"Encounter the God of Thunder!" Pirin by ger4444

Pirin Travel Guide: 18 reviews and 32 photos

The Pirin Mountains

I spend a couple of days in the Pirin mountains for some hiking. The Pirin mountains are located in the south-west corner of Bulgaria and are mainly situated in a national park, called the Pirin National Park, which I entered via Bansko. One of the gates to this park is some 2 km south-west of Bansko. The park is permanently open, is free to enter and is Bulgarian largest national park. The park is placed on Unescos list of World Heritage sites in order to protect its unique flora, fauna and landscapes. There are some 1000 species of flowers, 100 types of birds and some 50 species of mammals, such as goats and deers. The Pirin mountains are named after Perun, the Slavic God of Thunder. In the past centuries Turks, Greeks and Slaves found the mountains especially appealing for its mineral waters and lakes (there are in fact some 180 lakes in the area). The Pirin Mountain have some 100 peaks higher than 2000 meters, the highest being mount Vihren (2914 m), so the park can be considered to be the one with the highest and thus most challenging mountains in the country.

Hiking in the Pirin Mountains

For hiking, the park is ideal. All the trail are marked adequately. There are 13 primary and 17 secondary trails. Trails are marked on maps in yellow, red, green or blue, which correspond with the colours on the signs along the trail. The trails are easy to follow. The signs often include the name in Cyrilic of the upcoming mountainhut, so it is a good thing to be able to read Cyrilic. Allthough the trails are easy to follow, you must keep your eyes good open, for it is not as if the signs and marks are on every 20 meter. Allthough mainly you can follow the paths, that have come into being because of the many people who walked the trails before you, sometimes the path is not visible anymore and you may have to take some effort to find the next sign! Laeving the main trail can be an option if you have a good detailed map, yet sometimes it is not recommended to do so, because of the danger of falling rocks etc. The most (or better: only) accurate detailed hiking map of the mountains is the Pirin Map (1:55000) and is in cyrilic and can be bought in Bansko. But if you just stay at the trails, you will find the free National Park Pirin Map, or the free Bansko leaftet both satisfying. They are printed in English and are detailed (1:55000) and are available in Bansko at the tourist office, Pirin national park office or at bookstalls. If you are hiking in the Pirin mountains there is no need to bring a tent unless you are bypassing trails. Camping in the wild is officially not allowed, but its OK if you are discreet and don’t make a mess out of the place or have fires etc. Its easier however to hike from mountainhut (called hizha) to mountainhut. Along the trails there are 13 huts and shelters.

Depending on your time and your equipment, I can suggest several ways of hiking in the Pirin mountain. You can stay in Bansko and do a one day hike coming back in the evening. This is very good possible, since there is a minibus that leaves Bansko in the morning, taking you within 45 minutes nearby the first mountainhut, from where you can start your hike up to the mt. Vihren or to one of the nearby lakes. This hike can be done in lets say 6 hours, so that you can catch the last minibus back to Bansko. You can also choose to take that minibus to the fist hizha and stay some days over there to do some hikes in the surroundings (from there you can do several short distance hikes up to the lakes and to the top of the mount Vihren) The good thing about both options is, that you don’t have to carry your heavy backpack and equipment all the way. The other option is to do a more exciting trek from Bansko into the mountain range, continuing your way to Melnik or Sandanski, which is not though to do. Whatever you decide: enjoy the nature and magnifent landscapes, its definitely worth it!!!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:dozens of trees have been cut down for skilifts!
  • Cons:too much nature, too many different species of mammals...
  • In a nutshell:a good place for watersports
  • Last visit to Pirin: Aug 2003
  • Intro Updated Mar 8, 2004
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