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So close and yet far enough from the capital

17 February 2017, Georgi Daskalov

Looking at it from the top gondola station, Sofia seems far enough. Overshadowed by Mt. Vitosha and covered by a thick blanket of clouds, that’s how we like it - оut of sight and out of mind. Not that it’s a bad city, don’t get us wrong - it’s just that we prefer being out here in the embrace of our beautiful Mt.Rila.

The “Yastrebets” gondola takes us up to 2369m. above sea level, in the foot of the tallest peak in Europe east of the Alps. Here we have Musala peeking right over our shoulders and the best thing is that the stress of the big city is a healthy 70 kilometers away.

But how easy it is to get this far from the capital! Escaping the big city and getting yourself up here willtake you around two hours and it doesn’t even require having a car or finding somebody to ride with. There are regular bus lines connecting Sofia, Samokov and Borovets, which make it easy for any skier, snowboarder or mountaineer based in Bulgaria’s capital to remind him- or herself there are mountains actually taller than Mt. Vitosha.

And because every escape needs a good plan, here’s our suggestion: Besides not forgetting some vital part of your gear you have only one other task while in Sofia - get to“Yug” bus station, which is situated in the “Iztok” residental area, near Interpred. You can use numerous public transit connections to get there, including Sofia’s metro, which has a station nearby.

The bus station might not look very cheerful, but it’s where every 30 minutes you can catch a bus to Samokov for the uber-cheap price of 5 or 6 leva. You can board the busses even with gear - the full-size big busses have roomy luggage compartments and even the passenger vans running the route usually offer enough space to chuck in some skis, snowboards and backpacks.

A little over an hour later you’ll find yourself at the Samokov bus station, where again every 30 minutes you can catch a minibus ride to Borovets. They accept riding gear as well, and the price is even cheaper - the tickets cost 1.30 leva.

This ride will be over in about 15 minutes, when you’ll arrive in Borovets and get off at a wooden bus stop in front of the Ela hotel, right near the gondola base station. If you just wanted to reach Borovets - there, you’ve done it, have a nice stay. With a bit of luck and good timing between the bus operators you could arrive in the resort less than 2 hours after starting in Sofia.

Once here, Borosport offers free shuttles for all riders between the different parts of the resort. These start every 15 minutes from the street outside the gondola base station and can be used to easily get to the Yastrebets area and the rest of Borovets.

But if you just want to run as far away as possible from the so-called civilized world there’s nothing else to do but enjoy the views from the gondola during your ascent. The journey lasts for 23 minutes and will get you another 1054m. higher, right to the doorstep of Rila’s alpine area. Way above tree level, where Musala leans over the Markudjik ski area and where you’ll finally be far enough from the capital.