As we always plan beforehand, our vacations are not known for staying too long at one place. After two days of pure happiness at the beach, we packed our bags and got on our way – to the mountains. Bulgaria has so much to offer when it comes to nature, especially up in the mountains. One that is of particular interest for us is Rila.
Rila is the name of a mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria. It is the highest mountain range of Bulgaria and on the Balkans, with its highest peak Musala – 2925m. But this year we did not climb the highest peak but visited its glacial lakes. Yes, Rila has glacial lakes. And going there has been on of my mum’s dreams. So this year was the year that I get to make my mum’s dream come true.
Before coming to Bulgaria, my boyfriend and I had already booked an accommodation close by. You can find many options on www.booking.com once you have decided, in which city you want to stay. If you are traveling by car you can also stay at the city „Sapareva Banya“, which is around 19km eaway from the lakes. Many people go also to „Panichishte“, which is just 9km away.
We preferred „Sapareva Banya“ as in it there is an active geyser, which is 103 degrees hot. This is actually quite the rarity in this part of the world as there is no other geyser but this one. Be careful though! Just because it is called a geyser, it does not look or act as the ones that we see on the screen. To be honest, it looks more like a fountain than a geyser. We thought we had the wrong place when we arrived at the location.
The Seven Rila Lakes
These lakes are a group of glacial lakes, which are situated between 2,100 and 2,500 metres elevation above sea level. Another interesting fact is that they are all connected by small streams, which form tiny (and sometimes not that tiny) waterfalls and cascades.
One example of not that tiny waterfall that connect the lakes.
What to know when you get there
So the lift costs 18LEV (9€) both ways and it takes you around 20-30 minutes to reach there. But there is also the possibility to walk the distance. There are a few ways that lead to the starting point. The problem is that then you must walk for 2-3h to the starting point, then walk some 3-4h more until you get there and then all they back. That makes it a total of 10h. If you decide to take the lift just one way, there is the possibility to buy a one-way ticket. Either from the entrance of the lift or from the end station. There are always people there that can be help you.
We got there on Monday, so it was quite peaceful, not that many tourists standing in line, but apparently (based on what the locals told us) on the weekends it is an absolute madness. So better be prepared to wait patiently. Another thing to consider is the schedule of the lift. Monday is time for maintenance of the lift so it does not start early in the morning, as it does throughout the rest of the week, but at 12:30. Under this link you can find news and useful information in regard to the lakes, such as the opening hours of the lift and the weather prognosis for the day in the mountain.
Going up it does not seem that high … but wait until you are sitting in it on your way back, then it gets pretty real.Once you are there, try to find the information map on the right side of the chateau.
It is really good to take a look at it, when you are at the starting point, as it gives you some perspective of the route. Before starting, there are two paths that you can choose form. Most people prefer to go right first and climb the hills and then go down. If you choose to go left, you will go first down and then up. It pretty much depends on which lakes do you want to see first.
Be careful though, the path is quite steep. Even though my daddy was able to make it, he was quite exhausted in the end.
After one hour.
What is also typical for these lakes is that each of them has a name associated with its most characteristic feature. In the picture above you can slightly see the first two lakes. The first lake (from left to right) is called Dolnoto Ezero („The Lower Lake“), in which all the waters that flow out of the other lakes are gathered to form the Dzherman River. The next in line is Ribnoto Ezero (“The Fish Lake”).
We had to take the obligatory „Monkey business“ photo at the edge of the mountain. Going forward, we reached the next lake, Babreka „The Kidney“. It is actually in the shape of a kidney as you can see in the next photos. It also has the steepest shores of all.
Find Me, I dare you okay, I will give you a hint – look more closely at the right part of the picture.
After climbing that slope, I had to also „go“ into the lake as well.
I know that I am a dork for writing the next line but I just cannot help myself. I think it is hilarious. Let me know what you think of my joke.
„I think this kidney has some kidney stones“. Hilarious!
Can you spot me in this picture?
My boyfriend took this amazing picture of the three lakes, while climbing the mountain to see the remaining two („Salzata“ („The Tear“) and „Okoto“ („The Eye“) ) . The waters of the The Tear are so clear that it allows you to see through them and The Eye has an almost perfectly oval form and it is also the deepest lake of them all – 37.5m.
Unfortunately, by the time we got there a fog came down and we could not see anything clearly. I was able to see „The Tear“ half-way through and then it got „swallowed“ by the fog. We tried to climb the rest of the slope but it was so foggy that you could not even see the way you were going. Knowing all the stories of tourists stuck on mountains and never finding the way down, we decided not waiting the fog out or even the storm (there were some quite strong thunders over our heads) and went straight down.
We then were able to see lake number three, Trilistnika (“The Trefoil”), and four, Bliznaka („The Twin“), a little bit more closely. The Twin has the biggest surface.
To be honest … going down was no fun at all. I was actually walking so fast, I did not realize it, until I turned to see if everyone was still there. I just wanted to reach the lift as quickly as possible. The last call is normally around 18:00 when the weather is good and when it is not … hurry up to back and hope it does not start to rain! We were not equipped to AT ALL to endure a heavy rain in the city, imagine what it would be like, if it started to rain in the mountain.
A good advice from me – take clothes that are designed for the weather up high. Do not think that if it is sunny in the city, it will be sunny in the mountains. Actually, in the city, where we stayed it was around 35 degrees that day and up in the mountains was around 12. I leave the math to you.
If you want more amazing travel destinations like that, check out post on some summer locations in Bulgaria here. If you are not that interested in beach vacations but prefer the old tour through land, go to my article Great ideas for your summer vacation in Bulgaria.
And of course, you can always leave your comment below and share some interesting destinations worth visiting.