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The Heart of Western Serbia

Overview

These rustic, authentic trail rides lead you into Serbia's Šumadija region, sometimes called the 'Balkan Tuscany', or on to the beauty of the Tara National Park. Your hosts, Igor and Marina, welcome you to this unspoiled area in the western part of Serbia, a landscape bordering Šumadija, the Dinari…

Highlights

  • A rustic, authentic trail in Serbia's Šumadija region
  • Simple authentic comfortable accommodation
  • English saddles & halters (snaffle bridles available)
  • Delicious traditional home made meals

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 10 riders per group
  • Average of 5 - 7 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95kg / 210 lbs / 15 stone

Description

These rustic, authentic trail rides lead you into Serbia's Šumadija region, sometimes called the 'Balkan Tuscany', or on to the beauty of the Tara National Park. Your hosts, Igor and Marina, welcome you to this unspoiled area in the western part of Serbia, a landscape bordering Šumadija, the Dinaric Alps and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The trails begin in the village of Taor, a haven for lovers of nature, activity and organic produce - the horses will be ready and waiting for you in the fields nearby. They live outdoors 365 days a year in spacious paddocks.

The riding trails comprise grassy meadows, rolling hills, steep mountain tracks, forests and ethnic villages whilst your hosts enjoy the simple pleasures of riding, admiring the landscapes and tucking into homemade food after a day in the saddle. You ride into some of the prettiest parts of Serbia, away from the noise and routine of day to day life and into untouched nature. You will learn about the region's history, meet the locals and experience some of the best traditional Serbian cuisine along the way. Homemade cheeses, cured meats, vegetables and breads are washed down with cold beers and a sampling of local rakija.

Igor has a Swiss riding guide certification and speaks English and German. If he is not guiding the trail then it will be one or two of his experienced team - larger groups may have two guides with them, one of whom will speak English. They have a range of horses available but they are all sure-footed and handled with kindness, the guides often ride bitless but snaffle bridles are available for guest use and there is a choice of English or western saddles. The trails are quite adventurous with varied terrain and a mixed pace, we recommend them for riders who are confident in the saddle at all paces and happy to tackle steep ups and downs.

Horses & Riding

Tack

There is a choice of English GP and western saddles available and most horses are ridden in simple snaffle bridles. A few of the horses can be ridden bitless (essentially in a halter) which your hosts will discuss with you. Saddlebags are provided.

Horses

A range of different breeds, mostly native types or crosses who are good with the terrain. They are all different shapes and sizes.

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Sumadija Trail is a trail ride
  • Tara National Park Trail is a trail ride

Ages

We don't recommend the trail for young riders but please enquire if you have an older child who is a competent rider and able to ride a horse (rather than a small pony).

Health

General good health and fitness

Weight

95kg / 210 lbs / 15 stone

Food & Accommodation

Food

Throughout the trip you will have the chance to experience traditional Balkan dishes including roasted meats, breads, homegrown vegetables, home-produced cheeses, local cabbage recipes and more. The food is homemade, hearty and often prepared using local ingredients - this means the food is very seasonal and earlier in the season there is limited fruit (whereas later in the summer it is readily available). Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers are served regularly. Vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products can get by fine here, but vegan diets are difficult.

All meals are included in the trail price, from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day. A drink is included with each meal (soft drink, local wine or beer) and you can buy extra locally, either paying as you go or at the end of the week. Homemade rakija is available most places and is often offered by your hosts - it is very strong but if you are willing then it's polite to try some and to raise a toast to your new friends.

Accommodation

Accommodation is at simple farms, guesthouses and hotels, staying in shared twin or triple rooms. In some cases the guest rooms share bathrooms. Single rooms are available at an added cost, provided there is availability (single guests who are willing to share and end up in a room alone don't need to pay anything extra), but please note that these do not always have private bathrooms - you may still need to share facilities and walk through other rooms to access them.

One of the accommodations has a swimming pool but it is not open until June.

Itineraries

Sumadija Trail Basic accommodation.

Tara National Park Trail Basic accommodation.

Other Activities

This tour is aimed purely at riders.

Travel

Transfers are included from and to Belgrade airport at set-times, travelling with the other riders in the group. You should land in Belgrade by 16:00 on arrival day and have a flight leaving 12:00 or later on departure day. Transfer time is approximately 2.5 hours with the last section on country roads which can be bumpy.

If you are staying in a hotel in Belgrade before the ride then pick-up there can be arranged - please enquire.

Testimonials

Hermann S., Sept. 14, 2022

We liked everything very much. Igor and Igor2 are true horseman. (Favourite memory?) I can't answer like that. I liked everything.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

You will be picked up from the airport and driven to your first accommodation at an altitude of almost 1100m. This area slopes straight down to the Povlen Mountains in the eastern part of the Dinaric Alps. You will be driven to the village of Taor, a settlement which has existed since the Bronze Age, and the journey takes around two and a half hours. A warm dinner awaits you and there is time to settle in and perhaps to meet your new four-legged friends.

Day 2 - Taor to Divčibare

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

After breakfast you ride to Divčibare which is currently a famous ski area. The mountain, Maljen, belongs to the Ore Mountains and also to the Dinaric mountain system in northwest Serbia. It is characterised by diverse and specific flora and fauna due to the climate. The resort of Divčibare is located on the central part of the mountain and the heights that surround it protect against the winds and also offer a view of parts of the Maljen massif as well as the near and far surroundings. The views this morning are really beautiful - you can see green slopes all around you! It's around 3 hours of riding in the morning with a lunch stop whilst the horses rest and graze in a paddock.

NOTE: after lunch the riding is on asphalt roads as it is the only way to reach the next accommodation at Divčibare. There is not much traffic and the horses are not worried by any passing cars.

Further info on this area:

Although it is often mentioned that Divčibare is a mountain, it is actually a field on the Maljen mountain, which, due to its specific topography and geographical location, is considered a separate tourist resort with many advantages.

The highest peak of Maljen is Kraljev stol at 1103m. Two parts are divided by the height of the Guard of Divčibare : Divčibare in the strict sense and Pitomine. This hill got its name during the Austrian rule in northern Serbia from 1718 to 1739. At that time the border between Austria and Turkey ran there, and there was the Austrian border guard. The guard consisted of bandits, residents of the surrounding villages (mostly from the village of Krčmara ). From this hill you can see the entire Divčibare field, other heights of Maljen, a range of mountains and the city of Valjevo. The mountains Medvednik , Jablanik and Povlen, like Maljen, belong to the Ore Mountains and are the last massifs of the Dinaric Mountains in the northwest of the country.

Day 3 - Divčibare to Rajac

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today the road leads you through the Serbian steppe, which is reminiscent of Mongolia. The power of this steppe leaves no one indifferent and the 360 degree view gives you a feeling of space and freedom of movement. On your tour today you will hardly see any houses and it often happens that you do not see anyone except the climbers. Silence, space, a view as far as the eye can see, horses, harmony... in the afternoon you will reach Mount Rajac .

This riding day is quite long, around 30 - 35km with some challenging terrain. Sandwiches are carried in the saddlebags this day.

Day 4 - Rajac to Kostunici

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

Today you have a shorter ride to Kostunici and are there by lunchtime - this ethno-village is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Serbia, on the southern slope of the Suvobor mountain. There are two stories about how the village got its name and no one knows which is correct, probably because one talks about nature, the other about people. And your hosts say - nature is cared for and loved here! The complex you stay at was built in accordance with traditional Serbian architecture.

There is a swimming lake in the complex. The lake is surrounded by the Cer forest and is sunny on all sides. It was created by dividing the Čemernica river with a concrete dam just 300m below the settlement with sculptures. It is 1.90 m deep and 30 m wide. Children and sports enthusiasts have volleyball and soccer fields on the shores of the lake. There are also pottery and handicraft shops where passionate ethno collectors can add to their collections or bring "summer memories" to friends.

Day 5 - Kostunici to Gostoljublje

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you are slowly leaving the Serbian steppe and returning to the Dinaric Alps with another longer, challenging riding day. This transition from the mountain steppe to the Dinaric Alps is very impressive and shows you how much nature has changed in this area. Today has some more steep ups and downs, remote trails and a little bit of quiet road work. After a long, restful lunch for both horse and rider you continue on to Gostoljublje.

The ethno-village Gostoljublje is located 140km from Belgrade and belongs to the municipality of Kosjeric, the village of Mionica. The village is near the mountain centre Divcibare, on the south side of the Maljen mountain. Rural tourism is the main activity of this farm and agriculture is an activity that complements what is on offer in terms of food production. It is ideal for guests who want an active vacation and want to get to know the way of life and work in the country.

Day 6 - Gostoljublje to Taor

Riding: 3 - 5 hours

Slowly you are returning to the paths of the ancient Romans who took Dubrovnik and, over the Povlen mountain, connected with the Danube. In this way too, you visit the ever-dear Taor water springs . There are many small 'arteries' of water that arise from the porous limestone tuff - in winter the water is rather warm and in summer quite cool. On hot summer days a glass of cold spring water gives you a very satisfying feeling.

In early centuries there were around 20 active water mills along these water sources and they milled rye, barley and oats at full capacity. Most of them have disappeared now but a small watermill has remained and it can transport you back in time. The freshly-prepared food and the miller's good mood underline the atmosphere and lifestyle of the highlands. After a visit to the local miller you will go up to the original farm to enjoy a dinner with local fruit brandy ('rakija'), over which you can share your impressions and ideas from the ride.

Today is generally an easier, shorter riding day but the route is sometimes adapted if the conditions are favourable so as to give a little more time in the saddle.

Day 7 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

Departure after breakfast. Flights should leave Belgrade 12:00 or later.

Accommodation

Single rooms are available on payment of a supplement but participants should bear in mind that accommodations are simple and you are likely to still need to share bathrooms.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate and above - riders should be confident riding at walk, trot and canter and fit and willing to walk and lead their horse on rough or steep ground if required.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

May 21, 2022 - May 27, 2022

June 4, 2022 - June 10, 2022

July 2, 2022 - July 8, 2022

July 23, 2022 - July 29, 2022

May 6, 2023 - May 12, 2023

May 20, 2023 - May 26, 2023

June 24, 2023 - June 30, 2023

July 8, 2023 - July 14, 2023

July 22, 2023 - July 28, 2023

Pricing

2022/2023
Sharing
£875 $975 €1000
Included Set-time Belgrade airport transfers, 6 nights of shared (twin/triple) accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, a drink with your meals (inc. local wine or a beer) and 5 riding days.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, additional drinks, tips & other personal expenses.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

You will be picked up from the airport and driven to your first accommodation at an altitude of almost 1100m. This area slopes straight down to the Povlen Mountains in the eastern part of the Dinaric Alps. You will be driven to the village of Taor, a settlement which has existed since the Bronze Age, and the journey takes around two and a half hours. A warm dinner awaits you and there is time to settle in and meet your new four-legged friends.

Day 2 - It Begins!

Riding: 6 - 8 hours

After breakfast you start the first day of your riding tour, riding from Taor to Kostokevići. The path leads you through raspberry fields, meadows rich in herbs and dense forests. The steep paths are worth it for the breathtaking views. The wild nature awakens a unique feeling and lets you feel a certain lightness in the body.

Day 3 - Over Stick and Over Stone

Riding: 6 - 8 hours

After spending the night at a cosy farm and enjoying a hearty breakfast you will ride further to Bajina Bašta. The trail leads you along the Drina River, one of the most historic rivers in the region - the Drina was the border between the Illyrians and the Celts, between Rome and Byzantium, between Christians and Pagans, between the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman empires! The river radiates a timeless energy which, in combination with the serenity of the horses, lets your soul relax.

Day 4 - In Paradise

Riding: 6 - 8 hours

On this third riding day you reach the Tara National Park which is known for its exotic coniferous forests and rare conifer species such as the Serbian Spruce (lat. Picea omorika) and the Snake-Skin Pine (lat. Pinus heldreichii). There are also various animal species to be found there such as eagle owls, golden eagles, wolves, brown bears, lynxes, griffon vultures, otters and pine martens. The Tara Mountain is also known to archaeologists as the oldest location for metalworking, dating back to 3600 BC.

After a complex riding path through prehistoric places and wild nature, a bathing break at Lake Zaovine is the order of the day. You can completely merge with the wilderness. Please pack suitable swimwear!

Day 5 - At The Lake

Riding: 6 - 8 hours

Today you ride through the Tara National Park and are seduced by the smells and sounds of the coniferous forests. On the way you will see small mountain huts, most of which were built by only a few men, equipped with the most essential tools. But you will not only meet old buildings but also different people - real highlanders, a bit sparse and distant in their appearance but (after an initial acquaintance) very warm. On getting to know them better you will discover more and more the variety of their personalities.

Day 6 - The Return

Riding: 6 - 8 hours

Slowly you will leave Tara and return to Taori via Seča Reka. During this stage of the ride nature gives you wonderful views of countless distant valleys and mountains. When the sky is clear the view extends all the way to Durmitor, the highest mountain in Montenegro and also a national park that belongs to the southern part of the Dinaric Alps.

Day 7 - Last Section

Riding: 6 - 8 hours

After the village of Seča Reka the next stop will be at the Taor water springs. There are many small 'arteries' of water that arise from the porous limestone tuff - in winter the water is rather warm and in summer quite cool. On hot summer days a glass of cold spring water gives you a very satisfying feeling.

In early centuries there were around 20 active water mills along these water sources and they milled rye, barley and oats at full capacity. Most of them have disappeared now but a small watermill has remained and it can transport you back in time. The freshly-prepared food and the miller's good mood underline the atmosphere and lifestyle of the highlands. After a visit to the local miller you will go up to the original farm to enjoy a dinner with local fruit brandy, over which you can share your impressions and ideas from the ride.

Day 8 - Return to the Airport

Riding: No riding.

After a satisfying breakfast it's time to start your journey to the airport.

Accommodation

Single rooms are available on payment of a supplement but participants should bear in mind that accommodations are simple and you are likely to still need to share bathrooms.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate and above - riders should be confident riding at walk, trot and canter and fit and willing to walk and lead their horse on rough or steep ground if required.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

Aug. 20, 2022 - Aug. 27, 2022

Sept. 3, 2022 - Sept. 10, 2022

Aug. 5, 2023 - Aug. 12, 2023

Sept. 2, 2023 - Sept. 9, 2023

Pricing

2022/2023
Sharing twin/double room
£1050 $1175 €1200
Included Set-time Belgrade airport transfers, 7 nights of shared (twin/triple) accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, a drink with your meals (inc. local wine or a beer) and 6 riding days.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, additional drinks, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2022/2023 - Single Supplement £132 $147 €150
Paid to Far and Ride
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.