Almost four years in Bulgaria, and I still haven’t seen the most famous nature sight here – the seven Rila lakes. Well, that was until last week.
Transportation is pretty convenient – buses and trains from Sofia to Dupnitsa are frequent enough, and from there once per hour goes a small bus to Saparevo and Sapareva Banya. I have been there already for Todorov Den last year (more in the article). After getting there we decide to go all the way from the bottom (ca. 750m) to reach one of the mountain huts (ca. 2100-2200m). The majority of it goes through the forest, starting with a nice eco-path with places to stop for lunch.
There are plenty nice sights on the way – Panichishte lake and Skakavitsa Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Rila mountains. Plenty of huts and hotels on the way, and the path crosses the asphalt road all the time. Altogether – not very steep, but a long way up.
When finally we get above the line of the forest we encounter some horses – always a great view in the mountains.
Just by the lakes, there are two mountain huts – “Rila Lakes” (Rilski Ezera) and “Seven Lakes” (“Sedemte Ezera”). The first one is connected with the end of the asphalt road by a lift and looks more hotel-ish. We see a long line of colorful people waiting for their turn to get down, as the day is getting to its end.
The second hut lays past the first of the seven lakes (Dolnoto Ezero – Lower Lake), next to another one – the Fish Lake (Ribnoto Ezero). As surely the facilities are less comfortable than the first hut, what it has to offer is the view on the lake during the sunset, and delicious meals to eat by the water. Worth it, if you are not scared of the lack of hot water and separate outside toilet.
As the date changes the same is with the colors of the Fish Lake. In the early morning hours (ok, not so early) it shows its other side.
Some SPF50 later we pass by the next lake, Trilistinka:
When we get to another one, Bliznaka (the Twin, as it contains two parts), we hear somebody playing flute on the hill above it. We cannot see him or her, so the music appears as if from nowhere – a great musical illustration to the view. This becomes my favorite lake, as I spot the second part of it hidden between the steep walls of surrounding peaks. It is hidden in shadows as the time is early, but I know that in few hours it will be something to catch with the camera. And I was right – but we will get to it.
On the photo above you can see Haramiyata peak – a real beauty, also hidden in the morning shadows.
As for the remaining three lakes – Babreka (the Kidney), Okoto (the Eye) and Salzata (the Tear), there is a tale about their origins. It includes a couple of giants living in the ancient times in Rila mountains and being attacked one day by evil forces that were jealous of the beauty of the place that they live in. In the battle, the husband managed to fight them off, but he died wounded. The rivers of tears of the grieving wife formed streams and lakes that we see today…
The Babreka has an amazingly vivid blue color:
We climb up to Okoto, and choose the more interesting trail going east to the last of the lakes, Salzata. Views are astonishing.
FInally, I get to see the second half of the Bliznaka lake in the sun, but from high above:
Leaving the lakes behind us we cross the ridge and head down towards the Ivan Vazov mountain hut, passing by horses, sheep, and cows on the way.
In the Vazov hut, we decide over a big bowl of soup to get down to Dupnitsa with the western, red trail through Otovitsa hut, as by the hut stuff it was named to be really picturesque. Indeed, although our timing was a bit optimistic for it as it turned out later.
We lose the trail in the forest, as currently around Otovitsa there are extensive works and new roads appeared due to cutting wood in the region. We are lucky though – after choosing a road with no markings, in the middle of a forest, we encounter a person with a pickup truck who offers to give us a lift down to Samoranovo. Around 3 hours saved, easily.
I sustain my long-held claim that Bulgaria is the easiest country to hitchhike in.