From: June 24 to July 6, 2018

Destination: Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia

  • Highlights of the Via Dinarica

    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

  • Sunday, June 24
    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 and prefer not to wait, we can arrange a private transfer ($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 (B&B) D

    Monday, June 25
    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, a route that traverses the main ridge of Velebit. After our 3 hour transfer this morning to Zavizan Hut, we spend our first day hiking past wide mountain pastures, karst valleys, and towering peaks. The Mountain Hut Alan - our home for the night, with stunning views of the sea and the islands - is 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 9.2 miles, 6 - 7 hours, 1230' elev gain Overnight: Alan Mountain Hut B, L, D

    Tuesday, June 26
    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. We also pass through the valley of Stirovaca, cut deeply into the terrain and covered in valuable virgin forest.
    Our hike is quite challenging today and we'll look forward to arriving at Kugina kuca mountain house, with our luggage and a delicious dinner. Hiking: 12.4 miles, 7-8 hours, 2720' elev gain Overnight: Kugina kuca mountain house B,L,D

    Wednesday, June 27
    Today we enjoy our final day on the Premuzik Trail. From Kugina kuca mountain house we have a moderate hike with another day of spectacular views of limestone towers, wide valleys, and the coast. The hike ends at Ravni Dabar, Velebit Mountain, 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

    Thursday, June 28
    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 four hour drive. This heart-shaped country in the middle of the former Yugoslavia lies at the heart of the Dinaric Alps. Bosnia is the northern and central region of the country and Herzegovina is in the south. We'll take a city walking tour of Mostar, famous for its beautiful historic Ottoman-style bridge. Spanning the Neretva river in the historic center of the city, the bridge was destroyed in the war; however, through combined efforts with the international community, rebuilding of The Old Bridge was completed in 2004. A significant portion of the city has been rebuilt, so this formerly war-torn city is once again a lively and beautiful 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

    Friday, June 29
    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. A hunting hut was built near the top for the King because he so fancied the rich wildlife the area had to offer. He is long passed now, but his trail is very much alive. Starting from the valley of Diva Grabovica, it's a fairly steep climb at times, but truly stunning and refreshing. The trail head leads us to several natural springs, where we can refill our water bottles with water so clean it doesn't need treatment. 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 and perhaps watch some of the rock climbers who try their skills here. 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

    Saturday, June 30
    This morning we explore 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, L,D

    Sunday, July 1
    Today we head to Sutjeska National Park, the oldest park and one of the two last remaining primeval forests in Europe, for a 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 peaks a constant companion on the horizon. After our hike we have an hour drive to our hotel in Tjentiste, a village on the other side of Sutjeska National Park. Hiking 5.6 miles, 3 - 4 hours, 1280 ft elev gain. Overnight Hotel Mladost in Sutjeska National Park B, L, D

    Monday, July 2
    Our hike to Maglic Mountain (7,828'), highest peak of Bosnia & Herzegovina is in another area of Sutjeska National Park, near the border with Montenegro. We'll keep a look out for wildlife on our four hour ascent: bear, chamois (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 (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. We pass through the village of Prijevor and then transfer to our hotel in Tjentiste, also located in the national park. Hiking 9 miles, 9 - 10 hours, 3700 ft elev gain. Overnight in Tjentiste at Hotel Mladost B, L, D

    Tuesday, July 3
    Today we travel to Zabljak, a high mountain village in Montenegro, and our home for the next two nights. Compared to yesterday, we'll have a mellow day hike in nearby Durmitor National Park. We'll walk around the largest lake, Crno Jezero (Black Lake), which is 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. We continue hiking a little deeper in the forest to another glacial lake, Zminje Jezero (Snake Lake), a smaller, tranquil lake which is even darker than Crno Jezero. Hiking 6.6 miles, 4 - 5 hours, 800 ft elev gain. Overnight Hotel Soa, Zabljak B, L, D

    Wednesday, July 4
    We head back to Durmitor National Park for a climb to Lucin Peak (7860'), with an option to continue on the challenging ridge to Montenegro’s highest peak, Bobotov Kuk (8,277'). Both destinations 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 Lucin Peak 7.5 miles, 5-6 hours, 1920 ft elev gain or Bobotov Kuk 8.5 miles, 6 - 7 hours, 2080 ft elev gain. Overnight Hotel Soa B, L, D

    Thursday, July 5
    On our last day we give our legs a rest 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 head back to Sarajevo for a festive farewell dinner and celebration of our trip through the Balkans. ( 3 to 4 hours of rafting class II-IV rapids) Overnight Sarajevo Pension Kandilj B, L, D

    Friday, July 6
    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. But now its time to bid farewell to our group and to go home with new tales of adventure. This morning we are transferred to the international airport at 9am to fly home or to continue our travels. B
  • $2895 (see this page for discounts) $400 deposit. You can check out our cancellation policies here. A single supplement (only necessary if you want to be assured of your own room and not available for the mountain huts in Croatia) is $375.

    Trip Includes

    • A Bosnian English-speaking mountain guide and an AGC guide
    • 2 nights in mountain huts and 10 nights double occupancy in small hotels and pensions
    • All meals from supper on first night to breakfast on last morning
    • 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 to and from the airports at the designated time
    • Tips for city guides and bus driver

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

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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Hiking a good part 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

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