The Trans Dinarica video trailer: crazy panoramas, dynamic cycling and friendly locals

The priority task of our research trips in the Western Balkans is to check roads, tracks, as well as accommodation and other important information for travelers on bicycles. But in addition, we have another mission: to show the whole world that this area is a first-class cycling destination; it’s just wild enough that cycling is a true adventure, and on the other hand, it’s developed and populated enough that we can count on a hot meal and a clean bed every day (which is actually all a cyclist really needs).

Today we are premiering a video trailer that presents the essence of Trans Dinarica in a minute. At this point, we would like to thank Matevž Hribar for recording on field various video devices, patient cyclists who may have had to cycle to the same road several times for the sake of good footage, and finally the Karata Film studio for their support with advice, equipment and professional editing.

We hope you like it.

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What kind of bicycle for the Trans Dinarica? Gravel, touring or MTB?

We get asked frequently if you can explore the Western Balkans with a loaded touring bike, or if you might need something more off-road oriented. Here is the short answer:

Our plan is that the Trans Dinarica routes will appeal to the widest possible audience of cyclists and will therefore be accessible by almost any bicycle. Trekking or touring bikes, some call them hybrid or fitness bikes, will be very useful, and an enduro or cross-country bike can also be an excellent choice. We would only advise against folding bikes, downhill bikes, and road racing bikes. Although, you know, where there’s a will, there’s a way 🙂

We use gravel bikes for routing because they are fast on the road and relatively good on macadams. Above all, they are an excellent compromise because we don’t need a lot of luggage for our research work – a support van helps us with that.

As far as luggage (and weight) is concerned, we would advise you to take only the most essential things with you, as you will pass by the market or store almost every day (every other day for sure). What is necessary and how many extra kilograms should be carried on bicycles, opinions differ so much that it is difficult to draw a line between what is an acceptable weight and what is decidedly too much. Just be aware that sometimes roads like this await you:

How much asphalt and gravel is there on the way?

We will only be able to announce what the final ratio between the road and gravel will be after the end of the research (in 2024), but we can already say that it is necessary to be prepared for some not-really-perfect gravel roads out there. It would be a shame to limit ourselves to only well-maintained roads. When you turn off left or right, an adventure wonderland awaits you.

We can’t wait to hit the road again!

How hospitable are the locals in the Balkans? THIS much! (Description of three events in a single day)

Traveling through the country is always multifaceted; we experience it ourselves, and we are surrounded by nature, settlements, locals, animals … After our last experience in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, we believe that meeting people – locals who have been cultivating the Balkan soil for decades, is a more important component than in the case of traveling through more touristic countries. Using the example of one day, we will describe why we think so.

“Whenever you want! If it’s at 7:00 a.m., let it be at 7:00 a.m.,” answered the owner of a house in Sjenica, in which she rents out a few rooms from this year, when asked when we can have breakfast. When I went to prepare the bikes for the next trip in the morning, at 6:40 she was already walking from one kitchen to another (outside) kitchen. Inside she was putting different kinds of cheeses and pickled vegetables on plates, outside she was frying ‘uštipci’ (a kind of fried bread) and fresh green peppers, and under the tablecloth, freshly baked homemade bread was cooling. At 6:58, the table was so full that we couldn’t finish it. But she wrapped up some uštipci, cheese and some dried meat for us to go on our way. Here, we had lunch.

Early in the afternoon, there were signs of a storm coming from the west. We were late with the day’s plan, a little earlier we found ourselves on a path we wouldn’t have liked to see under a five-and-a-half-meter van. Slowly, it worked. But the scene before the rain is fantastic; we are on a high plateau, the Albanian and Montenegrin mountains can be seen in the distance, covered with snow, and we are in the screaming green mountains, overgrown with juniper and pine and spruce. We MUST take some photos and videos here! We stop near a lonely house, prepare the camera and walkie-talkie and start working. If I wasn’t really in a hurry because of the coming rain, I would first go and ask if I could park at the house, but … A minute later, when the cyclists were already moving away, a lady greets me from the porch and asks if we want coffee. Oh, please, thank you!

By the time the shots are finished and the bikes are stowed back in the van, the house already smells of strong coffee, and there is sparkling water, some candy, and slices of dried beef on the table. We talked about life in these remote places, about where the five daughters moved to, how they are waiting for a better road and how many cyclists pass by here. They refused to accept the payment.

In the evening, just a few kilometers before our last checkpoint of the day, we wanted to see the possibility of accommodation in a small village. An elderly man was outside making rakija and called his son from the house to ask for information about rooms. After a short conversation right through the windows of the van, we decided to stay right here, in the village. And here – again, in a few minutes, in addition to the promised clean beds, the table was full of homemade goodies, bread, meat, and fresh vegetables. And of course, glasses for rakija as we finished driving for the day.

You guys are just great. We will be back!

Photo gallery:

Can we get the Trans Dinarica navigation data already this year?

The answer, unfortunately, is not quite yet. The map we published on the website’s front page is a draft compiled from our cartography experience and our team of local experts. So, the route is roughly settled, but we haven’t fully examined the Trans Dinarica in its entirety.

We will release the data only after we can attest to every details of every kilometer along the roughly 5,000-kilometer cycle route across all eight countries. At that point, we will say: “Here it is, it’s ready, we are confident in it … now go enjoy it all at once or piece by piece!” We want the Trans Dinarica to be ready and clear when riders set out on their big adventure across a region we all love very much.

Thank you for your understanding, let’s stay in touch!

A word from a member of our team: why do I believe in Trans Dinarica?

In short posts on social networks, it is difficult to say or show why I like to participate in the creation of Trans Dinarica so much. Therefore, this time a slightly longer note about the project and why I believe our work has higher meaning.

1. I simply love the countries of the Western Balkans: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. I traveled to some of these countries as a child, and I got to know them even better in the last decade guiding tourists from all over the world. People often have preconceived notions about countries along the route. These opinions are related to, for instance, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the 20th century regime in Albania, and the conflicts from the 90s. But holding onto those judgments is passe. I’m not saying history should be forgotten. Far from it. But focusing on decades-old news clouds today’s Western Balkans, which is one of Europe’s most original regions.

2. The Balkans, if we exclude the coast and a few other hotspots, have thus managed to avoid mass tourism. That’s good … but it means the region’s integrity is so fragile that we must be careful what and who we’re inviting to this pleasant wilderness. Care is necessary because, first, it is good for nature. Secondly, it is good for preserving authentic communities. And third, you will get to know the essence of the Balkans best on a bike powered by your own energy and curiosity. A tourist on a bus socializes with other tourists. A cyclist socializes with locals. And, cyclists leave almost no trace. No need for mega hotels that spoil the mountain views. A room in a private house or three square meters of land to set up a tent are just fine.

I believe the Western Balkans and the sustainable way of exploring new lands — cycling — were born for each other. After we explored the first part of Trans Dinarica, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, I am even more convinced of this.

Matevž Hribar, content creator, copywriter, cyclist, van driver

Live from Trans Dinarica: Bosnia and Herzegovina is even wilder than we thought

The work in the field continues: late-night planning for the next day, getting up early, a hearty breakfast (of course, we are in the Balkans!), driving in a van combined with cycling, turning around, asking locals for directions, and looking for the best alternatives for cyclists. In between, we’re taking photos and filming until the evening, when we usually we reach the destination of the stage after sunset.

From wild Drina NP to lively Sarajevo

After we left Serbia — crossing the Drina River — and entered Bosnia and Herzegovina, we got to see a fairly unknown part of this country: Drina National Park, established only in 2017. We viewed the river both from the bank and from the nearly 1,000-meter-high edge of the canyon. This is wilderness in the truest sense. Apart from a local man carrying felled trees with his horse, a park ranger with a VW Golf 2, and no more than five cars (in two days!), we didn’t meet a soul. This will be a more adventurous part of the Trans Dinarica, which some — more accustomed to shops and hotels — would likely miss altogether.

The complete opposite, but no less exciting, was Sarajevo — a place we all love and return every chance we get. We come for tastes like burek, ćevapčići, baklava, and Bosnian coffee at Čajdžinica Džirlo. We also come for the handmade crafts, like coffee sets made by Abdulah Hadžić at Manufaktura. In the evening, we stopped in for some of the city’s best traditional food at the restaurant Žara iz Duvara. The lively city life was enjoyed by the whole team, but as soon as we left the traffic behind, we felt the essence of the Trans Dinarica return to the wilderness.

Reaching Livno, we concluded our first research expedition in the field. We will continue with the work, but until then, thanks to everyone who helped us along the way and to everyone who expressed interest in the wildest bicycle transfer through the countries of the Western Balkans via social media and e-mail. Let’s keep in touch!

Photo Gallery:

Live from Serbia’s section of Trans Dinarica: We love it. Honestly.

Dear cyclists, adventure lovers … and Western Balkans devotees:

It is with great pleasure that — after many months of office research, studying maps, dissecting the terrain, browsing through memory, and coordinating routes and sites with local experts — we are officially working from the field along the Trans Dinarica Cycle Route: the first cycling route to connect all eight countries of the Western Balkans.

Our trail development fieldwork began along the Serbian and Bosnian sections of Trans Dinarica, and, after a few days, we can report the following brief impressions:

  • Although we have all visited Serbia many times, the country, its south and west, stunned us. It’s hard to say what’s more exceptional: the nature or the hospitable locals.
  • The Trans Dinarica is exactly what we wanted: bicycle exploration of these incredible countries on forest paths and quiet roads as possible, and at the same time getting to know the local culture, history, and cuisine.
  • The type of tourism mentioned in the previous point (yes, even cycling is tourism) is exactly what the Trans Dinarica intends to present: An authentic, pure, original, enriching, inspiring window into beautiful culture.

Keep up with us for more updates on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We also invite you to sign up for our email newsletters, in which we will inform you about the continuing development of Trans Dinarica. The final result — a cycling route through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia — will be ready in July 2024.

We can’t wait to see you on the Trans Dinarica.

Gallery from the last few days: