Homolje Gold Rush 2016

The slopes of Rtanj

Rtanj is the highest mountain of northeastern part of Serbia, and certainly one that has to be taken seriously – it’s a real pilgrimage for the hikers (and the more ambitious mountain bikers), but the very peak Šiljak (1570 m) is rather inaccessible on four wheels (unless someone is totally crazy and ready to put his life at stake). It could be climbed to a small plateau at about 1400 m, provided that it’s absolutely dry, and you don’t make mistakes regarding the trail – once you’re pointing up the steep 30-40 degree slopes, there’s no turning around, and very little tollerance for steering left or right – if you decide to give up, you’ll have to drive in reverse for a long time.

Although it wasn’t initially planned, I decided to attempt a Rtanj ascent, but with caution, ready to go back at an early stage if the conditions are less than perfect. It was dry, but the ground was still too soft from the recent winter, and upon reaching some 1150 m of height I concluded that it was too risky to go on – the angle is just going to increase as we drive further, and traction problems will only become more serious. But it was a nice trip within the tour nevertheless.

Upon leaving Rtanj to the west, we crossed the Samanjac ridge, and visited a unique attraction of eastern Serbia – an offroad tunnel that is 2 km long! It is an old railway tunnel, which has not been used since WW2. The tracks have been long removed, but it is still being used (although rarely) by small trucks and 4×4 vehicles as a shortcut to the other side of Samanjac mountain. The old railway trail led us all the way to Grza spring, a popular picnic area (and impressive, very strong river spring), with it’s two lakes. We ended the day early, in the nice and discrete Sisevac Terme spa hotel – the great ending to an almost summer day, when temeratures reached an unbelievable 27 degrees (April 1st!) 🙂

Watch the video of days 5 to 7:

The grand finale – through the heart of Kučaj

In the Kučaj mudThe last day of the tour was supposed to be the most impressive one, taking us through the very heart of the Kučaj mountains wilderness, on a mesmerizing, 118 km long trail. And I think it really lived up to the expectations. It was ambitions, so we started a little early, in order to reach Lipovica, our farewell lunch site, at a reasonable afternoon hour. It was a bit packed, but without a camping option which would allow us to split this fantastic trail in two days, we couldn’t do better – we’d either have to make a strong pace, or leave out quite many of the places.

Our first goal was the one of a kind Prskalo waterfall, which we reached through a maze of attractive forest trails through the central part of Kučaj mountains. It’s a place that is certainly worth camping on (which we’ve done in the past). But this time we had to drive on further, visiting briefly on our way north Valkaluci, a heavenly plateau in the very geographical centre of Kučaj, at the altitude of about 900 m. We continued our way by the Vinatovača campsite (at the entrance of a virgin forest by the same name), where we made another short break.

The Beljanica 4×4 dreamscape

The very end of our tour was reserved fro traversing Beljanica, a high mountain plateau which is a haven for offroad adventurers, featuring numerous demanding and attractive forest trails. It’s highest peak can be reached by a good gravel road, but can also be a real offroad challenge, depending on the direction of the approach. Short in time, we decided to make the way down from the peak a true 4×4 symphony.

We took a not very well known forest shortcut, passing by several (at this time of year still uninhabited) shepperd huts. Green grass, mixed forest, rocky details here and there, short, steep details, it all made up a wonderful, very dynamic descent, a real crown of the entire tour. And at the farewell lunch at the Etno House Milanović in Lipovica, some of the participants said “the way down from Beljanica was a real 4×4 dreamscape”. I have to agree 🙂

So, I guess, it was another of the tours to remember. I hope the participants will give their comments too. See you in Serbian dreamscapes again soon, my friends! 😎

Watch the complete photo gallery from the tour

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