December 31st 2023 – January 6th 2024 (booked out!)
December 29th 2024 – January 4th 2025 (booking deadline October 31st 2024)
Duration – 6 days
Hotel accomodation (3 days all-inclusive, 3 days HB)
Estimated length – 500 km
Technical difficulty – 1-4/10
Scratching rate – 2-6/10 (occasional medium intense scratching)
MT tyres preferred, AT as alternative (no snow chains necessary)
1550 € per vehicle with driver + 550 € per each extra passenger
(includes 3 days of New Year party in the Zdrelo spa resort, all-inclusive!)
What is better than to celebrate New Year with three nights of partying in the thermal pools, while exploring the muddy and snowy trails of the serbian Carpathian mountains off-road during the day?
This year we make the winter tour a little earlier than usual, in order to connect it with the New Year hollidays. So it’s very hard to say whether we’ll have an all white, snowy fairy tale landscape, or a muddy hell. In the past 5-6 years, we’ve seen both in December. Winter 2023 was unique in the Balkans by being completely dry in the first week of January, even in the highest mountain peaks, before the snow finally set in. So, if we try to make an informed guess, it’s most likely that we will have mud at lower altitudes, and some snow when we venture into the higher mountains, in the second half of the tour. However, surprises like the one we’ve had at the very beginning of December a few years ago, when everything was blocked by huge amounts of snowfall, are possible!
And Kučaj mountains, which make up most of our itinerary, are wild, completely desolate and unpredictable during the winter. They are the largest completely uninhabited piece of land in Serbia. Nothing is certain at this time when nature is deeply asleep. Reaching any place in the wilderness of these majestic mountains is an adventureous achievement! But, at the end of every day a cozy room at a little mountain hotel is waiting for you, with thermal pools of natural hot water to relax in…
Tour participants will be arriving on day one to the Ždrelo Spa resort and get their hotel rooms, after which they can immediately start enjoying the New Year celebration party around the thermal pools, which will last for 3 days. We will have an introductory meeting in the hotel lobby around 19:00 to get to know each other, distribute welcome packages and discuss what awaits us in the following days, before we relax at the New Year dinner party. Precise instructions for reaching the starting point and other data important for conducting the tour will be emailed to the participants in the first week of December.
Since we expect that you will enjoy the New Year party deep into the night, we’ll start driving on January 1st a little later (around 11 o’clock), making a short offroad round, just to introduce you to the tricky trails of the Homolje mountains. On January 2nd we’ll make a nice, long round of Homolje mountains, with a regular start of driving in the morning at 9:00. Finally, on January 3rd, we’ll attempt to reach Beljanica, the highest peak of Kučaj (if the snow conditions permit), and settle in our next little mountain hotel afterwards.
After the third night in the bungalows of an ethno resort near a waterfall, our advance into the heart of the Kučaj mountain range continues, venturing deep into the vast, uninhabited wilderness of Kučaj. Depending on the snow situation, we will make a shorter or longer winding trail through the kingdom of the Balkan wolves in a southerly direction, reaching the Sisevac Spa by the end of the day. There we will again have a chance to enjoy the nice thermal pools with first class accomodation.
Sisevac is located at the southwestern edge of Kučaj wilderness, being a good starting point for a number of attractive snow trails leading to points of interest, such as the Valkaluci hunting reserve or the unique Prskalo waterfall. We will certainly make a very attractive circle from Sisevac, with some luck breaking through the snow drifts in the central parts of Kučaj and reaching Veliko Igrište, the place with the biggest wolf population in Serbia. We return to Sisevac for another night in the spa resort.
Day five of the tour leads us through the central parts of Kučaj, towards the iconic Rtanj mountain, and the Balasevic hotel. Although Rtanj itself, as a very steep mountain, is inaccessible for a 4×4 ascent, it’s an impressive site, and there are very picturesque trails all around it.
The grand finale
The roundtrip that we will actually make on our final day of the tour, day six, will very much depend on the snow situation in the area. If the condition of the mountain roads permits, we will make a comprehensive tour of the eastern parts of Kučaj, featuring the Mikulj peak with it’s Novi Stjenik monastery, as well as touring some of the scenic viewpoints of Lazar’s canyon, before returning to Balasevic hotel over Malinik mountain. Should the situation with the snow turn out to be impassable, we will make an easier scenic roundtrip around Rtanj mountain, visiting several points of interest south of it (such as the Vrmdža village and lake, Seselac cave, etc.).
The roads and trails that we will travel on are mostly unmaintained during the winter, as Kučaj is the largest completely uninhabited area in Serbia. Therefore, there is very little to no activity at this time of year (it’s usually visited only by hunters during the winter). The biggest part of Kučaj is a gigantic highland plateau, situated between 800 and 1000 m of altitude, so it’s not very high. But due to being isolated from the surrounding valleys, it has specific microclimate with very harsh winters, averaging a daily temperature of about -15 degrees in the central parts.
Having all this in mind, every venture into this territory during the winter is a considerably adventurous and bold move, offering no guarantees of success. The fact that most of this area also doesn’t have any mobile phone coverage makes the situation even harder, as there are no means to call for outside help. You can rely only on your own skill, and your team mates.
Our daily trails will be between 60 and 80 km long, exceeding that range only in cases we need to make a significant detour due to a direct connection to our goal being undrivable because of the snow. The endpoint of the tour will be under the Rtanj mountain, which is about 45 km away from the nearest motorway, connected by a very good quality major road (so you will be on the fast lane home in notime).
All four hotels that we stay in will feature 3 or 4 star standards, and three of them will have natural thermal water, or heated pools, two of them also offering a sauna.
We plan to leave our accomodation right after breakfast every morning, between 9 and 9:30, and to arrive to the next accomodation point before dark, if possible (around 16:00). However, delays may be possible in case of struggle with the unfavourable trail conditions. Dinner will be planned every evening at 19:00. Due to short winter days, we will not make any lunchbreaks during the day, but we will have shorter breaks that can be used for a snack, so you’re advised to have something with you in your vehicle for the snacks if you think breakfast and dinner are too far apart.
We will get a chance to refuel twice during the tour, so you shouldn’t have a problem with the range of your vehicle (you don’t need any spare fuel cans), unless you drive a petrol vehicle instead of diesel (in that case an extra 20 l fuel can is a good measure of precaution).
Equipment of your vehicle for Balkans Snow Trails should include
- AT tyres as required minimum, MT optional
- a snow shovel + basic tools for your car maintenance
- at least one kinetic rope for recovery
You should also consider
- Silicone protective foil over your paint, as almost all offroad trails in Serbia are narrow, and therefore you will have contact with vegetation on daily basis
- Winch is also strongly advised for winter tours (the incidence of getting stuck is at least 5x higher than in our summer tours)
Unlike some other tour operators, we do not require that you have a set of 4 snow chains for the tour. In our experience, the extra traction provided by snowchains will get you slightly further, but only slightly. When snow becomes too deep, even snow chains don’t help any longer. On the other hand, mounting (and dismounting) the snow chains in freezing weather conditions is a great inconvenience, and snowchains themselves are a serious hazard, as they add considerable weight to your wheels, easily damaging your wheel bearings and other components in extreme use conditions. And, in case of breaking chains, they can inflict considerable damage on hoses and other sensitive components too. So the potential damage from snow chains is greater than benefit.
After all, we do not regard our tours as extreme. That means that we’re not trying to push you and the vehicle to the very limit. We just want you to have a good, pleasent time in the Balkan winter, without crawling around your vehicle putting the chains on and taking them off all the time!
Tour price coverage
Tour price covers
- our guide in his own vehicle, and tour guidance during 6 days
- all fuel and other expenses for the guide vehicle
- personal counceling before and during the tour
- appropriate GPS data, that can be made available to the participants, if they have compatible hardware to upload the GPX files
- a handheld radio with recharger for your vehicle
Tour price does not cover
- individual fuel and toll costs
- individual food and drink expenses outside the HB service in hotels
- mechanical servicing expenses by third parties
- individual accomodation expenses before and after the tour (on your way to Serbia and back)
- other individual expenses
What else you should know about the tour?
As mentioned, final details about how to reach the tour starting point from your home country, in the form of a Google maps link or GPX/KML file (as well as other details important for the tour), will be emailed to you approximately one month before the tour start. 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 winter overlanding. This tour will require average offroad experience and skills, but winter driving conditions can often be more demanding than driving in other seasons. During the tour a chance to refuel will be available fairly often (petrol, diesel, LPG) so range is no issue in this tour. All major credit cards (Visa, Master, etc.) work in Serbia (both on ATM machines and for paying goods).
Tour booking form
If you have any more questions,
ask your guide!
Invoice and payment instructions will be e-mailed to you upon filling out and sending this registration form