Sharing the beauty of South-West Bulgaria’s Mountain Region
A comfortable night sleep at Niki’s place was a must before we headed to the Rila Mountain region, in the South-West. We got up early but decided to take it easy and chill out in the mountains that day, since we weren’t that organised and we weren’t going to make it to the lakes that day. Instead we spent the afternoon laying around, sunbathing, chatting, exploring the area and later on setting up camp.
The next day we got up early to pack and headed off to the lakes at 10am. We decided to take the cable car and then hike up as far as we can make it. There was a massive queue for the cable car, but time passed fairly quick as we were chatting to other people on the line and at some point me and Pete decided to roll down a hill, which provided much excitement and fun for us and a massive proportion of the people on the queue were staring at us – so we can say we were the crowd’s best entertainers, now that I think about it, we should have gone with a hat round the crowd to collect spectator’s donations hahaha. The cable car cost 10lv one way and 18lv for a return, but we decided to walk back to our camp from the lakes, so we only went up one way. The views from the cable car were amazing. And once we were at the top we stopped at the small restaurant at the hut and had nice light lunch which was really good and affordable – oh and the views!
My biggest concern about hiking the Seven Rila Lakes was that it is a tough hike and I do not feel in shape- physically, and I did not want to spoil Niki and Pete’s hike. There were a few areas where the hike was tough and we (me and Niki) did have to stop quite often to take short breaks, but we managed to make it to the last lake and it was beautiful – the view was worth all the sweat and the challenge. One of my recomendations is – if you are going for this hike, do take a hiking pole, it is so very useful and I think I would have been lost without one.
I must admit that the way up was not as bad as I thought it would be. It was challenging, but it was doable. Being up there feeling proud of myself, absolutely loving the views and the people I was with made my experience so special.
On the way up we accidentally bumped into a Park Ranger (as rare as a unicorn, considering how few people are employed to look after this enourmous National Park) and we spoke to her for a bit about the different hikes and the way back, she advised us on a route through the woods and so we did take it, slightly getting lost though. We headed back from the top around 6pm hoping to reach our camp by 8pm, but in reality it took us around 3-3.5h to find our way back – with hardly any stops. When we finally reached our camp I was exhausted, and I just wanted to go to bed. I was ready to fall asleep as soon as I got into our tent and layed down…Pete took the advantage and snapped a picture of tired Leah haha.
Before Pete’s arrival he said he wanted us to go to hot springs and it was extremely convenient that Sapareva Banya, which is at the bottom of the Rila Mountains is a great place for hot springs. So after this big hike, we decided the next day was for rest at a nice place with hot springs!