The Soul of the Balkan Mountains

High Scardus Trail

Like a gigantic wall, the huge Dinaric Mountains and the adjacent mountains to the south, such as the Sharr Mountains, the Korab & Deshat Mountains, the Jablanica Mountains and the Galichica Mountains, stretch along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea from Slovenia to Greece. Mountains that are still in a slumber, especially in the countries of the Western Balkans. Just the right place for our trekking trip.


High Scardus Trail, Western Balkans
Guided explorer trekking tour on lonely paths along the award winning High Scardus Trail

Duration: 11 days
Date: 15. – 25. June 2023
Price: € 1.578,- p. p.


Key facts

Character: Guided explorer trekking tour on lonely paths along the award winning High Scardus Trail

Country: Kosovo, Northern Macedonia & Albania

Level: ●●●○○

Impact: Maintenance of the hiking trails on the High Scardus Trail

Tour guide: IVBV mountain & ski guide and Balkan expert Stefan Lieb-Lind

Included services: among others overnight stays in guesthouses & mountain huts with full board, luggage service, shuttle services & German-speaking tour guide

©Outdooractive ®/

The Soul of the Balkan Mountains

1. The journey

Character of the journey

The new star in the trekking sky begins in the Kosovar mountain village of Gornje Lubinje, where you will spend the night in a lovingly run guesthouse. Three lonely stages on the High Scardus Trail will bring you back to Kosovo via northern Macedonia, more precisely to Brod – simple mountain huts or guesthouses offer you shelter in this almost undeveloped tourist area. From Brod you will be taken to the town of Prizren at the foot of the Šar Planina.

Here you have one evening and half a day to immerse yourself in the melting pot between Orient and Occident – the old town with its liveliness and its many mosques is incredibly infectious and is certainly one of the most worth seeing cultural places in the Western Balkans. In the afternoon, a shuttle will take you back to the mountains: you will cross over into Albania and spend the night in one of the most beautiful mountain villages far and wide – namely Rabdisht with its ancient stone houses and cobbled alleys. From here, two more stages on the High Scardus Trail with an overnight stay on the lonely alpine pasture Stanet e Hinoskes will take you back to northern Macedonia.


After a rest day during which you can explore the second cultural highlight, the historic old town of Ohrid on the lake of the same name, you will hike the two final stages of the High Scardus Trail over the Galičica Mountains with an overnight stay at the Mountain Hut Spiridon. These two stages with destination in the famous pilgrimage place Sveti Naum directly at Lake Ohrid are again a sensation in terms of landscape, as the Galičica Mountains form the narrow ridge between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa and at the same time offer fantastic views of both lakes!


Highlights of the journey

The very first stage of your Explorer Tour on the High Scrdus Trail takes you right into the heart of the mystical Sharr Mountains © Matthew Nelson/Trail Angels

Incredibly beautiful and familiar evenings in the original guesthouses along the High Scardus Trail © Matthew Nelson/Trail Angels

Lonely high-scenic trail stages in Sharr Mountains often on trail tracks or even in pathless terrain characterize the first part of your Explorer Tour © Matthew Nelson/Trail Angels

The alpine hut Dinjbeg was built in 2020 in an exemplary manner according to old tradition. It serves as a shelter for shepherds and will also be used for tourism in the future © Matthew Nelson/Trail Angels

The valley of Leshnica you will walk through on the 4th day of your trip – it is considered one of the secret treasures in Northern Macedonia © Matthew Nelson/Trail Angels

Gentle mountains and wide alpine pastures – and again and again gems like these nameless small lakes – characterize the middle part of your hike (here from Stanet e Hinoskes to Bitushe) © Trail Angels

2 rest days visiting the historic old towns of Prizren and Ohrid (pictured here) provide deep insights into the culture of the Western Balkans © Trail Angels

The view from the last peak of your Explorer Tour, Mount Magaro, to Lake Ohrid on the left and Lake Prespa on the right is simply breathtaking © Trail Angels

Travel itinerary*


Day 1 Arrival: 14:00 Meeting point Pristina Airport (KOS), transfer to mountain village Gornje Lubinje; accommodation: Guesthouse (KOS)
Shuttle time: 1,5 h
Day 2 Trekking: Stage 05 Gornje Lubinje – Kobilica Hut; accommodation: mountain hut (MKD)
Walking time: 4,25 h → 9,2 km 1.095 m ↘ 552 m
Day 3 Trekking: Stage 06 Kobilica Hut – Veshala; Accommodation: Guesthouse (MKD)
Walking time: 7 h → 19.2 km 702 m ↘ 1,117 m – can be shortened if necessary
Day 4 Trekking: Stage 07 Veshala – Brod (KOS); transfer to Prizren; accommodation: hotel (KOS)
Walking time: 7.5 h → 21 km 1,174 m ↘ 1,010 m – can be shortened if necessary
Shuttle time: 1 h
Day 5 Culture & transfer: City tour old town of Prizren, transfer Prizren – Rabdisht; accommodation: guesthouse (ALB)
Shuttle time: 3 h
Day 6 Trekking: Stage 13 Rabdisht – Stanet e Hinoskes; accommodation: alpine hut (ALB)
Walking time: 5 h → 10,8 km 959 m ↘ 355 m
Day 7 Trekking & transfer: Stage 14 Stanet e Hinoskes – Bitushe; Transfer Bitushe – Vevcani; accommodation: Hotel (MKD)
Walking time: 6 h → 14.1 km 505 m ↘ 1,149 m
Shuttle time: 1,5 h
Day 8 Culture & transfer: Transfer Vevcani – Ohrid; sightseeing Ohrid Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site); transfer Ohrid – Velestovo; accommodation: guesthouse (MKD)
Shuttle times: 35 min + 15 min
Day 9 Trekking: Stage 21 Velestovo – Mountain Hut Spiridon; accommodation: mountain hut (MKD)
Walking time: 7 h → 18.2 km 1,001 m ↘ 484 m
Day 10 Trekking & boat trip: Stage 22 Mountain Hut Spiridon – Sveti Naum; boat trip Sveti Naum – Ohrid; accommodation: hotel (MKD)
Walking time: 7 h → 19.5 km 721 m ↘ 1,627 m
Boat trip: approx. 2 h
Day 11 Departure: Transfer Ohrid – Pristina (KOS); return flight


*small program changes reserved

Included services


+ 3 nights in selected middle class hotels (*** national categorization); double room with full board
+ 7 nights in family-run guesthouses, refuges and alpine pastures; double or multi-bed rooms with full board
+ Guided tour by an Austrian Trail Angel (IVBV state certified mountain & ski guide) and proven Balkan expert (also co-developer of the High Scardus Trail)
+ Guided by experienced local guides (one guide per country; certified according to the guidelines of the respective country)
+ Luggage transport depending on the stage by car or horse (max. 15 kg p. p.)
+ Guided sightseeing of the old towns of Prizren and Ohrid (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
+ All necessary transfers according to the program (airport shuttles as well as during the tour)
+ Meeting with High Scardus Trail Pioneers
+ Contribution to the High Scardus Trail Organization for trail maintenance High Scardus Trail
+ Contribution for climate neutrality (incl. certificate)
+ Detailed tour documents
+ Before the trip: Info service by Balkan experts

Price: € 1.578,- p. p.

Small group from min. 6 persons to max. 10 persons


2. The pioneers

Meet our High Scardus Trail pioneers who will accompany you on your Explorer Tour of the High Scardus Trail and provide you with many insights into the region, culture and the exciting project of the High Scardus Trail:

Trail working group,
developer of the trail

The fact that you can now hike the High Scardus Trail has many mothers and fathers. Among them are the development experts of the GIZ and also we as Trail Angels – but it is mainly the local enthusiasts of the three countries who have brought the trail from the first idea …

to its present state.

These are mainly trekking guides and local tour operators, but also national park staff and people working in regional development. Together they form the newly founded “High Scardus Trail Organization”, which will be responsible for the High Scardus Trail in the future. You will meet some of these enthusiasts on your Explorer Tour, be it as a local guide, hut host or for a coffee on your journey.


Stefan Lieb-Lind,
IVBV mountain & ski guide

“When I first traveled to the Western Balkans 16 years ago, I had no idea how much I would fall in love with this rugged but warm, pristine and unspoiled region. Since then, almost 30 trips have taken me here – be it for first ascents on high rock faces, ski touring …

or trekking, or for work with Trail Angels, I am extremely pleased to be able to play an important role in the development of the High Scardus Trail as the new top long-distance trail in Europe.”

The state-certified mountain and ski guide has discovery in his blood: not only has he made a name for himself in climbing circles with more than 100 first ascents in rock and ice in the Western Balkans, the Alps, Iran and Bolivia, but in the course of his work as a trail developer with Trail Angels he is also in charge of routing some of the popular long-distance trails in Austria.


High Scardus hosts,
lived hospitality

The mountain region along the High Scardus Trail was virtually undeveloped for tourism until a few years ago. It is thanks to the vision and motivation of some local enthusiasts that something great is emerging in this so remote region. The owners of the …

Guesthouse Sabriu in Rabdisht are supposed to be exemplary for all these people you will meet on your Explorer Tour.

If you want to describe how a good guesthouse should be – you would describe Guesthouse Sabriu: a simple accommodation, but a place of tranquility with a garden that must be very close to the Garden of Eden. The indescribable hospitality and warmth of the owners, however, is what, in combination with the fantastic local food, makes the stay literally unforgettable. A perfect example of how enthusiasm and authenticity are still the most important ingredients. And both are innately in the blood of many people in the region, which you can feel at every corner of the High Scardus Trail.



3. Our impact

Trail Angels tries to live up to its responsibility as a tour operator for the travel of the future. By opening up breathtaking experiences with handpicked tours and with participation in regional projects and measures for climate protection, we want to trigger the greatest possible impact for a change for the better in the destinations. You can find out more about the Trail Angels’ signature tours here.

And that’s how we frame our responsibilities on the High Scardus Trail:

1. Trail Angels project

Preservation of trails

With our “change” program 4 % of the booking costs per High Scardus Trail Explorer go to the newly founded “High Scardus Trail Organization”.

It consists of local experts and enthusiasts and is responsible in the future for the preservation and development of the High Scardus Trail – and thus also in a certain way for a gentle and sustainable development of these peripheral mountain regions, in order to provide the locals with an additional income and also more identity. And thus in the last consequence to stop the strong migration.

Since there are hardly any existing structures and financing possibilities for trail maintenance in the three countries Kosovo, Northern Macedonia and Albania, regular trail maintenance, as we know it e.g. from the Alps, is difficult. However, well-maintained trail sections are a basic prerequisite for the High Scardus Trail to become as popular and sought-after among trekkers in the medium term as it deserves in terms of potential.

With our “change” program we want to make our contribution to this: 100% of the money will go to trail maintenance through the High Scardus Trail organization.


2. Sociale inclusion

Promotion of local structures

We work exclusively with carefully selected and vetted local tour providers and place the highest value on social sustainability and inclusion such as:


  • Fair payment for trekking crew
  • On the trek: Overnight in small family-run guesthouses or in private mountain huts
  • Promotion of socially disadvantaged population groups and local value chains

To this end, we are involved in a three-year project together with the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and local experts, ourselves very intensively and in a prominent position, with the development of the High Scardus Trail as a leading tourist product for the sustainable development of mountain regions.


3. Climate protection

Climate-neutral design

For us it is natural to compensate or neutralize the greenhouse gas emissions for their travel. This is why we are an official partner of Atmosfair®.


4. The story

No, this is not a white spot on your glasses when you look at a map of Europe. This spot is located on the map, in the middle of the border mountains between the countries of Kosovo, Northern Macedonia and Albania. The isolation of Albania, as well as the Yugoslav war, made tourist development of these mountains, so remote, impossible until 25 years ago. But also in the last 25 years the development in the mountain regions of the Western Balkans was very slow: the local people – often farmers and shepherds – had no relation to mountain sports and mountain tourism. Thus, these mountains have preserved a pristine and unspoiled nature that is probably unparalleled in Europe – which is why there are now 5 national parks and a nature park along the trail. Only in the last 5 years tourists from other countries slowly discover this treasure and travel the three countries exactly because of the incredible authenticity and hospitality – so seep nice slowly enthusiastic travel reports about these countries. In any case, the tourist potential of the region is huge! Who does not believe this and doubts the scenic beauty, need only look at the photos here.

The scenic beauty is beguiling – and the unspoiledness digs deep into your heart: in many places on the High Scardus Trail you will see hardly any signs of human civilization ©Matthew Nelson/Trail Angels

Here, bear and wolf say good night to each other. The shepherds have adapted to this and have the flocks of sheep guarded by extremely vigilant and well-mannered Sharri Dogs. Just as it was 100 years ago ©Matthew Nelson/Trail Angels

As tempting as that sounds, of course, for adventurous and discovery-loving outdoor enthusiasts to travel to regions that are not developed for tourism, life in the very remote mountain villages is arduous. Future prospects for locals are often poor and so many decide to move to the nearest town or even leave the country.

So why not combine the two? In other words, use the region’s unspoiled nature and authenticity to develop the region in a very careful and sustainable way, thus giving outdoor lovers an unforgettable trekking vacation while providing additional income to the locals? This is exactly the goal set by the High Scardus Trail and the organizations behind the long-distance trail – these organizations include the Society for International Cooperation and local experts, as well as us as Trail Angels.

Again and again you get deep insights into life in the mountains of the Western Balkans – like here in conversation with a shepherd on the way from Gornje Lubinje to Vejce ©Matthew Nelson/Trail Angels

So little can be so much. For the High Scardus Trail and also for us as Trail Angels, it is important to develop tourism as gently and as close to nature as possible ©Trail Angels

The High Scardus Trail is brand new and therefore only at the beginning of its journey. Even though much has already been done, there is still much to be done. But one thing is for sure: you will be amazed by the scenic beauty, the unspoiled nature and the hospitality. Get to know life there exactly as it is. To be there as a traveler and not as a tourist. The beauty and the potential have recently been recognized by international experts, as it was chosen as the “Best European Tourism Project 2022” at the “International Tourism Awards” in London in November 2022. This is something we as Trail Angels are very proud of, having played a central role in the development of the High Scardus Trail into a premium long-distance hiking trail in Europe. And it motivates us a lot to continue our work and show enthusiasts like you this treasure. And at the same time to promote a careful development of the peripheral mountain regions without losing its authenticity.

Travel reports from the High Scardus Trail:

„Travel reports from the High Scardus Trail:“

A travel report about the first Explorer Tour in Semptember 2022.

Read more here.

High Scardus Trail – Best Europe Tourism Project

„The High Scardus Trail was awarded the “Best European Tourism Project 2022” at the “International Tourism Award” awarded”

Read more here..

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