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charming red roof town in slovenia
charming red roof town in slovenia
woman smiling on hike through via dinarica slovenia
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red roof buildings in slovenia town
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Highlights of the Via Dinarica

Destination: Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia

Named Outside Magazine's Best New Trail, the Via Dinarica travels through the heart of the Western Balkans, along the Dinaric Alps. Crossing 8 different countries, it is still very much in development. Rather than waiting until it is completed, we're going to hike the highlights in three different countries: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. They are diverse, culturally rich and stunningly beautiful. Soaring limestone peaks and frigid clear glacial lakes are surrounded by alpine pastures, shepherds' huts, and remote villages. Equally fascinating and essential for understanding the region are its cities, where the old lives side by side with the modern. The Balkan peninsula has recently emerged as a travel destination and now is the time to visit, before mass tourism arrives. We journey across the Balkan peninsula, hiking, sightseeing, sampling the local cuisine, and learning just how much this area has changed since the wars of the '90s. Maximum group size: 14

Highlights

  • Hiking the highlights of Via Dinarica in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, still one of the least visited areas in Europe
  • Seeing spectacular limestone peaks, beautiful Adriatic coast, glacier lakes, amazing views, colorful wildflowers, medieval villages, and a gracious culture and people
  • Rafting down the spectacular Tara River
  • Hiking to the highest peaks in Bosnia and Montenegro
  • Visiting Mostar and Sarajevo, two of the Balkans' most beautiful cities

Departures and Prices

Inclusions

  • A Bosnian English-speaking mountain guide and an AGC guide (If there are fewer than 8 on the trip, there will not be an AGC guide)
  • 2 nights in a mountain hut or hostel and 10 nights double occupancy in small hotels and pensions
  • All meals from dinner on first night to breakfast on last morning with the exception of one lunch. A glass of beer, wine, soda or water is included at dinner.
  • All activities on the itinerary including city tours, wine and food tasting in Mostar
  • All transportation during the trip in a private air-conditioned minibus
  • Transport from the Zagreb, Croatia airport on June 23
  • Tips for city guides and bus drivers

What's not included: International airfare, airport transfer outside the group transfer time, guide gratuities, mandatory emergency evacuation insurance

Details

This trip is designed for women in excellent physical condition who have prior hiking experience and are excited to experience an ambitious and new long trail. While the level of activity varies each day, you should be able to hike up to 8 hours on mountain trails with elevation gain and loss of of 2500-3000 ft while carrying a daypack weighing about 15 pounds. Altitude is not a problem here. There is minor scrambling and some exposure (trails with a drop off no one side); women with significant fear of heights should call the office before registering. This trip is rated 5, which is our highest rating and requires aerobic and endurance conditioning prior to beginning the trip. Rating: 1 2 3 4 [5]

The focus of this trip is on hiking some of the most beautiful and challenging sections of the Via Dinarica, including the highest peaks in Bosnia and Montenegro. There is some time visit the culturally and historically rich cities of Sarajevo and Mostar, as well as sample regional wine. We also include a half day of moderate whitewater rafting, suitable for all levels of experience.

With the exception of our mountain section in Croatia, we will be staying in double occupancy rooms with ensuite bathrooms as detailed in the itinerary. During the mountain section in Croatia we will be staying in 2 mountain huts with shared accommodations and facilities.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Arrive in Zagreb, Croatia. We will meet you at the airport at 3pm for transfer to our hotel for introductions and overview of our trip before our welcome dinner in Zagreb. If you arrive earlier, we can arrange a private transfer (in 2018 it was $55 for 1 - 3 people). Zagreb is a beautiful and interesting city and well worth coming a day early if you have the time (not to mention that it will help with jetlag). Overnight Hotel Central D
DAY 2
Our adventure begins in Northern Velebit National Park. Velebit is the largest range of mountains in Croatia and we start our exploration on the Premuzic Trail. After our 3.5 hour transfer this morning to Zavizan Hut, we spend our first day hiking past wide mountain pastures, karst valleys, and towering peaks. Built in 1931 and still an engineering marvel, the Premuzic Trail traverses the main ridge of Velebit with almost non-stop views of the Adriatic below. The Alan Shepherd Houses - our home for the night, with stunning views of the sea and the islands - are situated at the foot of the Alancic peak. Luckily, we carried just our daypacks today and our luggage is waiting for us at the hut. After dinner, we may wander the nearby area, with visible remains of stone walls, old shepherd's summer huts, animal shelters, and rainwater cisterns. This is Mirovo, which was one of the largest seasonal settlements on Velebit. Hiking 10 miles, 6 - 7 hours, 1230' elev gain Overnight: Alan Mountain Hut B, L, D
DAY 3
Today we continue following the Premuzic Trail and the challenging route of the Velebit Hiking Trail. We're rewarded by impressive views of the sea, with islands of Rab and Pag clearly visible. We hike to Satorina, the highest mountain in this area (5,324 ft) with vistas of surrounding mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Continuing below Satorina and Matijevic brijeg, there is a range of abandoned limestone karst fields, which were important source of livestock farming until the mid-20th century. Our hike is quite challenging today and we'll look forward to arriving at Kugina kuca. Our van will meet us for the 30 minute drive to Hostel Baske Ostarjie where our luggage and a delicious dinner await us. Hiking: 12.2 miles, 7-8 hours, 2720' elev gain Overnight: Hostel Baske Ostarjie B,L,D
DAY 4
Alas, this is our final day hiking in Croatia but it does not disappoint. After a short transfer we start a beautiful circular hike. We'll discover the geomorphological beauties of Dabarski Kukovi area, including an ascent of Visibaba peak (3810 feet), offering amazing panoramas to the Northern Dalmatia coast. The hike ends at Ravni Dabar, where we meet our van and luggage for an hour and a half scenic coastal drive to Starigrad Paklenica, Croatia. This is a village and small port on the Adriatic coast where the mountains seemingly slip into the sea. It's a perfect place to take a dip in the sparkling blue waters and sample freshly caught fish, wine, olive oil, and bread. Often there is live music for a festive evening, if we still have energy. Hiking 12 miles, 6 - 7 hours, 2100' ft elev gain Overnight: Hotel Vicko, Starigrad B, L, D
DAY 5
After the last 3 days of strenuous hiking, we'll enjoy a day of giving our legs a break. Our destination today is Mostar in Bosnia i Herzegovina (BiH). A 4 hour drive brings us to the middle of the former Yugoslavia which lies at the heart of the Dinaric Alps. We'll take a city walking tour of Mostar, famous for its beautiful historic Ottoman-style bridge, which was destroyed in the war. A significant portion of the city has been rebuilt, and this formerly war-torn city is once again a lively destination.
For dinner tonight, we sample local Herzegovinan wine and food at "Okusi Hercegovinu," a farmers cooperative which was created by efforts of a group of enthusiasts from Herzegovina with the aim of preserving traditional agri-food and craft products, and promotion of the territory Herzegovina.  The Association has enabled many farmers and artisans from the area of Herzegovina to improve their working environment and the standard of production. Overnight Hotel Almira B, L, D
DAY 6
Today we have a more leisurely morning, before traveling about 45 minutes to the Diva Grabovica Valley. This valley, home to several rare endemic trees and wildflowers, is one of the wildest and most beautiful areas on the Balkan peninsula. We'll hike on one of King Karadjordjevic's old hunting trails, climbing through the ancient forests of Cvrsnica Mountain to Zljeb. Starting from the valley of Diva Grabovica, it's a fairly steep climb at times, but truly stunning and refreshing. We'll climb 2.5 hours before reaching our destination, a perch overlooking the largest rock face on the Balkan Peninsula, where we can enjoy a picnic lunch. The peaks of Cvrsnica tower around us in every direction from this point. This is a great way to spend the day: spectacular views with a refreshing hike fit for a king, but very much for queens too! After the hike we continue our journey to Sarajevo, a drive of about 1.5 hours, where we spend the next 2 nights. Hiking 6 miles, 5 - 6 hours, 2400' ft elev gain Overnight: Pension Kandilj B, L, D
DAY 7
This morning we have a guided tour of Sarajevo, one of the most historically interesting and varied cities in Europe. It is a place where the Western and Eastern Roman Empire split and the city is famous for its historic religious diversity, with practitioners of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting here for centuries. Sarajevo has been both an example of historical turbulence and the clash of civilizations, as well as a beacon of hope for peace and tolerance through multi-cultural integration. We have a free afternoon to continue exploring on our own or perhaps relax with a good book, before meeting up for dinner at traditional Bosnian restaurant. Sarajevo Pension Kandilj B, D
DAY 8
Today we head to Sutjeska National Park, the oldest park and one of the two last remaining primeval forests in Europe. After dropping our luggage off at our hotel in Tjentiste, we'll drive for an hour to our hike near Donje Bare Lake. Sometimes referred to as the Yosemite of the Balkans, because of its stunning scenery and pristine habitats, the park is also famous as the location of the Battle of the Sutjeska in 1943 during World War II. Our hike is a loop, first to the tranquil lake of Donje Bare and then continuing through a beech forest and open mountainous terrain to the summit of Ugljesin Peak (6000 ft), for one of the best panoramic views of the Zelengora peaks and the rock-face wall of Volujak. We continue the stunning circuit back to Gornje Bare lake via the Tovarnica ridge with Bosnia’s highest peak a constant companion on the horizon. Hiking 5.6 miles, 3 - 4 hours, 1280 ft elev gain. Overnight Hotel Mladost B, L, D
DAY 9
Today is the most challenging hike of the trip: Maglic Mountain (7,828'), the highest peak of Bosnia & Herzegovina! We'll keep a look out for wildlife on our four-hour ascent: bear, chamois (a goat-antelope species), boar, wolf, pine marten, and mink marten, wild cat, fox, and wild goats live in the park. Step by step we climb above the surrounding peaks on the well-maintained mountain trail with some steep cliffs, occasionally using chains for extra protection (not recommended if you suffer from vertigo.) Our reward at the summit is a break for lunch and breathtaking views over Montenegro and heart-shaped Trnovacko Lake. Dinner tonight is at a small local family restaurant where most of the food is grown and served by the wife and cooked by the husband. Hiking 9 miles, 9 - 10 hours, 3700 ft elev gain. Overnight at Hotel Mladost B, L, D
DAY 10
Today we travel to Zabljak, a high mountain village in Montenegro, and our home for the next two nights. After a 4 hour drive, we'll have time to drop our bags at the hotel and pick up some picnic food for lunch at the Crno Jezero (Black Lake) in nearby Durmitor National Park. Compared to yesterday, we'll have a mellow day hike around the Crno Jezero, dominated by the rocky peaks of Durmitor on one side and deep forest on the other. Despite the name, its waters take on a variety of colors throughout the day. Hiking 3.7 miles, 2 - 3 hours, 400 ft elev gain. Overnight Hotel Soa, Zabljak B, L, D
DAY 11
This may be the trip's most beautiful hike! We head back to Durmitor National Park for a climb up to the ridge between Lucin Peak (7860') and Montenegro’s highest peak, Bobotov Kuk (8,277'). You can choose to stay here or to continue up the challenging ridge to the top of Bobotov Kuk. Both have breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valleys - there are 48 peaks in the park - and on a clear day you can see all the way to the Adriatic Sea. After our climb we return to Zabljak. Hiking to the ridge 7.5 miles, 5-6 hours, 1920 ft elev gain or Bobotov Kuk 8.5 miles, 6 - 7 hours, 2500 ft elev gain. Overnight Hotel Soa B, L, D
DAY 12
It's hard to leave Durmitor but it's time to head back to Sarajevo. On our way back we'll stop for a thrilling raft trip on the Tara River. We paddle through the deepest river canyon in Europe with 3,000 feet canyon walls rising above the stunning river wilderness area. After our adventure, we continue back to Sarajevo for a festive farewell dinner and celebration of our trip through the Balkans. (2 to 3 hours of rafting class II-IV rapids) Overnight Sarajevo Pension Kandilj B, L, D
DAY 13
What a challenge this has been! We leave satisfied in knowing not only that we have challenged ourselves, but that, simply by hiking on the Via Dinarica at this early stage, we have contributed to its development and to the development of many areas that need and welcome tourism. But now it’s time to bid farewell and to go home with new tales of adventure. Your guide will help you organize a taxi to the international airport (about 20 minutes, $10) to fly home or to continue on your travels. B

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

far exceeded

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/23/2019-7/5/2019


The mountains, Adriatic Sea, cities but especially the company of 13 wonderful women!

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/23/2019-7/5/2019


The mountains, Adriatic Sea, cities but especially the company of 13 wonderful women!

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/23/2019-7/5/2019


The hikes were amazing and the non hiking activities were interesting and fun.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/23/2019-7/5/2019


Who knew Bosnia and Montenegro would be so gorgeous (yes I knew Croatia would) I thought the rafting was meh. Not sure how you would handle that day (kind of a travel day so you fit it in to break things up maybe) but it was zzzzz though pretty.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/23/2019-7/5/2019


I loved the hiking, I loved the guides, I loved the group and I liked exploring a new part (to me) of the world.. highlights were the mountains and the cultural experience.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/23/2019-7/5/2019


All the hiking destinations were fantastic. As a first timer in river rafting, I didn’t expect it to be so much fun! To be in the company of wonderful and supportive women is in itself a highlight of the trip.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/23/2019-7/5/2019


I’d heard a lot about Croatia but Bosnia was a big surprise. I loved the beauty and remoteness of the trails we hiked there, as well as the very interesting cities of Mostar and Sarajevo. Also I loved this group of women! I enjoyed every single one and really felt we were a great team.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/23/2019-7/5/2019


Beautiful hiking and the opportunity to learn more about the Balkans.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


Seeing the Adriatic Sea, challenging hiking, fabulous guides and learning about the history of the Bosnian war, especially through hearing personal stories

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


Great hikes Would have preferred more independent time. For instance, there was no reason to have group lunches in Mostar or after the Sarajevo tour.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


The two guides were both great. The scenery was gorgeous, and most of the hikes were fantastic, if a bit muddy at times. The accommodations were ok -- I understand that in some areas there weren't a lot of options, but would have liked something a little more central in Sarajevo -- 15 minute walk to town up a steep hill. And my personal preference would have been to have a little more "down time" maybe 1 or 2 days minimum after hiking so we could meet for a drink before dinner. Felt like we were very rushed every day. Our second to last hike (around lake) was nothing special -- that would have been a good day to finish early.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


The hiking, the scenery, the challenge.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


It was a fabulous trip! I appreciated the amazing scenery, the level of challenge on many of the hikes, and our group. the cultural components with visits to Sarajevo and Mostar were also important to me. The food was very good and more than adequate. Accomodations good for the most part. I really enjoyed river rafting for the first time too!

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


Gorgeous views, challenging hikes, terrific guides, excellent food, amazing cultural insights, perfect itinerary all done with a fun, thoughtful interesting group of women!

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


Hiking with view of Adriatic, time spent in Mostar and Sarajevo. The history was just awesome!!!! Loved the fields of flowers.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


Seeing the Adriatic Sea from the trail, the large meadows filled with wildflowers, the indescribable beauty of the Balkins, and reaching the summit of Bobotov Kuk.

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


beautiful landscapes, quality of hiking, historical/cultural learning, good company

Highlights of the Via Dinarica 6/24/2018-7/6/2018


  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is in restaurants; sometimes there will be a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian entree, other times you can order off the menu. Lunches may either be picnics or in restaurants.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Food in the Balkans tends to be heavy on meat and cheese; there are fresh salads of tomatoes and cucumbers but lettuce is rare as are whole grains. Vegetarian and vegan options for this trip are available but limited; if you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, please bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. Some items, such as nuts, are widely available at grocery stores. If you cannot eat gluten, you will need to bring gluten-free products with you. If you're at all concerned, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
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