If you want an unforgettable and yet demanding winter active holiday, then this is for you. This is a guided snow shoeing holiday set in the Rila mountain range, the most majestic mountain range in Bulgaria and the Balkans. This is a real opportunity to commune with nature and experience the wilderness of this fascinating country.
The Rila Mountain range is situated in the southwest of Bulgaria. The name Rila descends from the Slavic word Rula, meaning "Full of Water Mountain", owing to the abundance of glacial lakes (over 200) and hot springs at the base of the mountains. Some of the Balkan’s longest and deepest rivers originate from Rila, including the Maritsa, the Iskar and the Mesta. The mountain range has a wide zone of coniferous and broad-leafed natural woods and is occupied by the Rila National Park. There are over 2000 plant varieties and a rich animal world. There are many huts and chalets for overnights and marked tourist paths. However, to taste the real spirit of the Rila Mountains it is necessary to get off the well trodden paths.
The highest peak of the Rila Mountain range (and of the Balkan Peninsula) is Musala (2925m). The Musala Region is the catchment area for many rivers. Another interesting part of the Rila Mountain range is the region of Peak Maliovitza. It is famous for the alpine relief, picturesque traverses and the special charm of the wild valleys. It is the natural setting for Bulgaria's most famous monastery - Rila Monastery.
Day 1 Sofia – Maliovitza (in the Rila mountain region) Arrive in Sofia and transfer about 1h30 to the northern slopes of the Rila mountain range. Accommodation is in a mountain hotel at 1600m in the area of Guletchitza.
Day 2 Rila Mountain – Maliovitza area Short morning transfer of about 10 minutes. Today is a chance to adapt and settle in to your surroundings with a 4-5h walk. Start the morning with an easy walk of about 1H to Maliovitza chalet. We will then climb in the direction of “Strashnoto Lake” before descending to 1700m – the Maliovitza centre. A picnic lunch will be provided. Same accommodation as day 1.
Day 3 Maliovitza area – Mt. Maliovitza This morning we have the same morning transfer of about 10 min. Now that you’ve eased yourself into the way of life here, we have a tough day with a climb of about 1000m. Your starting point will be at a height of 1700m, then we will climb to the summit of Mt. Maliovitza at 2729m – the symbol of Bulgarian alpinism. A picnic lunch is provided. After this achievement we will return to the same accommodation as day 1.
Day 4 Maliovitza area - Seven Lakes area Today we will depart from the hotel and descend about 150 metres into the forest for a wild walk. After 1h of easy walking we reach the mountain chalet “Vada”, at 1200m. From there we will walk for about 2h30 via the mountain chalets of Lovna in the famous Seven Lake area. We will then descend for 1h to a mountain hotel at Panichishte. Overnight at 1600m.
Day 5 Panichishte – village of Sapareva bania This is a day for relative relaxation! Today we will embark upon a short walk in the morning in one of the most remote areas of the Rila mountain range (3h30-4h). Without a big climb we reach the “Obesen kamak” and descend to the village of Saparevo. Lunch.
Short transfer to Sapareva bania village – 5km. Visit the geyser or hot mineral water spring. We can then go and enjoy the public thermal bath in the village. Transfer back to Panichishte area by bus and same accommodation.
Day 6 Seven Lakes area – Skakavitza - Panichishte Today we will walk to the circ of the famous “Seven Lakes” and descend via Skakavitz waterfall. The total walk for the day will be 4-5h. Accommodation in a hotel in Panichishte.
Day 7 Panichishte – Rila monastery - Sofia We start the day with a transfer of 1h30 to Rila monastery.
Visit of Rila monastery – Situated high in the picturesque Rila mountain range the monastery was founded by John of Rila in the 10th century, as a colony of hermits. Later it became one of the centres of early mediaeval culture. During the ages it has been destroyed by fire, abandoned by the monks and pillaged several times. Nowadays the oldest building in the complex is the defence-tower built in 1335.
Option: walk in the surrounding area
Transfer 120 km to Sofia, accommodation in 3* hotel in the downtown area. Visit Sofia
Day 8 Depart Free time to enjoy Sofia until your transfer to the Airport!
Starting point Upon arrival in Sofia on day 1
End After your transfer to the airport on day 8
Accommodation Nights in hotels.
Number of people Minimum of 6 persons
Level of difficulty This is a demanding holiday. You need to be in good physical condition but no previous experience of snow shoeing needed.
Carrying You only need to carry with you a small rucksack for your daily needs (camera, picnic) and avalanche equipment (provided if necessary).
Included All transfers, 6 full boards and the breakfast in Sofia, guide, equipment (snow shoes and sticks).
Not included Dinner in Sofia, lunch in Sofia, drinks, any entry fees, insurance.