Mount Musala is a famous destination for mountain lovers in Bulgaria and worldwide. Situated in Rila mountain, Musala is the highest summit in the country and is visited by thousands of enthusiasts yearly. Located about 80 kilometers from the capital of Sofia, the starting point of your mountain trek is accessible to reach by car. The hike can take a whole day and the best time to climb is in late July or August. During these months of the year, the weather is sunny, and the temperatures gravitate around 20 degrees Celsius.
There are several routes to choose from. I’ll share a couple of words about the one I prefer, which also happens to be the easiest.
Our starting point is the resort town of Borovets. From Borovets, you can choose to use a cabin lift to Yastrebets or walk the distance. I personally prefer to use the lift, it only costs about 20 leva for a return ticket, and you will be able to reach Yastrebets in ½ hour. If you choose to walk, you need to be prepared to walk 2 to 3 extra hours, so plan your time and return well.
Once you have reached Yastrebets, it could take you about 3 hours to reach the summit depending on your tempo. During my last climb, I was able to improve my record and reach the summit under 2 hours. I was alone and decided to challenge myself, so my tempo was speedy. I got off the cabin lift around 9:20 that morning and had conquered the top by 11:00.
Along the route, you will find two shelters. One can reach the first one in as little as 40 minutes from Yastrebets. The altitude of this shelter is 2389 meters above sea level. This is usually the first stop you make when ascending. Get some rest, a bite to eat and enjoy the views, if you have the time of course. There is a lake next to the shelter people often sit there for a picnic.
The second shelter is a slightly harder to reach. You will continue hiking for about an hour, before reaching the “Ice-lake” shelter at about 2710 meters above sea level. This is often used as the second stop of the trek. There is a cold lake located nearby and hence the name of the shelter itself. The view is stunning! The view is even more beautiful from the top of peak Musala.
The last part of the hike is probably the most challenging. The distance to the peak is not that great, but the incline is steep. However, you do have the option to walk around the segment that needs climbing, which takes slightly longer. I personally prefer to climb the last part and feel like this enhances the satisfaction from the whole experience and once at the top of the mountain.
You should be able to finalise your ascent in about 30 mins to an hour before reaching the highest point of Bulgaria.
Mount Musala is a great one day trip destination if you happen to be in Bulgaria. Along the way, as you can see, the amazing and dramatic landscapes will keep your eyes and mind occupied. The air is clean and fresh, and the whole experience quite invigorating. The trek is not hard at all, so you wouldn’t need any specialist mountain equipment. Suitable sporstwear and a backpack with some food and water are sufficient. However, do check the weather forecast before your ascent!
On the way back the descent is easier and you should be able to reach the lift in about 2 hours. Bear in mind that the lift is operational only by 16.30pm, so plan your time well to avoid any difficulties.