On this multi-country trek on one of Europe's least-explored mountain ranges, the Dinaric Alps, discover rich cultures and spellbinding landscapes of the Western Balkans. From Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, across Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo and down to Albania - the 1,200-mile-long Via Dinarica is every hiker's dream come true. Raft whitewater rapids down Europe's largest canyon, marvel at old-growth forests and glacier-fed lakes, dip into the royal-blue Adriatic Sea, and tour Sarajevo's nostalgic old town. On this epic three-week adventure, the most challenging part is bidding farewell to the beautiful Balkans.
Summit some of the Dinaric Alps' highest peaks and explore six Balkan national parks over 22 days
Raft down the deepest canyon in Europe, on Tara River's class II-IV whitewater rapids
Journey to isolated highland villages across the Balkans, like Lukomir in Bosnia and Valbona in Albania
Arrive to Ljubljana airport and meet your MT Sobek trip leader outside of customs and immigration area, to escort you to the hotel in the charming lakeside town of Bled. At the welcome dinner this evening, meet the rest of the group.
This morning, hike through the forests of Pokljuka plateau towards Lipanca alpine meadow and Blejska Koca Hut. The path reaches a saddle between the summits of Brda and Debela pec for the first views of the central Julian Alps. Head towards the grassy peak of Debela pec (6,605') for views of the Ljubljana basin and Triglav, Slovenia's highest peak and the symbol of the park. In the afternoon, return to Bled, for a walk along the lake and a visit to its iconic medieval castle, the oldest castle in Slovenia.
Depart this morning to Risnjak National Park on Croatia's northern border with Slovenia, the northernmost of Croatia's eight national parks. Covering more than 24 square miles, it provides habitat for more than 1,000 different plants, as well as wolves, bears, and lynx. Hike across its undulating forested terrain to Schlosser's mountain hut at the base of Veliki Risnjak peak (5,013'). If you have energy to spare, hike up to Veliki Risnjak for stunning 360-degree views. In the afternoon, transfer to the small pretty town of Fuzine, known for great walking and cycling.
Depart early for Northern Velebit National Park, one of the most beautiful areas of the Croatian Dinaric Alps. Start the hike near the Zavizan mountain hut, the highest meteorological station in Croatia. After a half-hour walk, embark on the famous Premuzic trail, a 35.5-mile-long route that follows the main ridge of Velebit mountain. While hiking this first stage of the trail, pass through Rozanski Kukovi, a nature reserve that protects many endemic and rare plant species, as well as rich fauna, including the three big predators of Croatia: bears, wolves, and lynx.
After breakfast, embark on the last section of the Premuzic trail. Hike among the Dabarski Kukovi - high limestone rock towers overlooking the green valleys of Central Velebit - and head up to the Visibaba, a highland plateau with stellar views of the islands dotted along the Adriatic coast. After completing this rocky circular adventure, transfer to Starigrad Paklenica, a town situated on the Adriatic coast. Drive along the well-known Adriatic Magistrala, a scenic road that winds along the Croatian coast and offers dazzling coastal vistas.
Wake up to the sounds of seagulls and salty winds coming from the Adriatic. The village of Starigrad is the gateway to Paklenica National Park, a hiking and rock-climbing paradise wedged between two narrow gorges. Explore the bigger of the two gorges, with steep climbing walls, rocky peaks, well-maintained trails, and stunning views down the gorge. Rest at the main hut in the center of the park, cool off, replenish your water bottle, and follow the Paklenica river back down to the coast for a well-deserved dip in the Adriatic.
Wake up early and transfer to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the beautiful city of Mostar. Tour the old city and see its famed old bridge. The bridge is locally known as Stari Most, and the town was named after the bridge keepers, or "mostari." After a tasty lunch on the banks of the Neretva river, head out towards Blidinje Nature Park, from where you continue the Bosnian part of the Via Dinarica adventure.
Start the Bosnian part of the Via Dinarica adventure with Blidinje Nature Park, where the hike begins over Cvrsnica mountain. The first part is a very gentle ascent through a thick beech forest. As the elevation rises, climb above the tree line and east toward Drinjaca (6,686') and Hajducka Vrata, a stunning natural arch typical for karst and limestone. After lunch, head back part of the way to the top of Vilinac peak (6,950'), before continuing back down to Blidinje for some delicious traditional pine liqueur and hearty highland village fare.
Transfer to the village of Umoljani, located on the mountain of Bjelasnica that hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. From the traditional-style mosque, walk to the seven watermills, and continue to the Studeni Potok cascades. Walk upstream, see the serpent-like formations of Studeni Stream, and continue uphill to Obalj peak (6,220'). From here, take in spectacular views of Rakitnica canyon and Lukomir, Bosnia's highest village (at 4,820'), with ancient medieval tombstones and a traditional way of life. Descend back for a tasty homemade dinner and transfer to Babin Do, the mountain's main ski resort.
Today explore the wild Visocica massif, with pointed peaks and narrow valleys, and bordered by rivers on all sides. Start by winding through the Bjelasnica backroads before hitting the Rakitnica River and crossing over towards Tusila village (3,937'). Hike up through open meadows and thick beech forest to the summit of Vito (6,430'), and enjoy a lunch paired with panoramic views. Then follow a narrow ridge to Drstva peak (5,932') and descend to meet the vehicle and transfer to Sarajevo, the nation's capital. Enjoy dinner in the old town this evening.
Spend the day exploring the vibrant city of Sarajevo for a glimpse into its turbulent past that spanned empires - from the Ottoman Turks to the Austro-Hungarians. More recently, the city was host to the 1984 Winter Olympics and then made the news in the 1990s during the siege by Serb forces. Tour the ancient Ottoman quarter called Bascarsija, with its stone-flagged alleys and red-roofed houses sitting amongst minarets, as well as major historical and cultural sites. After lunch, explore on your own. In the late afternoon, transfer to the Sutjeska National Park.
In the morning, transfer to Sutjeska National Park, before continuing to the tranquil lake of Donje Bare. After lunch, hike through a beech forest and open mountainous terrain to the summit of Ugljesin (6,096'), for one of the best panoramic views of the Zelengora peaks and the rock face wall of Volujak. Continue the stunning circuit back to Gornje Bare lake via the Tovarnica ridge, with Bosnia's highest peaks a constant companion on the horizon. Then transfer back to the hotel in the Tjentiste valley, before an early dinner.
Today drive to remote Lokva Derneciste to begin hiking through old growth forests and open, mountainous terrain. Split into two groups: one will do the moderate 2.5-hour hike to the emerald green Trnovacko Lake (4,921') and the other will tackle the strenuous 4-hour trek up to Maglic summit (7,828'), the highest and mightiest peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a 2.5-hour descent down to the lake. The group will reconvene at Trnovacko for a 2.5-hour hike among huge amphitheater of rocky peaks to Prijevor, and transfer back to the hotel.
Rest your legs but get some thrills on today's rafting adventure through the deepest river canyon in Europe. After leaving the hotel, sit back and enjoy the spectacular views along the Drina river, until the place where the Piva and Tara canyons join. There, put in for a rafting journey on the Tara, which sits more than 3,000 feet down in the canyon with stunning wilderness all around. After enjoying an early dinner along the river, continue on to the town of Zabljak on the edge of Durmitor National Park in Montenegro.
Today ascend the sloping deep-green Prutas peak, with the most stunning views of other Durmitor sights, like the Soa Nebeska wall, the amazing Skrcka Lakes valley, and the stunning Susica canyon. After a short drive to Dobri Do (5,577'), begin climbing a grassy slope toward Skrcko Zdrijelo Pass (6,935'), and then follow a rocky path with magnificent views of the massive Bobotov Kuk. Shortly after reaching the peak, have lunch paired with breathtaking views. After the 5-hour hike, arrive back in Zabljak in time for dinner.
Today, climb Montenegro's highest peak, Bobotov Kuk (8,277'). Starting relatively high at 6,230 feet, hike up the grassy slope of Surutka toward Zupci, a magnificent massif with 14 sharp, rocky "teeth." After circling Zupci, arrive at the glacial lake Zeleni Vir and begin a steep, rocky ascent toward Bobotov Kuk. The views expand with every step until the summit - with vistas all the way to the Adriatic on a clear day. Enjoy lunch here, and then descend via the Mlijecni Do, to take a short ride back to Zabljak for a well¬-deserved rest.
Today say goodbye to Montenegro and cross over into Albania. Make a lunch stop in the town of Shkodar and continue to the remote village of Theth in the namesake national park. Stroll around the village and learn about some of the ancient customs that reign these communities on the edge of the Albanian Alps - known by some as the Accursed Mountains. (Don't let the name fool you; the range is known for its stunning, unspoiled beauty.) Have dinner and overnight at a family-run guesthouse in Theth.
Today load the luggage into the vehicles and hike from Theth to Valbona along an old mule trail that is the only direct connection between the two valleys. This scenic but challenging hike begins in the Valley of Theth (2,460') then climbs steeply upward through beech woods and grassy meadows towards Valbona Pass (5,770'). At the top, enjoy a picnic lunch and breathtaking views of both Theth and Valbona National Parks. Today's alternative is a full-day transfer that includes a ferry boat ride over the blue waters of Komani lake, followed by a short walk around Valbona.
This morning, start the hike directly from the guesthouse, passing through dry river beds and climbing through forests of beech and pine. Frequently used by the villages bringing their sheep and cows to higher pastures, the trail winds up through grassy open terrain to a lonely shepherds' hut. Enjoy a cold drink here before pushing on to the Maja Rosit pass (6,690') that separates Albania from Montenegro. After a hearty picnic lunch of highland cheese and local beer, head back down the same way, through the hamlet of Kukaj and on to Valbona.
This morning, drive to the lower valley to visit one of Kosovo's beautiful Orthodox monasteries, the 14th-century St. Nicholas Monastery of Decan. Then continue on to the historic city of Prizren, to spend the evening in an Ottoman-style neighborhood and enjoy dinner in a traditional restaurant.
After a morning departure from Prizren, drive through the Albanian hinterland and arrive to Tirana, the capital of Albania. After checking into the hotel, head out on a tour of this charming, cosmopolitan city, visiting the Skenderbey square, the old mosque, and the vibrant Blloku neighborhood packed with cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Enjoy a farewell dinner in one of these restaurants before returning to the hotel.
After breakfast, have a 30-minute transfer to Tirana International Airport.
The only North American company to take you on this six country adventure, from Slovenia to Albania trek in the Western Balkans.
Follow local expert guides as explore six national parks in six Western Balkan countries, and summit some of the Balkan's highest peaks.
On top of incredibly scenic treks, hikers get to explore historical cities such as Mostar, Sarajevo, and Tirana, and remote highland villages.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Challenging hikes on one of Europe's newest mountain trails, tours of historical cities and towns, visits to national parks, and stops in remote highland villages.
Lodgings run the gamut from modern mountain resorts, old historic city hotels, family-run guesthouses, cozy B&Bs, and basic mountain huts.
The mornings are cool but it warms during the day before cooling off again in the evening.
An MT Sobek representative will meet you at the Ljubljana Jože Pucnik Airport (LJU) between 1:00 - 1:30pm outside of Customs. We will then transfer 1 hour by minibus to Bled.
Only with regards to challenge. The tourism infrastructure is developing rapidly in the Balkans, but is not yet as developed as in Western Europe. Come expecting fewer luxuries and amenities.
We've booked the best possible accommodations in the towns and villages where we will stay. In the Balkans, "best possible" is often a lower standard than you might be used to. This itinerary was designed for the adventurer who does not mind basic accommodations in exchange for off-the-beaten-path fun.
Yes. You will need to wear high-ankle, all weather hiking boots for this trip.
Healthy, locally-sourced, organic meals that include meats (red meat and poultry), fish and seafood, and an abundance of produce, all seasoned with local herbs and olive oil. Nearly all diets can be accommodated.
The Balkans are a melting pot of Orthodox Christianity, Islam and Roman Catholic Christianity.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"We made our way to the Balkans with a desire and willingness to experience whatever Via Dinarica offered. We enjoyed this stunning region from all angles and left with a great appreciation of its natural and cultural beauty-it was truly difficult to leave."
MT Sobek Guest, Hiking the Via Dinarica
"I have traveled extensively around the world. The experience with MT Sobek was by far the best I have ever had. Thank you for such excellence."
MT Sobek Guest
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