We spend an extraordinary hiking day within the Rila Mountains and more precisely within the boundaries of the Rila National Park.
Rila Mountains with their highest peak Musala (2 925 m. a. s. l.) are the highest in Bulgaria and on whole Balkan Peninsula. They represent the sixth highest mountain range in Europe as well. The name of the mountains has a Thracian origin and means “plenty of water”. The fact that Rila had twice been frozen has most influenced its landscape formation. The numerous cirques, well – formed glacial valleys, alpine mounts and more than 180 glacial lakes are certain proof of that. The tall coniferous trees of 50 – 60 metres and the rich animal world of bears, wolfs, imperial eagles, wild goats and many more are pure treasure.
Rila National Park is the largest of the three national parks in Bulgaria. Founded in 1993 the park contains rare and endangered wildlife species and communities, self-regulating ecosystems of biological diversity, as well as historic sites of global cultural and scientific significance. Some of the largest rivers in the Balkan Peninsula originate in the park.
The Seven Rila Lakes is the most popular trekking destination in Rila Mountains because of the outstanding beauty of the glacial lakes and the whole cirque. The lakes are one of the 100 national tourist sites in Bulgaria as well. These mountain pearls are amphitheatrically situated one above the other as follows: The Tear (the highest one at 2535 m. a. s. l.), The Eye, The Kidney, The Twins (the largest), The Trefoil, The Fish Lake and The Lower Lake (the lowest one at 2095 m. a. s. l.).
In the morning we drive to Pionerska hut at 1520 m. a. s. l. in Rila Mountains. We get on the chair lift to reach the Rila Lakes hut (2135 m. a. s. l.) at the top. Then we do a loop hike in the cirque of The Seven Rila Lakes in the boundaries of Rila National Park to discover the fascinating beauty of the glacial lakes and the towering peaks around. The first lake on the way is The Kidney followed by The Eye (the deepest cirque lake in Bulgaria – 37, 5 m) and the highest one – The Tear (2535 m. a. s. l.). From the nearby Lake Peak one can enjoy the incredible panorama over all of the lakes, the Vitosha Mountain and the Balkan Range in the distant background. After lunch at the top we continue exploring the rest of these mountain pearls by walking only downhill. The next one is the largest lake – The Twins, followed by The Trefoil, The Fish Lake and The Lower Lake which is the lowest and collects the waters from the other six lakes. The trek ends at the Rila Lakes hut again. Then we board the chair lift to Pionerska hut and drive back to Plovdiv.
Period: June-September (October-May also possible if weather conditions are favorable)
Trip duration: 11.5-12 hours total
Price: From 39 EUR per person depending on the group size
Included: English speaking tour guide, transfers from/to your hotel in Plovdiv, parking fee
Not included: Chair lift return ticket (9 EUR), food and tips
Note: The hike takes place between 2135 and 2560 m. a. s. l. Elevation difference: 425 m. Walking distance: 8.5 km. Hiking time: 5.5 h (including breaks). You can combine this day trip with a transfer to Sofia or Rila Monastery if you need to be delivered there after the end of the tour. If possible in July and August try to avoid the weekends to go to the Seven Rila Lakes area as it is very crowded. The Seven Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery day tour is possible but it takes around 14-14.5 h and the start from Plovdiv is at 7.00 – 7.30 the latest.