Cat assisted backcountry ski & snowboarding tour in the Balkans
Join us in the Balkans as we explore the spectacular Shar Mountains of Macedonia and Kosovo by snowcat and splitboard next February.
While the well known resorts across Europe are overcrowded and tracked out, the freeriding in the Balkans is completely undiscovered and waiting to be ridden. From wide slopes to narrow couloirs and natural gullies with vertical drops of up to 850 metres per run, the terrain here is suitable for both intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders.
The Shar mountains extend from Kosovo and the northwest of North Macedonia through to northeastern Albania boasting peaks of up to 2,748 metres. But it’s the open faces of these ranges that make them perfect for catskiing and allows for unlimited freeride possibilities, and the zones that are not reachable by cat are easily accessed by splitboarding or ski touring.
The Balkans tour is based at our slopeside hotels at Popova Shapka located in North Macedonia and Brezovica located in Kosovo with cat skiing included at both destinations. We’ll also stay overnight at a backcountry hunter’s lodge sampling locally sourced produce accompanied with incredible wine. While in Skopje and Prizren, we will explore the the old towns and take in the cultural highlights of the Balkans.
26 January - 04 February, 2022
Guest to Guide Ratio
6 guests : 1 guide
EUR € 2,888 per personCurrency Convertor
Freeride - catski / splitboard
Why Travel With Mint
In a rapidly changing travel industry it’s important to know that your travel provider is accredited, accountable and responsible. We are a registered member of AFTA and IATA and conduct business in accordance with the ATAS Charter and Code of Conduct. When you travel with Mint you can have peace of mind that you are booking with a qualified and established travel operator with over 20 years of expertise. And as a full-service travel agent, we are able to take care of your flights, insurance, stopovers and pre or post tour arrangements.
Cat Ski Terrain
The backcountry terrain we ride is separated into 2 zones – the higher zones are from 2100m to 2600m and the lower zones sit below 2100m but not lower than 1700m. Most of the time you will be riding the north face of the mountain where huge quantities of powder can be found
After breakfast we simply walk out the door of our ski in / ski out lodging and straight into the snowcats for a big day skiing and snowboarding. Both our Popova Shapka and Brezovica accommodation is located on-mountain
We'll visit the stunning Matka Canyon, jump on a boat to Vrelo Caves and stopover in the medieval Skopje Old Town for a traditional Balkan lunch. When in Kosovo we get to explore Prizren Old Town with a visit of Prizren Fortress on our final day
Get in touch for a detailed tour itinerary and more info
WHERE ARE THE BALKANS
The word Balkan is Turkish for "mountains", so it's probably not surprising that the aptly-named peninsula is covered in mountain ranges. The Balkan Peninsula comprises of 11 countries located in the southeastern edge of the European continent. These former Yugoslavian states include; Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Moldova, North Macedonia and Kosovo.
ABOUT CAT SKIING
Snowcat assisted skiing and snowboarding in Macedonia & Kosovo has been quite active in the last few years, mainly because of the natural formation of the mountains allowing easy access by snowcat and opening up endless alpine options. In low visibility the plan is usually to stay on lower aspects to ride the trees where the powder stays protected from the wind.
GUIDES & SAFETY
Our local Balkan team have over 10 years of guiding experience in the Shar mountain region and are all skilled splitboard and freeride experts. Two guides are provided on each snowcat daily and all necessary backcountry equipment such as avalanche transceiver and ABS avalanche backpacks are provided.
SNOW & CONDITIONS
Our tour is scheduled to run during peak snow season in the Balkans. You can expect anything from perfect bluebird days, corn riding or powder in the trees. Even if we don’t get fresh snow overnight, the altitude and our local knowledge will ensure you’ll be able to ride light dry snow days after a storm.
This is a small group tour with a maximum of 6 people. When we are on mountain our guest to guide ratio is 1 : 3. This allows a more personal experience between our guests and guides. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the groups small means less time waiting and more time riding powder!
After you sign up for a tour, you will receive pre-trip emails with specific information about your tour, the arrival and departure day process, information about the destination, packing suggestions, and other relevant information to help you prepare for your trip. In addition to this, you have access to our customer care team who are just a phone-call away. And as a full-service travel agent, we are able to take care of your flights, insurance, stopovers and pre or post tour arrangements.
Meet your expert team
LOCAL GUIDES & PARTNERSHIPS
Mint opens doors around the globe. Our long-standing relationships with local guides, local legends, professional athletes, local businesses and resorts allow us special access to places and people. Travelling with us, you go behind the scenes to get a close-up view of each destination. You’re enriched by the knowledge of our experts and local guides.
Meet your expert team
Mihail is our local Macedonian backcountry guide and cat ski operations manager. He started snowboarding at a young age and is now an expert on splitboard or ski touring.
Meet your expert team
Our Austrian host Andi was born and bred in Innsbruck, is a passionate backcountry snowboarder, FWQ athlete and all-round good guy. Andi has been hosting Mint guests throughout Europe and Japan for many winter and is a loved member of the Mint family.
YOUR TOUR INCLUDES
- 8 nights twin shared hotel accommodation
- 1 night Hunter’s Lodge Kamnik including speciality dinner and wine degustation
- All breakfast, lunch and dinners excluding drinks
- 2 x wine tastings and Rakija tasting
- Backcountry safety equipment including ABS avalanche bag & transponder
- All ground transportation including airport transfers
- 5 days total catskiing including Popova Shapka and Brezovica
- 3000+ vertical meters per day (depending on weather)
- 2 Days of chairlift assisted ski tour or splitboard guiding (Popova Shapka & Brezovica)
- Skopje Daily Excursion with visit of Matka Canyon and boat trip to Vrelo Cave
- Prizen, Kosovo daily excursion
- Mint Tours guiding and hosting
The Balkans Backcountry Tour is 9 nights ( 10 days ). If this isn’t enough time in Europe, then simply ask us about tour combo ideas and multi-tour discounts.
WEEK 1 26 January – 04 February, 2022
PRO-TIP – GO PRIVATE!
Book this tour as a private departure – with your own guide and all the benefits of a Mint group tour – for any group, big or small (even just one traveller). Get in touch to discuss.
WHY TRAVEL WITH MINT?
In a rapidly changing travel industry it’s important to know that your travel provider is accredited, accountable and responsible. Mint is a registered member of AFTA and IATA and conducts business in accordance with the ATAS Charter and Code of Conduct. When you travel with Mint you can have peace of mind that you are booking with a qualified and established travel operator with over 20 years of expertise. And as a full-service travel agent, we can take care of your flights, insurance, stopovers and pre-or post tour arrangements.
WHAT HAPPENS IF BORDERS ARE CLOSED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?
The global health crisis has impacted everyone enormously, so we want to make sure your future travel plans are safe and reassure you that we are committed to supporting our customers in the best way that we can. You can view our latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates HERE
WHAT IS A BACKCOUNTRY TOUR?
Our Backcountry Tours offer you the best chance to ride or ski untracked powder snow out of the ski area boundaries where there is a greater risk of avalanche and other natural hazards. Guests will need to have prior backcountry experience and be physically fit and prepared to ski tour for up to 4-6 hours per day. Our experienced guides have an in-depth knowledge of the Shar Mountain region which gives you the ultimate advantage when chasing deep, un-tracked snow. We’ll aim to ride and ski a lot of alpine, powder and trees so please be prepared to ride and ski for 5 days straight. Of course weather and conditions are impossible to predict so guests must be prepared to listen to their guides and adapt to all situations.
WHAT HAPPENS ON ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE DAY?
Once you’ve signed up for the tour we will send you through a comprehensive guide with details about the tour including the arrival and departure day process, a map of where we meet, recommended arrival and departure times, flight options, Visa requirements and transportation information.
WHAT IF I’M TRAVELLING SOLO?
About 99% of our guests are travelling solo, so you’ll be in good company. If you are travelling solo, you will be paired with another guest to room with. The accommodation for this tour is twin share i.e. 2 beds per room. Your group will be made up mostly of solo travellers. Our groups generally mix well due to a shared interest in snow sports and an eagerness to explore all that Japan has to offer.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON THIS TOUR?
Each tour is different, but we know that by offering one of the smallest client to guide ratio in the industry allows you to ski or snowboard at your preferred pace, and ultimately leads to a better experience for everyone. We have a maximum of 6 people on this tour. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the groups small means less time waiting and more time riding powder.
IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR ME?
This tour is best suited to advanced skiers and snowboarders who are physically fit and have prior backcountry touring experience. If you’re not sure, give us a call. Weather and ski conditions are impossible to predict so guests must be prepared to ride or ski anything. If you have no prior backcountry touring and riding experience this is not the tour to learn. Please be prepared to ride and ski in the trees.
WHICH RESORTS WILL WE VISIT?
We will be based at the ski areas of Popova Shapka in North Macedonia and Brezovica in Kosovo, however, the catski and backcountry terrain is located beyond the ski area boundaries.
CAN I ARRIVE EARLY OR STAY ON AFTER THE TOUR?
For most tours you can arrive earlier or stay later. We can tailor the trip to suit your travel plans. Speak with one of our tour specialists when you are booking and they will be more than happy to assist.
WHO ARE THE GUIDES?
All of our tours are guided by friendly, knowledgeable and expertly trained guides who are passionate about the mountains. Most of our guides work for us season after season. If you have a preferred Mint guide, just let us know and we’ll be able to tell you which tours they are leading.
CAN YOU BOOK FLIGHTS?
Yes. Let us take the hassle out of selecting the right flights for the tour. We can book you the best flight options for the tour, with no booking fees.
ARE FLIGHTS INCLUDED?
No, flights are not included. If you need assistance booking flights, we can book you the best flight options for the tour, with no booking fees.
DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Yes. All guests on tour need to be covered be comprehensive travel insurance. Once you have booked on the tour, we strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance. We offer all of our tour guests discounted snow specific travel insurance.
WHAT HAPPENS ONCE I’VE BOOKED?
Once you’ve booked your spot on tour, we will send you through a booking confirmation and provide updates about the tour including the arrival and departure day process, a map of where we meet, recommended arrival and departure times, flight options, Visa requirements and transportation information. We will send out a Pre Departure Guide 30 days prior to departure. Prior to the tour commencing we will invite you to a group chat which is managed by your tour manager and guides.
HOW CAN I CHECK MY ABILITY LEVEL?
The best way to check if a tour is suited to your ability is by speaking with one of our tour specialists. They will be able to determine if the tour you have selected is a good fit for your ability, as well as suggesting other tour options.
HOW DO I GET TO THE BALKANS?
We’ll provide you with a guide with details on how to get to North Macedonia and where to meet your hosts. If it’s your fist time to the Balkans or if you’re unsure about travel arrangements, often we can link you up with other tour guests to travel with.
HOW DO I CHECK AVAILABILITY?
Speak with one of our tour specialists. As this is a small group tour with limited availability, it’s best to get in touch early to avoid disappointment.
DO YOU TAKE SKIERS & SNOWBOARDERS?
Yes! We are ski and snowboard friendly. Please note that the majority of our tours are led by snowboard guides.
ARE LIFT TICKETS INCLUDED?
NO. The tour is snowcat assisted and requires splitboard or ski touring equipment. If you do NOT wish to ski tour you can add an additional day of catskiing to the tour. Ask your consultant for an upgrade price.
CAN I RENT EQUIPMENT?
Snowboards and ski equipment is available for rental, however, splitboard and touring equipment is NOT available for rent. We can recommend retail stores that offer discounts for Mint Tours customers for those wishing to purchase touring gear.
WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BRING?
Along with ski and snowboard equipment, we recommend that guests have a good quality waterproof jacket and pants, lightweight insulated layer, merino base layers, merino gloves and waterproof gloves, goggles with low light & high light lenses, sunglasses, balaclava, beanie, and helmet. We recommend that all guests bring their own ski or snowboarding equipment for the tour (board, boots, bindings & outerwear).
WHO WILL BE ON MY TOUR?
Your group will be made up of travellers from diverse backgrounds and will be varied in age. Our groups generally mix well due to a shared interest in snow sports and an eagerness to explore all that the Balkans has to offer.
PRICE PER PERSON
The Balkans Backcountry Tour is EUR € 2,888 per person
Please contact us if you would like a quote in your local currency. We can accept payments in USD, AUD, NZD, GBP, CHF, EUR, JPY, CAD.
RESERVATION AND DEPOSIT
To secure your spot on tour, a non-refundable 25% deposit is payable within 3 days of booking. The balance is due 90 days prior to tour departure. You can view our terms and conditions HERE and COVID-19 policy HERE
If you would like some more information or a quote for the tour you can contact us by:
Enquire below. Once we receive your request one of our Balkans Tour Specialists will be in touch with a with a quote, availability and further details about the tour.
2. OVER THE PHONE
Call us and follow the prompts to speak to one of our Balkans Tour specialists.