Camping and Hiking in Kosovo’s Backcountry: Brod to Lake Shutman » Lifestyle Strategies, Travel, Adventures--Todd's Wanderings

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Just outside brod village, Dragash Kosovo

You can walk here in just 5 minutes from the village of Brod

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Working for the United Nations and as a Travel Blogger/writer has its moments…sometimes they intersect in an amazing experience or opportunity that just leaves me wondering how I ever became so lucky. If anyone ever tells you a dream job does not exist, share this link with them and then get working on making it come true. In the run up to my new guide book release (The Mountains of Dragash, Kosovo: Hiking and Nature Tourism Guide) I led a group of 30 people into the Dragash back-country for a weekend of hiking, camping, and getting back to nature (ie getting very wet on the hike in and out). The trip was part of a larger effort to develop a nature tourism strategy for the isolated Municipality of Dragash, and to create a series of value chains to help locals benefit from increased tourism. The project is sponsored by the Finish Government, and is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme.

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Group hike south of Brod on the way to Lake Shutman

Hiking in Dragash

Hire horses in Dragash Brod Kosovo

If you don't want to carry all your gear you can hire horses in the village of Brod

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We have been working on this hiking guide for about a year now and I have written about hiking in Dragash a number of times on Todd’s Wanderings as the work has progressed. Some of the hikes include:

Brod to Mount Cule

Brod to the Old Macedonian Smuggling Pass

Restelica to Brod

You will notice a pattern here as the picturesque village of Brod features heavily in my hikes. The beauty of this little village, tucked into a protective valley and wrapped lovingly in a series of crisp rivers, is undeniable. Add in the cultural traditions of the locals, numbering about 1,000, delicious cheese, succulent lamb and a dramatic landscape accessible just a few minutes from town and the tourism potential becomes clear.

camp site dragash brod kosovo

Our little camp site in a very large valley

The hike below is the same one that we arranged for the 30 person weekend. The text is the same as you’ll find in the soon to be published hiking guide, due out in July 2011. The Guide contains 12 of my favorite hikes and 3 mountain biking trails around Dragash Municipality, along with tourism information, easy to follow maps and local knowledge. Oh, did I mention it will be free both Electronically and for a limited time in Print? Yeah, I know, pretty amazing.

If you are looking for a more serviced experience feel free to contact me and I’ll can pass along your message to a contact person in the village. We organized horses to pack up our tents, and for food to be prepared for dinner and breakfast the next morning. This is just the beginning of  mountain tourism in Dragash and we are hoping to lay the foundation for sustainability where locals benefit monetarily, the environment benefits from conservation and tourists have a unique amazing experience.

BROD to LAKE SHUTMAN/ŠUTMAN

This is one of the best known hikes in the Brod region with a well worn path, and stunning views through the Brod Gorge and into the southern rolling alpine fields where Lake Shutman/Šutman lies. The lake is more of a pond and is shallow with a muddy bottom but beautiful nonetheless. These small lakes are called mountain eyes due to the resemblance of human eyes when viewed from the mountains above. This hike can also be combined with 2 other hikes in the region, Mt. Vraca or the 3 Peaks hike, which begin and end at Lake Shutman/Šutman. The lake also provides a nice place to camp for those wanting to explore more of the southern area of Dragash/Dragaš.

Dragash Hiking Map Brod to Lake Shutman

A larger map will be available soon

STARTING POINT/ ENDING POINT: Arxhena Hotel or Old Road near Brod

STARTING ELEVATION: 1384 meters

HIGHEST ELEVATION: 2120 m.

DISTANCE: 8.82 Km.

DURATION: 6-7 hours round-trip along the same path

DIFFICULTY: Easy. There are very few steep parts to this hike.

Hiking Route Description

You have two options where to start. You can either start directly from Arxhena Hotel and climb up the steep ski slope behind the hotel which meets the path further on; or you can start from the beginning of the main path along the Old Road closer to Brod which is longer but has a more gentle climb up into the mountains. If starting from the Old Road, follow the main dirt road out of Brod towards Arxhena Hotel with the river on your right hand side.

After the last house between the hotel and the village, just past the rusted skeleton of an old car on its side under a tree, the river passes under the road. As the river moves to the left side of the road you will see a small concrete water-tap structure on the right and the power lines begin to diverge from the road. Turn right here and follow the grass road uphill following the wooden electrical poles. This is the start of the Old Road to Macedonia that was never completed. Eventually the grass route will turn to a dirt and rock path. Follow this further into the valley until you are directly above Arxhena Hotel. It is here that the ski slope intersects with the main path.

Lake Shutman Brod Kosovo

I love a nice mountain lake. These post glacial lakes are often called mountain eyes as they look like eyes looking up into the sky when seen from the mountain tops above.

Continue following the well-travelled path south into the river gorge. Make sure you stay high up on the path and do not descend to the river and cross it. There is a path on the other side of the river but it is more difficult and does not lead directly to the lake. More than two thirds of the way to the lake you will see a beautiful waterfall where the river rushes out of a narrow rocky gap. The top of the waterfall has a nice area to rest and have a picnic. You can access this area by leaving the path behind after the waterfall turning left, crossing the river at its highest point and then walking back to the waterfall. See the map for further indications, as there is no dedicated path to the waterfall from this side of the river.

After passing the waterfall you will come to a point where the path becomes narrow and less clear. This is also where you will see a shepherd’s building which doubles as a sharr dog breeding hut. Stay away from the building, as sharr dogs are very protective, even if they are cute when they are young. Stay closer to the mountain on your right and you will eventually make out the path that leads out of this valley and up into the valley with small but beautiful Lake Shutman/Šutman.

What do you think? Would you visit Kosovo and Brod?

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20 Responses to “Camping and Hiking in Kosovo’s Backcountry: Brod to Lake Shutman”

  1. Looking at your website is giving me some great ideas for a future trip. That area has some beautiful mountains as well! I didn’t realize that. Beautiful photos too. Thank you!

  2. bujarNo Gravatar says:

    Very nice pictures , love them Todd.
    I used to work as a tour guide , but being honest I never been in Brod , I started to work in the hotel and I really do miss my ex job . Many things are left in half , such as web site and offers I was making for tourists who likes hiking and cultural sites .
    http://www.explore-kosovo.org is my web as well in facabook .
    I took one of your photo and puted it on facebook but of course I wrote the source .

    all the best and congratulation for this wonderful idea.

    Bujar

  3. KurtNo Gravatar says:

    I did this hike from the hotel up the ‘ski slope”. I went around the first weekend in September and the summer heat was hanging on. This is a nice easy hike and in fact I got to the lake in such good time I continued on to the Macedonian border making a 25k trip out of it. Dont expect to find a full lake when you go in late summer unless it’s been very wet. When I went the lake was little more than a mud puddle.

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      I love the “ski slope” in quotes :) You are right that the lake is not really a lake (more a pond) and that in the summer and early Fall it can dry out completely. In fact, a few of my friends were just up there and the lake was dried out (early September) and they saw 3 “devices” in the middle of the pond. We are concerned that these may be unexploded mines and are consulting with KFOR now. Hopefully they are just measuring equipment.

      I’m glad you found the map useful and the hike nice. The Dragash hiking guide will be launch this weekend!

  4. FatmirNo Gravatar says:

    What an amazing hiking report, I really enjoyed reading every letter of it.
    By the way, when is going to be published your guide book about Dragash mountains?

    Thank you!

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      Thanks Fatmir. We are hoping to the have guidebook published in late July 2011. Keep an eye out here as I’ll send out an announcement once it is available.

  5. This opportunity looks nothing short of priceless, thank you for sharing! I’m curious as I am unfamiliar with the area, how is it traveling from the urban centers out to the rural rolling hills of Dragash? I would absolutely love the chance to hike these trails but I all to often allow savings and financial burdens restrict my desire to travel to remote and untouched places such as this. Anyway, I hope to make it one day but until then at least I have some breath taking photos to look at in the meantime :)

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      It is definitely worth the trip if you are able to make it to the country side! If you are in Kosovo already it is not too difficult to get to the rural areas (everything is relatively close). But transportation is the big issue. There are buses (1-2 times a day) but they don’t always leave on time. The best way is to drive (if you have your own car or have rented one) or hire a company to bring you.

  6. ArtiNo Gravatar says:

    Spectacular photos! Would love to be to these places anyday :)

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      Well, come and visit Arti! We will be in Kosovo for at least another 6 months or so, middle of next year is probably confirmed…but you never know.

  7. Great article! you have shared such a nice info here, it’s great to have the complete root info from Arxhena Hotel or Old Road near Brod.

  8. I am so jealous. This trip looks amazing. That view is spectacular. One day I hope to get there too.

  9. I remember how beautiful the countryside is in Kosovo from when I was deployed there in 2000. Gorgeous country if you’re able to get outside the urban areas. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  10. MichaelNo Gravatar says:

    The scenery is awesome. These trails look inviting. But being an easy hiker, as you know, I’d probably prefer not to camp or have too much stuff that I would need a donkey ;-)

    Great shots!

  11. andynewbomNo Gravatar says:

    Todd.
    Men want to be him
    Women want to be him too
    Another studly, envy ridden post.
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    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      Hahaha! I doubt that very much, especially if you saw my love handles :) All though I’m always happy to send some envy out into the world if it gives people a kick in the ass.

      • AJNo Gravatar says:

        Hi Todd, I’m not an out door person but your trip sounds interesting and exciting for people who enjoy hiking. Oh by the way, I DO BELIEVE in a “dream job!. I’m hoping to acquire mine, but am very happy you have found yours!

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