The Bulgarian part of Е8 long distance path traverses Rila and the Rhodope Mountains. The first is higher, exposed, with pure alpine scenery, jagged peaks and numerous sapphire glacial lakes. The latter consist of rolling hills, covered with dense deciduous or coniferous forests that hide countless amazing megalithic monuments evidence of the ancient cultures that inhabited these lands.
The track starts from Borovest Mountain Resort that is just a little over an hour away from Sofia International Airport. It’s a popular mountaineering place year round, but it’s world famous for skiing and snowboarding.
The end of the trail is 420 km later near the Bulgarian-Turkish border at Mezek, a village boasting a fine medieval Byzantine fortress.
The highlight of the trek is the accent of Mt. Musala (2925 m) – the highest peak of Bulgaria and of the whole Balkan peninsular. Other sites worth noting are Trigrad Gorge – a narrow canyon of vertical rocks, Devil’s Throat Cave and Belintash Sanctuary.
Borovest Mountain Resort, (42°16’00″N 23°36’26″E)
Mezek Village (41°44’22″N 26°05’18″E)
Which cities and towns does the E-path pass through
Borovest Mountain Resort, Yundola Village, Avramovo Village, Teshel Village, Trigrad, Mugla Village, Pamporovo Mountain Resort, Zhalt Kamak (Yellow Stone) Village, Panichkovo Village, Sarnitsa Village, Spahievo Village, Sirakovo Village, Trakiets Village, Orlovo Village, Tsareva Polyana (King’s Meadow) Village, Lyaskovets Village, Tankovo Village, Mezek Village
Around 420 km
Ground path of the E-path
- Borovest Mountain Resort – Musala Hut – Everest Mountain Shelter – 6 hours
- Everest Mountain Shelter – Mt. Musala – Zarvachitsa Hut – 6-7 hours;
- Zarvachitsa Hut – Belmeken Hut – Hristo Smirnenski Hut – 6-7 hours;
- Belmeken Hut – Hristo Smirnenski Hut – Yundola Hut – 7 hours;
- Yundola Hut – Veliytsa Mountain Shelter – 7 hours;
- Veliytsa Mountain Shelter – Chernovrah Village – 10 hours;
- Chernovrah Village – Golyam Beglik Dam – 5 hours;
- Golyam Beglik Dam – Orpheus Hut – 8 hours;
- Orpheus Hut – Teshel Hut – Trigradski Skali Hut – 6-7 hours;
- Trigradski Skali Hut – Mugla Village – Lednitsata Hut – 7 hours;
- Lednitsata Hut – Perelik Hut – Studenets Hut – 8 hours;
- Studenets Hut – Rozhen Pass – Momchil Yunak Hut – 5 hours;
- Momchil Yunak Hut – Prespa Hut – Svoboda (Freedom) Hut – 5 hours;
- Svoboda (Freedom) Hut – Sini Vrah (Blue Peak) Hut – 9 hours;
- Sini Vrah (Blue Peak) Hut – Panichkovo Village – Sarnitsa Village – Aida Hut – 8-9 hours;
- Aida Hut – Trakiets Village – Knizhovnik (Bookman) Hut – 8-9 hours;
- Knizhovnik (Bookman) Hut – Lyaskocvest Village – Tankovo Hut – 9 hours;
- Tankovo Hut – Saint Marina Peak – Mezek Village – 12 hours.
The Bulgarian section of E8 route is waymarked with standard red markings as well as signposts.
The exposed parts of the route have also winter markings – metal poles painted with black and yellow on which azimuth plates are mounted.
Traditionally, the Bulgarian part of E8 is covered by moderately trained tourists for 18 days with an average daily duration of the hikes from 5 to 12 hours at the end of which a hut or a shelter is reached. If desired, some of the stages can be further divided in order to make the walking less tiring.
The path generally does not require special technical training, but in sections in Rila Mountain pass through technically complex terrain that should be tackled carefully.
The ramblers must also bear in mind that at the hihest point the altitude is over 2900 m and the weather changes are sudden, and fogs, strong winds and thunderstorms are common even during the summer months.
Various mountain huts and shelters are available for overnight stay in accordance with the 18-day itinerary. The capacity of some of them is limited and in high season hikers should book well in advance in order to guarantee their stay.
Оutside of the protected areas where strict restrictions are imposed, the use of tents is permitted. For the second half of the route (in the Rhodope Mountains) wild camping is even recommended as the distances are longer and the mountain huts and shelters are often open only during the weekends and permanently closed during the winter months.
The Bulgarian part of Е8 path passes through more than a dozen villages, but they are all quite small and their grocery stores (if any) provide only basic supplies. Most of the mountain huts and shelters along the path offer some cooked meals, but the variety is rarely diverse. Some of the ridge sections have no drinkable water source and it is important to stock up for the day.
The first section of the Bulgarian part of E8 traverses the ridges of Rila Mountain, but after this it crosses the national road network on a number of occasions and that can be used to organize additional supplies or to join or leave the track if you plan to walk it in sections.
Tourists need the usual personal equipment suitable for high mountains with possible low temperatures even during the summer season.
Carrying camping gear is recommended as sometimes the distances are long and some mountain huts and shelters are often open only during the weekends and permanently closed during the winter months.
In winter the Rila section of the Bulgarian part of E8 is suitable for only experienced and well-trained hikers, equipped with all the necessary mountain gear like ski or snowshoes, crampons, ice axes, etc.