The perfect wilderness journey for die-hard nomads
This is the perfect wild camping trip for all those who want to get a feeling that they're lost in complete wilderness thousands of kilometres from home. The very sparsely inhabited eastern Serbia is an area of outstanding natural beauty and numerous hidden treasures, that will grant you many breathless views and a feeling of limitless freedom of exploration. From the densely forested area of the Kučaj mountains to the waterfalls and highland plains of the Old mountain in the south, your days and nights will be packed with memorable moments that you'd want to experience again and again!
Duration - 7 days (June 17-23 2017)
Price - 560 € per vehicle
Wild camping (your own camping gear)
Approximate length - 1000 km (incl. pavement)
Technical difficulty - moderate
MT class tyres recommended
Protective sheets over paint highly recommended (we pass through real jungle in some parts)
Taking registrations for the 2017 tour!
Approximate area of the tour(precise track available to participants)
Day one – arrival and reaching Beljanica mountain (about 150 km)
The meeting point for the group will be the parking lot of the Gasprom petrol station at the northwestern entrance to Belgrade on the E-75 highway, at 11:00. After all have arrived, your guide will lead you to a well supplied supermarket to replenish your groceries for the first 3-4 days of the tour. After that we will be leaving Belgrade in a convoy, on the E-75 highway in the southeast direction. About 60 km later we’re leaving the highway for another 40 km of local paved roads to the Ždrelo spa, where we’ll spend an hour or two in the hot water pools before we finally enter the eastern Serbian wilderness. Before Ždrelo we’ll refuel – we won’t get another chance to do so for the next 250 km. We’ll cross Krilaš peak to visit the Bela Reka farm near Lipovica, where you’ll get a chance to taste some special Serbian kinds of goat and sheep cheese. The trail takes us further up Beljanica mountain, first of the big mountains of eastern Serbia, where we’ll raise our camp in the highland valley Rečke, above 1000 m altitude. It’s cool there even in June, so we’ll hurry to gather firewood for our campfire, to keep us warm through the evening.
Day two – along the high Kučaj peaks (about 70 km)
Day two of our journey is devoted to the most breathtaking peaks of Kučaj mountains that can be accesses on wheels. After we pack up our camp at Rečke, we’ll traverse the Beljanica highlands, visiting the highest peak (1339 m), as well as another attractive peak, Krivulja, before we descent to see the Buk waterfall. From there we’ll ascend Straža, and from Straža we traverse the main ridge of the Kučaj mountains towards Mikulj peak, visiting the Mikulj monastery on our way. Towards the end of the day we’ll descend to the east to see Lazar’s cave, the longest in Serbia (explored to the length of about 12 km), before we ascend Kovej, one of the most beautiful viewpoints above Lazar’s canyon. That’s the place where we’ll make our second camp on a green meadow right next to that magnificent view. There should be plenty of firewood available there too, but beware – during the summer there are often cattle grazing nearby, and they can be very curious, trying to eat whatever they find suitable. So fasten all the loose plastic parts on your vehicle!
Day three – Zigzag accross Kučaj (about 60 km)
Kučaj mountains are the biggest continuous uninhabited wilderness area in Serbia, so on the previous day we’ve seen only a small part of it. Now it’s time to plunge into the very heart of Kučaj, visit more magnificent scenic viewpoints, tackle some demanding forest trails, and see some unique spots. We’ll start by a very tricky crossing from Kovej to the Polome rainforest on Malinik. But we’ll do it only in case the weather was dry several days before. In case it’s slippery, it’s just too risky to try (in that case we’ll make a safe detour that will add about 15-20 km to our daily plan). Once we ascend the Malinik ridge (either through Polome or the other way around) we’ll see the widest view of the magnificent Lazar’s canyon from top of the mountain, and after that we’ll visit another well hidden scenic point above the Demižlok canyon. After that we’ll plunge into the thickest forests of Kučaj, taking some exclusive shortcuts along the main ridge to reach Valkaluci, a fairy-tale like place in the heart of the mountain. We’ll either make our third camp there, or 7 km further, by a very unique waterfall, Prskalo.
Day four – finishing the Kučaj adventure and reaching Rtanj (about 90 km)
It’s time to exit the Kučaj fairy-land to the south. After visiting Prskalo waterfall, we’ll take the central plains of Kučaj, visiting a challenging improvised trial ground on Velika Brezovica, before we head on a good gravel road southwards. Soon we’ll hit a major paved road – something we haven’t seen for three days. We could just cross it and go on further on our offroad bussiness, but, depending on the fuel level in your tanks, we’ll probably make a short detour into “civilization” in order to fill up, before we take to the wilderness again. Before the end of the day we’ll climb one of the most striking mountains in Serbia – Rtanj, with a pyramidal shape that inspired many legends in the past. With our vehicles we can reach a flattened plateau about 150 m below the peak – trying to go further on wheels would just be too dangerous, and we won’t do it in this kind of tour. After climbing Rtanj, we’ll make a campsite on Vrmdža lake. Alternatively, if the group is in the mood to sleep one night in rooms at mid-tour, we can descend to the spa resort of Sokobanja.
Day five – Approaching Old mountain (about 170 km)
Day five of our tour will be a day when we’ll finally pass through several small towns and villages on our way to the climax of this tour, the magnificent Old Mountain on the Serbian-Bulgarian border. Except for a short contact with civilization, passing through Sokobanja spa resort, as the biggest town on our trail, is also a chance to get resupplied (it can also be done a little later in Knjaževac). More kilometres doesn’t mean that everything will be too much of a rush on this day, since more than half of that distance will be on paved roads.
After Sokobanja (where we’ll again have a chance to visit an aquapark, if desired), we’ll take the paved road to Knjaževac to approach Old mountain as quickly as possible, and we’ll make an attractive ascent to Babin Zub peak, a magnificent viewpoint on top of vertical cliffs. The day will be nearing an end, so we’ll descend into one of the river valleys – either the Temštica or Rakitska river, to find a suitable spot for our fifth campsite (or we may also make the camp at a higher altitude with a view of the 2169 m high Midžor peak).
Day six – First day accross Old mountain (80 km)
We’ll start our day in one of the river valleys around Topli Dol village, with a change to make a tour of some of the famous waterfalls. Some are close to the roads, but some require up to a few hours of hiking – it will be up to the group’s mood to decide it we’ll take a hike to visit some of the more distant ones. Eventually, we’ll take the road by the upper Pilj waterfall to reach Beleđe pass at the altitude of 1700 m. We have one of our favorite campspots nearby, which is probably one of the most remote wild camping spots in the wilderness of Serbia. But, the day is still young, and we’ll climb higher up the Bratkova Strana ridge, to reach 1943 m as the highest point of this tour. We will be driving accross incredible, far out stretching highland plains, over a grassy carpet that seemingly has no end as long as the eye can reach. At one point we’ll reach the only water spring on that whole plateau, Arbanaški kladenac (we can make a break for lunch there). And towards the end of that ridge, after covering more than 20 km, we’ll have a muddy and technically demanding descent into the Dojkinačka river valley. Up the valley we go, for our final, and most beautiful camp, in the area of Arbinje, on the red riverbed rocks.
Day seven – enjoying the unspoiled nature of Old mountain, and reaching Niš (about 140 km)
After packing our camp in the morning of the 7th day, we won’t leave Arbinje just yet – we’ll drive up another few kilometres up the valley instead, as far as wheels can reach. From there we start up the river by foot, to reach a few more magnificent waterfalls (the furthest one takes a little more than an hour to walk to). After we get back to our 4×4’s, we start downstream slowly, stopping by a few more waterfalls on the way down. Then we’ll climb up the Stražna čuka ridge, to visit a rare phenomena – a cave where two streams flow, and connect to another stream flowing from inside the rock, to form a waterfall at the meeting point! We may decide to choose only some of these places in order to gain some time to see the Rosomačko grlo canyon, or the church in the cave near Rsovci village. But eventually, towards the end of the day, we’ll have to bring this magnificent tour to an end and return to the E-75 highway. We’ll go to the Sićevo gorge for our final dinner in one of the fine restaurants serving traditional Serbian food, which is the official end of the tour. We can arrange a nice hotel nearby for you for the night after the tour, show you another fine camping spot, or you may choose to drive to Belgrade to get accomodation (2 more hours), to be closer to home for the last day on the highway.
During the tour we’ll be sleeping on nice natural campsites in total wilderness, often near rivers, streams or lakes. Our average time of arrival to campsite is between 17:00 and 18:00, and morning departure time is usually between 8:30 and 9:30. There will be plenty of firewood for building campfires, and in most cases there won’t be other people anywhere nearby. Although Serbia is a country rich with wildlife, with a large population of wolves, they pose no threat to the campers, so you can be relaxed. The altitude of our campsites will range between 700 and 1700 m, so it can be cold during the night. To make camping more comfortable, you should have folding tables and chairs, as well as cooking equipment for food (although you can also use campfire), mobile refrigerator (12 V), etc. In one or two places during the tour there will be a possible hotel alternative to camping – we’ll consult the participants of the tour and, if you want to break the camping routine for a day or two, we can arrange to take rooms (not included in the base price of tour).
Equipment of your vehicle for Eastern Serbian springtime tour should include
- MT tyres (we have very varying terrain)
- a shovel
- a compact axe, and a saw
- 1 or more dynamic ropes for recovery
- complete personal camping equipment
- 12 V fridge and additonal equipment for preparing food
- Protective sheets over your paint (eastern Serbia has quite jungle-like terrain in some places)
- CB radio
You should also consider
- Winch (may speed up recovery in case of problems)
- A moderate lift – at least 2″
(vehicles with low gear are preffered, but others are still welcome )
Tour preparation and execution
We shall travel during the tour in a convoy. We’ll timely supply you with a GPX track to the meeting point, as well as numeric coordinates, and the phone number of your guide. Please secure that you have your travel insurance before starting the tour. We expect you to arrive with a vehicle in good technical conditon, which can endure a week of moderate offroading. In case of a serious malfunction which renders the vehicle stationary, we’ll organize the handling of the problem with the nearest service, and go on with the tour programme as soon as possible. You can rejoin us as soon as the defect has been repaired. This tour will require at least average offroad experience and skills. During the tour a chance to refuel will be available each 200-250 km (petrol, diesel, LPG). All major credit cards (Visa, Master, Maestro, etc.) work in Serbia (both on ATM machines and for paying goods), but it’s advisable to have a small amount of cash for small expenses in the mountainous areas.
Average tour difficulty is medium (intermediate). In practice, that means that we will be travelling on decent quality dirt roads most of the time, but occasionally we’ll encounter a milder technical problem that should be solved in order to continue, such as excessively muddy areas, deeper tire tracks, uneven or slippery terrain, tricky river crossings, stronger side angle, etc. We will handle every problem systematically and with minimum risk. We will not invent problems that are not already present on the track just for fun, or to show off. If we conclude that some problem is too risky, after consultation with the participants we may decide to make a detour (the guide vehicle always goes first to check out the problem difficulty). Our operational communication during the tour will be on CB radios (we mostly use channels 5 or 16 FM).
For more details please consult the 4×4 addendum to the Terms and Conditions of Rustika Travel.
Tour price covers
- one adequately equipped guide vehicle with our guide
- all fuel and other expenses for the guide vehicle
- personal counceling before and during the tour
- appropriate GPS maps and data, that can be made available to the participants, if they have compatible hardware
Tour price does not cover
- individual fuel and toll costs
- individual food and drink expenses
- servicing expenses by third parties
- individual accomodation expenses before and after the tour (on your way to Serbia and back)
- other individual expenses