You love to admire the beauty of the mountains and often take some hiking trails around Rila . You have traveled quite a few beautiful corners of the mountain, but there is still plenty to see and stop looking for interesting hiking trails to take the next trip, at the foot of Rila or Pirin .
If you love the beauty and the calm waters of the lakes, we suggest you take the Lakes to Vap.
Where are they?
The Vapes or as they are called – The Vapes Lakes are two uniquely beautiful lakes located in the central part of Rila. They are located between the peaks of Vapa (2528 m) and Sredni peak (2531 m) , and the closest settlements from which they can be reached are the town of Belitsa and the resort village of Semkovo.
The larger of the two lakes occupies an area of 26.6 acres , has a kidney shape, and the altitude at which it is located is 2268 m. The area of the other, the smaller lake is nearly 3 acres , its shape is almost circular , and its height is 2234 m.
Both lakes are glacial , which means they are formed by the melting of a glacier and are only fed by natural rainfall.
The shores of the Vapskoe Lakes are steep and predominantly overgrown with squat, but in terms of biodiversity, it is not particularly large in both lakes. The lack of diverse forms of life in the lakes is due to the fact that they cannot be treated on their own. Their waters are ice-cold , which kills bacteria that can break down organic matter.
Thus, at the bottom of the lakes, organic matter accumulates that cannot be degraded to be absorbed by the lake’s micro-organisms and aquatic inhabitants. Over time, the accumulated layers of silt begin to undergo decomposition processes without oxygen, which eventually makes the waters of the lakes inhospitable to most of the lake’s inhabitants.
Fortunately, the Vapsky Lakes are not entirely without inhabitants, and they have populations of Balkan trout, hazelnut and American gray .
How to get to the Vapa Lakes?
The good news is that even if you are not much of a mountain passer, you can reach the lakes without any problem. The route is low to medium difficulty, the trail marking is impeccable and you won’t have to load almost anything. But we will get there…
As mentioned in the beginning, the closest settlements to the Vapsko lakes are Belitsa and located about 17 km. above the town of Semkovo. If you decide to enjoy the beauty of the lakes, then all you have to do is get to Belitsa and Semkovo. (If you are vacationing at a hotel in Bansko, the distance from Bansko to Belitsa is only about 20 km and it won’t take you 20 minutes to get there) .
When you reach Belitsa , you continue to Semkovo , and once you reach the resort village you have two options for action – either to get to Semkovo hut by car or to start your journey to the Vapski Lakes from the resort village.
The hut is located about a kilometer from Semkovo and you will be there literally in a few minutes if you are by car and in about 30 – 40 minutes if you are on foot. From the Semkovo hut begins the eco-trail “On the trail of the glacier” , and both lakes are its end point.
Route of Semkovo hut – Vapsky lakes
Once you reach the hut you should continue along a dense forest road, which will take you to the canton of Vapa in about 10 – 20 minutes .
After the canton there is a narrow forest path that you must follow. The trail is very small, very pleasant to walk, and you will find enough signs on the trees that point the way to the Vapsky Lakes.
In the beginning the road passes through spruce and white pine forests , and after entering the territory of Rila National Park the masses, which are predominantly made of pine (in the lower parts) and squat (around the lakes and in the higher parts) ).
The further up the path, the more beautiful views are revealed . You will pass through vast, meadow-strewn meadows, endless forests, clear streams and enjoy the “trout zone” of the rivers flowing close to the eco-trail.
The route to the lakes is not difficult at all and after about 2.5 hours a moderate walk the Lakes of Vapa will be revealed to you in all its beauty and splendor.
First, the smaller lake – Dolna Vapa – will be revealed to you. It is much smaller than the large Vapsko Lake, but most tourists find it much more picturesque and beautiful. Looking from afar, Dolna Vapa looks really picturesque with the meanders that curl around it.
Just over Dolna Vapa you will see the large lake, which impresses with its interesting shape and its unique olive blue waters , which reflect the surrounding peaks.
If you reach the large Vapsko lake, then you have reached the end of the eco-trail “On the trail of the glacier” . All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the beauty of the lakes and then take the return trip.
The route is about 7.5 km long. and take about 3 hours of moderate walking. The eco trail is suitable for beginners and young children as well as experienced mountaineers. The difficulty of the route is low to medium, the displacement is very small, and the most appropriate seasons to make the transition are spring, summer and early fall.
Sightseeing that you can visit near the Lakes
Bear Dancing Park
So and so the way to the Semkovo hut and the lakes passes through Belitsa , if you have not yet been a “guest” of the dancing bears, it is advisable to visit them before or after you enjoy the beauty of the Vapsky lakes.
The park was established in 2000 . with one main purpose – to provide a safe natural environment for all dancing bears registered on the territory of the country. Thanks to the Municipality of Belitsa and various Animal ProtectionFoundations such as the Four Paws Foundation and the Bridget Bardot Foundation , today, bear bears live in conditions close to their natural environment and are cared for by qualified staff who donate them with all their love. .
The Dancing Bears Park is about 12 km away. from Belitsa in Adrianov Chark area and if you decide to take it from your time you will not be disappointed.
The resort is not only one of the most popular eco and winter resorts in the country, but it is also a place where you can relax as you like. The village is set amidst centuries-old forests and provides very good conditions for vacation and tourism.
From Semkovo there are many hiking trails that will take you to the nearby peaks, to lakes, waterfalls and panoramic views , from which the breath directly stops.
Peak Dry Peak
If you are a seasoned mountaineer and crave greater challenges, you can take a day off from your vacation to conquer the Dry Vapa peak . To the top there is a hiking trail that starts from the area of Nehtenitsa , which is located about 16 km. from the town of Yakoruda.
From Nehtenitsa you have to take the marked path to the Fish Lakes and then prepare to overcome a steeper but shorter stretch that will take you straight to the top.
The time it takes to complete the route is about 3 hours. The passage to the Fish Lakes is easy , but then the leveling increases, making this route a little suited for beginner hikers.