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Trekking trip in Rila mountains

Recently I realized it has been a long time since I last did a trekking trip in the Bulgarian mountains. I somehow missed it so decided to utilize an opportunity for a work assignment to the south-western part of Bulgaria. A lovely area nearby is the area of Kalin reservoir and Ivan Vazov chalet in Rila mountains.

An area that is rather picturesque, where I have been willing to go for some time, and area that is of scientific interest for the birds residing there. Some of the bird specialities of the area are Alpine Chough, Alpine Accentor, Shore Lark and Water Pipit. On the other hand the landscape presents superb views of lovely scenery.

Well here we are. We drove up a pretty bad road with many pot holes and uneven parts. At certain point the road was just too bad and we decided to carry on by foot. Grabbed all the gear and off we went. The weather wasn’t great with mist covering all the scenes we were here for. Well, we can’t do much about that. Some birds were active and one of the first one to see was the expected Alpine Accentor. It was sitting fairly calmly not far from us giving us some great opportunities to enjoy it.

bird photography

Alpine Accentor

The trail was going up and up. Higher up in the mountains the mist disappeared and we enjoyed the views we were after. A couple of Alpine Choughs brought additional excitement. They let us approach at about 20 meters. Time was ticking away and the light was fading away so we couldn’t quite enjoy the yellow bills of the Alpine Choughs but still they were nice to see.

Once we were at the mountain top a wide valley open in front of us. Vast area with rocks, lakes, waterfalls … it would be difficult to explain. The chalet where we wanted to go was still a dot in the distance. I have never been to this part of the country so was real excitement. Unfortunately we couldn’t get some good pictures of the sunset although I really wanted but anyway.

It was getting darkish and the long hours of walking made the trip a bit tough. Shortly before the chalet we had another addition to the bird checklist – a Ring Ouzel.

Right after a curve on the track the chalet dog started barking. It felt us from quite a distance. It was already totally dark and only one head torch and the moon light were showing our location. The lack of light made crossing a river in front of the chalet a bit challenging but made it.

Finally we arrived. It took us 5 hours of walking from the car to our lodge. It is pretty old made of stones. The distant location made it difficult to maintain but it was really cosy. A group of 20 or so people was already inside enjoying the warm room. We had a drink or two with some salads and superb soup of beans and mushrooms and decided to make a few night pictures. My main idea for carrying the heavy tripod was to try a star trail so it was time to do it. I looked thought the window when I realized it was totally misty and no starts were visible. This wouldn’t help. Luckily in a couple of minutes the sky cleared up and we grabbed the gear. It was around the 0 degrees. Well this would help to reduce the noise in the pictures. After a few attempts we started clicking. With a little bit of post-processing here is the result we got. In half an hour we had to stop because mist took over again. Well it was already 23,30 and time to get some sleep.

Star trail at Ivan Vazov chalet in Rila mountains Star trail at Ivan Vazov chalet in Rila mountains, Bulgaria

On the next morning I got up at 7 a.m. to make use of the first light. The scene was totally different from last evening’s. I have never been in the area before so it was great to explore around and try my new 10-18 lens and 0.6 Lee ND Hard edge filter. Landscapes and running water were amongst the objects I was after.

Landscape photography in Rila mountains Bulgaria Iordan Hristov

Ivan Vazov chalet

landscape photography

Rila mountains by Ivan Vazov chalet

Landscape photography in Rila mountains in Bulgaria Iordan Hristov

The river in front of the chalet was difficult to cross upon the late evening arrival with the ice covered rocks

Landscape photography in Rila mountains in Bulgaria Iordan Hristov


Landscape photography in Rila mountains in Bulgaria Iordan Hristov

Vast valleys and mist were making the atmosphere rather special

Landscape photography in Rila mountains in Bulgaria Iordan Hristov

Winter is on its way. Snow has fallen last week

Landscape photography in Rila mountains in Bulgaria Iordan Hristov

Pyramids were guiding us along the misty mountain trails

After a cold coffee in front of the chalet we took our way back towards the car. We wanted to explore different route so we took an advice from the chalet manager. It was absolutely stunning. Yes it was exhausting but certainly worth it. There was a lot of dynamics and drama in the landscape. Misty clouds were often sweeping amongst the mountains tops and valleys. Rocky hill tops and vast valleys were in front of us. Water pipits, Alpine Accentors, Ravens, and Crested Tit were amongst the birds we added to the list.

In a couple of hours we were back to car. It was time to go home. It took us an hour to drive down the hill. What a weekend. This route is certainly amongst the top for landscapes and views.

Mushroom photography in Rila mountains in Bulgaria Iordan Hristov

Fly agaric Amanita muscaria (description)

Landscape photography in Rila mountains in Bulgaria Iordan Hristov

Mist took over at the end of our trip


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