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The Seven Rila Lakes

The Seven Rila Lakes (in Bulgarian: Седемте рилски езера) are a cluster of lakes in the north-west of the Rila mountain range, a mere two hour drive from Sofia. I really had been wanting to discover the place and I was really happy to be escorted by Asen, Raina and Jeko. Asen and Jeko are in charge of the mountain trips and hiking excursions at Once Upon A Time and they wanted to take me to visit the Seven Rila Lakes, for quite a while, so that we could also include this magnificent region in our selection of trips.

The lakes are located between 2100 and 2500 meters altitude and are linked by little streams. The region is very much a tourist destination in Bulgaria and the departure point for the hike is accessible via a ski lift. Unfortunately, we went out of season and the ski lift was not operational. So… we went on foot…

I say "unfortunately" as it’s a good hour-long hike on uneven terrain although the closure has one huge advantage: there are very few people around when the hiking trail is only accessible on foot. The ascent discourages more than a few… Asen was explaining that, during tourist season, there are often thousands of tourists, hours of waiting to get up there and traffic jams on the hiking trails.

Asen was born in Smolyan and has always lived in the mountains. He’s a real mountaineer who I met last summer, while hiking in Pamporovo. As far as he’s concerned, you do not want to visit the Seven Lakes in summer, during tourist season.

After an hour-long ascent we got to the start of the trail. We’re lucky because the weather is excellent, the sun’s out and, yes-yes, it’s peaceful… very few people around.

Each lake has been named after its most particular characteristic. The first is called "The Lower Lake", followed by "The Fish Lake" and "The Trefoil" because of its very irregular shape; then we make our way up to "The Twins", the largest of the seven lakes and "The Kidney", because that’s what it looks like. It’s too late for us - also it’s "winter hour"- to climb all the way up to "The Eye" (with its almost perfect oval shape) and "The Tear" (its crystal-clear waters allow visibility deep into the lake), which are both located at 2535 meters altitude.

Asen knows the mountains like the back of his hand and refuses to take any risk whatsoever; he tells me of the many accidents that happen every day during summer, because of sheer carelessness. But, it’s only a postponement, I’ll discover the two remaining lakes when we organise a trip up here with Once Upon A Time.

I have to admit to being completely charmed by this magical place. The hike is not particularly difficult but it does require a certain fitness level. Jeko, who is in charge of trips involving a lot of physical activity suggests that we include this hike in one of our city trips: 2 or 3 days in Sofia with two days out by the Seven Lakes. Deal! I can’t wait to get back up there… If you want to join me, drop me a message!

The Seven Rila Lakes (in Bulgarian: Седемте рилски езера) are a cluster of lakes in the north-west of Rila mountain range, a mere two hour drive from Sofia. I really had been wanting to discover the place and I was really happy to be escorted by Asen, Raina and Jeko. Asen and Jeko are in charge of the mountain trips and hiking excursions at Once Upon A Time and they wanted to take me to visit the Seven Rila Lakes, for quite a while, so that we could also include this magnificent region in our selection of trips.

The lakes are located between 2100 and 2500 meters altitude and are linked by little streams. The region is very much a tourist destination in Bulgaria and the departure point for the hike is accessible via a ski lift. Unfortunately, we went out of season and the ski lift was not operational. So… we went on foot…

I say "unfortunately" as it’s a good hour-long hike on uneven terrain although the closure has one huge advantage: there are very few people around when the hiking trail is only accessible on foot. The ascent discourages more than a few… Asen was explaining that, during tourist season, there are often thousands of tourists, hours of waiting to get up there and traffic jams on the hiking trails.

Asen was born in Smolyan and has always lived in the mountains. He’s a real mountaineer who I met last summer, while hiking in Pamporovo. As far as he’s concerned, you do not want to visit the Seven Lakes in summer, during tourist season.

After an hour-long ascent we got to the start of the trail. We’re lucky because the weather is excellent, the sun’s out and, yes-yes, it’s peaceful… very few people around.

Each lake has been named after its most particular characteristic. The first is called "The Lower Lake", followed by "The Fish Lake" and "The Trefoil" because of its very irregular shape; then we make our way up to "The Twins", the largest of the seven lakes and "The Kidney", because that’s what it looks like. It’s too late for us - also it’s "winter hour"- to climb all the way up to "The Eye" (with its almost perfect oval shape) and "The Tear" (its crystal-clear waters allow visibility deep into the lake), which are both located at 2535 meters altitude.

Asen knows the mountains like the back of his hand and refuses to take any risk whatsoever; he tells me of the many accidents that happen every day during summer, because of sheer carelessness. But, it’s only a postponement, I’ll discover the two remaining lakes when we organise a trip up here with Once Upon A Time.

I have to admit to being completely charmed by this magical place. The hike is not particularly difficult but it does require a certain fitness level. Jeko, who is in charge of trips involving a lot of physical activity suggests that we include this hike in one of our city trips: 2 or 3 days in Sofia with two days out by the Seven Lakes. Deal! I can’t wait to get back up there… If you want to join me, drop me a message!

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