Hiking in the Rila Mountains

Published: July 18th 2004
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Seven LakesSeven LakesSeven Lakes

The first icey lake we came to
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
Ali and LakesAli and LakesAli and Lakes

Over looking the Seven Lakes
beautiful, the last 3 hours of the hike to the hut was also much cooler.
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 trainers from Sophia - it was easily worth doing, unfortunately we won't be making a longer hike in the Pirin mountains as I'd originally hoped. Sara doesn't walk well at the moment.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


Tree of Life and DeathTree of Life and Death
Tree of Life and Death

Hmm cheesey title.
Alpine FlowersAlpine Flowers
Alpine Flowers

High in the Rila Mountains
Meadow FlowersMeadow Flowers
Meadow Flowers

From less high in the Rila Mountains
Meadow FlowersMeadow Flowers
Meadow Flowers

More flowers from the meadow.
The MeadowThe Meadow
The Meadow

At about 1700m high.
Ivan Vazov Mountain HutIvan Vazov Mountain Hut
Ivan Vazov Mountain Hut

Where we stayed overnight, friendly staff and soup available.
Stacking RocksStacking Rocks
Stacking Rocks

Up near the Seven Lakes

22nd July 2004

pictures dark on this one Ali
as comment
23rd August 2004

Great pictures and comments. I'm hiking to the Seven Lakes this September, and your website is great motivation!!
5th February 2008

hidden gem
Now everyone knows, Bulgaria has alpine lakes! Now its officially on my "to visit" list. :)
31st August 2009

where do I find a map with trails for hiking incl. huts for overnignting in the Rilas ?
20th April 2011

Just a small note: it is mount Musala, 2925 m. More useful information about the mountains of Bulgaria: http://mountain-guide-bulgaria.com

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