“You have an amazing view from up there!”, that’s what a friend said, when I told him I would hike to Mt. Musala in Bulgaria. With 2925 m above sea level Mt. Musala is the highest Mountain of the Balkans.
I was determined to peak Mt. Musala in October and some friends agreed and decided to come along and do the hike with me.
5 AM: Next Stop Ghost Town of Borovets
We had to get up really early if we wanted to peak Mt. Musala. From Blagoevgrad, the earliest bus leaves at 6.20 AM and takes 2 hours.
We had the impression of a ghost town when we arrived in Borovets at about 8 AM. The town is mostly known for the great ski opportunities in Winter and during Summer people go there for hiking. But in October, there is nothing. Shops are closed and only a few restaurants are open. The reason is that in October it’s already to cold to actually hike to Mt. Musala because it is covered with snow and its still too warm for skiing as there is not enough snow in the valley.
10 AM: Let’s GO!
After buying a late breakfast, we started our hike up the mountain. The vegetation changed quickly. From cold and green to cold and white. Firstly only a little bit of snow but as we preceded the amount of snow increased dramatically and we shortly found ourselves in a white landscape.
The hike starts easy but gets steeper later with some really steep and slippery areas in between. The views you have on the way are amazing and the snow reflects the sun which makes everything look even better.
12 PM: Time for lunch!
At noon we decided that after two hours hiking (which felt like 10 to me) it was time for lunch. Bread, different sorts of cheese, ham, mandarins, bananas, apples, mango, and tomatoes were consumed and after we stocked up our nicotine levels we continued our hike. We were already pretty far up and we could already see the peak.
2 PM: Winter wonderland
At 3 o’clock the last and only Bus to Blagoevgrad was departing and we were over half way hiking up the highest Mountain of the Balkans. We decided that the bus leaves without us and that we would take a taxi back. Once we left the little hut where we had lunch we kept walking. It got really steep and once this section was passed we were in the middle of a ski slope. There was a lot of snow and when off the path we had the chance to fall into the snow, which sometimes meant to be stuck in there knee deep.
A lot of fun if you wear the right gear, but with jeans and sneakers you get really cold when you fall in the snow.
3 PM: Musala Hut, 2600 meters
We finally made it up to 2600 meters. In the middle of nowhere is a hut where they serve you overpriced drinks and meals. But its totally worth it to have a hot soup up there.
2600 meters, that is the highest we got that day. The sun would set early and we still had to go back all the way, therefore we decided that the peak must wait a couple of years until we come back.
At 2600 meters you can already feel that the air is thinner, we got very dizzy by hiking up there.
Nevertheless, we drank the 4 beers we brought with us to celebrate the glorious peaking of the mountain and drank it at the hut.
6 PM: Borovets is still a ghost town
At 6 PM we finally arrived back in the town. It was as quiet as in the morning when we arrived and we only saw 2-3 people wandering on the streets.
It was impossible to get a cab there and therefore we ran into one of the hotels which was so friendly and organized a way to get back.
The taxi would have been 130 leva (65 €) but the boss offered to drive us for 100 leva (50 €) and offered us tea and drinks on his account.
Finally at 7 PM we jumped in his car and fell asleep immediately.
The next two nights I slept like a baby and I couldn’t move for 3 days. Even though we didn’t peak it, it was totally worth it and I want to go back to finish the last 350 meters of altitude some time in the future.
Make sure that if you go in the colder seasons of the year that you bring adequate gear. Sneakers and Jeans are not recommendable. 🙂