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Bulgaria - Rila Snow Shoe - SNP - February 2018
Below you will find a list of pictures, taken on our trip to Rila National Park in Bulgaria organized by SNP from February 10 to 17 2018.
The most interesting images have a red bullet in front of them.
The days we were walking we kept track of how much time we spent walking. This is excluding the time for breaks.
February 10: Home - Goverdartsi
Around 2 pm we arrived in Sofia after a quiet flight with Bulgaria Air from Amsterdam. We met our guide, went to the ATM to get some cash and then we met the rest of the group. It took about one and a half hour to reach Goverdartsi. We did some shopping: groceries for the lunch for the next day.
At the hotel we quickly unpacked and as it was still light, went for a walk in the woods. There was a little snow, but not very much. Back in the hotel we had diner and prepared our daypacks for the next day.
This day we walked approximately 45m.
February 11: Around Goverdartsi
After breahkfast we got instructions on how to attach the snowshoes to the normal shoes and how to find the right size for the walking poles. Then a minibus took us to the starting point. It was in the area where we had walked the day before. Just enough snow to use the snowshoes, but a very pleasant view: all those snow covered trees.
The path took us up and down, sometimes quite steep. Around 2.30 we got back at the starting point where we were picked up again by the minibus that brought us back to the hotel. Over diner we learned that the program would be changed due to the snow conditions and weather forecast.
This day we walked approximately 3h15m.
February 12: Goverdartsi - Borovets - Samokov - Goverdartsi
We got up earlier than the day before. After breakfast the minibus took us to the Borovets ski resort. A very popular area, not just for the locals, but as it is cheap compared to Austria, a lot of westerners too.
The ski-lift took us to about 1.800m / 5,900 ft. from where we walked to our lunch spot in about one and a half hour. In the area we saw a few squirrels. After lunch we continued to walk uphill, sometimes quite steep, to around 2.175m / 7,135 ft.. There we had to search for a path through some smaller trees. Our guide said that normally there would be enough snow to cover all the small trees and you wouldn't even know they were there. Then we headed down, all the way to the lift station Sitniakova. There we had hot cocoa (yummie!). Next we took the lift down to Borovets. The minibus picked us up and drove us to Samokov where we visited the market. Then we drove back to the hotel.
This day we walked approximately 3h05m.
February 13: Goverdartsi - Panichishte - Sapareva Banya - Goverdartsi
An early start to be ready at 8 for the drive to Panishishte at 1.600m / 5,250. 4 of the group to the lift up to the first hut and we and the rest walked up there (a very steep climb, but wonderful views). In the hut we had hot cocoa and some of our packed lunch. The next bit went slightly down at first, but then only up, up, up. All the way we were walking in very strong winds.
We entered the 7 lakes area. It could have been possible to see 5 of them on our route. We might have seen 5 flat white areas in a white landscape, yes. Our highest point for the day was 2.335m / 7,660 ft.. With the very strong winds, snow was blowing all around us; we could hardly see anything in the whiteout... Once we entered the woods again, the wind was no longer an issue. We had the last bit of our packed lunch. We walked back down to the road (again around 1.600m / 5,250 ft.) where the minibus picked us up. Via Sapareva Banya (where we saw a small geyser) we drove back to the hotel.
After diner a group of elderly local men came to sing a couple of songs and dance.
This day we walked approximately 5h05m.
February 14: Goverdartsi - Rila - Sapareva Banya - Goverdartsi
The same ritual as the day before. Driving through the lower parts of the country, there was little or no snow. Higher up again near Rila, there was snow again though. The monastery is really beautiful! The museum is small, but worth the visit. Next we went for a short walk to the small church / cave where Ivan Rilski once lived. From there we walked back to the monastery. Next we drove to Sapareva Banya. Some took a bath there, we went to find some geocaches.
In a bar we had a beer before we were picked up again to go to the hotel.
This day we walked approximately 50m.
February 15: Goverdartsi - Borovets - Goverdartsi
This day we went to Borovets again. This time we took the lift up to 2.369m / 7,772 ft.. It was a wonderful sunny day, with litte wind. We first walked down to around 2.200m / 7,218 ft. before going up again to where we could just see the Ledeno Ezero hut. Arjen went on to hit the 2.600m / 8,530 ft. mark. Then we returned to the Mussala hut, drinking coffee/tea in the sun. Afterwards the path went up and down to the gondola top station. From there we took the gondola back down to Borovets. We had a beer in one of the bars and searched for some geocaches.
This day we walked approximately 3h55m.
February 16: Goverdartsi - Malyovitsa - Sofia
We had to get up early, to pack all our stuff as this would be our last walking day and also the transit to Sofia.
We were driven to Malyovitsa and started walking from there. Via a ski slope we walked up and then through the woods further uphill. Eventually we reached the end of the woods and had great views of the surrounding area. Our guide said at some point that normally that would be the point to return, but as we had great weather and were progressing fast, we could continue up to a small lake and that he would arrange for the driver to us pick slightly higher than otherwise. The route up was beautiful. We had lunch at the lake and then went down the slope again. Snow was fresh and quite deep and we had fun running through it on our snowshoes. Around 12.30 we reached the road where the minibus arrived shortly after. In the hotel in Sofia we quickly showered and then our guide took us for a tour of the city. We saw churchus from the roman age, Russian Orthodox churchas, the presidential palace and an indoor market. We continued walking to find some geocaches.
We had our last diner of the trip in the Izbi restaurant.
This day we walked approximately 2h35m, making a total of 19h30m.
February 11: Sofia - Home
We had to get up very early for our flight back to Amsterdam. Public transport was functioning well and so before 11am we arrived back home!
For those interested, the Google Earth .kml file and the GPS TrackMaker .gtm file can be downloaded too: