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Bulgaria Attractions :: Seven Rila Lakes
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Bulgaria Attractions :: Seven Rila Lakes

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The chain of the Seven Rila Lakes is the largest, most picturesque and most visited group of lakes in all of the Rila Mountains. The lakes are found at differing altitudes and appear like large footprints or steps leading up the mountain. Each of the lakes is named according to its shape.

Cirques can be up to a square kilometre in size, situated high on a mountain side, and are typically partially surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs.

What is a cirque?

A cirque (French for "circus") is an amphitheatre-like valley, or valley head, formed at the head of a glacier by erosion. Cirques can be up to a square kilometre in size, situated high on a mountain side, and are typically partially surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs. The highest cliff is often called a headwall. The fourth side is the "lip" which is the side that the glacier flowed away from the cirque. Many glacial cirques contain tarns dammed by either till or a bedrock threshold.

Glacial Lakes abound in Bulgaria

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Glacial lakes are numerous in Bulgaria. There are about 280 of them, located in the high mountain zones of the Rila and Pirin Mountains. Most are situated at altitudes of 2,200-2,400 m, the highest being Ledenika Lake in the Rila Mountains – situated at an altitude of 2,715 m.

The lakes freeze around October and melt in June. The ice cover can be up to two meters thick. In summer they get their water from the melting snow-drifts on the mountain screes and peaks. Most of them flow into wild streams from which the big Bulgarian rivers – Iskur, Maritsa and Mesta – take their course. The Seven Rila lakes attract the most visitors in the summer months, August in particular.

Seven Rila Lakes in Rila Mountains

The cirque of the Seven Rila Lakes is the largest in the Rila Mountain. It is centered East of Haidyta Peak (also known as Hermit Peak) and South of the steap rock slopes of Razdela Ridge and Otovishka Peak, found to the West of the peak directly above Kidney Lake. The cirque opens to the North and feeds the German River, which is a main source of the Stryma River. The entire area is maintained within the boundaries of Rila National Park.

Seven Lakes

Getting to The Seven Rila Lakes

To get to the place, where the lakes are situated, tourists usually take the trail from Sapareva Bania or from the Rila Monastery. Regardless of your route, the view is magnificent.

From the peak of Damka, the crystal blue surface of the three lowest lakes can be seen, the other four lakes being hidden by the sheer slope of the mountain. As you begin your descent, the highest of the lakes appears before you. Approaching from the northeastern part of the slope, you will see the second lake, one that is known by several names: Okoto (The Eye), Sartseto (The heart) and Salzata (The Tear). Each has its logic, because the lake is crystal and clean like a tear, deep like a heart and hidden like an eye. To the east there is a chasm and wild streams that flow out of the 2 highest lakes. In the winter this place is very dangerous and only very experienced mountain-climbers could pass it.

Seven Lakes

What follows is the magnificent lake of Babreka (The Kidney), surrounded by a big moraine to the east. Beneath it in the deep circus the lake of Twins is hidden. From that point downwards the green areas around the lakes become larger and larger and at the lowest lake of Dolnoto they cover the ground like a green carpet.

  • The first lake - "The Tear"(Salzata) is the highest of the Rila Lakes. It is found at 2535 meters above sea level and has an area of .7 hectares. It is 4.5 meters at its deepest.
  • The second lake - "The Eye" (Okoto) is found at 2440 meters above sea level and has an area of 6.8 hectares. It is the deepest of the lakes with a depth of 37.5 meters.
  • The third lake - "The Kidney" (Babreka) is at an altitude of 2282 meters above sea level and has an area of 8.5 hectares. It is 28 meters at its deepest.
  • The fourth lake - "The Twins" (Bliznaka) are actually one lake nearly split into two. They are at 2243 meters above sea level and is the largest and longest of the lakes. It has an area of 9.1 hectares and a depth of 27.5 meters.
  • The fifth lake - "Three-Lobed Lake" (Trilistnika) has an irregular shape and steep banks and is found at 2216 meters above sea level. It is 6.5 meters deep and has a total area of 2.6 hectares.
  • Flora and Fauna of the Seven Lakes
  • The sixth lake - "The Fish Lake" (Ribno Ezero) is 2184 meters above seal level and has an area of 3.5 hectares. It is the shallowest of the lakes at 2.5 meters. The 7 Lakes Lodge is located at its most Northern bank.
  • The seventh lake - "The Low Lake" (Dolnoto Ezero) is 2095 meters above sea level, has an area of 5.9 hectares and is 11 meters deep.

The Seven Rila Lakes comprise an extremely wonderous spot within the boundaries of Rila National Park. Many of its species are native to the area and are listed in the Red Data Book of Flora and Fauna which denotes them as endangered or rare.


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