I thought i will write down few guidelines and inform you about some lovely Instagram worthy places to visit in my home country Bulgaria . I've been living away in Ireland for the last 12 years and each time I go back to see my family and friends i go on short trips around the country . I love re-exploring it and finding new spots to see andto admire its unique beauty. In this post i will focus on the Seven Rila Lakes and why i think you should visit them.
Seven Rila Lakes
The lakes are located around 90 km from Sofia. You can rent a car from 20 euros per day but if you don't drive transport to there is quite convenient. Buses to Dupnitsa are frequent and cost 6 euro return ( to check bus timetable go here : http://www.centralnaavtogara.bg/index.php#b
From there buses to Separava Banya leave for Panichishte , the small village where the lakes are closest to every hour ( 2,3 eu return ) . You can either hike to Panichishte for around 1.5-2 hours or look for the mini bus that goes to the lakes ( 5 eu return) or a taxi ( 10-25 eu return. There are also different guided day trip excursions from Sofia which i would recommend if you don't mind travelling with a group of people and having to go at the guide's pace and time frames. Prices are between 25-40 euro and just for reference of what can you expect from such tour here is a link to a tour company that provides such services ( note that i have not used them ! ) -http://sofiadaytours.com/tour.php?id=372.
The lakes are located between 2000-2500 above sea level and the best time to visit is in the summer although you can do that all through the year once you have the right mountain equipment and clothes. I visited the lakes when i was very young and again this July. We rented a car , drove to Separava Banya which is a very quiet small village with a natural geyser in central part of it . We Stayed there for the night and the next morning we head to Panichishte. I will just mention here if you do rent a car be extra vigilant when driving as there is a culture of not following the road rules among Bulgarian people
Once you reach Panichishte there is a lift that goes to the top of the mountain where the start Seven Rila lakes is which costs 18 levs ( 9 euro ) each way . At the time we arrived it was stopped for maintenance so we decided to hike all the way up from the bottom .
On the way you can stop to Skavitsa Waterfalls if you wish ( we didn't ) , which is the highest in Rila Lakes. The hike to the top of the lift is moderately hard and is around 4-5 km long . I also saw there were jeep transfers going up and down the mountain road which i would imagine can be arranged in Panichishte . Once we reached the top we stopped to refresh in the hut located right next to the lift. It wouldn't take a lot of effort to reach the first five lakes as apart from a small hill at the beginning you are walking on a straight path . We stopped at the 5th lake called The Kidney to have a picnic break.
I suggest you do the same and recharge your batteries as the road to the top is more difficult and steep . I hike often but the air there is also thinner so had to stop few times to catch up on my breath. Should take around an hour to reach the Haramiyata peak which is the ideal place to take pictures as you have a clear visibility and 360 o views of all of the seven lakes .
Overall it took us 24 km hike , 8 hours from the beginning and to go back to our car as we decided to walk back on the way down too because the queues for the lift were enormous. The views however were by all means spectacular and breathtaking . They were worth every step and struggle and I definitely recommend you insert the Seven Rila lakes in your travel itinerary if you are visiting Bulgaria and especially Sofia.