Friday, 24 November 2017

Eisenach - Budapest Trail: Conclusion


Together with my previous hikes through Germany and Hungary I have now also completed the "International Mountain Trail of Friendship Eisenach - Budapest" (EB). Although I myself have not done it as a thruhike but a section hike I would like to do a bit of advertising for it - because it is a great trail!

Eisenach - Budapest was founded in 1983 and was the only international long-distance trail in the East bloc. It traverses five countries: Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. This "mountain trail" stays mostly in secondary mountain ranges, although some section have a bit of alpine character. It is 2690 km long and connects the most popular hiking areas of the respective countries. Therefore infrastructure is great: The trail is well marked (although usually not as EB, but with its local name).

There is plenty of accommodation on the trail in form of mountain huts or close by in form of hotels. Wild camping is theoretically forbidden in all countries except Hungary, but practically never a problem as long as you stay out of National Parks. Therefore you can easily hike it with or without a tent - just as you like.
There is a German guidebook series that covers the entire trail. Although a bit outdated it is worth having them, but not essential.You can download the gpx track for this trail from the internet and that is basically all you need. You pass through villages with shops at least every other day so resupply is not a problem either.

Besides traversing some really scenic mountain ranges you also pass through a lot of pittoresque villages and towns with interesting history. All five countries have undergone a many historical changes and you will find remnants of the German and Austro-Hungarian empire - not to mention its influence on the culinary menu.
Prices in Eastern Europe are still a lot cheaper than in the West so eating out or staying in a hotel will not tear a big hole into your budget.

To sum it up: This trail is ideal for hikers who want to experience a real thruhike and are looking for an interesting alternative to the long American trails. It is ideal for beginners in long-distance hiking because it has a high margin for errors: You are never that far away from civilisation and its wonders are affordable. It is technically easy and has a wide time window. Strangely enough there are not many hikers who thruhike this trail. This year I know only of three parties including me who did it. I highly recommend it!


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