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Safety Information


The establishment of a mountain rescue system is just at the beginning in the region of the High Scardus Trail – although there are very skilled, helpful and motivated mountain rescuers in the region. Once the mountain rescuers know that there is an emergency, they are fast and efficient.

The crux is to call them: the international emergency call 112 is not in English in North Macedonia and Albania. Only in Kosovo 112 is operating also in English. Anyways the best work around is to find a local person as contact person before the start of your trekking that is capable to speak English. In emergency you call him and this person organizes the rescue.

  • What happened?
  • Where did it happen? (Determine accident location via map and/or GPS)
  • How many people are involved in the accident?
  • Who is calling? (including telephone number and further contact details)
  • Generally be aware the the rescue system is not comparable with the Alps or similar mountain ranges. For example, a rescue by helicopter is improbable due to the lack of helicopters. So you should include that fact into your decisions.
  • If you book your trek via the Official High Scardus Trail Info- and Booking Center the Center is your contact person and will organize the rescue.
  • Network coverage for cell phones is partial, but not everywhere. Especially in the remote alpine sections you can not count on it.

Some regional mountain rescue associations have an own emergency number that you should call if you have an emergency in their area of responsibility:


Ohrid Red Cross Mountain Rescue Service:

  • Telephone number: 13-112
  • Responsible for the stages 19 (north Macedonian side), 21 and 22

First Aid

A first Aid kit is always an essential at a long distance hike - especially at the High Scardus Trail it is an absolutely necessity Photo: Matthew Nelson, CC BY-ND

A first aid kit is an essential on any hike. There are many more or less basic first aid kits on the market that should contain the following items as a minimum:

  •  Personal prescriptions, clearly labeled
  • Adhesive bandages of varying sizes
  • Moleskin or sports tape
  • Sterile gauze
  • Elastic bandage
  • Antihistamine
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Soap and/or antiseptic wipes
  • Tweezers
  • Latex or nitrile gloves
  • CPR mask
  • Emergency blanket


You should add your personal needs to it.

By the way: How long has it been since your last first aid course? Take it as an opportunity to refresh your first aid knowledge in advance.

Severe Weather events

Severe weather events

You are on the High Scardus Trail in an alpine mountain landscape far from human settlements often above the tree line and partly exposed to the weather on ridges. This means that you often need hours to reach 4 dry and warm walls again after severe weather events. In addition, orientation in poor visibility, especially on the pathless sections is even more difficult than in good weather. And, in autumn, when a cold front passes through, snow can already fall in the higher regions, which again reduces your hiking speed and orientation ability. 

As in any mountainous area, such a severe weather event can occur very quickly and suddenly.

We therefore recommend that the following points be observed:

  • Check the weather report before starting each stage. We recommend the following weather services:
    •  Meteoblue
  • Always have at least a very light bivy sack in your backpack - it will protect you from getting cold in case of emergency. In addition, waterproof rainwear should be a matter of course - as well as a hat. You can find out more about this under "Equipment" in the Fact File section.
  • When planning each stage, always consider a "point of no return" - i.e. the point at which it is faster to bite through to the end of the stage. In addition, the individual stages are listed with break-off possibilities (if available).
  • In case of emergency, shelter huts/possibilities are shown on the maps of the individual stages. These should be included in planning.
  • Behavior in the event of a thunderstorm (key points):
    •  Leave exposed areas (e.g. ridges) as quickly as possible: lightning usually strikes exposed points.
    •  A shelter under single trees is very dangerous. In contrast, a dense forest is comparatively safe.
    •  Squat on the ground, weight on the balls of your feet, feet together, head lowered, ears covered. Do not lie flat on the ground; avoid rocks.
    •  Stay away from metal fences and other metal objects.
    •  Drop metal objects such as backpacks with metal frames (inside and out) and trekking poles.
    •  Stay away from water, including the trail itself if a rainstorm has turned it into a stream.


In addition, however, intense heat (even if it is not a severe weather event) can be very dangerous for you as a trekker. Dehydration will weaken you faster than you think, so you may become too weak to reach your destination. So take enough water with you, especially in high summer (when temperatures in the lowlands can reach 40°C). On the maps of the individual stages, the springs are also marked - but never rely on a single spring, as it can temporarily dry up.

Safety instructions and crime

The probability that something will be stolen from you or that you will be threatened is very low in the Western Balkans and thus on the High Scardus Trail - about as high as in the Alps. The reason for this is the great hospitality, which is a very high good in the Western Balkans. But of course, like everywhere else in the world, there are exceptions.


We recommend the following measures:

  • If possible, do not hike alone but at least in pairs and better still in a group. This way, help is also possible if you are injured on the trail or you cannot continue hiking on a stage for other reasons.
  • Inform your hosts in the accommodations about your next destination. In addition, report regularly to a trusted person at home about your location and when you will next contact them.
  • In case of emergency, dial the following numbers
    • Kosovo: Police 192 I Emergency 112, 194
    • North Macedonia: Police 192 I Emergency 194
    • Albania: Police emergency number 129 or +355 4 2226801 (English) I Emergency doctor 127 or +355 4 2222235 (English)


The fauna and flora in the High Scardus region is extremely rich. Especially for the larger carnivores such as bears and wolves, the mountainous regions of the Western Balkans have become a refuge, so that relatively healthy populations live there. What pleases the biologist may bring beads of sweat to your forehead. But don't worry: the chances that you will see a bear or a wolf are very low. Both species are so shy that they are usually long gone before you get to see them.


However, in the unlikely event that you do encounter a bear, here are the rules:


  • While you are hiking the best way to avoid an encounter is letting a bear know you’re there.
  • Make noise by whistling, talking, etc., to give the bear a chance to move away before you get close enough to make it feel threatened.
  • If you encounter a bear and it does not move away, you should
    • Back away.
    • Speak calmly and firmly.
    • Avoid making eye contact.
    • Do not run or “play dead” even if a bear makes a “bluff charge.”


By the way: a wolve would never attack a human.

A Sharri Dog in quiet peace
A Sharri Dog in quiet peace
These huge dogs protect flocks of sheep and the sheperds from bears and wolves Photo: G.Mussnig/Trail Angels, CC BY-ND
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High Scardus Trail Organization