The Best of Via Dinarica Mediterranean & Inland Route:
Eight-Day Hiking Adventure Through Macedonia

This section of Via Dinarica is an epic eight-day hiking adventure in the Sharr Mountain Range (one of largest in the Southeast Europe, with 23 peaks higher than 2500 meters) and the Mavrovo National Park along the borders of Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania.

In Macedonia, you will encounter vibrant forests, spectacular cliffs with thundering waterfalls, and wildlife, such as lynx, wild goats, fox, roedeer, and eagle. The country boasts a rich cultural legacy from different ages and empires, and in some of the spectacular and distant areas we will have the chance to visit Orthodox monasteries founded in the golden age of the Byzantine Empire, with preserved frescoes, icons and woodcarvings.

Our objective along the trail will be to climb several of the range’s most famous peaks including Mt. Ljuboten (2498m) and Titov Vrv (2747m). From Mavrovo National Park we’ll head to Mt. Golem Korab (2764 m), the second highest in former Yugoslavia. From some of these mountain tops, views extend to Mount Olympos in Greece.

Quotes from Travelers

Lovely trekking in flower strewn hillsides and devoid of hordes of tourists. Bliss!

Very pleased. Did what it said on the tin. Would recommend. It lived up to and exceeded all my expectations. Definitely off the beaten track which is what I wanted. I most enjoyed the trekking. The welcome day off is well timed. Meals excellent and good variety of location.”

Holiday was just as I had hoped. We trekked to the summit of Sar Planina and Mavrovo mountains. The flowers were sensational. The main reasons for choosing this holiday was to hike Mt. Golem Korab and Mt. Titov Vrv, last remaining of the great summits of the Balkans. I was not disappointed. Macedonia is a fascinating place to visit particularly its history and all its ancient sights.

Highlights

  • Discover Sharr Planina: One of largest mountain massifs of the Balkans and an area not frequented by visitors. The region, which is rich in wildlife, has 23 peaks higher than 2500 meters and 27 glacial lakes.
  • Conquer Mt. Golem Korab (2764 m), Macedonia’s highest and most spectacular peak.
  • Immerse yourself into the colorful folklore and traditions of multi confessional and multiethnic villages of Janche and Galicnik in the Mavrovo National Park, the largest of Macedonia.
  • Explore Skopje, Macedonia’s capital: A city of long tradition and a melting pot of different cultures and empires.
  • Sample Macedonia’s exquisite cuisine in the Sharr and Mavrovo regions.

Itinerary: 8 Days

Day 1 – Arrival: Skopje – Staro Selo

Arrival to Skopje airport and transfer to the village Staro selo, where we use jeeps to transfer us to Vila Ljuboten hut for our first overnight. The hut is placed on 1400 meters, at the bottom of Mt. Ljuboten — the beginning of the biggest mountain massif of Macedonia, the Sharr Planina. In the evening we will rest and enjoy local wines and spirits combined with local delicacies. Overnight.

Meals: D (Sharr Planina: Villa Ljuboten)
Accommodation: Sharr Planina (Vila Ljuboten: http://www.vilaljuboten.com/)

Day 2 – Hike to Mt. Ljuboten (2498 m), Shar mountain

In the morning, we’ll start the walk from the hut toward the ridge of Mt. Ljuboten (2498 m). This peak has long been considered to be the highest peak on Shar mountain, because of its distinctive pyramid shape and dominant appearance. The peak opens a stunning view both to Macedonia and Kosovo because it is located on the border. Picnic lunch is enjoyed on top, and we start the descent to the hut via Kozja stena. We will have a farewell drink with our hosts and continue down to Staro selo, while on the way (depending on the season) we can enjoy a generous variety of forest fruits.

Transfer to the Popova Shapka ski resort. Dinner and overnight in hotel Scardus, which is named after Scardus, the name given to Sharr Planina by the Romans.

Moderate walk / 5-6hrs walk / 900Δh / 11Km
Meals: B (villa Ljuboten), L (picnic), D (hotel)
Accommodation: Popova Shapka (Hotel Scardus)

Day 3 – Hike to Mt. Titov Vrv (2747 m), Shar Planina

Today we hike to the highest peak on Shar mountain, and the second highest in the country. In the morning, we start the hike from the hotel, toward the Ceripasina peak. Once we reach Mt. Ceripasina (2322 m), we are constantly walking on a ridge of peaks of 2500 to 2600 meters, which will reward us with breathtaking views of meadows, rocks and peaks, as well as Tito’s peak – noticeable because of a tower built on top. In the old times, this peak had several different names, mostly given by the different invaders of Macedonia. During the hike we also reach to Mt. Bakardan peak (2704 m), which is the third highest peak of the Sharr massif, and is about an hour from Tito’s peak (Macedonian: Titov Vrv). Guests are provided with boxed lunches. We return to Popova shapka via Vakaf valley, that gives us entirely different aspect of the mountain and views to most of Macedonia. Dinner and overnight.

Challenging walk / 7-8hrs walk / 1100Δh / 11Km
Meals: B (hotel), L (lunch box), D (hotel)
Accommodation: Popova Shapka (Hotel Scardus: http://www.hotelscardus.com/)

Day 4 – Hike to Mt. Plat (2398 m), descent to Upper and Lover Leshnica (1300 m)

After breakfast we start hiking toward Mt. Plat (2398 m). The trail takes us via several traditional sheepfold, where we can witness the traditional way of herding sheep. We will hike up to Plat peak, passing through meadows and pastures, between gorges and rocky peaks. On the way we will enjoy a picnic lunch. We arrive to the Lower Leshnica valley, where we settle near a cool mountain river, where a short refreshing deep is well deserved. We will enjoy an open air dinner in a beautiful scenery in deep pine tree forest with amazing rocky peaks above us. Dinner and overnight are organized in tents near the river.

Note: In the morning of this day each passenger should take their backpack with necessities for a two-day hike. The rest of the luggage should be packed, and will be delivered to us in the following day.

Moderate walk / 5-6hrs walk / 1100Δh / 14Km
Meals: B (hotel), L (lunch box), D (outdoor barbecue)
Accommodation: tents

Day 5 – Hike to Karanikola lake (2118 m)

We’ll overnight in the open with the sound of running water. After breakfast in the beautiful Lower leshnica valley, we start our hike toward one of the biggest glacial lakes of Sharr Planina – Karanikola lake. Once again we enjoy beautiful mountain landscapes, and also the possibility to take a nice swim in a lake located at 2300 meters.

Our last day on the beautiful Sharr mountain takes us to remote high mountain villages. We will descend to the village of Veshala, where our transport will pick us up and transfer to the Mavrovo national park, the biggest national park in Macedonia, an area abundant with beautiful mountains. We will stay in the village of Janche, where our host has built the first mud brick hotel. Hotel “Tutto” holds impressive ethnographic collection from the area, and also has a lobby section which contains collection of almost all the local mountain herbs and spices. We will enjoy a typical Macedonian dinner prepared from local village women. Overnight takes place in this hotel which is mixture of modern age commodity and ancient traditions.

Moderate walk / 5-6hrs walk / 900Δh / 13Km
Meals: B (outdoor), L (lunch box), D (hotel)
Accommodation: Mavrovo national park (Hotel Tutto: http://tutto.com.mk/)

Day 6 – Hike to Mt. Golem Korab (2764 m)

Our first hike in the Mavrovo National Park is a memorable one and takes us to the highest point in the both Macedonia and Albania. The peak of Golem Korab is located on the border between both countries.

We start the day with a transport from Janche to Strezimir where we start the hike. The path takes us in deep forest, we cross small mountain springs, pastures and meadows. The views are breathtaking, especially in the long traverse before the peak, where we are in front of beautiful rocky pointy peaks. As we approach the peak we can feel the fresh air from the Adriatic sea drifting from the Albanian coast, and we can see valleys and peaks in both countries. We enjoy enroute picnic lunch, afterwards we descend along the same trail.

In the late afternoon we get transferred with van to the village of Galicnik, positioned at 1400 meters. We enjoy a homemade dinner of famous Galicnik dishes (white sheep cheese, bakrdan and sour milk, pie).

Challenging walk / 6-7hrs walk / 1300Δh / 18Km
Meals: B (hotel), L (lunch box), D (local restaurant)
Accommodation: Mavrovo national park (Baba i Dede, Galicnik: https://goo.gl/QSmN17)

Day 7 – Hike to Mt. Medenica (2160 m)

We start the from the village of Galicnik to Mt. Medenica (2160 m), the highest peak of the Bistra mountain massif. The trail takes us to Govedarnik sheepfold, one of the largest that still exist in this region famous for it’s production of the highest quality cheese and other dairy products. Mt. Medenica (“med” in Macedonian translates to honey) provides beautiful views of the Mavrovo lake, one of the biggest man-made lakes of Macedonia. We descend fast toward one of the most scenic roads in the country, where our transport is waiting for us to return us to Skopje. Farewell dinner is arranged in Debar Maalo, famous bohemian quarters of Skopje. Overnight.

Moderate walk / 3-4hrs walk / 700Δh / 10Km
B (villa), L (lunch box), D (local restaurant)
Accommodation: Skopje (Tomce Sofka: http://en.tomcesofka.mk/hotel or similar)

Day 8 – Skopje sightseeing, transfer to Sarajevo International Airport

Depending on guests’ departure time, we will have time for short walking sightseeing of amenities in the center of Skopje (the Stone Bridge, Old Bazaar, Skopje Fortress) and last-minute shopping opportunities in the Old Bazaar. After, you will be transferred to the Skopje International Airport.

Meals: B (hotel)

Trip Cost

Price per person

4 to 6 participants: 760 EUR
7 to 10 participants: 660 EUR
11 to 14 participants: 560 EUR

Single supplement: 70 EUR

-Price is per person, double/twin occupancy
-Single rooms are available on a request basis at certain places
-All travelers will be paired with a same gender roommate when a roommate is available
-If a roommate is not available, a 70EUR forced single supplement will be charged

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About Via Dinarica Adventures

Via Dinarica Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenges. These expeditions are organized by some of the best Outdoor Adventure Companies in the Western Balkans.
You’ll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides.

What is Included

  • Transportation during entire trip with 8+1 MiniVan or 15+1 MiniBus (including Airport transfers)
  • Fully equipped English speaking Tour Leader/Guide
  • Accommodation: 5 nights in Twin/Double room with ensuite bathroom; 1 nights in tents; 1 night in dnl/twin accommodation with shared facilities in Galicnik
  • All meals (as per program; beverages excluded)
  • Entrance fees for Mavrovo national park & VAT
  • 24/7 assistance from Macedonia Experience

Not included

  • Transfers to Macedonia
  • Meals and activities not mentioned in the program
  • International Travel insurance
  • Optional tipping to leader, guides and local staff
  • Souvenirs and items of a personal nature (sodas, alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.)
  • Any items not specifically mentioned in the programme
  • Other individual expenses not mentioned elsewhere

Air Travel

Airfare is not included in the land cost of our trips. For air reservations, we recommend you contact Macedonia Experience directly, either by phone or the Internet.

Payment & Cancellation Policy

Payment of 10% deposit after booking confirmation. The rest of the amount is due four weeks before the trip date.

Cancellation policy:
– Up to four weeks before startdate – loss of deposit
– Up to two weeks before start date – loss of 50% of total price
– Two weeks or less – loss of 100% of price

Then Leave the Rest to Us

Before you go, we provide you with extensive pre-departure information, including clothing recommendations, suggested reading lists, up-to-date health advice and other details.

References

Don’t take our word for how great our trips are. We’ll be happy to provide you with references of satisfied past travelers.

Questions?

Feel free to call us on Skype, or email if you still have any questions or concerns. We’re here to help you.

Note on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary schedule as listed, it is subject to change for numerous reasons, including weather, beyond our control.

Note on Services

To comply with Macedonian laws and regulations, we use local suppliers who provide services that include transportation, equipment, logistic support, and other services (hotels, restaurants, etc.). We work with service providers, who share our commitment to safety and quality, and work closely with them to develop itineraries unique to the Via Dinarica.

The restaurants, accommodation and activity providers (local guides, clubs or associations) on our trips are small family owned businesses which were carefully selected for their premium quality and service, and their involvement on our trips is crucial for their existence. By working with these suppliers, we make true local impact and enforce responsible travel around Macedonia

ABOUT YOUR TRAVEL IN MACEDONIA (MKD)

Accommodations

Vila Ljuboten

Villa Ljuboten is located at an altitude of 1700 meters, it is fully equipped, starting from the parking, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two kitchens, two dining rooms and a huge living room with TV.

Hotel Scardus

Located on Kodra e Diellit only 18 km from Tetovo,Hotel Sacrdus features indoor pools, a sauna, a Turkish bath and a fitness center, all free of charge. A spa and health club and massage services are available for a fee for our visitors. Free private parking is available on site and free Wi-Fi is available in public areas.

The Scardus hotel is an ideal destination for adventure holidays, family vacations, group and corporate events, as well as nature lovers, seeking peace and tranquility.

The Hotel comprises of 35 spacious apartments finished to high standards, including laminate flooring, under floor heating, fully fitted kitchen inclusive of appliances and furniture which is of high quality. Each room at the hotel Scardus includes a TV with cable channels and a minibar. Some rooms have a sofa and a dining table. The private bathroom is fitted with a bathtub, free toiletries and a hairdryer. A private balcony, opening to mountain views, is featured in some of the units.

Complementing the Hotel, there are various amenities including a Reception, Night Bar, Restaurant, Ski Rooms and Laundry, Children’s Indoor playing area, Conference Hall.

Camping in Leshnica valley

After spending two nights in a four-star hotel, we go back to nature and get a chance for a night high up in the mountains, staying in tents in the Leshnica valley.

Hotel Tutto

Tutto Hotel is located in Jance, in the hearth of the National Park of Mavrovo, in the municipality of Mavrovo Rostushe.It is just under the mountain Bistra, close to the monastery of sveti Jovan Bigorski.

The hotel offers a wonderful panorama on the mountains which surrounds it and on the village of Jance with its ancient houses made of stone and wood.
Built exclusively of natural construction materials Tutto hotel is visually one with the nature around it: the grey rocks, the green hoods, the blue sky and the water of the river. Sitting in the hotel terrace it is possible to watch the bending stream of Radika river whose canyon passes by this region. Here mornings are fresh and pleasant, days are filled with the scents of the nature and nights are quite and perfect for resting.

Tutto Hotel is new and ‘all-equipped’ according to contemporary standards. It is ideal for family holidays and stays of more days, providing high quality facilities. It has 7 double rooms and some private apartments, all luxuriously furnished, with private toilet, satellite television and internet (wi-fi).

Baba i Dede

“Baba i Dede” guest house and restaurant is among the best accommodation and restaurant choices in the Mavrovo national park. Located in a restored stone built house, it holds 4 rooms (dbl/triple) with shared toilet facilities. The owners are Pavle and Borka, retired couple who have been living in Galicnik since 1990, and are the village’s last remaining residents (they remain in the village even in wintertime, when the only access road is often closed until may due to heavy snowfall). The restaurant is simply decorated, and Baba Borka is the best chef in Mavrovo, preparing best bakardan, pie and game dishes (her specialty).

Tomce Sofka

The hotel – restaurant “Tomce Sofka” which is located in the center of the city Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. The hotel is situated 20 km from the international airport “Aleksandar The Great” in Skopje and only 1 km from the bus and train station in Skopje. Even though it is located in the peacefulness of the city park in Skopje, the hotel is only a ten minutes walk from the city center as well as the numerous popular historical, business and shopping facilities…
The hotel offers comfort and it will satisfy all your expectations. It has: 3 Deluxe Suites, 6 Mini Suites, 9 Double bedroom rooms and 2 Single bedroom rooms, as well as an equipped mini conference hall, own restaurant and large summer terrace with a view of the city park…

In its years of experience Tomce Sofka gives you a grate possibility to rest yourself, a chance for wonderful walks in the city park and along the river Vardar. In the nearest surrounding there are courts for soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis etc. The hotel provides guests with a few facilities and services including 24 hour front desk, room service, concierge services, safe deposit boxes at front desk, multilingual staff, laundry and ironing service, daily housekeeping service, lounge, tourist information service, facilities for disabled guests, doctor on call and a wake up service.

Meals

  • Breakfast is provided every day.
  • A picnic lunch is included on days 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7. Lunches during the hikes will be picnic style, including bread, cheese, sausage, meat and vegetarian pate, salad, chocolate bars, cookies, and coffee/tea.
  • Dinners in Mavrovo (Janche and Galicnik) are in local restaurants offering a wide range of traditional dishes. Dinners in Popova Shapka are arranged at the hotel. Dinner in Skopje is arranged at local restaurants known for its good food and great location.
  • Meals don’t include beverages, except the picnic meals.
  • Vegetarian, vegan and special diets will be catered to, please inform us of any specific requirements upon booking.

Transportation

We use Ford Transit minivan 8+1 (or similar) with A/C, or Ford Transit/VW Crafter (or similar) 15+1 with A/C (depending on group size)

Equipment List

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

YOU MUST BRING THE FOLLOWING ITEMS

– Hiking boots
– Socks
– Trekking trousers
– Waterproof over-trousers
– Underwear
– Base layer shirts (2 short sleeve, 2 long sleeve)
– Light fleece shirt or mid-layer
– T-shirts or casual shirts
– Waterproof jacket
– Fleece jacket or warm jumper
– Sunhat
– Fleece hat
– Sunglasses
– Thermal / fleece gloves
– Daypack 30 litres
– Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
– Water bottles 1 Litre (x2)
– Washbag and toiletries
– Travel towel
– Antibacterial handwash
– Selection of dry bags (to keep trek bag contents dry)
– Basic First Aid Kit, consisting of the following: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium) painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent (DEET), and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).
– Head torch
– Pen-knife (note: always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)

THE FOLLOWING ITEMS ARE OPTIONAL

– Tent
– Sleeping bag
– Trainers / sandals for after trekking
– Spare laces
– Shorts
– Travel clothes
– Thermal baselayer – leggings
– Insect repellant (DEET)
– Trekking poles
– Camera
– Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)

Activity Levels

Easy

Trips rated EASY typically have 1-3 hours of activity per day, with hikes/walks less than five kilometers on mostly flat terrain at altitudes of up to 900 meters.

Easy to Moderate

Trips rated as EASY to MODERATE are designed for travelers seeking both EASY and MODERATE trip activity levels. Trips rated EASY to MODERATE typically have easier rated walks/hikes with options for more moderate activity levels on some days.

Moderate

Trips rated MODERATE typically have 3-6 hours of activity per day, with hikes up to 15 kilometers on rolling or mountainous terrain with some steep ascents/descents and uneven trails at altitudes of up to 1,900 meters.

Moderate to Challenging

Trips rated as MODERATE to CHALLENGING are designed for travelers seeking both MODERATE and CHALLENGING trip activity levels. Trips rated MODERATE to CHALLENGING typically have moderate rated walks/hikes with options for more strenuous activity levels on some days.

Challenging

Trips rated CHALLENGING typically have 5-8 hours of activity per day, with hikes up to 15-20 kilometers on mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents and uneven trails at altitudes of up to 2,700 meters.

Ultimate Challenge

Designed for very fit and experienced hikers. Trips rated ULTIMATE CHALLENGE typically have 10 or more hours of activity per day, hiking 20 or more kilometers on remote, mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents, and uneven trails at altitudes of up to 2,700 meters.

Via Dinarica Alliance

Group size
4 - 14
4 - 6 participants
760 EUR
7 - 10 participants
660 EUR
11 to 14 participants
560 EUR
Single supplement
70 EUR
Moderate to Challenging