Walking in Bulgaria's National Parks
By Julian Perry
A guidebook to 12 multi-day treks in Bulgaria's highest and wildest mountain ranges in the Pirin, Rila and Central Balkan national parks. The treks are aimed at fit, experienced mountain walkers, with steep ascents and exposed scrambles. The routes range from 7 to 61km and include a full-day ascent of Mount Vihren.
Seasonssnow can be a hindrance until the end of June; wildflowers at their peak in July; August and September have stable sunny weather; early October is great for photography; not safe in winter due to avalanche risk
CentresTeteven, Divchovoto, Apriltsi, Troyan, Kalofer, Karlovo, Sevlievo, Kazanlak, Rila Monastery, Samokov, Malyovitsa, Govedartsi, Borovets, Kostenets, Bansko, Razlog and Melnik
Difficultywalks are suitable for fit and experienced mountain walkers; long steep ascents and descents, often over rocks and boulders; most of the ridge walks require a good head for heights, especially the Koncheto crest and the ascent of Vihren
Must SeeAncient beech forests of the Boatin reserve; traverse of the Triglav massif; rock outcrops of the Sokolna reserve; Rila Monastery; Malyovitsa ridge walk; Musala (2925m); Melnik Pyramids; Rozhen Monastery; the Koncheto crest; Vihren (2914m); outstanding birdwatching; exceptional variety of butterflies
For walkers and naturalists, Bulgaria is a paradise. There is an amazing variety of landscapes and a rich biodiversity, yet mountains dominate much of the country. The treks in this guidebook are based in the Pirin, Rila and Central Balkan national parks which cover the three wildest and most majestic mountain regions of Bulgaria.
This guidebook contains route descriptions for 12 two to four-day treks, including one single day trek, that cover spectacular scenery and offer an unrivalled opportunity to encounter some of Europe’s rarest plants and animals. Each walk is broken down into day stages with each stage finishing at either a mountain hut or another suitable source of accommodation. The distance of each trek varies from 7 to 61km in length and covers a variety of terrain including panoramic ridges over Musala and Vihren, the two highest peaks in the country.
The walks in this guidebook are challenging and are aimed at fit, experienced mountain walkers. The trails are often physically demanding, with long steep ascents and descents, often over rocks and boulders. Furthermore, most of the ridge walks require a good head for heights – especially the exposed scramble along the Koncheto crest (Walk 12). Be sure to read the route description carefully before setting out.
As well as providing detailed route descriptions for many of the most outstanding walks offered by these three national parks, it also contains a great deal of background information about the history and geography of places passed along the trails, along with comprehensive details of the wildlife likely to be seen.
Travelling to Bulgaria
Travelling to the Mountains
Walking in Bulgaria
Food and Water
About this Guidebook
Key Facts and Figures
Part 1 The Central Balkan National Park
Walk 1 The Boatin, Tsarichina and Kozya Stena Reserves
Walk 2 The Severen Dzhendem, Stara Reka and Steneto Reserves
Walk 3 The Dzhendema and Stara Reka Reserves
Walk 4 The Peeshtite Skali and Sokolna Reserves
Part 2 The Rila National Park
Walk 5 The Rila Monastery Nature Park and Forest Reserve
Walk 6 Sedemte Ezera and Zeleni Rid
Walk 7 The Central Rila Reserve
Walk 8 The Ibar Reserve
Part 3 The Pirin National Park
Walk 9 The Pirin Wine Trail
Walk 10 The Yulen Reserve
Walk 11 Mount Vihren
Walk 12 The Bayvuvi Dupki–Dzhindzhiritsa Reserve and Koncheto
Appendix 1 Route Summary Table
Appendix 2 English–Bulgarian Glossary and Pronunciation Guide
Appendix 3 Further Reading
Appendix 4 Mountain Huts and Other Useful Contacts
Hiking maps at varying scales, and even more varying accuracy, have been produced for most of the major mountain ranges in Bulgaria, but it is often a rather hit-and-miss affair trying to obtain them. Your best first point of contact for maps is Balkan Trek (www.balkantrek.com), as they usually maintain a stock and sell them by mail order. Something to bear in mind is that these maps are nowhere near the same standard or accuracy of British Ordnance Survey or French IGN maps. They are not proper topographic maps, and even those at a scale of 1:50 000 should be treated as schematic, and not relied on for critical navigation with a compass.
Thankfully, the majority of hiking trails are very well marked. Summer routes are indicated with coloured blazes (usually red, green, yellow or blue) painted onto rocks or trees, while the safest winter routes are delineated by lines of tall metal poles.
One other thing to be aware of when studying Bulgarian maps is that over the years many of the peaks, passes and other important topographic points, have had their names changed, often more than once. In this guidebook I have tended to use the most traditional names as my preferred choice, and included any other widely used title in parenthesis.
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The sentence at the top of the page should read: '... crosses one of the headstreams of the Krayovitsa', not Krivnishka Reka.
The sentence at the bottom of the page should read: '... a short rocky crest that drops away precipitously on the left towards the Chanakgyolski Ezera cirque', not right.
Bulgaria’s leading authority on all things trekkable, Julian Perry, divulges 12 of Bulgaria’s most rewarding routes, in this compact, backpack-wedgeable book.
Covering the country’s wildest and most majestic regions, Perry also manages to offer the reader an insight into Bulgarian history, culture and language.
Trek & Mountain magazine, April 2010
Walkers and naturalists consider Bulgaria a paradise due to its amazing variety of landscapes and rich biodiversity. Much of the country is covered by high mountains and the most majestic are protected within Pirin, Rila and Central Balkan Parks.
The book present twelve 2-3 day treks, suitable for fit and experience mountain walkers. For each national park there are a few pages of introduction, with extensive information of the local geography, geology, hydrology, climate, flora and fauna accompanied by stunning photos.
If you are planning a walking holiday in Bulgaria or just intend to see a little of the ‘wild side’ of this beautiful country, then this book is a must have.’
Irish Mountain Log, Autumn 2010
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Julian Perry was born and raised on the southeast coast of England, but for the last 20 years has spent most of his time in the Bulgarian mountains, where he now runs a specialist eco-tourism company, Balkan Trek, organising walking and wildlife-watching holidays.View Guidebooks by Julian Perry