The Rila mountains are the largest and most impressive in Bulgaria. Most peaks rise to around 2600m with Mount Masala at 2915m the highest. Many miles of beautiful marked hiking trails cross the mountains, in many directions. Based at the Rila Monestary at 1100m the many trails that begin and end there have one main direction, up. Having seen photos of the Seven Lakes on postcards, we decided that we had to see them, we couldn't find the starting point of the shortest route, blue, but easily found the red route. Unluckily we had taken so long organising our things that we could only start the hike at 12 noon.
The Red path starts at the Monestary, and ends at Ivan Vazov mountain hut, near the seven lakes. The first hour is through beech forest, the second through meadows and patches of pine trees, the final few hours through alpine meadows. Most of the way fabulous views open up, around every corner.
Half way we were able to refil our water bottles at a fresh spring, which was good because one liter each wouldn't have been enough for the entire trek. The tops of the mountains are treeless, bleak and very
Things were going really well, until Sari showed me her blisters, some of the worst I have seen, it was making things really painful for her to walk.
Eventually - a slow pace for Sari's blisters - we got to the crest of the highest point of hike, the views were astounding. From this point it was downhill to the mountain hut, we choose not to take the longer option and go all the way to the seven lakes but stayed at the Ivan Vazov (a great Bulgarian writer) Mountain Hut, the setting for the hut at around 2500m high, was bleak and starkly beautiful. For 10 leva ($5) each we stayed in a little shed on top of the mountain.
We hiked to the seven lakes the next morning, Sat and looked from up high down to the stunning views, the rest of the day we hiked down back to the monestary, the same route as it was the easiest. Even now with muscle ache and really bad blisters Sara says the hike was worth it, for me - escaping blisters even with $6