Winter trekking in Bulgaria
The winter trek in Bulgaria explores the Rila Mountains, a largely untouched world of alpine summits, snowy ridges, deep forests, glacial lakes and panoramic views. The trip is perfect for small groups looking for a challenging alpine walking holiday in an unusual part of Europe, ending with a climb on Bulgaria's highest peak, Mount Musala (2925 m).
The best months for our winter tour of the Rila mountain range in Bulgaria are traditionally February and March when the days are getting longer. We offer open dates and tailormade dates for private groups. The trip is challenging and suitable for people with mountain experience in winter conditions.
Programme for the winter trek in Bulgaria
|1||Arrive in Sofia and transfer to hotel in the forests of the Rila Mountains|
|2||Acclimatisation day with treks to Skakavista waterfall and the Seven Rila Lakes area|
|3||Summit of Mt Malyovista via each of the Seven Rila Lakes and Razdela High Pass|
|4||Circuit trek to the so-called Scary Lake before descending via Yonchevo Lake|
|5||Summit of Mt Orlovets via the Bulgarian Alpine Club hut and the so-called Evil Gate|
|6||Summit Lakatishka mountain / hot springs at Belchin|
|7||Summit of Mt Musala from Borovets|
|8||Transfer to Sofia for departures|
|+||optional extra days in Bulgaria, contact us for options|
The Rila Mountains of Bulgaria
It is often described as the 'Great Rila Desert', not because of the landscape but the feeling of infinity and wilderness you experience walking among its endless summits.
Over 120 permanent glacial lakes are dotted in-between the peaks of the vast Rila National Park which covers an area of 810 km². The lower slopes are covered in thick forests, primarily spruce, white fir and pine. These forests provide a peaceful habitat for deer, wild goats and falcons. Higher up you move through gentle and rocky slopes to high mountain plateaus and summits with plenty of caves, river gorges and vertical rock walls to explore along the way.
However, the Balkan mountains are much more than that! They are the keepers of Bulgarian spirit, culture and traditions, they have central role in the history of the nation – to Bulgarians it is their sacred land and during the most magical season – the winter – you will experience all of that.
Equipment and clothing for a winter trek in Bulgaria
- BAGS - Day sack of around 40 litres plus a hold-all for clean clothes which can be left in hotels and/or transferred from starting points to finish points in your hold-all (include padlock for hold-all). Make sure your daysack has a waterproof cover.
- SHELL - Top and bottom gore-tex jacket and trousers plus gaiters
- INSULATION - Layered system to keep you warm- body, hands & head. Thermal base layer, Fleece layers, down jacket, Gloves, hats and good quality socks. Have a good sunhat as well as a warm hat and gloves/mitts.
- FEET - Crampon compatible boots (B2 or B3) and good quality mountain boots, double leather or plastic.
- CLIMBING - Crampons, walking axe, harness, sling and some screwgate karabiners
- DRINKING & EATING - Two water bottles or a platypus for keeping hydrated on the trail plus some energy snacks (water purification tablets are necessary). Flask for hot drinks.
- WASHING & MEDICAL - wash kit, travel towel and small personal first aid kit for standard issues like headaches, dehydration, blisters and scrapes. Don't forget your E111 card if European, and also your travel insurance papers since medical care and medications in pharmacies are expensive. Sun-cream and lip salve, after sun cream.
- ADDITIONAL – trekking poles, head-torch, sunglasses which are high UV rating and suitable for mountain conditions and travel adaptor.
NB: We can provides snowshoes if required (depends on the condition of the snow), however you should bring your own crampons that are compatible with your boots.
Winter trek in Bulgaria detailed programme
|1||1 hour 30 mins||Arrive at Sofia airport where you will be met by your guide and transfer to a picturesque family hotel deep in the forests of Rila mountains. Short briefing about the trip, dinner and overnight.|
|2||5 hours||Acclimatisation hike to the stunning Skakavista waterfall (biggest waterfall in the Rila mountains - 64m) before continuing on to the area of the Seven Rila Lakes. Expect to enjoy picturesque scenery and beautiful views throughout the day, including the descent along one of the many ridges back to the same family hotel that we stayed in the previous night.|
|3||7 hours||Winter ascent of Mount Malyovista (2,729m) via each of the Seven Lakes and the high pass of Razdela (2,600m), which is easily one of the best viewpoints of the entire Rila mountain range. From the summit we'll drop down in to a nearby valley where accommodation will be provided in another family hotel located in the dense pine forests of the lower slopes.|
|4||5-6 hours||Although shorter, today is more technical as we ascend to the so-called 'Scary Lake' (2,462m), located at the foot of the Rila Range's most popular alpine climbing peaks. The views from the lake and the nearby hut are breath-taking. Our descent is via the alluring Yonchevo lake and on to the same hotel as the previous night.|
|5||5-6 hours||Today is the most technical day through the rockiest part of the mountains. We'll start with an ascent to the BAC (Bulgarian Alpine Club) hut before continuing on to the so-called 'Evil Gate' – a pass situated between the most challenging summits of the range. From here we'll make a call on the climb of Mount Orlovets (2,685m) depending on the ability of the team and the weather on the day, it may be an option that some of the team rest at the saddle while more experienced winter climbers push for an ascent before descending back to our accommodation in the forests of the lower slopes.|
|6||4-5 hours||A less challenging day after what will have been three intense days. We'll start with a pleasant hike through the forests in the lower parts of north-west Rila and more gentle Lakatishka mountain, where we can enjoy the best views towards the alpine summits of Rila. In the afternoon we visit the open air hot mineral springs at the nearby village of Belchin before returning back to Malyovitsa valley and the same accommodation for dinner and overnight.|
|7||6 hours||A 30 minute transfer to the Borovets ski resort in the early morning before taking a gondola life for 40 minutes on the higher slopes of Mount Musala and our final summit of the tour. Mount Musala (2,926 m) is the highest peak in Bulgaria and offers panoramic views of many glacial lakes, mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks across the mountains in Rila National Park and indeed the entire Balkan peninsula. After our summit we'll return to Borovets ski resort with the gondola and drop down to the town of Samokov for our final night.|
2 hours 30 mins
|After breakfast we transfer back to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria for departures.|
Winter Tour of the Rila Mountains cost £745.00
The cost is based on teams of 4 people or more, feel free to contact us for private itineraries and costings.
- All accommodation in local hotels
- All meals provided
- Licensed mountain guide (English speaking)
- Gondola lifts used during the itinerary
- Airport transfers and any other transfers as per the itinerary
- Flights to Sofia airport
- Drinks during dinners
- Entrance fees for any tourist attractions visited
- Tips and personal expenses
- Personal travel insurance
A deposit of £100 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full six weeks prior to your departure.
You can book your Adventure Alternative holiday for as little as £100.00 and pay the balance in as many instalments as you like. Choose a scheduled date or contact us for private dates, a bespoke itinerary or more trip details.
- Duration 8 days
- Accommodation Hotels
- Difficulty Moderate/Difficult