Photo credit: Geri Vladeva & Lyuben Grancharov
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a mountain junkie, hiking guru or adventure travel blogger. I’m a simple woman who likes culture travel and indulge in concerts, fashion, and other similar activities. But I went on an off-the-beaten-path hiking in Bulgaria, and I loved it!
It was the end of October; a time that is calling the end of the active mountain season in Bulgaria. My colleagues and I were waiting for this weekend for a while. Most of them – regular hikers (not a ‘culture snob’ like me), have had some great mountain tours in Rila Mountain before. They even knew the places we visited that day. But no one was prepared for the beauty of the wilderness we would see.
The hike started like most hikes to the 7 Rila Lakes do – by taking the chairlift. Can’t describe the feeling of vastness and freedom I felt. The soft waves of the Rila’s peaks make this mountain look so ‘female’ in a great contrast with the ‘male’ sharp and winding ridge of the Alps.
Our goal for the day was to reach the group of the less-known and better preserved Urdini Lakes. These lakes, that are not popular even among the Bulgarians, are situated not far from the world famous 7 Rila Lakes. Their beauty is not less impressive but the shapes are somewhat reminding baby swings – always placed in a protected under the comb snug place. The lakes are not large but their water so crystal clear. Seeing them, you can’t stop thinking how some places don’t need filter or Photoshop to make them perfect.
For me, the inexperienced hiker, this trek was very difficult. After reaching the lakes, we had to descend for hours. What a pleasure this was! With trembling with fatigue muscles and aching joints, I walked with my friends through moist river bottoms, rocky ravines, and along strange rock formations. The most mystical and beautiful was the passage through the deep forest even if it was almost the end of the day when the ice that had transformed in water during the day was again turning into its cold but beautiful form.
The shadows conquering slowly the mountains made me thinking (and looking) for the wild brown bears that are seen in Rila Mountains from time to time. Our guides were joking with us about these bears since the morning when we first put feet on the path. However, we felt that these two people are not only deeply in love with the mountain and the outdoors but also highly experienced, so we followed them wherever they led us.
The beauty of this difficult but so rewarding hike (lasted around 9 hours) was in the fact that we stepped out of the beaten path in Rila Mountain, far from the crowded during the summer months area of the 7 Rila Lakes. This is why I want to share some less-frequented trails that you can take.
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Like that you will not only have the chance to see and enjoy the amazing Bulgarian nature but also will feel as you are alone on the mountain! If you consider hiking in Bulgaria on your own or with a guide, don’t hesitate to contact the professional mountain guides for an advice on self-guided trips or to participate in a guided tour.
OUT OF THE BEATEN TRACK HIKES IN BULGARIA
The Urdini Lakes are known only by the good mountaineers. You will not see many people passing here and this will make your hike special. The trek starts by taking the chairlift to the Rila Lakes station. After that, the walking from chalet Rila Lakes to chalet Sedemte Ezera (the Seven Lakes) takes around 1 hour. From Seven Lakes to Zeleni Kamuk mountaintop (Green Stone) you will need around two and half hours; after this comes the fun – four hours of descent along the Urdini Lakes until you reach the area of Yavorova Polyana (Maple Meadow).
Less popular treks to the 7 Rila Lakes
To see the 7 Rila Lakes is a must for every Bulgarian but also every foreigner with an interest to mountains who visits Bulgaria. In the past several years, unfortunately, this pristine place became so frequented (because of its easy access and spiritual importance) that it is not something that you will really enjoy. It is especially true in the month of August when members of The Universal White Brotherhood, a religious new-age movement founded in Bulgaria by Peter Deunov in the early 20s, perform their spiritual ‘dance’ paneurhythmy.
That’s why the suggestion of the mountain guides is to take some of the less popular hikes. Read more about the popular and less popular treks to the 7 Rila Lakes here.
Less popular treks to the 7 Rila Lakes
Visit Rila Monastery as the monks did hundreds of years ago! This is a hike that I would like to do myself. The feeling of arriving at the magnificent (and one of its kind!) Rila Monastery – the UNESCO’s gem of Bulgaria – after walking through the unspoiled nature of the mountain, must be a hell of an experience! Read about this two-day hike here.
Unusual routes for climbing Musala Peak
The nontraditional routes are:
- One-day or two-day long treks (two-day is with overnight at Chakar Voivoda hut) passing through the peaks Deno, Irechek, rock pinnacles Trionite and Malka Musala. It is a relatively more difficult route that follows the narrow air paths and is not suitable for people with a fear of heights.
- Climbing via peak Aleko – the route follows the ridge to Musala; a little harder and longer than the traditional one.
- Climbing from the chalets Zavrachitsa and Grunchar through the peaks Bliznatcite (the Twins)
The two-day trips with an overnight at chalets make it possible to cross the entire mountain without coming back the same way.
Alternative path to Malyovitsa Peak
The alternative to the main trail along the valley is:
Climbing through the Malyovishki Lakes, Malyovo Pole, the foot of the north face of Malyovista Peak and Orleto Peak. From there, there are options along the northeast ridge of the peak or through Elenino Lake on the tourist route.
Trail to Chalet Macedonia
The route from the hut Ribni Ezera (Fish Ponds) passing over the Rila Monastery and reaching the chalet Macedonia, follows the ridge of the mountain and walk up and down several peaks over 2600 meters. Pirin Mountain can be seen not far and chalet Macedonia is an example of a secluded hut in the mountains, situated above 2000 m. The route is unpopular and less frequented compared to major routes in Rila Mountain.
It has to be mentioned that these routes vary in difficulty and in most cases they are longer and in places more technical from the popular routes, but offer much better vistas and feel of solitude.
What are your favourite hikes and where did you make them?
This is a sponsored post. However, the information shared and opinions expressed are independent and sincere.