• day 1–2
    • 1: night train (~20 hours)
    • Serbia (from train, another ~12 hours)
    • 2: Sofia hostel
  • day 3–7
    • Rila
      • track map (together with Pirin)
      • 3: sleeping on a meadow under Musala hut (~2270 m)
      • 4: Granchar hut (~2190 m)
      • 5: Ribni Ezera (~2230 m)
      • 6: above Makedonija hut (~2320 m)
      • 7: camping Predel (~1050 m)
  • day 8–9
    • Pirin
      • track map (together with Rila)
      • 8: Javorov hut (~1750 m)
      • 9: Banderitsa hut (~1800 m)
  • day 10–11
    • 10: bus back (~21 hours)
  • overall: ~53 hours in vehicles, ~48 hours hiking

Koncheto ridge and Vichren


  • medium comfort in Serbian sleeping carriage (with smokers)
  • very slow (<40 km/h) Serbian railway (and no guarantee on (seat) reservations)
  • very long waiting on (Schengen area) borders (both directions)
  • European level hostel in Sofia (Hostel 123, Iskar street)
  • limited supply of water while climbing Musala
    • crazy Bulgarian gifted us a bottle of water
  • descent is harder than climbing (also depends on tightening the boots)
    • down to Makedonija was the worst
    • later tried sandals on grassy surfaces
  • indistinctive/obsoleted marking of the hiking route on descent to Predel
  • various intensity of sweating + demi/dehy effect on power and strength
  • Predel
    • hut (the janitor doesn’t like Czechs and rejected us)
      • luckily, there’s also a camping
    • shop by the road
  • Koncheto was packed with tourists and slightly dangerous (if one was dizzy or exhausted)
  • climb to Vichren (from Kutelo saddle, some technical parts with chains (allegedly UIAA.I)
  • long way back in luxurious bus
    • the worst road surface was between Brno and Prague (and Sofia southern ring)
  • squat toilet (in most huts)
  • huts are operated either by the national park or Bulgarian hiking club (tension between them)
    • recommended: Granchar, Makedonija (food only), camping Predel, Javorov, Banderitsa
    • huts to avoid: Musala hut, Ribni ezera, Predel hut

Natural sights

  • canyon from Serbia to “Bulgaria”
  • horses
    • in cities (workhorses)
    • in mountains (wild?)
  • Musala (highest peak of Balkans)
    • up there is cold and windy
  • landscape with green/brown grass and islands of dwarf pines
  • many lakes (water systems in mountains?)
  • picturesque sleeping by lakes above Makedonija
  • relative sunset (occluded by mountains), brown mist on horizon
  • sudden change from granite to lime (Rila to Pirin)
  • descent to Banderitsa hut through a field of large round limestones and grass + chamois
  • clouds and interesting turbulent streams (Рибни езера)
  • vast grazings (border of Парангалица) with many cows (including cowpats and abundant flies), we even found a preserved skeleton

Dead cow skeleton in Rila

Manmade sights

  • seen Visegrad (from train)
  • Serbian facades (none)
  • Belgrade looks very poor (just neighborhood of railway station (which is quite small))
    • affected by migrating refugees? (Farsi/Arabic labels in park)
  • Sofia
    • compact center
    • no river in Sofia
    • orthodox church, mosque (open), synagogue (closed)
      • first time in mosque
      • tactile icons
  • contrast: office buildings with cobble stone roads, housing estates, restaurants, wild dogs and horse-towed carriage
  • Borovec, Bansko – tourist crowded locations for skiing
  • everything looks overengineered for much greater load (Musala hut, Granchar,…)
    • perhaps used earlier
    • camping in Predel
  • Predel – spring of Ivan the Tshudotvorets
  • truck loaded with steel rods (looked almost empty but hardly climbed to Predel)

People and society

  • people smoke more in Balkan (cigarette ends even on mountain paths)
  • contrast of EU/nonEU (nice Sofia arrival)
  • Bulgarian socioeconomic situation
    • 100, 300, 500 (pension, average salary?, good salary??)
      • sorry, I forgot the context
    • EUR/month
  • Bulgarian symbol of lion (church, currency)
  • not many marks of Turkish influence (cf. Czechia and Austria-Hungary)
  • buses scaled to traffic (marshrootka?)
  • meeting Czechs
    • experienced Alda
    • sharing experience
      • shoes
      • food (travel lunch)
      • maps
      • canyoning
    • Czech scouts, German group/tourists
  • meeting Bulgarians
    • silent guide and his band
    • talkative attractive ecologist girl
    • sisters at Granchar hut
  • low morale in misty/cold morning + sudden change after clearing the clouds
    • it’s actually same in real life
  • Bulgarian nodding (it’s inverse!)
  • Predel pronunciation
  • animals at Javorov hut
    • cat, fox, hunter dogs (poacher dogs?)


  • traditional gyros in Budapest
  • extra large tomatoes
  • Schopska salad, bean soup


  • new boots served well
  • backpack with nominal 65 l (really 50–60 l) was crammed (hard to search in it)

Lessons learnt

  • protect forehead against sun (cap+scarf)

Random thoughts

  • distorted estimate of inclination

Big thanks to my friends for the photos.