Day by day description:
Day 1: Sofia – Borovets – the gondola lift up to Yastrebets Hut – Musala Hut (- Ledeno Ezero Hut, +1,5 hours):
How to get from Sofia to Borovets by public transport? There is buses and minibuses from Sofia to the town of Samokov (60 km, 1 hour). They go from Sofia South Bus Station or Avtogara Jug every 30 min starting from 7.00 until 19.00. Price for a one way ticket is 5-6 BGN. You may reach the bus station by taking the metro from Serdika Metro Station to Joliot Curie Metro Station (direction Mladost district).
From the bus station of Samokov there is regular minibuses to Borovets (10 km, 15 min) – every 30 min from 7.00 until 19.00.
At Borovets you need to take the gondola lift (12 BGN return only, 8.30-18.00) up to Yastrebets. Please keep in mind that the lift is not operating on Mondays and Tuesdays even during the peak season. In that case you’ll need to start hiking directly from Borovets, but that adds 1100 m and 3 hours to your day.
From the top lift station at Yastrebets it takes one hour to reach Musala Hut, following a flat dirt road. Another 1,15 hours of hiking will take you up to Ledenoto Ezero Hut, only 40 min away from the top of Musala. Possible accommodations are Yastrebets Hut at the top lift station – double rooms, shower, WC, Musala Hut and Ledeno Ezero Hut, but the last two do not have showers and indoor toilets. All offer food and snacks.
Day 2: Musala Hut – Mount Musala – Granchar Hut (7 hours, +800/-1050 m, 11 km)
You enter the territory of the national park right before Musala Hut and start following the marked trail that goes up, near a few lakes, and reaches the Ledeno Ezero Hut. From Ledeno Ezero (The Icy Lake), located next to the shores of the highest of the lakes, it takes only about 40 minutes to climb the top of Musala. There is a summer and a winter options for the trail, the winter one strictly follows the ridge of the mountain in order to avoid possible avalanches and snow drifts. At the top you’ll see the buildings of the meteo station and the space research station. In both of them there is people but you cannot get something more than a cup of tea and drink it at the small emergency room of the meteo station.
Further you follow the ridge of the mountain going up and down for a while and finally descent down to Granchar Hut for about 5 hours totally from Musala. Keep in mind that weather might be quite harsh at these altitudes. More info about Musala Peak.
Water supplies: You may fill up from a fountain right before Ledenoto Ezero Hut, but the water there comes from the lake. No other water supplies along the way to Granchar Hut (dorms, no shower and hot water, they offer a basic food menu).
Day 3: Granchar Hut – Kovach Peak – Chemerna Peak – Ribni Ezera Hut (7 hours, +600/-550 m, 16 km)
Go back the same way, following the blue markings, to the Dzanka Col and than turn south, following the ridge. The trail goes up to Kovach Peak (red markings) and further to Gorni Kuki Saddle where you join blue marking again. You’ll traverse Chemerna and Vapa Peaks and finally descent to Ribni Ezera Hut (dorms, no shower and hot water, they offer a basic food menu).
Day 4: Ribni Ezera Hut – Kirilova Polyana – Rila Monastery (5,5 hours, – 1100 m)
Easier day, mainly descent. From the hut, located at 2230 m you’ll start following a trail that will take you down to the Tiha Rila Lodge and further you’ll follow a dirt track down to Kirilova Polyana (the end of the asphalt road).
Kirilova Polyana area is a large meadow with a great view towards the south slopes of the peaks from then Malyovitsa area – Dvuglav, The Evil Tooth, Orlovets, etc. There is a few places to eat and stay overnight and you can also camp there.
From the meadow a 6 km long asphalt road goes down to Rila Monastery but it is also possible to follow some parallel trails and see Saint Ivan Rilski’s Grave, located inside a chapel, also the cave he spend part of his hermitage, and Saint Lucas Church and Cell School on the way.
Start following the road and turn left at the signposted fork. The dirt road/trail cuts the asphalt a couple of times and at one moment you need to go back up along the road for 50 m in order to see the trail that goes up to Saint Ivan Rilski’s Grave, signposted with a big board. Climb for 15 min and you’ll reach the chapel and the cave. The trail goes further near the chapel, passes near Saint Lucas Church and reaches the asphalt again, about 1 km above the monastery.
If you cross the road and the bridge, than turn right and follow the dirt road near a huge parking lot until you reach another bridge to cross back, you’ll avoid the last bit of asphalt. At the monastery there is restaurants and places to spend the night, also regular bus connections towards Sofia, Blagoevgrad and Dupnica (check the timetables here). More info about the Rila Monastery.