Macedonia hut

Macedonia hut is a good ski mountaineering destination for people with limited experience

It is located in the Rila Mountains, to the east of the town of Blagoevgrad, between the peaks of Malak and Golyam Mechi Vrah. Build at an altitude of 2166 metres above the sea level, the hut can be more or less safely reached via the path from Kartala ski area. The nearby peak of Golyam Mechi Vrah (2617 m) is an hour away and skiing down from it is pleasant.

Macedonia hut has a spacious dining room, toilets, a tourist kitchen and several sleeping rooms which respectively have 4, 5 or 7 beds inside. Additionally, there is also a big common room with bunk beds for 24 people. In the winter, even when the hut keeper isn't there (usually he is present only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday), the common room stays opened. In it there is a wood-burning stove and firewood can be found in the basement. The toilets are on the ground floor and unless the winter is really a cold one, you will be able to refill your bottle with water from the taps that are next to them. The water comes from a spring that is not far from the hut and though a note next to the sinks warns you that it is not certified for drinking, you most likely won’t have any problems drinking it.

If you stay in the hut when the hut keeper is not there, please leave 8 leva per person and be careful not to cause any damages, especially when you operate with the wood-burning stove. Macedonia hut is one of the mountain huts in Bulgaria that offers good conditions and it is up to all of us to keep it. Thank you for your understanding.

The easiest way to get to Macedonia hut is probably to hire a car and to drive to Kartala ski resort. It is located on the western side of the mountain range, 30 km east of Blagoevgrad. From Sofia just take the A3 highway and drive south to Blagoevgrad. Without a GPS navigating through the town may prove to be difficult. Look for the signs which shows the direction towards the 'Bodrost area' (in Bulgarian - "Бодрост"). If you don't find any - try to get to the old part of the town centre (its called Varosha) and from there drive north-east along the road which follows the river. Once the town is left behind, if you see a park, restaurants and hotels next to the river - you are on the right way. Wherever you get to a crossroad - go straight. After driving for some time you will reach Kartala ski area at the end of the road. Leave your car at the parking site and walk back until you cross the river. The path that leads to Macedonia hut starts here.

In case renting a car is not your thing, you can also travel to Blagoevgrad by train. Presently there are 8 trains per day but you will do well to catch one in the morning. The ride is 2 and a half hours long and by starting early you will have more time to find a way to get from Blagoevgrad to Kartala. One option is to take a taxi from Blagoevgrad’s train station. The taxi driver will probably ask you to pay the price for the way back as well but with some skillful negotiation you can most likely bargain a reasonable price for the ride. In case you are on a tight budged, just get to the suburbs (either by a taxi or walking) and then try to hitchhike. The road to Kartala isn't a major one but there is still some traffic and with a bit of luck you will probably get a lift.

The trail from Kartala to Macedonia hut is marked with white-green-white markings and is about 7 km long. Though the total altitude gain is roughly 700 metres, there are no steep sections and going up is easy. The trail follows the riverbed of Blagoevgradska Bistritsa until it reaches a house built right next to the river. In a clear day you can see the hut from here. It is on the top of ridge east of you. To get there, after the house turn right and cross the river. With a short ascend, following the pillars which mark the winter path, you will reach the hut after a few hundred metres.

On 16 February 2018 there were approximately 80 cm of snow in the area, 15 of which were from the last snowfall. With a rather heavy backpack on my back it took me and the friend I was with roughly 4 hours to ski up to Macedonia hut. Perhaps if you don't pack a tripod and an old Nikon camera with a heavy lens in your rucksack, you will do it for much less than 4 hours.

IMPORTANT: For those who do not have ski or snowshoes - keep in mind that the wind usually blow down a lot snow from the surrounding ridges and walking without snowshoes can be really slow. And also difficult!