How To Get There
CAR: Drive a rental, the route from Sofia is marked on the highways but using a GPS gets you there very accurately. With parking on site being very limited, unless you plan to go very early morning I wouldn’t bother with this transport option.
SHUTTLE (only): Usually a van will come pick you up right outside your hostel/hotel and take you up to the starting point of the hike and take you back home again in the afternoon.
SHUTTLE (with guide): same as above but you have a guide on the hike itself.
Getting To The Lakes (The Hike)
As an avid hiker I will honestly say this was by no means an easy hike. There were many points I struggled a lot at. At around 2000 elevation this may have had something to do with it. The start of the hike you can get to the “chalet” 1 of 3 ways… 1; the easiest way; the chair lift 10lev one way or 18lev return.. depending on how busy it is the chair lift only takes 30mins but the waiting time to get on can be between 30mins – 1.5hrs. 2; a jeep, now honestly I’m not sure if these are pre booked tours or normal people who have someone that wants to drive them 30mins up a mountain. 3; finally, the hardest… a 1.5hr (gruelling) hike up to (ONLY) the chalet!!
The day we went we picked number 3 as the chairlift line was ridiculously long!! This part of the hike was honestly harder then the hike around the lakes itself. Once at the starting point/the chalet. I was ready to pass out but the views were stunning…
And this was only the beginning. There are 2 routes you can take for the 7 Rila Lakes hike… the yellow route (which is quite easy.. and you see 4 of the lakes) or the red route which is moderate-challenging and you can see all 7 lakes (if you make it to the top). We took the red route… the first 15mins from the chalet up onto the first ridge was a challenge.. but I’m only putting that down to the intense 1.5hrs we just did beforehand. Through out the whole hike people just stop anywhere you can sit and have little picnic’s… its very lovely! Once on top of the ridge it’s pretty flat which was a welcomed change and you will see the first 4 lakes.
Once you start to descend you will get to a fork… take the right side as this take you to the 5th lake.
After the 5th lake is when it starts to get challenging again.. a lot of uphill and a lot of loose rocks and gravel…
With many breaks and a couple beautiful waterfalls later we made it to the 6th lake.. a lot of people seemed to stop here… but if you get this far, i beg you to keep on going because the views at the top are so worth it! The next part felt the longest but it was just very steep, it felt like we would take only a few steps and then have another rest… but finally once we reached the top, and finally the 7th lake, the views made it worth it… and better yet it only took us 2hrs from the chalet to the top of the 7 lakes including all our (much needed) rests. We spent an hour at the top… the views were incredible, the pictures do not do justice!
The route back was a little slippery going down all the loose rocks. But once you get to the 5th lake you can choose to go back the way you came or take the ‘yellow/easy’ route down near the bottom by the lakes… we opted for the same journey return as we just couldn’t get enough of the views from above… and i wanted to get more photos…
Once back at the chalet, we went inside to get a chair lift ticket down (10lev), which was a welcomed break from this incredible hike! Overall I would rate this as a moderate hike, and would defiantly recommend the chairlift up and back!
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