Western Serbia cycling tour

Extensive network of well labeled bike routes through striking landscape

Tour area

Bike tour of western Serbia (Tara NP and Zlatibor area)

7 days, price 950 – 1300 € per person (depends on group size)

Location

Tara national park is the ideal mountain biking area – not only that it offers overwhelming natural beauty, with numerous scenic points and attractions, but it also has a well developed network of extensive forest roads and trails, so the difficulty (both technical and physical) can be finely tuned to the requirements of the client. Together with the adjecent Zlatibor mountain, and the Mokra Gora nature park (featuring the Kusturica ethno-village and the Šargan scenic railroad) it is an integrated complex offering a visitor dynamic, ever changing, enchanting scenery. Furthermore, in recent years the local biking community from the town of Užice has marked several hundred kilometres of scenic biking routes through the area, well covered with signs on junctions, and produced an overview map of the attractions, which takes the “bike friendliness” of the area to an even higher level, securing a memorable week full of impressions for any cycling tourist who wants to combine the natural beauty of the environment, attractive, challenging rides and ethno and historical heritage of the area.

Tour plan by days
Day 1 (effectively day 0, the arrival and transportation day)

The group will be picked up from Belgrade Airport, and, if the flight schedule permits, taken for a short sightseeing bike tour of Belgrade. After lunch (in case the group arrives on a morning flight) served in a riverside restaurant, the group boards the van and takes the 4 hour journey to the first accomodation point on Tara mountain – the Tara appartments at Kaluđerske Bare (4 star comfort, wi-fi). There is a possibility to interrupt the journey to hop on the bikes for a joyful, 25 km paved road descent from Debelo Brdo pass to the Drina river near Bajina Bašta.

Day 2

Our first day of the Tara national park tour. Very soon upon leaving Kaluđerske Bare we turn off pavement to take a good quality dirt road towards Mitrovac, in the heart of the national park. Depending on preferences, we can make variations varying in technical difficulty. The route is 20-25 km long, with very small ascents and descents (+-200 m), since Kaluđerske Bare and Mitrovac are on similar altitude (about 1100 m). We visit a famous wildlife reserve there, after which we can have an early lunch at the Kačara restaurant. Part two of our daily trip is a 27 km route to Predov Krst, a lonely motel in the far part of Tara, where we’ll sleep on our second night (the only place in the tour without internet access, due to bad mobile coverage because of being far in the wilderness). On the route we will visit the famous Banjska stena scenic view, overlooking the Perućac lake (formed by the Drina river) with an altitude difference of about 800 m. Soon afterwards we start a long descent losing more than 500 m of altitude towards Rastište village, and right after that we have to make up the drop by climbing back the 500 m to Predov Krst (either using the paved or dirt road). There is an alternative to such a big drop by following the ridge, but it’s far more technically demanding, and in some places the trail has a lot of growth around it, making it difficult to push through. In the final part of the day we can optionally take a nice, easy 7 km ride (7×2, there and back) to the Bilješke stene scenic point, the highest one above Perućac lake (almost a 1000 m height difference to the lake).

Day 3

A day for travelling from Predov Krst to Iver peak (Čarobni breg hotel), in which we cover about 55 km of distance. Route takes us on good quality deep forest dirt road with moderate ascent ideal for biking to a pass at 1470 m of altitude, before starting to slowly descend towards the big Zaovine lake. On the descent there are possible variations if desired, varying in the road quality and technical difficulty (alternatives can be muddy). After having about half the daily distance covered, we’ll find a nice spot on the banks of Zaovine lake to have a quick picnic lunch. Second half of the daily ride takes us upwards, from the altitude of about 900 m where the lake lies, to around 1400 m, which is the altitude of the Čarobni breg hotel, right under the Iver peak (it will be a combination of dirt and paved roads). There are also possible shotcuts, but they feature much stronger ascent grades. When we reach the Čarobni breg hotel, if the group is still in the mood, we can continue on a 100 m high, 3 km long ascent towards the Iver peak, which is a nice scenic point, before we rest for the night in the hotel. Overall climb of the day is around 900 m.

Day 4

This is the day of traversing from Tara to Zlatibor mountain (about 50 km), for which we have two possible concepts. One possibility is to descend from the Čarobni breg hotel to the small town of Mokra Gora (about 850 m drop on a paved road) to visit Kusturica’s Drvengrad ethno-village turned into a hotel and tourist attraction, after which we’ll go on to take the “Šargan 8” scenic tourist train ride to Šargan-Vitasi, lasting for about 1 hour. If we decide to do that, the van will transport the bikes to the Šargan-Vitasi station, where the group will mount the bikes and proceed on a beautiful ridge trail towards Zlatibor. Other possibility is to omit visiting Mokra Gora and, without unnecessary loss of altitude, go a few kilometres back from the Čarobni breg hotel and catch the ridge connecting Tara and Zlatibor mountains over the Šargan pass. That way we practically skip all contact with civilization on our way to Zlatibor, and have a pure wilderness ride. Either way, the van will wait for us at the Šargan pass, where we’ll have a picnic lunch in nice picnic spot with tables and benches in the forest. From Šargan, a very pleasent ridge trail with minimal altitude variations takes us straight to the tourist resort of Zlatibor, which is in fact a small mountain town, with all the facilities a town usually has, but in a picturesque environment. There we’ll have a night in one of the many small hotels available. The physical difficulty of this day will be light, with no more than 500 m of overall climb.

Day 5

A day for traversing from Zlatibor to Kokin Brod, which again leaves us two possibilities – to take the route over eastern Zlatibor which is mainly paved road passing by numerous tourist attractions (Stopića cave, Sirogojno ethno-village, Gostilje waterfalls), or to take the wilder, western side of Zlatibor, over Tornik, the highest peak of Zlatibor, and by the Uvac monastery to the other side of the Uvac river canyon. The first version continues in the second half of the day through the forested Murtenica mountain. Whichever one you choose, it’s more difficult than the previous days due to some long ascents (ascent from the Uvac monastery to the ridge above the canyon has an elevation difference of 500 m in only 5.8 km), and the overall length will most probably exceed 70 km, so we recommend that you skip the “boring” paved road beginning in both cases by taking the van to a more attractive starting point, to enjoy the rest of the day in a relaxed manner. The day ends at the Vraneša ethno-village, a luxurious small four star that also offers (except the free wi-fi) a swimming pool and other wellness facilities.

Day 6

The last day of the tour takes us along a scenic route all the way along the Uvac lakes to the town of Sjenica, where we finish the tour in the Borići hotel. There are two big lakes – the Zlatar and Uvac lakes, and we can either choose to go along the Zlatar lake on it’s west side, then cross the dam and continue along the eastern edge of the Uvac lake, or follow the eastern side of both lakes. Either of these trails is a very picturesque mixture of paved and dirt roads, without long climbs or significant height difference, but with considerable length of almost 80 km (due to the terrain configuration, we believe it should be easily managable in one day – if not, the van can hop in to shorten the ride again). Among other points of interest, it takes us over the famous Molitva scenic point, the place from which the Uvac can be seen winding through numerous meanders of it’s canyon).

Day 7

A day for a 300 km trip back to Belgrade with the van. Again, if the group desires so, we can take some fast mountain descents on the bikes (for example, from Javor mountain to Ivanjica, or from Divčibare mountain towards Mionica). Depending on the flight departure time, visiting more tourist attractions along the way to Belgrade is possible.

Accomodation

The area offers good possibilities for comfortable accomodation in numerous small mountain hotels, in many places outside main tourist areas, discretely placed and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Offering three and four star comfort levels, most of the facilities that we recommend in this plan also provide free wi-fi internet access. The service will be a full board, with lunch usually served either in restaurants on the route (where available) or transported to a predifined location by the supporting van.

Transport

The group will be transported to the location by a comfortable airconditioned 8+1 van with rooftop bicycle carriers, which will be available for local trasfers throughout the tour, making it possible for participants to abandon the daily tour and get to the accomodation point by van if they find the trails too exhausting (there will be several prescheduled meeting points on every daily route). In areas with no mobile coverage the van driver will be equipped with PMR radio in order to be able to communicate with the group guide on bycicle.

Active guidance

The group will have active guidance by an experienced biker equipped with a GPS with preloaded maps of the area, waypoints and tracks, so there would be no risk of turning off route. The guide will also be a skilled bike mechanic, capable of performing even advanced repair tasks on site. The guide will be a person with above average physical training, capable of adapting to any pace the group demands.

Expenses included in the tour plan

  • All accomodation costs (including meals, on FB basis)
  • Van for transporting the group
  • Services of the guide/mechanic (excluding possible new parts that had to be used for repairs)
  • Tickets for access to specific areas and local attractions, where applicable

This is a hotel accomodation / full board (maximum service) tour plan. For low budget groups (or if so prefered) the same tour can be conducted as a camping trip, with further possibilities for cost reduction, such as the absence of support vehicle, self provided meals along the way by participants, etc.