The 5-day Rila traverse

  • Rila Range, Bulgaria
  • 5 days/4 nights
  • ⛰2925m 🕑4-8:30hrs ↝7-14km
  • 600-1200m 300-1000m
  • Best period: July to September

Traversing Rila for 5 days Inn to Inn Selfguided

This is a 5-day walking itinerary that will keep you up the mountains (except the first night) for a while and give you the chance to explore some known and some more remote areas of the Rila Range. It covers the most interesting parts of the Rila Mountains and the Rila National Park, including its highest peak – Mount Musala, the worldwide cultural heritage site – Rila Monastery, the famous Seven Rila Lakes and the area of Malyovitsa.

The route is designed for experienced hikers in medium and above medium physical condition and we rate is as demanding due to the duration of the day legs, the sometimes difficult terrain (not technical, but uneven terrain, rocks on the trail). All this requires some experience in walking in the mountains and certain fitness level in order to fully enjoy the beauties of Rila.

There are options for accommodation mostly in en-suite private rooms (except Vazov Hut), still this is all hut type mountain properties that will meet your main needs – food, bed and shower and will make you feel comfortable up the mountains, but do not expect any luxury. Also option to provide luggage transfers everyday, except on day 2, when you stay high up the mountain at Vazov Hut and there is no car access.


Trip Price Upon Request

Brief Itinerary

Day 1: Sofia – Borovets – Mount Musala – Sapareva Banya: 2925m 🕑6:30h

Day 2: Sapareva Banya – Zeleni Preslap – Skakavitsa Waterfall – The Seven Rila Lakes – Vazov Hut 2600m 🕑8:30h

Day 3: Vazov Hut – Malyovitsa Peak – Malyovitsa Hut – Malyovitsa Ski Area: 2729m 🕑7:30h

Day 4: Malyovitsa Hut – The Scary Lake – Kobilino Branishte – The Dry Lake – Kirilova Polyana locality: 2500m 🕑8:30h

Day 5: Kirilova Polyana – Ivan Rilski`s Grave – The Rila Monastery – Sofia 🕑2:30h

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Mount Musala 2925m 🕑6:30hrs ↝14.4km 650m 650m

Start from Sofia and 1:30h drive to the ski are of Borovets in Rila. Gondola lift up to 2400 m, at the base of Mount Musala. The walking part today starts with a 1h flat section until we reach Musala Hut. Further the trail curves following the bottom of the valley near the Lakes of Musala until Ledeno Ezero Hut. The last bit to the top is a steeper one – around 40 min of zig-zagging the northeast slope of the peak. Same way back.

Gondola down to Borovets. 1h transfer to the village of Sapareva Banya and accommodation in a family hotel for 1 night. Free time to enjoy the natural hot thermal pools of the village. Dinner.

Day 2: Skakavitsa Waterfall&The Rila Lakes ⛰2600m 🕑8:30hrs ↝14km 1200m 570m

A short transfer to the start point at Zeleni Preslap at 1600 m. It takes 1h to reach Skakavitsa Hut – the first stop on the way – following a path and further a trail through Skakavitsa Reserve.

The biggest waterfall in Rila, the Skakavitsa Waterfall is located at the bottom of the valley above the hut. The trail goes up to 2000 m at the base of the waterfall. After visiting we need to return back to the hut in order to follow the trail further up to the Dry Ridge.

The trail continues ascending through the conifer forests of the Skakavitsa Reserve until we reach the tree line at the Dry Ridge, with clear views towards Vitosha Mountains. We would pass by the top station of the Rila Lakes drag lift and see the lowest of the Rila Lakes – The Bottom Lake and the Fish Lake – down below us. Soon, after a panoramic flat walk along the ridge, we reach the Kidney Lake – the one that has biggest surface among the Seven Lakes.

A steep step takes up to the higher two of the lakes – The Eye and the Teardrop with the Lakes Peak next to it. A short 20 min walk to reach the Razdela Col, our highest point for the day at 2600 m.

Descent to Vazov Hut along the valley or an option to climb Otovitsa Peak. Accommodation at the hut – no shower/hot water, dorm rooms. Food and bed sheets provided.

Day 3: Malyovitsa Peak 2729m 🕑7:30hrs ↝14.3km 600m 1100m

We start at 2300 m at the valley of the hut and further gradually ascent the Main Malyovitsa Ridge near Vazov Peak. Further we will traverse the peaks of Dodov and Mermerite until we reach Malyovitsa Peak at 2729m.

The descent from the top Malyovitsa is demanding due to the rocky and fairly steep zig-zagging trail, so take your trekking poles out and focus. We pass by the Dear`s Lake and reach Malyovitsa Hut. Another hour, following already a large gravel road, will take us to the ski area of Malyovitsa at 1760m. Accommodation in a small mountain hotel, en suite rooms.

Day 4: The Scary Lake 2500m 🕑8:30hrs ↝17km 800m 1150m

The route starts passing by the ski area and crossing a couple of small ski runs, until we enter the forest. The first stop – Yonchevo Lake – is around 1:30h from the start. Another hour takes us to the beautiful Scary Lake, located at 2500m in the foot of Kupenite and Popova Kapa peaks. A rocky traverse of Popova Kapa with a short narrow part of the trail takes us to the col at 2500 m – Popovokapski Preval.

Next a gradual descent via the small Popovokapski Lakes leads us to the col of Kobilino Branishte – a tiny emergency shelter is located there. Than we follow the stream bed down to Kirilova Polyana locality, passing by the beautiful valley of the Dry Lake, also known for the flower variety. We reach the locality at 1500 m after a long descent. Accommodation in bungalows, en suite rooms.

Day 5: Rila Monastery Sofia 🕑2:30hrs ↝7km 100m 440m

After the demanding last three days we will have a pleasant walk down via the broad leaf forests of the Rila Monastery. We will pass by the place where the monastery was originally built – nowadays there is a small chapel hidden in a natural cave there, where the remnants of Saint Ivan Rilski are still preserved. Further down to the monastery passing by the Sveti Luka church, another historical sight. Visit to the holy monastery. Transfer to Sofia – 2:30h.

General Tour Info

The service we provide

It includes 24/7 assistance, a detailed road book which day by day route descriptions and the general advice you need on all aspects of the trip – equipment, important phone numbers and online resources, general safety rules, do-s and don`t-s. We will also provide you with the best available maps, instructions and support when installing a navigation app and the relevant maps on your phone, gpx tracks of the route, including alternatives and emergency escapes, if needed.

The best period for this tour

Best time to take this trip is July to September. More info on hiking in Bulgaria in Spring and hiking during Autumn.

The Weather forecasts

More about the Rila Mountains

More about the huts

General safety advice: here

Equipment list

  • 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

  • Although nearly all huts provide bed sheets, we recommend you to use your own travel liner.