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Natural history tour in Bulgaria: day 3

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Day 3:

Route: Panichishte – Seven Rila lakes – Panichishte

Weather: fresh with temperatures up to 15 degrees with slight showers.

What a great day! A day with picturesque and dramatic landscapes. We couldn’t see much wildlife but it was still a great day. We spent it in the area of seven Rila lakes. A well-known and very tourist destination.

As it was fairly close to our hotel, we managed to arrive in the area before 10 am which gave us enough time to explore it thoroughly. We used an open-area chairlift to reach the alpine area. Along the lift, we had many Nutcrackers, Ring Ouzels, Willow Tit, Firecrests, and other common birds. Our hike started from the “new” Chalet Rila lakes and started our walk at 2200 m a.s.l. As usual, we kept stopping for every little creature. At a certain stage, I heard a distant Rock Thrush. It took us only a few minutes to spot it, although people were prepared to spend as much as needed to see it. It was a very distant view but we still managed to identify it. At the same spot, we heard and saw a distant Water Pipit, many Linnets, Pallid Swifts, and several Black Redstarts.

Water Pipit, image: Iordan Hristov

We continued our hike towards the “old” chalet but there wasn’t much to add. At the chalet, we rested with a cup of coffee and tea enjoying the great view over one of the 7 lakes and surrounding peaks. We kept our walk along the path in between two of the lakes with superb landscapes. We had more views of the Rila Primrose and more great flowers under one of the dramatic peaks in the area called Haramiyata. It was still full of mountain flowers which made it a great foreground for landscape photographers.

Once we made it up to the “Kidney” lake, most of the group members felt like going back. They had enough for the day. Another four people though, wanted to hike up to Ezeren vrah (the lake peak) where a view of all 7 lakes reveals. So we did. Most of the group started descending to the nearby chalet with Toni and Jurgen and I climbed Ezeren vrah with the four enthusiasts. Was it worth it? Boy, it was absolutely gorgeous. It took us only about 45 minutes to get there including the stops for pictures and birding.

“The Eye” lake, image: Iordan Hristov

At the peak, we had the most amazing view over all 7 lakes. Two of them still had a lot of ice and most of them were covered with snow. We have been looking for Alpine Accentor all along but once we got to the peak there was one waiting for us only a few metres away from us. What a treat for all of us. Further down, a pair of Alpine Accentors were just hopping around the snow on the lake. Crazy! What a great bird that is!

Alpine Accentor, image: Iordan Hristov

We made it slowly to the chalet where the others have been waiting for us and we jumped on the lift as the rain was coming. Dark clouds had covered the peaks in the distance and were coming our way. We did get a few raindrops while on the chairlift but it wasn’t something dramatic.

The majority of the group that had ascended first had a great view of a small viper snake. Finally, after two days in the mountains, they managed it. On the way to our hotel, we stopped briefly at the visitor centre of Rila National Park and arrived at the hotel at about 17.00 which was early enough for a rest before dinner.

What a great day!

The descend from the peak, image: Iordan Hristov

view from Ezeren vrah, image: Iordan Hristov

two of the rila lakes

The “Eye” and the “Kidney” lakes, image: Iordan Hristov

Ezeren vrah, (the lake peak)

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