Vanda Panić – Climbing to Musala, which is 8 meters higher than Mount Olympus is beautiful and interesting. It is one of my easiest climbs, especially having in mind its height. It seems to me that it is more difficult to climb our small Ivanscica. Musala in Turkish means “towards the God”. It is situated in Rila National Park.
To head for the peak you start your climb from Borovets, the oldest and modern ski resort in Bulgaria that is some one and a half hour away from Sofia. For those who have climbed Durmitor, Borovets will remind them of Zabljak with a larger number of hotels.
There is a cable car that can shorten your journey which will instead of three hours take around thirty minutes (it runs every day from 8:30 to 16:20, except Mondays when the last ride down is at 13:00). We decided to use this commodity to spare our knees. The price of the return ticket is 8 lev.
From Yastrebets to Musala chalet (2389 m) it took us around 50 minutes of fast walk and the path is wide and beaten so that you can even use a vehicle on it.
The comment that it is hard to know whether a new Musala hut is being built or demolished is one of the best comments ever and it applies in the case of this beautiful building. It is a great shame that it is also used for garbage disposal. But those who do not wish to opt for the accommodation at the price of 8 lev in the old and comfortable Musala chalet with a pleasant landlady can always find shelter and a place to sleep in this building.
After a good break, touring the lakes, hopping over stones, and discovering another lake we move on.
It is a 2 hour walk to the top. We gradually come to another lake only to find a remarkable view from the top:
Gradually again we come to the last mountain hut Everest (2720 m). You can really feel the Oxygen and the freedom here.The accommodation is much better than the one in Musala, with drinks and sweets provided so I would recommend Everest for spending the night if you have your own food and plan a two day climb. There is a large Ice Lake (2709 m), situated at the highest Balkan latitude.
There is a winter path leading to the top, secured by cables and iron poles. There is also a summer trail going around the winter path ridge which should be used in the summer time.
There are several buildings at the top, among them a weather station and the Institute of Ecology. One of them provides accommodation for the night but I am not sure which and under what conditions. Still, I saw an entire team of local mountaineers taking the rooms and beds there.
The view from the top stretches along the path of our climb. The Ice Lake, Everest hut, Musala chalet, and the Yastrebets top are at the palm of your hand, and on the other hand you see lakes and vast meadows down in the valley, 2000 m away.
We took our time enjoying the top so it was too late to catch the last cable car at Yastrebets. Instead, we decided to spend the night in the Musala chalet and catch the cable car first thing in the morning. Spending the night there was cozy although a bit chilly despite the 4 blankets per bed. On the upside, the stars felt as close as sitting on your head.
A team of people from Sisak made sure we were not the only Croats in Bulgaria so we use this opportunity to say hello to everyone in Sisak.
-many, many sparkling blue lakes
-potential over-night accommodation round every corner although you should bring food
-no need to carry a lot of stuff (half a liter of liquids since the lake water is good, some food, and about 20 lev should cover a two-day stay)
-it can all be done in a day, while using the cable car for the first section of the climb
-the field map can be purchased in the village, for 10-13 lev
On our second day we visited the Rila Monastery, founded in the 10th century. It is the largest and most frequently visited monastic complex in Bulgaria, listed as UNESCO’s world heritage. It’s a free entrance.
On our way back to the hotel, which by the way looked like it came from a fairy tale and cost us 20 lev per person (10 €), we stopped to check natural sand pyramids in a place called Stub.