Overall Rating

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages3.5/55
Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages3.5 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
  • Recommend
    80%
  • Would Revisit
    80%
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Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages - Reviews

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages - Reviews

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