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Snowshoeing treks in the Pirin (Bansko), Vitosha and Rila mountains

Explore the beauty of nature amidst the magic of winter. Experience the serenity of the spectacular winter backcountry in three of the most appreciated mountains in Bulgaria – Pirin and Rila National Parks and Vitosha Nature Park. Even if you have not tried before, this tour will introduce you to snowshoeing – enjoyable activity that anyone who can walk will quickly master.

We have prepared a few options for snowshoeing to suit your physical fitness. You can choose between 1-day snowshoeing treks from Bansko to week-long itineraries, covering scenic trails in the Vitosha, Pirin and Rila mountains.


EASY

Route 1: Armane – Easy route, suitable for people who would like to try snow shoeing on relatively easy tracks, also for children – without difficult ascends and steep parts. We follow a large forest road through the pine forests on the north slopes of Pirin Mountains, crossing the territory of Pirin National Park. Eventually we reach an area, called Armane, than we go back the same way. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete the route, starting at 1200 meters above sea and gently ascending up to 1500 meters.

MODERATE
Route 2: Trionska Meadow – Moderate route, suitable for people who have some previous experience in the mountains and are used to walk for about 4,5-5 hours. Short (15 min.) transfer will take us to the starting point above Bansko. Terrain is easy, we ascend about 400 meters elevation up to Trionska Meadow, located at the border of Ulen Reserve and pass about 12 kilometres through the thick forests of Pirin Mountains in total. Starting point is above Bansko (15 min. transfer), we finish on the asphalt road between the village of Dobrinishte and Gotse Delchev Hut, where the transport will be waiting to take us back to Bansko. Option to visit the thermal bath in Dobrinishte on the way back.

DIFFICULT
Route 3: Mount Bezbog – This route is relatively difficult, suitable for people with some previous experience and in good physical condition. About 30 minutes transfer takes us to Gotse Delchev Hut above the village of Dobrinishte, from where we take the chair lift up to Bezbog Hut (2240 m above sea). Putting our snow shoes on, we have to climb up to 2645 m., the top of Mount Bezbog. The mountain offers great views to the high parts of Pirin Mountans. Terrain is more difficult, with some relatively steep parts, but still suitable for snow shoeing. The walk takes about 3,5-4 hours to complete. We go back the same way and take the lift down to Gotse Delchev Hut, where transport will be waiting to take us back to Bansko. Option to visit the thermal bath in the village of Dobrinishte on the way back.

DIFFICULT/CHALLENGING
Route 4: Mount Kulia – This route is longer and more challenging, suitable for people with some previous hiking experience and in good physical condition, although no previous experience in winter is required. Short (15 min.) transfer takes us to the starting point above Bansko. We make a big circle through the remote forests above Bansko, climbing about 700 meters elevation to a ridge at 1920 m., with nice views to the high parts of the mountains and the valley of Bansko. Transport will be waiting at the starting point to take us back to our hotel. The walk takes about 5-6 hours to complete.

Please note these are sample routes – they are available only in certain snow and weather conditions – some are more suitable to do even if weather is not the best, some are not. Final choice will be made by your guide, considering the moment weather and terrain conditions and the abilities and preferences of the participants.

PRICES:
Routes 1,2 and 4: 1 pers: 105 Euro; 2-3 pers: 68 Euro/pers.; 4 & more pers: 49 Euro/pers.
Route 3: 1 pers: 135 Euro; 2-3 pers: 87 Euro/pers.; 4 & more pers: 59 Euro/pers.

All prices include: transfer from/to your accommodation in Bansko, English-speaking mountain guide, hire of snow shoes and poles, lift tickets (when applicable)
The prices do not include: accommodation, mountain insurance, meals, drinks, tips, personal expenses

VITOSHA, RILA & PIRIN – THE GREAT WINTER ADVENTURE

ITINERARY

Day 1: We meet you at Sofia Airport and transfer you to the hotel where the group will overnight.
Day 2: Today, we traverse Vitosha: the most popular destination for Sofianites. Starting from the Aleko Hut, we shall trek along the crest of the mountain through the Torfeno Branishte Nature Reserve to the famous Zlatni Mostove (Golden Bridges) stone rivers. We then transfer for overnight in a cozy family-run pension in the village of Govedartsi, Rila Mountains. (4-5hrs of walking, climbing 150m/490ft and descending 600m/1970ft)
Day 3: After breakfast we transfer to the nearby resort Malyovitsa. From there we start climbing up towards Yonchevo Lake. As we walk out of the woods we will enjoy the panorama to the neighbouring peaks and deep valleys of Rila. Eventually we walk down through an old coniferous forest to get back to Govedartsi village. (5hrs of walking, climbing 400m/1310ft and descending 400m/1310ft)
Day 4: Today’s aim is to get to the foot of Bulgaria, and the Balkans’, highest summit: Musala Peak (2925m/9594ft). We climb to the starting point of the route by cable car from the Borovets Resort and then continue snowshoeing to the highest mountain refuge in Bulgaria – The Icy Lake. At this point the rugged summit of Musala will be facing us from a very close distance. Then we turn back along the same route to overnight at Govedartsi again. (5 hrs of walking, climbing 500m/1640ft and descending 550m/1640ft)
Day 5: A brief transfer takes us to the Panichishte Resort where we board a cable car to the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque for a full tour. Though frozen and covered in thick snow in winter, the area remains rather pretty. Our day ends in a cosy family hotel at the famous ski resort of Bansko in Pirin Mountains, where we stay for the next two nights. (5hrs of walking, climbing 350m/1150ft and descending 350m/1150ft)
Day 6: Another short transfer takes us above Dobrinishte resort to board the chair cable car to the Bezbog Hut. This is the setting-off point for the hiking trek to the Popovo Lake which will be deeply frozen at that time but the route there and back offers one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Pirin. (4-5hrs of walking, climbing 300m/984ft and descending 300m/985ft)
Day 7: Low-altitude snowshoeing among some of the typical villages, lying at the hollow among Rila, Pirin and Rhodope mountains, (incl. visit to the famous church in Dobarsko village). Later today, on the way to Sofia we visit also one of Bulgaria’s top tourist attractions: the Rila Monastery listed by UNESCO. The latter is the largest and most significant Bulgarian Orthodox Church establishment. The 20m high walls shelter impressive cloisters, a church, and a chapel with unique murals and museum collections. Gala dinner and overnight in Sofia. (2-3hrs of walking, climbing 100m/330ft and descending 100m/330ft)
Day 8: Transfer to Sofia Airport for departure.

EXTENSIONS
Yes, ski holiday in Bansko, Borovets or Pamporovo
Try skiing and snowboarding in the best resorts in Eastern Europe, or in the sunniest one or in the oldest one in Bulgaria. On any of these websites you can find the biggest variety of ski and snowboarding packages and lift passes, bookable online.

Accommodation and luggage transportation:
3-star hotels and family-run pension; everywhere en-suite double rooms; halfboard (breakfast and dinner included; lunchpacks could be ordered at the price of 6 Euro per person per day or you can prepare such by yourself using the shops around your accommodations).

Best period: January-March
Group size: Min. 6 persons.

PRICE: 690€/person
Single room supplement: 90 €
The price includes: transfers from/to Sofia airport; rent of snowshoes and ski poles; accommodation and boarding as mentioned above; English-speaking mountain guide and private transfers throughout the tour; lift tickets; VAT and all local taxes.
The price does not include: other meals and drinks; insurance; map (could be requested in advance when booking the tour); tips; alcohol drinks and other personal expenses;

We want everyone to be warm and dry, and most of all have fun. Nothing makes a day out in the mountains better than being properly dressed and prepared!  It’s all about wearing layers because you can always add layers if your cold or take them away if you’re getting too hot.

To Wear:

-Touque
-Neckwarmer
-Mitts
-Sunglasses / snowboard goggles
-Base layer: Non-cotton shirts (preferable but not necessary, eg. under armour to keep you dry)
-Mid layer: long sleeve shirt or hoodie
-Outer layer: Jacket or wind breaker
-Ski pants or water/wind proof pants
equipment for snowshoeing tours-Thick warm socks
-Hiking boots or winter boots
-Snowshoes

In Your Backpack:

-Extra socks
-Extra layers: in case you get cold
-Extra mitts: in case they get wet
-Lunch and snacks
-2 bottles of water or sport drink
-Hiking poles (optional)
-Gaiters (optional)