VII.  NICE ROUTES IN MOUTAINS



PIRIN Mountain


      Maybe the most scenery mountain in Bulgaria is Pirin Mountain. Most of the mountain area is a national park. More information about the it can be seen here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirin

      http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/parks/pirin-bulgaria/

       

      The mountain is rocky, especially its higher part and it is not so appropriate for bicycling, but there are several places, which are worth to be explored - down on the map I have pointed these places:

      - The region near Bansko and Dobriniste;

      - Melnik and Rozhenski Monastery;

      - Sandanski  and the region near it;

      - Gotse Delchev and the region near it.


Approach to Pirin Mountain


      1. From Sofia to Blagoevgrad to Simitli to Bansko.

      More and very detailed information aboit it can be found out in:Chapter III.  Crossing Bulgaria from north (Romanian border) to south (Greece&Turkey borders), Point 10. Sofia - Border Checkpoint Kulata.

      IMPORTANT!

      Exploring this area, have in mind that the road segment Simitli - Kresna is extremely dangerous, it MUST be avoided. It will be better to take on a train between Blagoevgrad (or Simitli) and Kresna.

      South from Kresna (from Kresna to Mikrevo to Ribnik) there is a road from the right side of Struma River - use it, there is not any traffic there.


 

      2. From Pazardzhik (Varvara) to Velingrad to Banya to Bansko to Dobriniste to Gotse Delchev (I RECOMMEND IT TO REACH PIRIN MOUNTAIN). Look for detail information for it again in: Chapter III.  Crossing Bulgaria from north (Romanian border) to south (Greece&Turkey borders, 11. From Pazardzhik (Pazardjik in another maps) to Gotse Delchev to  Border Checkpoint Ilinden (Road N 84 and Road N19) to Drama (Road N57)   

- Segment III - 11 - B - a,

- Point 11.3, Segment III - 11 - C:  Dobriniste (Eleshnitsa) - Border Checkpoint Ilinden.


 

      3. Predela Pass

      I can not find English language information for Simitli but accommodation in it is possible:

      https://www.agoda.com/hotel-nice/hotel/simitli-bg.html?cid=-110

      The climbing of Predela Pass starts from Simitli. It is long, but not hard. Food is available in Gradevo and a kilometer - two further a little restaurant and drinkable water is available. The last time I pedaled this distance was 2008, now I avoid it because the traffic here is relatively intensive especially weekends, when people love to visit Bansko and Pirin Mountain.

      Reaching Predela Pass, you will find a lot of little restaurants, souvenir shops, if my memory serves there is a hotel , or hut for overnight accommodation. Information for the Pass:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predel_(Bulgaria)

 

      In the region here is Razlog - miss it and go toward Bansko. Information for Razlog:

      http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/razlog/razlog.html


      4. Bansko and the highest pick Vihren

      Bansko is a winter resort, each winter thousands of tourists (most of them are coming from GB) spend their vacancy in it. More information about Bansko can be seen here:

       http://www.bulgariaski.com/bansko/

       http://www.banskoski.com/en

      Summer time the resort is not over crowded by tourists (except of several days on August, when there is several day jazz festival, I think they change dates each year) there are a lot of hotels you can stay for a night, I can say that here people are masters of cooking of meat meals. Have in mind, that this place is more expensive than the next one I will describe further (Dobriniste: 7 – 8 kilometers east from Bansko).

      The view toward mountain in the night when the moon is thick is amazing, it must be seen. Next several photos are taken in the old part of Bansko.

       Bansko can be used as an initial point to visit the highest pick of the Mountain – Vihren, or the amassing place - "Koncheto", I think a visit to the 2 places for only one day would be too difficult.

      There is an asphalt road from Bansko to Vihren Hut, but as it can be seen from the next map and road profile the difference of both altitudes is considerable, I do not think that the pedaling up the mountain here would be a wise decision. I think it would be nice to take on a taxi up to Vihren Hut – be there no late than 8 am, the best situation would be, if you tell to the taxi driver to come at 5 – 5.30 pm again and take you back to Bansko.

     

 

      There is also gondola type lift, you can use it to enter in the Mountain.

 

 

      A link in English concerning this lift.

      http://www.planinite.info/V_pomosht_na_turista/Liftove_ENGL/Lifts-Pirin_ENGL.htm

      Next road profile chart is for enthusiasts loving the hard mountain pedaling.

      Three photos of the great downhill from Vihren Hut to Bansko. If I must be true, we used a van to travel up the mountain. Next links show information for Huts in Pirin mountain:

      http://visit-bansko.bg/en/pirin/item/4033-huts-and-shelters-in-pirin

      http://www.planinite.info/V_pomosht_na_turista/Hiji_i_zasloni_ENGL/Pirin_ENGL.htm

 The walk from Vihren Hut to Vihren Pick is approx. 3,5 hours slowly walking, you can be back to Vihren Hut from the other side of the Pick - Wilderness Shelter (Hut) "Kazana" (again 3,5 hours).

      The walk to the pick and back is relatively not so easy, it would be nice if you are in a nice sport form, have comfortable shoes (and nice jacket), and do it only if the weather forecast is nice. Have in mind that the entire region is a Karst zone and there is not any water, so bring food and water with you. July and August are appropriate to visit Vihren Pick. Some nice September days are appropriate as well.

      "Koncheto" ("The Horst") is a sharp ridge placed between the Picks Kutela II and Banski Suhodol) and a walk to it is longer, it needs at least 4,5 hours in each direction. You can walk via Kutela I and Kutela II Picks, or to use the track surrounding these 2 picks - tracks are labeled well. I think August is nice to visit this place. A walk to "Koncheto" and back can be done from Banderitsa Hut as well.

 

       Down are several photos of one of my visits to Vihren Pick - Vihren Hut - Vichren Pick - Shelter "Kazana" and back to Vihren Hut. A walk in this direction is easier according to me rather than the one in the back direction.

Vihren Pick can be seen above - high in left.

 

The middle photo shows the place where the track is parted in 2 - toward Vihren Pick - left  and Wilderness Shelter (Hut) "Kazana" - right.

 

 
Toward "Koncheto" (the Horst"). if you decide to climb all this area, bring with you a nice winter equipment.

 

 

 

 

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Under updating!

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 2. Dobriniste

 

      I love this place. Several are the reasons for it: there is very nice swimming pool of thermal water (I have never missed to stay there for an afternoon), there is a chair type lift to the higher part of Pirin Mountain, there are very nice local type restaurants offering very tasty meet meals (look for "Makedonska krachma" - its place is well labeled), the overnight accommodation is not a problem at acceptable price, so I do not miss to stay here for a day or two I am touring.

       All that I am spiking about can be recognized in the photos below.

 

      Dobriniste is 6 kilometers east from Bansko, again it is overcrowded by tourists winter time.

     

      http://www.bulgariaski.com/otherresorts/dobrinishte.shtml

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/414

 

      Dobriniste  can be used as an initial point to visit so called “Bezbog” – a place in Pirin Mountain, where there is a hotel (hut) near nice lake.

 

       Up to the first chair lift station the distance is a little more than 10 km. and the enthusiasts can bike up there. Lazier bicyclists can take on a taxi to the lift station. 3 - 4 hours walk above the Hut and Bezbog Lake would be very nice.

 


      3. Melnik

      It is one of the places in Bulgaria, which is worth to be seen.

 

      There are a lot of small private homes offering rooms and nice local type restaurants. The local type of red and white wines have to be mentioned as well.

      Depending on where are coming from, there are 2 routes to pedal toward Melnik:

      Route a (if you are coming from north):

Ribnik - Spatovo - Hotovo - Lozenitsa - Melnik;

 

      Route b (if you are coming from South - BG/Greece Border):

E79 - Novo Konomladi - Kapatovo - Kromidovo - Harsovo - Vinogradi - Melnik.

 

      Route a:

      A longer (3,5 - 4 km.) and steeper hill here is between Hotovo and Lozenitsa (the last photo below).

      An additional information about Malnik can be seen here:

       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melnik,_Bulgari

       http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/38

      Route b:

      A longer and steeper hill here (3,5 - 4 km.) is between Hotovo and Lozenitsa (the last photo below).

      The scenery in both routes is perfect, distances and altitudes are similar as well. Several pics from Melnik.

      My suggestion is to stay for an afternoon in Melnik. Overnight accommodation here is not a problem, there are a lot of local type restaurants offering perfect meals 7 local type wines. Leave the bicycle in Melnik and walk up to Rozhenski Monastery along the road (1h 50min - 2 hours slowly walking):

        Melnik – Karlanovo  – Pozhen – Rozhenski Monastery.

      My suggestion is after visiting the monastery, to move a little up above the monastery along a narrow track (10 minutes walk) – a marvelous view over all this place of sand pyramids will be revealed in front of you. Go back to Melnik along the narrow track between the sand pyramids (50 - 60 minutes walk). You will be not disappointed !!!  No possible to pedal there.

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/23


      4. Sandanski

 

 

      Sandanki is placed next to international road E79 BG/Greece.

      Sandanski is a resort and SPA center, there are a lot of hotels, overnight accommodation in it is not a problem.

 

 

      More information for it can be seen here:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandanski

      http://www.visitbulgaria.net/en/sandanski/sandanski.html

      http://www.bulgariatravel.org/article/details/299

      There is a nice park  in the north part of the town, I like it even in the winter time.

      North from the town there is a road to a place called "Turichka Cherkva" in Pirin Mountain.

      A place called Rupite is in the same region as well, more information about it I have given in: Capter III.  Crossing Bulgaria from north (Romanian border) to south (Greece&Turkey borders), point 10. Sofia - Border Checkpoint Kulata.

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