Photo Tour in Rila Mountains (Bulgaria)

Photo Tour in Rila Mountains (Bulgaria)
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Trekking photo tour in the highest mountains on the Balkan Peninsula. Besides being high, Rila is also very beautiful – rocky peaks and blue lakes create the perfect setting for a true photo adventure!

This tour is designed for the mountain and landscape photography lovers. The trekking is not difficult or long, but a good physical condition is still required. The photography skills of the participants may be on a various level. The beginners will get instructions from the tour leader. Certain amount of time will be devoted to the most important places mentioned in the program. The walking itself with people moving in the rocky wilderness is another prerequisite for good photos. Having in mind the physical efforts, we would recommend that you bring as few pieces of photo technique as possible.
A photo walk in Sofia is added to the program. Thus you will combine wonderful mountain experiences with a touch of Bulgarian culture. And you will take home a variety of pictures!

The program may be subject to change on spot due to the weather conditions!

Tour leader is Emil Danailov – a Bulgarian outdoor photographer and travel journalist. For many years he was editor-in-chief of "Odysseus" – the most popular Bulgarian magazine for tourism, travel and adventure. Emil loves travelling, adores the mountains and is experienced in many outdoor activities such as trekking, horse riding, biking and kayaking. His photographic interests range from landscapes through exciting outdoor action shots to spontaneous, natural portraits and lifestyle shots – unprepared photographs that particularly appeal to the reporter and journalist in him.
Emil has been a participant in dozens of photo exhibitions and also provides workshop training in Travel Photography. His articles and photos are regularly and widely published in the press. (Gallery)

Tour highlights:

Rila National Park
Seven Lakes – the most popular lake group in Bulagrian mountains
Musala (2925 m) – the highest peak on the Balkans
Sofia – capital of Bulgaria


Day 1. Arrival to Sofia

Day 2. Seven Rila Lakes
We drive to the foot of Rila Mountains (100 km, 2 hrs) and then we take the seat lift (30 min) to Rila Lakes Hut (2150 m). Our photo tour in Rila Mountains starts here. We will climb up to the Seven Rila Lakes. They are situated in a spacious terraced circus, each with its beauty and meaningful name – Okoto (the eye), Babreka (the kidney), Trilistnika (three leaves), Salzata (the tear), Bliznaka (the twin), Ribnoto (fish) and Dolnoto (the lower). This place has a religious significance for the White Brotherhood – followers of Peter Danov, who preached in the early 20th c. a peculiar mix of philosophy, Christianity and pantheism. By the evening we will reach the ridge behind the circus (2650 m), where we will stop for some picture taking of all the lakes. Having enjoyed the view, we will descend to the next circus to Ivan Vazov Hut (2300 m), where we will overnight.
The trekking itself (without all the stops for picture taking) is about 4 hours. Ascent/descent: 500 m/350m. Don’t forget to put some food in your backpack for the lunch on this and the next day

Day 3. Urdini Lakes
In the morning we will climb up the ridge again, but this time our photo object will be Urdini Lakes. Then we will descend again in the circus of the Seven Lakes, but before that we will stop by another lake group – Panitsite, shooting some pictures from Haramiyata peak (2465 m). We will take the lift from Rila Lakes Hut back to the parking lot. Drive (70 km, 1,5 hrs) to Malyovitsa resort (1720 m), where we will overnight.
The trekking itself (without all the stops for picture taking) is about 4 hours. Ascent/descent: 350 m/500m.

Day 4. Malyovitsa
We have two options today. The first one is to climb up the sharp and rocky Malyovitsa peak (2729 m). The ascent is steep and difficult, but worth the efforts because of the wonderful panorama view revealed from the top. Along the way we will be able to take some pictures at the shores of Elenino Lake (2472 m). If the participants find it too difficult to climb the peak, we can just ascend to Elelnino Lakes and wait there for some suitable light without climbing further to the top. On our way back it will already be dark, so don’t forget your head lamps. We will overnight at a hotel in the resort. The second option is to climb up to Strashnoto Lake (scary lake 2465 m). Surrounded by sharp peaks it is also a very beautiful photo object.
The trekking itself (without all the stops for picture taking) is about 8 hours for both options. Ascent/descent option 1: 1000 m/1000m. Ascent/descent option 2: 750 m/750 m.

Day 5. Musala
Drive from Malyovitsa resort to Borovets ski resort (30 km, 40 min), from where we will take the cabin lift, which will spare us 1000 m ascent the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula – Musala (2925 m). It will take about 3-hour trekking from the upper lift station to the peak. A weather station was built there in the beginning of the 1930s. Its stone building is a great item complementing the pictures, which can be taken from the peak. To the north you will see Vitosha, behind it - the Balkan Mountains, in the other direction you will see Pirin. About 30-40 minutes from the top is situated Ledeno Ezero (Ice Lake) shelter (2710 m), where we will overnight. Its proximity to the top will give us the opportunity to stay longer on Musala in order to take evening and night pictures – with a starry sky above the rocky tops (don’t forget your tripods!).
The trekking starts at the upper lift station of Yastrebets (2369 m). Ascent/descent: 600 m/200 m. You have to bring your own lunch, dinner and breakfast. There are blankets in the shelter, but you can bring your own sleeping bag. Bring a head lamp as well for the night trekking from the peak to the shelter.

Day 6. Sofia
We will return from the shelter to the upper lift station and go down to Borovets resort. Transfer to Sofia (70 km, 1,5 hrs). We will spend the afternoon and the evening taking pictures in the Bulgarian capital. We will tour the landmarks of the city photographing the most iconic buildings – Alexander Nevski cathedral, St. Sofia and St. George brick churches, National Theater, the former Royal palace etc.

Day 7. Departure

Price includes:
2 nights with breakfast at a hotel in Sofia; 2 nights with dinner and breakfast at a hotel in Malyovitsa resort; a lunch pack for days 3 and 4, 1 night with a dinner and breakfast in a hut (shared bath and WC); 1 night at a shelter; tickets for the lifts; transport according to the program; transfer from/to Sofia Airport; English speaking guide

The price does not include: flight tickets, drinks and meals not mentioned in the program, insurance, personal expenses, entry fees, tips.

Necessary equipment (beside the photo gear): clothes suitable for the high mountain – thermo underwear, polar jackets, windstopper, waterproof trousers and jacket, trekking shoes, headlamp, sunscreen cream and sunglasses, lip balm, a suitable backpack. 


Photo Tour in Rila Mountains (Bulgaria) (Rated 4.8 / 5 Based on 347 Reviews.)
Group Size
Min 2 – Max 8 persons
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