Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing

Overall Rating

Eskimo Freeride

Eskimo Freeride 3.6/55
Eskimo Freeride 3.6 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
European Ski & Snowboard Safari Tours
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing at Shar-planina, Macedonia.
Ride deep powder at Eskimo Freeride cat skiing.
Awesome ski terrain at Eskimo Freeride.
Eskimo Freeride terrain includes tree skiing.
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing.
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing.
The Shar-planina has quality steeps for expert Eskimos!
Deep powder for snorkeling Eskimos!
Wide open bowls for cruisey Eskimos!
Eskimo Freeride has 7 comfortable snowcats.
Eskimo Freeride base at Hotel Bora (1750m elevation).
The food is a feast for the senses and your appetite!
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing.
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing.
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing.
Cat ski camping and night riding is unique to Eskimo Freeride.
Brilliant night skies and remote mountains at the cat ski camp.
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing.
The wine barrel hot tub will break down any barriers!
Ski back into the sunset at Eskimo Freeride, Macedonia.

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing

Overall Rating

Eskimo Freeride 3.6/55
Eskimo Freeride 3.6 out of 5 based on 5 reviews

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing

Eskimo Freeride is Europe's longest established cat skiing operation. Located in the Sar Mountain (Shar-planina) range in the north west of North Macedonia, the high annual snowfall combine with great terrain to create a powder skiing and snowboarding nirvana the envy of any Eskimo!

Operating out of North Macedonia's largest ski resort, Popova Sapka, Eskimo Freeride has 7 snowcats to prowl the expansive terrain and enough seats to ensure groups are well matched to ability & terrain.

When you cat ski or ride with Eskimo Freeride, you are in one of the last European wildernesses. There are no mountain huts with disco music serving beer & once away from the Popova ski area there is very little infrastructure. The land still has bears, wolves, and the ghosts of the forest ..... lynx. Despite this, you can still expect great culinary and local cultural experiences.

Anyone considering a journey to the area should understand that North Macedonia is NOT a sanitised Western European ski destination, come with your eyes wide open! Eskimo Freeride is best suited to those with a worldly, open mind & a sense of adventure. 

Lodging & Food

Meals and accommodation are included in all Eskimo Freeride packages. The operation is based at the Hotel Tetaks, making a convenient staging point for all guests. The hotel is aging, but clean & functional for a week’s stay.

Meals, particularly dinner, are a real treat in North Macedonia & Eskimo Freeride is no exception. A wide range of traditional local vegetarian and meat-based dishes will tantalise your taste buds. Local wines and beer complement the meals perfectly. Try the local rakija (grappa) as well.

Breakfasts are a broad buffet of ‘western’ & local selections, plus fresh made cooked eggs & omelettes from the kitchen. A Turkish coffee will help get the heart started for the day. Lunches are held in the mountains. Depending on the day’s location, lunches will be either picnic style in a sheltered location or in one of Eskimo’s mountain huts.

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages

Eskimo Freeride provides cat skiing holiday packages that will create ever-lasting memories. Choose whatever dates suit you best and come to enjoy the thrill of cat skiing powder in a beautiful (& confronting) part of Europe. Cat ski trips with Eskimo Freeride can be for one day or as many as you want - they are fully customisable.

Where is Eskimo Freeride, Macedonia?

Eskimo Freeride is in the Balkans, near the major North Macedonia ski destination of Popova Sapka.

Popova Sapka is situated in the Shar Mountains, north west of North Macedonia (previously known as FYROM – the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia), 21km by road west of Tetovo city and 70km west of the capital, Skopje.

Skopje is accessed by plane through the impressively named Alexander the Great Airport. Upon request, Eskimo Freeride can organise direct private transfers from the airport to their cat skiing operation base at Hotel Tetaks by taxi or van with the fee included in the cost of the tour. This option is highly recommended. Alternatively, you can arrange your own transport from Skopje to Popova Sapka – read on!

Flights into Skopje Alexander the Great Airport

The Skopje Alexander the Great International Airport is a modern facility 23km by road east of Skopje in Macedonia. During winter, flight destinations include all major cities in western Europe, England and Scandinavia plus Dubai and Doha in the Middle East and Istanbul, Turkey.

Daily flights to Skopje from any one origin city are limited. Daily flights exist from Vienna, Austria and offer the most convenience if travelling to Macedonia whilst already in Europe. Another useful major European airport is Zurich, with two airlines providing regular services to Skopje. Zurich was successfully utilised by the Powderhounds for our visit to North Macedonia. The middle eastern airports at Doha & Dubai can be useful if travelling from other international origins. See flight map here for Skopje origins and destinations.

Powderhounds recommends using either Austrian, Edelweiss or Germania airlines. These provide airlines provide better seating, luggage allowance, service & reliability – albeit for a slightly higher price!

To search for a great deal on a flight to Skopje, use one of our recommended flight search engines.

Airport Transfers

For airport transfers, Powderhounds recommends using Eskimo Freeride to pre-arrange a private transfer direct to your hotel with the cost included in the tour.

Bus & Taxi Transport

For other transport options, local bus and taxi transport from the airport into Skopje is good. Vardar Ekspres runs regular bus services direct to the centre of Skopje for a princely sum. Taxi services from the airport are provided by the Airport Taxi Company and are heavily regulated with fixed prices to most destinations to avoid any issues for passengers. A taxi journey to Skopje will cost around €20.

Car Rental

 

If intended independent travel in North Macedonia, the Skopje airport is well served by numerous car rental and hire companies. Vehicles should be checked to ensure they are set up for winter driving (i.e. 4WD/AWD, snow tyres, chains). To search & book a rental car, use our recommended rental car search engine.

Eskimo Freeride Cat Ski Terrain

The Eskimo Freeride terrain is mainly high alpine meadows with few base obstructions, meaning even in poor snow seasons (let’s face it - happens everywhere in the world!) the skiing is excellent. But with a annual snowfall of up to 12m, there is little chance of that. The terrain includes beautiful mellow terrain for intermediates through to steeps and chutes for experts, plus tree skiing in the lower reaches which is great for when the weather is foul.

There's a whole spectrum of options available - wide open terrains, tree riding, couloirs, cliffs, banks, natural pipe canyons placed on total of 32 square kilometres. From adrenaline rides down the 50° bowls, or chilling in a safe fluffy 30° slope, there is terrain for everyone. The terrain is on all aspects, which usually means the sunny south facing slopes near Popova get tracked first on a fresh powder day.

Locally called Shar-planina or Shar (Sar) mountain, the cat ski area spreads for an amazing 1600 square km, raising up to 2747 m at Tito's peak. Pine wood forest extents from below 1700m and above that lie approximately 550 square km of high pastures. This is the largest compact area covered with pasture on the European continent making it a perfect playground for backcountry addicts! Shar Mountain is by evolution considered "old mountain" as opposed to the European Alps which are "young mountains". Because of this, Shar Mountain is the perfect shape for safe, fun and unlimited freeriding.

Eskimo Freeride's operation extends onto the best part of the mountain range from Tito's peak to Jelak and Popova Sapka base at 1687 m.

The average daily vertical covered is 4000m per day, which can be dependent on conditions, daylight hours and the speed and ability of the group.

Skiers & snowboarders must be at least an intermediate level, preferably with some off-piste skiing experience. Lower intermediates can be catered for and are encouraged if part of a larger family group.

Cat Ski Camping & Night Riding

In Spring you can also experience the Eskimo Freeride cat ski camping, where unlike anywhere else in western Europe, the night sky can be seen in its true brilliance.

Cat ski camping can also include night riding sessions with illumination from the snowcats and powerful headlamps - unique in the world!


The Powderhounds reviewed Eskimo Freeride in 2019. Yay! We will post a long-winded version of our adventure in North Macedonia soon.

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see where we are currently skiing!

Safety at Eskimo Freeride

The operators of Eskimo Freeride take the safety of their guests and staff so seriously that they became and associate member of HeliCat Canada - the world's finest associations mechanized freeride operations.

Eskimo follow the high standards and procedures of the HeliCat Canada Association. The guides are professional and experts in the local terrain and snow conditions.

Terrain options exist for every type of snow & avalanche risk condition. Packages include full avalanche gear including airbags.

Great cat ski terrain, but eyes wide open .......

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE03/07/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    The Globe
  • Admin Rating
    5

Great cat ski terrain, but eyes wide open .......

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE03/07/2019

We visited Popova Shapka & Eskimo Freeride in January 2019. It proved the old skiing adage that everywhere can be awesome ...... or bad on its day. From the start of the week to the finish, the snow went from incredible powder to incredibly challenging! 

The terrain that Eskimo utilises is excellent & requires very little snow to have a whole lot of fun on & can be ridden even in the poorest weather. The snowcats are not the world's best, but they are reliable & there are enough of them to cover any (inevitable) breakdowns. Safety briefing & equipment provided was very good. Food in Macedonia is excellent & the meals at Eskimo matched or exceeded expectations. Drinks are very cheap. The food/cultural experience alone is absolutely worth the journey to North Macedonia.

We experienced a marked difference in snow quality from the start of our trip to the end. From gorgeous dry powder to wind scoured packed powder, breakable crust, ice & crud. If the snow is poor (it happens everywhere - we have had rain in Hokkaido & Utah mid-winter!) there is not a lot to do in the "resort".

The hotel is basic & whilst the food, drink & hospitality is all great, the facilities are like much of the Popova Shapka resort - in decline! Accommodation was adequate, but below the expectations of many 'western' guests. The Hotel Arena Tetaks appears somewhat dilapidated (like the rest of the resort) but we found our twin bed room to be clean & fine (even without any curtains on the window!!) & the dining very good. Breakfast is excellent & sets one up well for the day. A wide-ranging buffet with eggs, coffee & tea made to order. The Turkish coffee was delicious. There is not alot to do after-hours in the resort, but that can be said for a lot of places. The hotel generally has large group of like-minded guests to mingle with but beyond that only a few bars/restaurants at night.

We found the ski guides to be professional but not overly communicative. Not a problem for some, but a problem for others. The safety briefing & equipment was as good as anywhere, but we found the guides to be not very enthusiastic when out skiing. Despite this they did their best given the prevailing snow conditions. Let’s face it. When everything is dreamy powder, guiding is easy. When the snow turns ugly, it becomes challenging for everyone. We would have liked some more attempts by the guides to motivate the group but c'est la vie...... maybe we have set our expectations too high?

The roaming packs of dogs within the Popova Shapka village certainly add an edge to the experience! We have experienced such in many places across the globe, but if you don't expect it then it can come as surprise. Forewarned is forearmed. The Eskimo Freeride management have no control over the wild dog situation - it is a local village issue that only a handful of tourist operators (& most tourists!) see as an issue!

Eskimo are developing some mountain huts to improve the on-mountain experience. They should add a nice element to the skiing. As do the mountain dogs, sheep & horses stabled there.

Transfers are not included in the basic price but for the sake of simplicity, we recommend getting them (via Eskimo) for a direct transfer from Skopje to the hotel.

The overall cultural experience is awesome but can be challenging for some (it is not a family friendly ski destination by western standards). The skiing & snowboarding is as good as anywhere on its day. Follow the forecast & reap the rewards.

Despite the challenges, we are going back for more. It is a place that kinda gets a hook in.........

Do not bother.......

Tim Chadwick19/03/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    UK

Do not bother.......

Tim Chadwick19/03/2019
Booked with Eskimo for 6 days cat skiing & returned 18/3/19. What an absolute horror story. Firstly lets start with the snow which was next to non existent. The first day was skiing across brown mud and sludge listening to the Cat scratch and grumble rolling across the rocks. It was about as worse conditions as I have ever skied in and the poor chaps who had been there for a week already said they had zero fresh snow in 7 days. The temps were very high and everywhere you looked it was bleak. Fortunately for us we timed a 20cm dump which covered a multitude of sins but with zero base meant constantly skiing over rocks and earth. A cursory plant of the pole and you could see how thin the snow cover was. Being that its rolling hills with no gradient it gets scraped by the wind which is a double edged sword depositing snow and removing at the same time. We skied 5 days and every single day was on the same side of a mountain, given how much room they have it was rubbish even when we had the fresh powder. Last four days were scorching and slushy mush returned. Snow was that poor we left two full days early and returned to Skopje.

The hotel is Hotel Arena don't be fooled by the pics its a complete dump booking a single room gave me a room with 4 single bunk beds ( I am 1,85 so just a touch cramped...) and a walk in wet room that was so small you could barely wash in the cold water. No curtains on the windows and no hangers in the wardrobe. Outside a pack of feral dogs number 20 or so were constantly prowling and making noise from about 430am when the light got up. Whilst friendly to humans we saw them constantly scavenging and rip another dog to pieces. These dogs tended to come up to the hotel looking for scraps so I would never advise taking a child to this place. (Editors note - we concur, this is no place for a family)

The hotel was dirty and I saw a mouse one day just casually moving down the corridors but the constant feeling of being dirty just never left me. I am well used to skiing off the beaten track with destinations in the Middle East and Africa under my belt not to mention stays in mountain huts but you expect that not when you're supposed to be staying in a hotel.

We were fed Pork at every single meal whilst not unpleasant after 2 days it was just rubbish and we walked up to the other hotel which is far better equipped and the food is excellent.

When it snowed it was a great powder day but for the rest of the time its a filthy hole with nothing to do. The cats are poorly maintained inside and some of the guiding leaves more than a little to be desired. One day my binding broke and the guides had all skied down leaving me at the top of the mountain. Fortunately it was a binding and not a limb but this is just not cricket. Cant say this surprised me after the very poor communication when booking but such is life.

My advice is to avoid this like the plague and if you simple have to go time it with a dump do 1 or 2 days and stay at the other hotel and other cat skiing operation. It's very expensive for what it is and you're better off spending money elsewhere. I dread to think what would happen if you had an accident.
(Editors note - we encourage everyone to have comprehensive travel insurance when travelling to the Balkans)

So much fun!

Louise31/03/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Strong Intermediate
  • Country
    UK

So much fun!

Louise31/03/2018
We had the BEST time in Macedonia with Eskimo - fresh tracks on 8 out of 8 days, the guides were brilliant and always knew the best places to take us to find fresh snow, and safety was always a top priority. We didn't stop smiling from start to finish!

No people amazing offpiste

Christoffer Sørensen17/11/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    Danmark

No people amazing offpiste

Christoffer Sørensen17/11/2017
I have visit Eskimo more than 5 times and I absolutely love it. Great people and amazing terrain. There are so many possibilities, and there are no one else.

Friendly and really professional mountain guides.

Can totally recommend it :)

Eskimo Freeride

Tom Norfa17/11/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    UK

Eskimo Freeride

Tom Norfa17/11/2017
Very cool adventure, recommend it
select
Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages DETAILS
Price p/p From price based on 4-day package which includes 3 days cat skiing & 3 nights lodging in high season (Jan 20 to Mar 20)
Base/invoice currency is in EUR inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 833

ESKIMO FREERIDE CAT SKIING PACKAGES
4 Days | 3 Nights | 3 Days Cat Skiing

Location: Europe | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Price p/p From price based on 4-day package which includes 3 days cat skiing & 3 nights lodging in high season (Jan 20 to Mar 20)
Base/invoice currency is in EUR inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 833
Eskimo Freeride in North Macedonia offers fully customised cat skiing & snowboarding powder packages including guided cat skiing, safety equipment, accommodation & all meals. Choose your own dates & duration to get the best conditions. You can add ski hire & transfers... More
View inclusions & Add-ons
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
Custom Booking Period
Min Days
Price
Availability
Custom Booking Period: Dec 14 - Apr 25, 2020
Min Days: From 3
Price: Enquire
Availability: Available
DETAILS
1Total Results: 1Total Pages: 1