Through another provider we booked the self-guided walking tour "Peaks And Lakes Of The RIla And Pirin Mountains". Traventuria was the on-the-ground service provider in Bulgaria, responsible for the itinerary, booking all accommodation and arranging all ground transportation.
We spent our first two days hiking in the Rila range, based in Govedartsi. Day 1 was the summit of Musala, Bulgaria's highest peak. This was a very manageable hike for anyone with hiking experience. It was a Saturday and was packed with people which took away from the experience somewhat. I'd much rather go on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Day 2 was a tour of the Seven Rila Lakes, which was phenomenal. Very challenging hiking (especially to reach the top two lakes) but we were rewarded with breathtaking scenery.
On Day 3 we stopped at the UNESCO World Heritage Rila Monastery on our way to our next base (Bansko). The monastery was incredible and well worth the two-hour visit we spent there.
We spent our last three hiking days based in Bansko, which felt almost deserted in early August. Day 4 was a fairly easy day (an out and back to Popovo Lake from the Gotse Delchev Hut). Day 5 (a tour of the Byderishki Lakes from the Vihren Hut) was also beautiful and rewarding. For the final day, instead of tackling Vihren as per the itinerary, we decided to go back to Gotse Delchev Hut and climb Mount Polezhan. This was about four hours of fairly challenging hiking, particularly the final 300m of ascent, but again the reward at the top was amazingly breathtaking scenery.
The route book provided by Traventuria was fantastic and we felt the directions provided for each hike were very clear. The accommodations were fine for a walking trip (comfortable bed and a good shower) but are fairly basic. There was no air conditioning - it was extremely hot but did cool down enough in the evening with the windows open for it to be manageable. The drivers were great, very friendly, excellent English and were always on time. We felt the organization of the trip and all the support was first class.
If you find yourself in Bansko we would highly recommend Mehana Voivodata on Pirin Street - great atmosphere, friendly service and huge portions of delicious traditional Bulgarian food at very reasonable prices.
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