A 4×4 journey along the Danube, the cradle of Europe
June 24th - 30th 2018
It was the Iron Gate gorge on the banks of the mighty Danube river where Lepenski Vir civilization sprouted 7000 years ago. In the meantime many have passed through those jungles, making a living from the big river, and building trade routes along it. During the demanding offroading tours some of our guests called this biggest continous forest in Serbia "Serbian Amazon jungle". No wonder - passing along it is very similar to an exotic jungle adventure! Rocks protruding high above the Danube offer some amazing scenic points, and wandering inland reveals hidden river valleys, canyons, caves and waterfalls. And of course, the famous stone arches of eastern Serbia!
Duration - 7 days (June 24th to 30th 2018)
Price - 620 € per vehicle
Approximate length - 800 km
Technical difficulty - moderate
AT tyres minimum, MT recommended
Coverage of the tour area(precise tracks available to participants)
Registration deadline April 6th 2017!
Watch the video from Iron Gate and the Stone Arches 2017
Day one – from Golubac fortress to camp Toma
In the morning hours we meet in Belgrade (the capitol of Serbia) and start as a convoy toward Golubac, the little town at the beginning of the Iron Gate gorge. On our way we’ll stop by a big supermarket to get supplies for the first half of our tour. Our next stop will be at the Golubac fortress, an impressive medieval structure at the very entrance to the Iron Gate. After visiting the fortress we head up to the deep forests of the national park, on a mixture of cultural discovery and tricky offroad tasks. If the spring season is rainy, we should expect quite some mud, but the trails should be managable with AT tyres (we prefer MT just to be on the safe side). We’ll make a lunch break when we reach the picnic spot in front of Dubočka cave, a very nice place with a river and a small waterfall right in front. The day will end after we traverse the main ridge of the Đerdap mountains once more, descending to Toma’s camp on the Danube, the place on the shoreline with a very beautiful sunset.
Day two – The jungle quest reaches Lepenski Vir
Again we’re headed from the coast inland, through the jungles and up to the mountains. Our first goal is an authentic farm high up in the mountains, where locals are living in a way unchanged for centuries. You will see their traditional houses, the way they keep domestic animals, and get a chance to taste home made brandy, cheese, bakon nad various fruits as desert. After the little snack on the far off farm comes the longest “jungle quest” along the main ridge, that will take us to the highest peak of Djerdap mountains, Šomrda, as well as Sokolovac, a very attractive scenic viewpoint above the Danube. From Sokolovac we’re finally descending to the Lepenski Vir archeological site, to visit the impressive museum of Lepenski Vir culture. We’ll be ending the day at our wild campspot which is on the Danube nearby, and the traditional fishsoup dinner will be waiting there for us, prepared on open fire in the middle of the campground!
Day three – Lepenski Vir to Miroč
Moving on further eastwards along the Danube. We’ll make a second pass through the picturesque Boljetin river canyon (the first one will be as we arrive to Lepenski Vir on day two), and then follow the “little river” (Mala reka) upstream to the ridge to visit another attractive scenic viewpoint, Kovilovo. From there our route takes us inland again, to the main ridge of Liškovac mountain, again through dense, and at moments muddy forests. We’ll make a short stop at Bukova glava, from where we have a fantastic view of all the mountain ranges of north-east Serbia, and then we’ll continue towards Miroč, the mystical plateau at the easternmost part of the Iron gate. After visiting the Gradašnica cave, we’ll settle for the night at Ravna reka, a very nice camping spot in the heart of Miroč.
Day four – Traversing the mystical forests of Miroč
The fourth day of our Iron Gate tour takes us through some very exciting, deeply forested terrain that will grant us some unexpected scenic viewpoints. Definitely the most exciting of them is Mali Štrbac, at the clifftops high above Danube, which may easily be considered as the most beautiful scenic view of entire Iron Gate. Terrain difficulty during the day can be easily adjusted to the mood of the group – if the participants feel like it, we can easily resort to some quite technically demanding hidden trails. At the end of the day we’ll descend to Tekija beach, the nicest beech on Danube, and another place with breathtaking sunset. Of course, that will be our camping spot for the night. There is also a very nice fish restaurant at the Tekija beach, so if you don’t feel like preparing your own dinner, you can eat there.
Day five – Trip to Vratna arches
Before we say our final goodbye to the Danube shoreline, we’ll take a short trip down the river to Kladovo, to refuel and resupply for the rest of the tour. After filling up we’ll return to Miroč, but this time we’ll explore the deeper parts, that are further away from Danube. On our way we’ll visit the magnificent Blederija waterfall, after which we’ll engage on a dynamic ride toward the Vratna river canyon, which is a unique natural monument with it’s three natural stone arches – no other river in the world has three of them! Upon reaching Vratna we’ll take a 15 minute hike to the arches (can’t be accessed on wheels because of extreme terrain), and spend some time there. We’ll set up our camp for the night in a nice pinetree forest by a building nearby. The space around Vratna is also a reservation for deer, and they can often be seen in large numbers crossing the road and grazing in the meadows.
Day six – Zamna arch and reaching Stol mountain
From Vratna we continue to Zamna arch, perhaps the most spectacular, but also a well hidden one, which not only requires driving on some forgotten, grown in forest trails, but also a 15-20 minute walk along a stream ending in 50 m walking through water up to your chest. So prepare your swimsuits for a real adventure – it’s worth it! (watch the stone arches movie to see Zamna). After the visit to Zamna we continue on forest trails of the northern parts of Deli Jovan mountain towards the majestic Stol mountain. Before reaching Stol we’ll make an ascent to one of it’s minor peaks, Mali Vizak, which is not only an attractive ride, but also a chance to strech your legs and climb to the very top of the rock. Upon finally reaching the Stol plateau, we’ll find ourselves in the grasslands by an enchanting little lake, a true oasis for nature lovers. If you still didn’t have enough driving for the day, you can attempt to reach the Stol peak on wheels, but be warned – it’s a trail that falls in the extreme category, so it can be very dangerous. For most taking the 45 minute hike to the Stol peak can be a welcome change and a chance to breath in some fresh air. And maybe to see a sunset behind the rocky Veliki Krš ridge that will long be remembered…
Day seven – The final day
All good things have to end, unfortunately, so on our final day we’ll have an inspiring ride to two more stone arches, before we head back to Belgrade. First we’ll descend from Stol along the ridge towards Gornjane village, and then taking the ridge of Mali Krš pass a very attractive trail by the Garvan peak and Kununa scenic view, before descending towards Valja Prerast, the highest of all stone arches of eastern Serbia. Then we’ll return on paved road towards the Balić restaurant at Blizna, where we’ll have a traditional eastern Serbian lunch, which will be our farewell lunch. After that we’ll traverse the Homolje mountains in a combination of forest trails and paved roads, to reach Kasonje, the last stone arch (in fact, it’s a tunnel like formation) on Osanica river. That is the last point our tour, which will finish by returning towards Belgrade on the paved road.
This tour will take you to some of the most exquisite wild campgrounds in Serbia. You’ll have the privilege to camp three times on the very Danube shoreline, twice in spots with just incredible sunsets (once in an official camp, Toma, offering all sanitary facilities including hot water showers). Even the wild camping places inland won’t be less inspiring, and we’re sure you’ll remember campspot by the Stol lake as one of the favorite hideouts of nature lovers in eastern Serbia. In four out of six campspots we’ll have drinking water available, and if we’re lucky with the weather and the hot days come early, you’ll also get an opportunity to relax after the day’s drive by swimming.
Firewood is sparse at the shoreline camping spots, but we’ll take care to pick up sufficient amounts of firewood on our way every day, so that we can have a decent campfire in the evenings. As far as refueling and resupplying is concerned, we won’t see many urban areas during the tour, so keep in mind that we’ll have only one chance to resupply, around mid tour in the town of Kladovo. You should bring your cooking facilities as part of your camping gear, as well as a 10-25 litre water tank per car to store drinking and washing water (it’s always convenient to have your own tank with a tap).
Equipment of your vehicle for Iron Gate and the stone arches should include
- AT or MT tyres (still muddy in places in May)
- a shovel, a compact axe, and a saw
- 1 or more snake-ropes for recovery
- all personal camping equipment
- CB radio (European standard 40 ch AM/FM range)
We also highly recommend
- Protective sheets over your paint (especially important in Đerdap NP where you must count on contact with branches and bushes)
- winch (makes recovery much simpler)
- lift kit (will make conquering trails with deep tyre tracks a lot easier)
Vehicles with low gear are mandatory
Watch the Stone Arches movie (25 min)
For this tour the meeting point will be in Belgrade, the capitol of Serbia, from where we’ll travel in a convoy to Golubac as the entry point to the national park (you’ll be supplied with detailed access instructions, coordinates and GPX/KML tracks from your hometown to meeting point). Final details will be mailed to you timely. 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 offroading in dense Iron Gate forests. This tour requires average offroad experience and skills. During the tour a chance to refuel will be available each 300 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.
As a pure camping tour, this tour offers one night in facilitated camping, and five nights in wild camping areas. Visiting Zamna arch requires that you’re equipped for water conditions (walking, non-motorized). However, the short hiking trip is optional. Forest trails are often narrow, and more or less grown in. Mud and/or deep tyre marks (ditches) should b expected in places.
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
- accomodation in Toma’s camp
- fishsoup dinner at Lepenski Vir
- tickets for Lepenski Vir museum
- farewell lunch at Balić restaurant
Tour price does not cover
- individual fuel and toll costs
- individual food and drink expenses during camping
- servicing expenses by third parties
- individual accomodation expenses before and after the tour (on your way to Serbia and back)
- other individual expenses