Off-road Touring, Beautiful Balkans

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Gliga, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. dovetailredux

    dovetailredux Adventurer

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    Fascinating trip Gliga. Thanks for sharing it,

    Doug
    #21
  2. tradex56

    tradex56 Been here awhile

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    ello, I want to return this summer to shoot in Bosnia. I love the mountain roads and dirt roads. Where do you advise me to do a ride? Thank you from Italy
    #22
  3. KTM 950S

    KTM 950S Been here awhile

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    very nice trip and photos..thank u !!!!
    i was in beautiful Novi Sad in Octomber with my motorbike and 2 more friends..we had a great time and probably come again after summer!!!!!
    #23
  4. Humunn

    Humunn Moto Prozac

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    Sunny Central Oregon
    GREAT PICS!!!


    :clap
    #24
  5. moto rrad

    moto rrad ADV n00b

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    excellent excellent! :D

    I'm taking careful notes, this looks like it will be the destination for my trip this summer/fall. Anyone else want to ride along? :freaky

    Thanks for sharing !
    #25
  6. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    Serbia
    Day three

    Today is D day, time to start actual adventure. Weather is almost perfect, blue sky with no clouds. Start of the first offroad section is almost 2 km away from start point. Good gravel road leads me over Igman mountain. First break is at Hrasnicki Stan mountain hut.

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    Road gets better and better so naturally speed goes up. One deceptive corner almost managed to end the trip early on. After another short pavement section I arrive at Babin Do, ski resort at Bjelasnica mountain.

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    Next stop: peak of Bjelasnica. There are two roads leading to the top. Normal one at the south western slope, almost suitable for passenger cars, and another one at eastern slope. Second road goes over ski slopes and it's poorly maintained. I choose second road as it's closer and because it allows me to make full circle, by going down on "normal" road.

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    Road is easy to ride until you reach final "plateau", few hundred meters bellow the top. You can see weather observatory at the top, almost straight above. Even from bellow it's obvious that this next section which will lead me to the top is very steep. Regular maintenance is done by snow and ice every winter and by wind and rain during other seasons :)

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    First part, until you reach first hairpin, is steep. "Roadbed" is made of large, loose and sharp rocks. Second section is even steeper. Luckily there is less loose stones so it's easier to find a good line. There are few places with rocks that act like steps. Only one thing on my mind "Don't stop!" Oh, and another one: "Don't go over the edge" :) Slope is so steep that it's very difficult to walk straight up or down... At next hairpin I met a group of climbers, they looked soooo surprised to see me there :eek1 By that time I was riding on pure adrenalin. That's what it is all about. It was short, it was challenging. It was, without any doubt, my most intense riding experience. After that road becomes normal again and I'm soon at the top.

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    Usual disclaimer applies: It's steeper and more difficult than it looks :D


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    Following the ridge I got to another ex military communication center. It's completely destroyed and abandoned now. I take a long lunch break and spend time photographing the place. Remember my freshly shaved head? You also know that sun shines stronger 2000 m up? Well, I forgot... After that my head was red as a lobster for next few days. :)

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    You can see weather observatory in the background

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    High res panorama:
    http://www.dodaj.rs/f/2S/YQ/3bUqBe57/panorama2.jpg


    Going back from the top I counted seventeen hairpins before reaching base of the hill... Loose gravel made descent a slow one.

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    Monument to the founder of weather observatory back in 1900. This area was extremely remote back then. Even 30 years ago (before olympic games) there were no roads. Only way in or out was on a horseback, or 12 hour walk to nearest civilization. And there are several villages even further away, my next destination.

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    Next destination is Lukomir village. It's now being advertised as medieval village to promote tourism to this area. And indeed, only 20-30 years ago this was as remote as you could get. No roads, winters lasting more than six months. People had to be completely self-sufficient. Life is much easier today. There is a good gravel road leading to the village and most inhabitants leave during winters. Village is located in perfect spot, on a plateau at the edge of a deep canyon (canyon of Rakitnica river, one of the deepest in Europe). I'll let the pictures do the talking.

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    Life was a bitch. Can you imagine removing all those stones from the ground to try and create some agricultural land???

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    Couple hours later I was ready to move on. I had to backtrack few kilometers to reach shortcut that will lead me to Umoljani village.

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    Damn traffic jams. I hate when everybody in traffic is behaving like sheep... :p

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    After Umoljani I'm back on pavement until Sinanovici village, some 10 km away. Close to Umoljani there is another medieval graveyard.

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    Pavement ends in Sinanovici and that marks the point where I venture into the unknown.

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    To be continued.:freaky
    #26
  7. AtlantaViking

    AtlantaViking Long timer

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    Hotlanta
    Lovin' your trip - great pics of some beautiful country!:clap
    #27
  8. RestlessRider

    RestlessRider Been here awhile

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    Palouse
    Nice report. Great pictures. You are good tourism ambassador for your country. If you can shed some light on how you create your routes in GE and convert them to .gpx that will be helpful for those of us trying to explore off road.

    Cheers,
    #28
  9. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Serbia
    First I'dd like to say Thank you to everyone. I'm glad that you're enjoying this thread :thumbup



    Well, if you're looking for a guide I know a guy who had ridden this tour and who can take some great pictures. And he's willing to do it again, I believe... :wink:



    Making tracks in GE...First you have to find a road or a track that looks interesting to you (zoom in on an area). From satellite pictures alone it's usually impossible to know if a road is good gravel or barely an old track (see post No.4 in this tread for one example :) ). Panoramio pictures can help with that, if available. Then you create a path in GE and draw your intended route. Between finding and drawing a track it can be really slow process. As I said, it took me several weeks to route these two trips, some 4000 km. You can also add Placemarks for every POI and they will be helpful once you're out there.

    Once when you're done making a path you right-click on its name (left side of the GE window) and click COPY. Go to

    http://earthnc.com/ge2gps.html

    click OPTIONS and choose LINE CONVERSION OPTIONS TO TRACK (turn off TO ROUTE). Paste your path into window and click CONVERT TRIP TO GPX and after that DOWNLOAD GPX and save file to your computer.

    Then open the file with Map Source or Basecamp or a free GPS Track Maker (my old GPS comunicates only with GPS Track Maker so that's what I use. I use Map Source for some manipulations with tracks. I don't have any experience with Base Camp or any other software or GPS manufacturer. Connect your GPS to computer, turn it on and click GPS--- GARMIN INTERFACE----SEND. Be careful to disable SEND TRACKLOG AS ACTIVE LOG option in GPS Track Maker.

    Same procedure applies to placemarks.

    ***ONE NOTE*** Track logs are only supported by Garmin outdoor GPS units. If you have automobile unit, like Nuvi, than you can't use tracks and I can't offer any additional info :)


    I hope this is helpful to you. Have fun exploring :freaky
    #29
  10. Twinmike

    Twinmike Grandpa

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
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    Location:
    Austria
    Hey Gliga

    Thank you for the RR and the great pic from the Balkan Countrys.

    This year i will come the fifth time to the Balkans, a few of your tracks i rode the last year other are new and i will say thanks for the gpx file.

    see you maybe :1drink
    #30
  11. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    Serbia
    Day three continued

    Next section was 15 km long gravel road to Bjelomici village. Nice and relaxing ride in a beautiful scenery. I came across another medieval graveyard and took a lunch break. There is something about those old graveyards which made them good places to stop and rest... Not in a weird way, no...

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    In Argud I decided to take a shorter route. Sun was getting low and I didn't want to ride in dark (you miss to much natural beauty that way). Another break at bottom of the valley.

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    Here you can see my ultra modern GPS and its high-tech handlebar mount :D


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    Road out of the valley is paved in sections. This was obviously designed as a major road but in reality it was never completed, most likely due to the fact that its not needed... Now it's not maintained, in some places trees are starting to grow in the middle of the road. There are numerous small landslides and it's just a matter of time when it will be washed away...

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    In Kalinovik I refill my gas tank and buy some food and beer for dinner. After that it's another 25 km of gravel to my overnight destination, Orlovacko jezero lake at Zelengora mountain. I used to camp there few times with my parents when I was younger so I knew what to expect. It' always nice to return to such a great places...

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    I arrived at sunset and managed to pitch my tent and gather some firewood before it was to dark. I found some fresh mint for a tea. When I wanted to start a fire I realized that my lighter was empty, never bothered to check it out before departure. That was a moment when I realized that it's actually a good thing to have other people camping nearby :) My first neighbors were a group of students from Czech Republic, three girls and two guys. They were hitchhiking around Bosnia and climbing some mountains. They had no maps, no GPSs. As I said, this lake is in the middle of the mountain, 25 km of gravel road to closest civilization. Only people using it were campers. Czech walked all the way and planned to hike to some peaks next day and after that to hike to the other side. Only, there was one trouble: they were out of food. I offered to give them some cans of tuna. At first they refused. Then they wanted to give me some money for it. Finally they just accepted it. They were much less shy when I offered a beer :1drink It was a beautiful night around a campfire with new friends. For somebody who is shy as I am it was big step.

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    After a long time I spent the night far away from city lights. I almost forgot how many stars there are...


    This was a short day, only 150 km, but it was obvious that I'll have "problems" with many following days because distances are getting longer and roads are unknown to me. It just takes so much time to cover any distance when riding as I do: go slow and stop every so often to take photos. It caused many nervous afternoons in next few days :)
    #31
  12. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    I just went trough some of your photos, we camped in exactly the same spot on Zelengora, and on Durmitor (lake was gone by the time I was there) :D I see that you found some great roads.

    I'm glad that files are helpful to you. I know how much time was spent preparing and finding nice route, and that was for somebody with local knowledge... :thumbup

    This year I'm planning an even more ambitious trip: Montenegro, Albania (as much offroad as possible in the northern mountains) and Macedonia. Depending on available time I might add some more routes trough Bosnia... :evil
    #32
  13. svestenik

    svestenik armchair adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
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    37
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    Banjaluka, Republika Srpska, BiH
    For starters, you will not go wrong with using GPS tracks that Gliga here posted :).
    #33
  14. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    Serbia
    Day four

    I woke up to a beautiful morning. It was to cold for a swim but perfect none the less.

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    As fresh as it gets. Breakfast time.


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    I don't want to leave this place. On the other hand I want to leave as soon as possible, eager to experience rest of the trip. I took my time with breakfast, making some tea and breaking the camp down. By the time I was packed and ready to go it was 11.

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    Road soon enters the forest. Nice and relaxing morning ride with many breaks. Scenery is just to good to pass quickly.

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    Time for some snacks.


    After 25 km of gravel I get to one short section of pavement which will connect to another gravel road.

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    Next on agenda is climb to Lebrsnik mountain from the northern side. I wasn't sure if this climb was possible. Only info I had came from few Panoramio photos, involving bicycles, which showed the road to be pretty damaged. First part is steep but easy to ride with good crushed stone surface. After I climbed above the tree line road conditions deteriorated.

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    Soon I rejoin with normal gravel road on southern slope. From there it's few kilometers of good gravel to the top. It's time for a lunch break and location is simply breath-taking. Patty and yesterdays bread never tasted so good. This was another of those very special moments, when everything seems just right, when life makes sense...

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    Zelengora, where I spent previous night, in the distance.


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    Unwillingly I move on. South slope of Lebrsnik is gentle. There are no attractive high mountains and that makes me feel like adventure has past its prime (I was wrong, of course). Road down was in worse shape than I expected with several tricky sections. Steep downhill and large loose rocks...

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    Once off the mountain I find myself at lake Gatacko jezero. Artificial lake which is just stunningly beautiful. It's not hot enough to convince me to take a swim break. Instead I just ride around.

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    It's a short ride from there to border crossing. There is no traffic and I enjoyed wide pavement road. It turns out that this border crossing is only for locals, I would have to go to another one. It instantly ads 80 km to my route. What's worse for me is that I'll have to skip few off road sections. Needless to say, ride back was even more enjoyable because I knew there were no police radars around :D

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    Road to the border is fast and twisty, with little traffic. I'm the only one at the crossing. Bosnian officer approaches me with huge smile. He shakes my hand and stares at the bike. He didn't even look at my documents:
    -Bikers don't need papers. I used to ride when I was younger...

    Usual questions, where from, where to, how fast. Spark in his eye was hard to miss.

    At Montenegro side I got another cold shower: road from border is under construction and will be closed for almost two hours. Positive thing about that is that now I have almost two hours to take a nap.

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    As the road opening time approached I started to prepare myself for a ride. By the time I was ready several cars got to the border line in front of me. Since police check takes five minutes per vehicle that meant I'll be loosing even more time.

    Few kilometers after border I got to the construction zone. They are upgrading single lane, twisty tarmac road to a new, fast and wide one. I had a blast riding on hard packed gravel for some time. Rest of the ride to Niksic was on nice main road, fast flowing corners and everything.

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    Lake Slansko


    Around 6:30 PM I arrived to Niksic. Time for a fuel stop and to restock on food. By that time I was nervous. It will be dark in less than two hours and I don't know how much more I have to ride 'till destination. Worse still, I don't know if my planned route is passable.

    Soon after Niksic I'm on gravel again. In the beginning road is in very good condition. After every little village it gets worse and worse and soon it was covered with large-ish round rocks. I missed one turn and found myself in somebodies front yard. They were surprised to see me, offered me with coffee, cookies, juice. Hospitality of people in remote regions is well known around here. Since I had no time I just asked for directions and got on my way. Road lead trough something that looked like somebodies front yard. It's no wonder I missed it... Batteries in my GPS decided to call it a day which meant it was time for another break. Stopping down I almost tipped over.

    Climbing up the hill views got better and better. Warm sunlight and long shadows, picture perfect world.

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    I was very happy when I got to pavement. Locals confirmed: 10 km of pavement and 5 km of gravel and I'm there. Paved road is just a single lane, twisty. It climbs up the mountain trough the forest. Then my jaw dropped... I got out of the forest just as road climbed to a pass. In front of me were high mountain tops bathing in setting sun. Just what I needed to get my spirits up :eek1

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    After pavement ended it was a short gravel ride to lake Kapetanovo jezero. I had another near tip over. Steep uphill section, very loose surface and sharp turn, with people watching just to make it interesting :) I wave to them, from second gear shift to neutral and loose momentum. Somehow I managed to keep the rubber down.

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    Once at the lake I found nice camping spot, close to three Austrian campers. When I turned off the bike any signs of nervousness were gone instantly. While I was pitching the tent my new neighbors invited me for dinner. By the time I finished unpacking it was almost completely dark. And the dinner was ready :clap They weren't happy how the food turned out and I had just one thing to say: "It's infinitely better than cold canned tuna that I have":) And they had some very cold and very tasty beer, just to make it all even better.

    After dinner we said our "goodnights". I spent some time just lying on a rock next to water, staring to the skies above. Life can't get much better than this :ricky

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    #34
  15. Mr Pif

    Mr Pif Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    GR
    :lurk
    absolutely awsome pictures! balkans are place to ''motorcycle'' especially their mountain terrains

    p.s.: KLE rulez :thumb
    #35
  16. IDRider

    IDRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
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    233
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    Back to God's Country - nurturing my soul!
    ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!!!

    Thank you for taking us along! :clap
    #36
  17. Twinmike

    Twinmike Grandpa

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    149
    Location:
    Austria
    last year we made camp too at Orlovacko Jezero


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    on later evening we saw a Brownbear on the other side of the lake


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    same fireplace as yours :1drink

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    this year i try to cross the border near the Leversnik Mountain

    i will follow partly of your tracks :1drinka must see this year is Kapetanovo Jezero

    Thank you
    #37
  18. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
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    118
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    Serbia
    :ricky

    Just wait and read. We also camped in same spot on Durmitor, by the lake Susicko jezero. I'm glad that you'll be able to use some of my tracks. :freaky

    Do You have any tracks from your rides and do you mind sharing? I'm looking for more tracks in Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania :ricky
    #38
  19. svestenik

    svestenik armchair adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    37
    Location:
    Banjaluka, Republika Srpska, BiH
    Sorry for thread hijack, if this is off topic I will delete it.

    Here is a track log from Croatian guys who rode Bosnia this summer:

    http://megafileupload.com/en/file/390396/tracks-full-gpx.html

    and a coresponding forum thread, but local language only. Lots of pretty pics at least...

    Bosanski makadami

    If you have specific location questions, I can point on the map where certain pics happened.



    Although this site is for MTB's it has some more trails:

    http://www.takeadventure.com/index.php
    #39
  20. Twinmike

    Twinmike Grandpa

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    149
    Location:
    Austria
    Hi

    Yes i have offroad gpx tracks from Bosnia - Montenegro - Albania - Kroatia - Slovenia i ride the last years i must search a onlineplace where you can download it, or i send to you via e-mail
    #40