Bulgaria Seven Rila Lakes 3D2N Hiking (Detailed)

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- 5 months traveling in Europe - Bulgaria

Bulgaria is the second stop of my Europe trip, but I have been in Bulgaria for three times in this trip.

The first time I went to the East part (Varna, Valiko Tarnovo) and the second time I went to West side and Central Part (Sofia, Plovdiv)

Why I need to go to Bulgaria for the third time? It is because I really want to hike Seven Rila Lakes! I knew this place while I was searching what to do near Sofia. While I was in Sofia it was May. Even Mt Votosha was full of snow at the top of the mountain. The lowest lake in Seven Lakes is 2,095 metres, of course you can easily access to there with this weather. However, I want to see all seven lakes, the highest lake is on 2,525 metres. I want to spend a full day enjoying all the lakes walking from bottom to top.

That's why I did not go to Seven Lakes while I was in Sofia in May. Since I know I could not really go to the top with heaps of snow.

But I still want to have a try sometime. Lastly after one and a half month I went back to Bulgaria after traveling in Greece. It is June!
Day 1 – Blagoevgrad -> Dupnitsa -> Sapareva Banya -> Rila Lakes Hut

Since this hiking idea was an all of a sudden decision, I took an early morning bus from Thessaloniki, Greece to Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. I knew that if I needed to go to Seven Rila Lakes, I need to first take a bus to Dupnitsa and then take a bus to Sapareva Banya. In summer, there is bus from Sapareva Banya to Panichishte, and then you just need take a short walk to the cable car starting point. If there is no car, it will take 2 hours to reach the cable car start point.

I know there is a bus from Blagoevgrad to Dupnitsa, so I start my journey today here. But the staff at Blagoevgrad bus station did not know English. I said I want to go to Dupnitsa and she told me no bus... then I asked another one, she said 'no ticket'. I believe because the bus is a long distance bus, it will pass Dupnica but in Blagoevgrad it was fulled already.  Lastly I knew there will be a bus going to Dupnitsa 1 hour something later. I could only stick to the bus station because I did not know will I miss this one....

Lastly I arrived Dupnitsa from Blagoevgrad. But the bus going to Sapareva Banya would be departing one hour later. Thus I arrived at Sapareva Banya quite late around 4 pm something.

Map in Sapareva Banya stating the hiking hours to each hut

See the last line - Х. Рилски Езера, which is the short form of Хижа Рилски Езера, meaning Rilski Ezera Hut - that is, Rila Lakes Hut - my destination today. 3 ч - 3 час - 3 hours.

Because there was no bus to Panichishte, I tried to hitchhike, only a few cars passing through and not all going to my destination. Fortunately , there was a couple who stopped and they were going to cable car too. If not them I may need to walk for at least 2 hours.

Cable car start point
 As I saved some time by hitchhiking, I decided to walk to the hut from cable car starting point. It only took around 1 hour for me to walk. Not many people going down from the track while I was going up. They were happy to see me, maybe because I am Asian.

While walking to the hut
Rila Lakes Hut, a super luxury multi storeys ski resort , there is wifi, a bathroom , very luxurious. Unfortunatly the wifi was broken on the day I slept there. June Rila Lakes Hut price is 20 lev for dormitory, ten people in the room, plus 5lev breakfast The most expensive up to 90 lev per person, twin room. Originally, I was in the ten people dorm , but I got transferred to a twin room free of charge. I went out for a walk before dark. I was glad I went to here. Tomorrow will be a big day.

Lux Rila Lakes Hut

Rila Lakes Hut Ten people dorm

Actually all people in this dorm were workers, only me was visitor

Lentil Soup, 2lev

Day 2 – Rila Lakes Hut -> The Lower -> Fish Lake -> The Trefoil -> The Twin -> The Kidney -> The Eye -> The Tear -> Ivan Vazov Hut

The next day after eating breakfast , the original trip was just a tour of the lake and then go back to Sapareva Banya by the same way (in fact, from online information I knew that I can go to Rila Monastery by Seven Rila Lakes and it is a two day walk.) 

If I wanted to do 3 day 2 nights going to Rila Monastery as my final stop, I was worried about
1. Will the path to the next hut and Monastery be full of ice
2. Will Ivan Vazov Hut be opened 

In the hotel  a couple went from Monastery to Ivan Vazov Hut and then to here. They said the road was okay, just some places had ice and Ivan Vazov Hut is opened. So in less than a few minutes I decided to go to Ivan Vazov Hut tonight, changing my 2D1N trip to 3D2N.

I first passed by the lowest lake The Lower Lake (2,095 metres ), then to the Fish Lake (2,184 metres ).  My original plan yesterday was to stay overnight in  Seven Lakes Hut next to Fish Lake, but staff in Rila Lakes Hut  told me that Seven Lakes Hut was very simple and had no electricity and you need to get a key  As I had to charge my mobile for gps to run , I finally chose Rila Lakes Hut.

Fish Lake  is more special than Lower Lake and The Trefoil since Seven Lakes hut is  beside Fish Lake

Fish Lake, selfie with camera putting on the table in front of Seven Lakes Hut

Fish Lake and Seven Lakes Hut
Scenery around Twin Lake (2,243 metres) is very beautiful , there are people camping, horses resting. I just found a big rock and sit and rest. With snow mountain, grass and lake around me.

The Twin
The upper one is The Kidney (2,282metres). This  lake shapes like kidney.  The next one is The Eye (2,440metres), half frozen, so pretty. I could not believe scenery was so amazing with this month!

The Kidney 2,282m

The Eye 2,440m, half frozen mode, awesome!

Take from The Kidney, seeing 4 lakes below

The last part is going to The Tear (2,535), the lake was all ice. The road was frozen and very slippery. I needed to use both hands on some of the slope. There was a viewing platform near The Tear. It was very windy.  There was national flag there. I just stayed there for 5 minutes and I needed to go somewhere to escape from the strong wind.

All frozen The Tear 2,535m
As there was still some time left,  I went to Peak Vazov on the way to Ivan Vazov Hut. Along the road you could see signage, but almost all did not have color and you can barely see the words on there. You can only know there was some path and direction but don't know where they lead to. I relied on the the color on the stone to specify the direction and gps to specify the destination name.

The weather was fine and I enjoyed the tranquility of nature for a long time and did not see any people. Finally I met a French girl on the way to Ivan Vazov Hut. Her first question to me was: Do you speak English? I  said: Yes. Then we went together to the hut while talking.

On arrival at Ivan Vazov Hut, I saw a big dog in the room and two kittens. The host talked to us and there was a pair of Bulgarian couples apart from us.

Ivan Vazov Hut

Ivan Vazov Hut Beds
After putting my backpack in the hut, I wanted to see more view of seven lakes. I went out and I went for 2 hours.

Going up from Ivan Vazov Hut and walked across to see this view
Six lakes! Beautiful!

After going back from the short hike we chatted with the host. He treated us with national  alcohol Rakia with tomatoes and zucchini. He has been here for three years. In winter, here can dropped to -40 degree and he had seen bear and fox around here.

When sunset time we walked a bit to see the sunset. Today was the full moon night, There was no lamp inside the house, only candle. We slept around 9, 10pm. 

Day 3 – Ivan Vazov Hut -> Rila Monastery

Today itinerary was simple, I just needed to walk down to Rila Monastery. After saying goodbye to everyone, I departed.  The first part of the hike was in open space, all green around me.  At last bit you will enter the wood  and start walking down. There was  mark on stone so you know this is the right way. I walked for around 4hours 10mins and arrive at the Rila Monastery (Signage said 7 hours)


Marker on the stone

Into the wood, signage saying 7 hours
Rila Monastery is the biggest monastery in Bulgaria, a must go place for tourists. Well, I was different from other ordinary tourists, wearing hiking shirts and pants. 

Rila Monastery

Amazing colorful fresco
While I was looking at the menu outside a restaurant, the French girl I knew from the hike said hi to me. Although we walked in different direction while departing from the hut, she spent similar time as me coming down to Rila Monastery. She put her big backpack in a campsite near there and she was going to there. I went with her to see how was there and also ate lunch with her. After lunch she suggested hitchhiking. I needed to go back to  Blagoevgrad and she was going to Sofia.

This French girl tried hitchhiking a lots of time already. I felt so proud of her. She has been to lots of places in Bulgaria that I also wanted to go. But since most of those places could not be reached by public transport, I just gave up on those places while she  went there by hitchhiking.  She told me story about some drivers would like to have xxx with her.  I am not brave enough to do long distance hitchhiking myself.

Lastly we got a ride to Sofia and the French girl said she was so lucky. For me, i would just get off at Rila and took a bus back to Blagoevgrad.

This night was my last night in Bulgaria. Blagoevgrad is not a touristic place. Many people looked at me on the street while i was walking. Originally I would like to have a big meal, but I didn't exchange enough money and I did not know how much I need exactly tomorrow for bus to Macedonia. So I just went to supermarket Billa to buy beer and Moussaka for my last supper here. Hey but tonight I slept in a hotel single room with only 30lev, yeah!

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