Revel in the beauty of nature amid winter. Sense the calm of winter magic in three of Bulgaria’s best-loved mountains: the Vitosha Nature Park, Rila and Pirin national parks. Our snowshoeing trek passes old mountain forests, high plateaus, steep slopes and valleys, tiring us pleasantly before an evening spent in a peasant family hotel with a glass of red wine with appetizing local specialties. The itinerary includes a call at one of Bulgaria’s most renowned sights: the UNESCO-listed Rila Monastery.
Snowshoe walking appears easy fun, yet calls for some stamina because any walking through snow can be tiring. Even if you have not tried this type of locomotion, you will rapidly get used to using the poles and snowshoes on thick, fluffy virgin mountain snow. The program is moderate to difficult and suitable for people in good physical shape (no previous experience is needed). Depending on the weather and snow cover, your guide may change the proposed routes.
Day 1: Sofia
We meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to the hotel where the group will overnight.
Day 2: Sofia – Vitosha Mountains – Govedartsi (4-5hrs; +150m/-600m)
Today, we traverse Vitosha: the most popular destination for Sofianites. Starting from the Aleko Hut, we shall trek along the crest of the mountain through the Torfeno Branishte Nature Reserve to the famous Zlatni Mostove (Golden Bridges) stone rivers. We then transfer for overnight in a cozy family-run pension in the village of Govedartsi, Rila Mountains.
Day 3: Govedartsi – Malyovitsa – Govedartsi (5hrs +550m/-550m)
After breakfast we transfer to the nearby resort Malyovitsa. From there we start climbing up towards Yonchevo Lake. As we walk out of the woods we will enjoy the panorama to the neighbouring peaks and deep valleys of Rila. Eventually we walk down through an old coniferous forest to get back to Maliovitsa along a different route. (5hrs of walking, climbing 550m/1800ft and descending 550m/1800ft)
Day 4: Govedartsi – Borovets – Icy Lake Refuge – Borovets – Govedartsi (5,30 hrs; +650m/-650m)
Today’s aim is to get to the foot of Bulgaria’s, and the Balkans’, highest summit: Musala Peak (2925m/9594ft). We climb to the starting point of the route by cable car from the Borovets Resort and then continue snowshoeing to the highest mountain refuge in Bulgaria – The Icy Lake. At this point the rugged summit of Musala will be facing us from a very close distance, but as long as the last stage will require the use of ropes and crampons in winter we will have to skip this part. Then we turn back along the same route to overnight at Govedartsi again.
Day 5: Govedartsi – Panichishte – The Seven Rila Lakes – Bansko (5-6hrs; +400-500m/-400-500m)
A brief transfer takes us to the Panichishte Resort where we board a cable car to the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque for a tour among the lower five of them. Though frozen and covered in thick snow in winter, the area remains rather pretty. Our day ends in a cosy family hotel at the famous ski resort of Bansko in Pirin Mountains, where we stay for the next two nights.
Day 6: Bansko – Mount Bezbog – Bansko (4-5hrs; +500m/-500m)
Another short transfer takes us above Dobrinishte resort to board the chair cable car to the Bezbog Hut. This is the setting-off point for the hiking trek to the Bezbog (No God) Peak (2645m high). Stunning panoramas of the neighbouring summits and ridges will be accompanying us as we make our way to the top. Transfer back to Bansko.
Day 7: Bansko – Rila Monastery – Sofia (2hrs; +100m/-100m)
We leave Pirin and transfer to one of Bulgaria’s top tourist attractions: the Rila Monastery listed by UNESCO. The latter is the largest and most significant Bulgarian Orthodox Church establishment. The 20m high walls shelter impressive cloisters, a church, and a chapel with unique murals and museum collections. A short walk can be performed in the area to the cave of St. John of Rila (the monastery founder) or to the picturesque sandy pyramids of Stob. Then we continue on to Sofia, where we have gala dinner and last overnight.
Day 8: Sofia
Transfer to Sofia Airport.
Limited time offer:
Price: 1090 € per person in twin/dbl room (based on min 4 full-paying clients)
Single room supplement: 160 € (obligatory for all individual clients)
Price includes: transfers to and from Sofia Airport (on first/last tour date only) and all other transfers in the itinerary; en-suite accommodation in 3-star and family hotels, incl. breakfast and dinner; English-speaking mountain guide; hire of snow shoes and poles; cable car tickets and all local taxes.
Price does not include: museum entry charges; extra food and drink; mountain maps; medical insurance; personal expenses.
Best period: January – March
Joining the tour: this tour is organized on private basis only if the requirement for min group size is met (4 persons).