Balkans on foot, how to do the new High Scardus Trail

Crossing the Balkans on foot is a memorable adventure and if you know how to do the new High Scardus Trail you can really be among the first to experience it. It’s a long route that takes you on a beautiful trek in the Balkans, a new newly opened hiking trail in the middle of the mountains and forests on the border between Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. A good news for those who love nature walks and explorations of wild places.

How is the High Scardus Trail, trekking in the heart of the Balkans

The Balkans is one of the most beautiful and wildest regions of Europe, we have told you in this article about the funny journey by bike between Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro. And since they are little travelled and little explored, they exert the charm of mystery and are a magnetic attraction for those who love trekking and outdoor adventure.

The new High Scardus Trail, built with funds from the Balkan countries and also from the German government, enriches the Balkan area with another path and makes the region more and more interesting for trekking enthusiasts. The whole of the wildest area of the former Yugoslavia and its surroundings can be crossed by walking from north to south along the Via Dinarica, of which we have spoken here.

It is a challenging but ‘definitive’ epic journey of almost two thousand kilometers (1930), which is occupying in the heart of the walkers a place along with the other great European paths such as the Via Francigena and the Way of St. James. It starts in Slovenia (which can also be reached on foot from Italy via a series of Alpine routes such as the Alpe Adria Trail) and crosses Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro (read here about its wild side), Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia.

The High Scardus Trail, between Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania

The name High Scardus Trail is due to the historical name of the Sar massif, the mountains on the border between Kosovo and Macedonia. And it is here that the new trail unfolds: 495 kilometres that can be covered in about 20 days (it is better to take into account 30).

The route is well signposted in English and starts from the Macedonian side of the Sar and then crosses the border in Kosovo and enters Albania for the final part, which is also the easiest stretch (150 km).

Needless to say, you walk in the midst of nature’s most powerful and evocative. We pass through the lush and remote forests of Korab-Koritnik Nature Park, and touch the lakes of Ohrid and Prespa, which marks the end of the route, again on the border with Macedonia.

An adventure Into The Wild (the iconic story for those who love the adventure of which we have spoken a lot) that, according to those who have covered it, leaves you breathless.

How to get to the starting point to start the High Scardus Trail

The heart of the Balkans, once rather remote and difficult to reach if not with ‘journeys of hope’, is now well served by low-cost airlines.

Ryanair flies to Nis, but both arrive also to Pristina and Skopje. Austrian flies to Skopje (with stopovers in Vienna). Jetcost takes you to Pristina. So does Wizzair, which also leads to Tirana and Podgorica.

Then the best way to reach the Sar mountains is by car.

What to bring on a trek in the Balkans

A month or even a weekend of trekking on the High Scardus Trail must be prepared with care. from clothing to equipment, shoes, backpacks. You can consult our guides to understand how to choose and prepare for the adventure.

  • trekking shoes
  • trekking backpacks
  • waterproof jackets for trekking
  • socks suitable for long hikes

And some useful reading, such as the guide Albania and Kosovo, or Masks for a Massacre, the journey of Paolo Rumiz on the ruins of the war in former Yugoslavia. And certainly the map of the Balkans.

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