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%
Dolomites accommodation & lifts packages

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.........