Peaks of the Balkans is a renowned summer trail that, after being featured in travel pages such as The New York Times, Financial Times in the US and Europe, and the Singapore Times in Asia, has become a popular destination for many hikers. Once the snow clears, and sometimes even earlier, until the days shorten, hikers from all over the world flock to these trails. However, there is always the question: what about the Peaks of the Balkans in winter?

The Peaks of the Balkans trail during the winter season presents a challenging endeavor. Harsh winter weather conditions in these remote mountains, ranging from 1000 to 2600 meters in altitude, pose the initial challenge. Additionally, the closure of guesthouses in these areas due to little interest and difficulty in operation without winter infrastructure adds to the challenge.

Moreover, the trail distances of 12 to 20 km, traversing rough terrains, may pose avalanche risks. To this, one should add the fact that some of these trials have never been analyzed from this perspective. The lack of phone reception further complicates the challenge of a 192 km trail.

These were obstacles in the past, and most of them are still now but some things have changed, since 2019 when we wrote the first post on this subject in this blog. 

What is feasible in winter in 2023 and onwards?

Ski enthusiasts, adventurous entrepreneurs, and mountaineers have explored and made some sections skiable, walkable, and visitable even in the middle of winter. Trails and sections are becoming increasingly popular among enthusiasts. Xavier Carrard from the Swiss mountaineering cooperative Helyum and Shams Eybert-Berard, a French guide from Grenoble, have already skied some parts of the trail. Guest House Leonardi has winterized some rooms, while Guest House Gacaferri has started specializing in welcoming winter tours.

The local company Balkan Natural Adventure, a leader in ski touring in the Balkans, has already organized some trails for their clients.

There is no exact trail that is in circulation as skiers are researching the best parts for the snow. However, sections with the most potential are those located close to the borderlines between Decani and Peja mountains (Kosovo), Babino Polje and Bogicevica (Montenegro), and Doberdol and Sylbica valleys (Albania). These sections of the Peaks of the Balkans trail are rich with long, moderate slopes full of snow which lasts until the beginning of May. With the condition comes the offer; it is the guesthouses in these parts that offer winter accommodation.

Difference in 2019 when we took the first shot at this possible winter trail Doberdol was unimagginable as the guest houses were not winterized and Gacaferri Guest house did not exist. 

For wilderness hunters, the years 2024 and 2025 offer the best possibilities to experience something unique. A bit later may also work; however, with the growth of tourism by about 10 percent a year, if you prefer the wild, you should act quickly.

For catski tours in the accursed mountains click here