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Michaela Stoyanova – the Seven Rila Lakes

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Michaela is one of the guides who we trust fully as she is very experience despite her age. She speaks fluently German and English and she equally enjoys culture and hiking holidays. Caring and very positive were the first things I felt when we first met some 10 years ago. I’m interviewing her about the Seven Rila Lakes – a nature wonder in the heart of Rila Mountains.

Do you remember the first time you have been to the 7 Rila Lakes? Can you describe your experience?The first time I discovered this magical area for myself was more than 20 years ago and I was absolutely fascinated by the view and energy of the place. It was in autumn time, on a cold, clear day when we decided to make a round hiking trip and see all the lakes for a day. Without chairlifts, cars or transportation, with heavy backpacks it was a bit exhausting, but after that I kept visiting the area again and again.. I really can’t count how many times I saw the lakes, but every time is worth it.

Each year the lift is taking more and more people to the Rila Lakes Cirque. Last year there was this outrageous event when people were dancing in one of the lakes. What measures according to you should be taken to preserve the natural beauty of the place?
The easy access to the area brings a lot of troubles to the environment. Special information and regulations should be given to the tourists before they approach “National Park Rila” – how to preserve the nature, to help and protect the flora and fauna and of course all these rules need to be controlled by a special mountain guards for example.

Are there any animal or plant species that you show the tourists on the hike to the top lake?
There are many endemic plants we usually see in Natural park Rila- unique for that area-different types of crocuses, primroses, mosses-like colourful carpet. Being honest I never saw other animals then wild goats over the forest line.

On a day tour is it better to bring a lunch pack with you or depend on the food at the huts?
It’s always better to rely on yourself and have an energy bar, nuts or something sweet with you for “just in case situations“. However the local small restaurants and huts offer very delicious soups – like beans with mushrooms-boletus, sausages-sudzuk, yoghurt with wild fruits and homemade bread and they definitely worth a try!

Which was the most difficult tour that you took to the 7 Rila Lakes and why? We are always warning our clients to bring warm clothes and good walking shoes, but still, we get plenty of cases of unprepared for the mountain tourists. Since last year we are bringing in our bus raincoats, jackets, poles and warm trousers for rent.
Having the right seasonal equipment can be life saving. We should never underestimate the power of the mountain and nature!

One summer, as it was very hot in the towns, the weather got really cold and windy in the mountains. A lady in my group came without warm clothes and with trainers, felt over a slippery rock and couldn’t walk fast enough anymore. I had to provide her with my own jacket and of course help her to get back to the hut, so in that case I almost froze.

Are there any other such beautiful natural wonders close to Sofia which are underrated and not as popular as the 7 Rila Lakes? We started offering Malyovitsa Peak and the Scary Lake as a less populated alternative.
There are many options for good prepared tourists-if you want to skip the waiting for the chairlift, you should hike via Skakavitca waterfall (the highest one in Rila mountain) to the Rila lakes area. Such beautiful plants can be seen and the waterfall itself is a view to remember.

What would you say to people, who have planned on visiting the area with flip-flops?
Maybe to enjoy a day in the Spa resort Sapareva banja, swimming in mineral water pools. 😊

Have you used the jeeps, which substitute the lift in bringing people up to the Rila Lakes hut? What would you advise people going for this option?
Sorry, I would never use jeeps to bring me to the hut or somewhere else. They are banned in Natural parks, they disturb the animals there and pollute the air. Please don’t use them!

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