Beyond the known Carpathian world
In this series of tours we take you to the hidden Carpathian world south of the Danube river, which has everything a passionate wilderness explorer desires - deep, jungle-like forests, attractive, endlesly long highland ridges, breathtaking canyons, mountain lakes and rivers, trails leading you to lonely places and cliffs of timeless beauty above the clouds, exclusive, stunningly charming wild campspots, loads of mystery and ancient stories, and traditional way of life in the part of Serbia where time stands still. If you've liked the Carpathians in Romania, you'll be overwhelmed by the discovery of the "Secret Carpathians", wanting to return over and over again!
July 1 - 10th 2019
Price 2019 tour - 890 € (10 days) per vehicle
Wild camping (your own camping gear)
Approximate length - 800-1200 km
Technical difficulty - moderate
AT class tyres minimum, MT class tyres advised (depending on season)
Protective sylicone foil over paint highly recommended (we pass through real jungle in some parts)
2018 tours booked out, now booking the 2019 tour!
Approximate area of the tour
his is a highly flexible tour programme, which adapts according to the season (the early season tours are more focused on the lower, warmer mountains of the north, while the mid-summer tours venture out to the +2000 m ridges further south), and offers an ever changing experience of the wilderness of Serbian Carpathians. We constantly innovate and improvise based on our thorough geographical knowledge of this area, so no two “Secret Carpathians” tours are the same – even if you repeat the same tour some other season, you’ll get a whole new experience and many new trails you haven’t driven before! It’s a tour with a soul, for those with an endless desire to explore… It is simply THE crown of our Serbian tours, which can hardly be shadowed by any other – if you’re a die-hard overlanding nomad, you really have to try it at least once in a lifetime 🙂
Watch our videos from the "Secret Carpathians" area
Depending on the individual tour area that will be covered in the tour, the meeting point will be either in Belgrade, the capitol of Serbia (eg. Nomad Offroad Park), or in one of the tourist resorts on the northwest side of the Serbian Carpathians range (like the Ždrelo Aquapark), of further south, in the vicinity of Niš, if the tour itinerary covers the southern part of this area (participants are informed about the meeting point in detail).
If you sign up for the 7-day tour, you will probably experience between 35 and 50% of the area of eastern Serbia, while those who opt for touring 4 days longer could cover as much as 75% of the area. Anyway, whichever tour duration you choose, we’ll make certain that you see the absolute highlights that the Serbian Carpathian mountains offer – revealing to you many geographical secrets known only to us!
What does the east of Serbia look like? Having a 4x lower population density than western Serbia, it is an ideal place for those seeking a true wilderness experience, rarely found in Europe nowadays. In some areas (such as the Kučaj mountains) you can drive for 50-70 km without encountering a single town of village – just endless forests and pastures in mountains rich with wildlife.
The landscape that you will encounter is diverse and ever changing as the tour progresses. Starting in the dense forests on the south side of the Iron Gate gorge on the far north, as we move southwards the forests are slowly replaced by wide vistas and breathtaking views, as we start riding the virtually endless higland ridges of the south. Attractive, rocky peaks (which you can actually ascend with your 4×4 vehicle) will pop out of nowhere, making you just want to end your day there and enjoy the sunset. And the numerous river valleys harbor fantastic wild camping spots, where you have everything that you desire for a perfect escape from civilization – including enough firewood for epic campfires, and clean mountain water tasting better than the bottled water that you often buy in the supermarkets. Some campsites, like the one in the Arbinje valley of Stara planina, where you have the opportunity to camp in the red rock riverbed, are a true natural masterpiece, while the lake campsites at Stol lake, Zavoj or Vlasina, make you want to extend the tour by a day or two, in order to enjoy some pure chillout time, while swimming in their refreshing waters.
You will encounter a wide variety of various trails during the tour, that will satisfy just ANY offroad enthusiasts preference for a pure joyride – from deep jungle trails, fighting with vegetation (and occasionally mud too), through grassland trails over wide open vistas, that will grant you a relaxed opportunity to enjoy the scenery at high speed, all the way to following long, narrow high ridges (reaching higher than 2000 m in altitude), where you’ll encounter the Balkans mountains in their true, majestic beauty.
And while on tour, you’ll discover many secret places hardly accessible to regular tourists, such as hidden waterfalls, narrow canyons, natural stone arches (which eastern Serbia is particularly famous for), which will quickly jam up the memory cards of your cameras with unforgettable memories – and you’ll have a hard time to convince your friends that that is actually Europe, and not some exotic wild country on another continent.
Eastern Serbia is sparsely inhabited, which doesn’t mean that you won’t have an immersive cultural experience, meeting the local people in the mountains, with their ever friendly, hospitable smiles, having a chance to taste home made goat, sheep and cow cheese, and drink the fresh milk from the animals grazing all around you.
This tour descends from a tradition layed out by our Eastern and South Serbian Nomad’s Adventures, trying to extract the best out of them, and to bring your experience of this magical mountainous area even one step further. That is why we will not try to explain to you in detail what you will do day after day – because every day will be a new adventure, a chance to unveil and enjoy something new. Until we get to the end, concluding your perfect overlanding story of the Balkans 😎
More videos from tours in the area
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 the Secret Carpathians tours should include
- AT or MT tyres (in summer tours AT will be quite enough)
- 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 sillicone foil over your paint (eastern Serbia has quite jungle-like terrain in some places – don’t say we didn’t tell you)
- CB radio (preferred) or PMR/dual band radio (if you have no possibility to use a CB radio – please inform us)
You should also consider
- Winch (may speed up recovery in case recovery needed in certain spots)
- A moderate lift – at least 2″
(vehicles with low gear range are strongly recommended, as those without may find some steep ascents and problematic technical details too much for them)
Tour preparation and execution
We shall travel during the tour in a convoy. We’ll timely supply you with a GPX track and Google Maps link 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 or two moderate offroading. In case of a serious malfunction which renders the vehicle stationary, we’ll organize the handling of the problem with the nearest workshop which can handle the defect, and go on with the tour programme with other participants as soon as possible. You can rejoin us as soon as the defect has been repaired. This tour will require 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