Rila

Bulgaria
5-10 of August 2006

The Rila mountains are the highest mountains in Europe between the Alps and Caucasus (Musala, 2925 m). It's area is pretty big so we concentrated on the north-west part, where most of the famous sights are (except for the highest peak...)


 

After meeting up at the airport in Sofia, we went by bus to Samokov.
From there we took a taxi to the Vada hut. The hut was small and
out of food, so we borrowed their kitchen.

Day 1. Vada Hut - Malyovitsa hut

This day we started with an ascent through nice forest with views
of the Verila mountains.

 

We don't know who this guy was, he just followed us all of the hike. Creepy.

 
 
 

We soon reached a lake where we swam.
Afterwards a lot of dead fishes was floating on the surface.

 

Then we came to the famous Seven Lakes area, the moust famous part of Rila mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

From the main ridge, on the way to Malyovitsa peak, we could see other lakes as well.

 

Click this image for a panorama view.

 

Lakes on different levels and a waterfall in the middle - nice...

 

View towards the Rila monastery (the small square in the valley).

 

The monastery zoomed in.

 

Walking on the Ridge after Malyovitsa peak.

 

The descent from the main ridge was steep and quite strenous, with lots of loose rocks. We where very exhausted when we reached the Malyovitsa hut.

 

The Malyovitsa hut was quit nice.
Here we are celebrating a fantastic hiking day with beer.

Day 2. Malyovitsa hut - Shelter.

 

Proof of Reinier being a red-neck. It was good that he walked first, since we where followinging the red stripe trail...

 

 

 

Ingmar with "bonnabränna" washing his not-so-clean armpits.
The waves show that even the water tried to escape from him...

 

Yet another beautiful lake...
We slept in a shelter full of czechs.

Day 3. Shelter - Ribni Ezera hut.

 

We walked in the clouds this day and only got a few views.

 

 

 

The Ribni Ezera hut was the worst hut I've ever been to. The staff (though only the men) was very unfriendly. They cheated Reinier+Marie to pay double price. And they threw us out of the restaurant in a very ride way. The rooms were the shitiest I ever saw in a hut, but the price wass still the highest possible in Buglaria...

 

In the end we were lucky that we were trown out from the Restaurant, because we instead met some bulgarian hippies that were making a big fire. They were very nice and we sat around the fire until late, smoking and drinking home-made Rakia.

 

The only cool thing about the Ribni Ezera hut is the blankets.

Day 4. Ribni Ezera hut - Rila monastery.

Walking through a long valley with impressive forests and cliffs.

 
 
 

 

 

The Malyovitsa peak that we passed on day one.

 

The beech forest near the monastery was very old and wild.
I'm not sure if I've ever seen beech trees with "skägglav" before.

 

The Rila monastery, perhaps Bulgarias best-known tourist attraction. Still, when we were there in the evening there where not many other tourists. A truly fantastic place. Extremely beautiful architecture and a peaceful atmosphere. We slept in the monastery - simple but very cosy.

 

Great food and wine in the evening.

Day 5. Rila monastery - Ivan Vazov hut.

 

First we walked through fairytale forests.

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic mountain forest.

 

A sheppered.

 

Toilet with a view. We had a lunch here. While eating, the rain became more and more intense. The rest of the day we walked through very heavy rain. When we reached the Ivan Vazov hut, the staff immediately gave us free tea and lend us dry clother. Very friendly!

In the evening we met up with other hikers we had met during the day - two lost german guys and a young english couple that hiked in t-shirts without rain coats... In the evening we drank beer, played guitarr and sang. A very good time!

Day 6. Ivan Vazov hut - Sapareva bania.

This day we walked passed the Seven Lakes again, heading towards our final destination: Pionerska hut.

 

The English couple (James & Nina) joined us this day. They borrowed some clothes from me and Ingmar.

 

After passing through some very nice forest, after the Seven Lakes, we came to the Skakavitsa hut. A very nice hut, from where we could see the impressive Skakavitsa waterfall.

 

From Skakavitsa we walked to the Pionerska hut. The trails had been repainted so the map was completely wrong. From the hut we payed a minivan to drive us to Sapareva Bania.

 

The spa-town Sapareva Bania has the only active geyser in continental Europe. And with 104ºC, it's one of the hottest springs in the world. We went to some old mineral baths, located near the geyser. It was the perfect end to a hike - relaxing in 46ºC natural spring water.