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Hiking to the seven Rila lakes

The path seems to be never-ending. Especially after already hiking some kilometres the previous day and having a party the previous night. We are trying to catch our breath, while climbing up, sweating, step by step getting higher and higher, hoping that eventually we will see the end of the path and reach the peak where we cannot get any higher. These were our feelings and thoughts during the hike to 7 Rila lakes. Did we make it? And was it worth it? The answer to both questions is: Yes, definitely!

Our journey started the previous day at 2 AM when we were waiting for the train at Kazanlak railway station. After 5 hours on the train and lack of sleep, we found ourselves in Sofia, having some breakfast and waiting for the bus, which was supposed to take us to the Panichiste area. From there we started hiking to the hut, where we planned to spend a night. After 2 hours with a good pace, we reached the spot and enjoyed a well-deserved lunch break. But it was not the end of the walking for the day. From the hut we got going to Skakavitsa waterfall nearby, which would not actually take much time, but rain and slippery rocks (that were at some point the only way) made it more arduous. But hey-ho, we made it and successfully completed the first part of the mission: let’s try to survive in the Rila Mountains with naive hopes that the hardest part is over. If just we have known how wrong we were.

It was actually good not to know what has been awaiting us the next day. However, the most problematic part lasted just around one hour, because of the steepy terrain. From there it was definitely easier, even though every time we got to the part where people were resting, we found out that there is more of a hike ahead. As walking got easier, it allowed us to enjoy the beauty of the mountains and views. After more than an hour we reached the first lake – Kidney Lake. All seven lakes are situated at an altitude between 2100 and 2500 meters and are named according to their shape or quality. Except for the already mentioned Kidney Lake, there are also the Tear, the Eye, the Twin, the Three-leafed, the Fish Lake and the Lower Lake and all of them are connected with a stream. To see all of them, we had to climb to Lake Peak, approximately 50 minutes away from Kidney Lake. Thankfully, we were prepared and so the snow did not surprise us there. Despite cold, exhaustion and hunger we managed to make it and, as we were standing there on the top, our energy level immediately increased. Finally, we could enjoy the breathtaking view to 7 Rila Lakes, where we, proud of ourselves, felt like from now on we can overcome every obstacle in this world, maybe even learn Bulgarian.

Even though our journey was not over yet and we had to hike some more kilometres to the hut and then bus parking, get to Sofia and take a train to Kazanlak, it was one of the most marvellous trips, I have experienced in Bulgaria.

Adriána Čigášová

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