim that this is the village in Bulgaria, situated at the highest altitude. It is located at around 1600 m above the sea. Beside the isolated area, not popular among the tourists at all, the village offers dramatic views towards Pirin Mountains as well as opportunity to see the rural lifestyle of the locals. Easy treks, up to +300 m of elevation gain – suitable for novices and walks in leisure pace. Great photo opportunities and an option to combine the trip with a ride of the Narrow Gauge Train. About 1 hour drive from Bansko.
Ascent of Mount Bezbog in Pirin Mountains on snowshoes – this tour starts from a relatively high altitude – 2240 m – at the top lift station of the Bezbog chair lift, 45 min drive from Bansko. It it the most easily accesible point to experience the feeling of being in the high parts of Pirin, surrounded by its jagged peaks and ridges.
The ascent takes about 2 hours, while we gain +400 m of vertical elevation. The route is suitable for novices in snowshoeing and doable even if the snow conditions in the lower parts of the mountains are not good, but is potentially more exposed to harsh weather due to the high altitude. The views from the top of the mountain are spectacular and include all the Pirin Mountains, as well as much of Rila and Rhodope Mountains.
Semkovo in Rila Mountains
Snowshoeing in Rila Mountains, above the small ski resort of Semkovo. The resort is located at about 1600 m within the forests of Rila National Park. With around +800 m of ascent through the beautiful conifer forests we`ll reach the main ridge of Rila Mountains and enjoy the great views of the highest mountain range of the country. We would grade this route, as well as the Hvoynati route, as difficult – more suitable for people in good physical shape who would like the challenge to ascent 800 m of vertical elevation on snowshoes. Easier options thorugh the forests of Semkovo are also available.
About 1 hour drive from Bansko, may include also visit to the Bears Sanctuary in Belitsa village.
Snowshoeing walk to Vihren Hut and Baykusheva Mura – easy walk, doable in variable weather conditions and suitable for novices. It starts from the ski area of Bansko (30 min drive from the town) and goes further near the oldest tree in the mountains of Bulgaria – Baykusheva Mura – a 1300 years old conifer. Further, if conditions allow, we climb up to Vihren Hut, located at 1950 m in the valley of Vihren, the highest peak of Pirin Mountains. Option to descent down to Bansko through the conifer forests of Pirin National Park. About 300 m of vertical ascent for the day.
For the advanced walkers we offer ascent of Mount Hvoynati in Pirin Mountains on snowshoes – this trek is tougher, with +1000 m of elevation gain and goes through the valley of Bunderitsa and further up to the peak. The views include a close by of the highest peak of Pirin – Mount Vihren, and the sea of sharp jagged rocky edges of Pirin. Additional equipment needed – due to the nature of the terrain we will wear avalanche safety equipment as an additional safety measure.
• hiking boots – waterproof and warm, to cover the ankle, with stiff sole;
• water and windproof jacket with hood;
• water and windproof pants;
• warm hat, thin pair of gloves and a pair of warm mittens;
• thermal underwear, light down jacket or a warm fleece;
• sun protection – sun cream, sun glasses, sun hat;
• water bottle or preferably flask – 1l;