This article is about one of the most beautiful mountains on the Balkan Peninsula, Mount Pelister. This is not only my opinion, but of many people who came here and have visited Pelister, even the Gods. I heard a legend on television a few days ago – it said: The Gods asked Zeus why he settled at Mount Olimpus when there is a much more beautiful mountain to the north. Zeus became angry and decided to marry Pelister with Baba Mountain (baba means grandma). So, now Pelister is part of Baba Mountain.
Now some facts about the mountain – this research was compiled from several online sources.
Pelister is the oldest and second largest national park in Macedonia. Pelister (2601 m, 8533 feet) is situated 14 km west of Bitola, in the Republic of Macedonia around 30 km from the Greek border and 75 km from Ohrid’s Airport or 170 km from Skopje’s Airport. The Baba massif splits up the rivers in the region so that they flow either towards the Adriatic Sea or the Aegean Sea. It is one of the leading tourist areas in the country and is a well-known ski resort.
Pelister is also known for its two mountain lakes, which are called Pelister’s Eyes. The Big Lake is 2,218 meters above the sea level while the Small Lake is 2,180 meters high.
The climate in the Pelister National Park is diverse. On the peaks, there is snow even in July, and in some places high on the mountain, the snow remains year round.
The best way to reach Pelister would be from Bitola, traveling through the villages of Trnovo and Magarevo. You can sleep over in many hotels in Bitola or Pelister, or in the mountain houses on Pelister.
You can reach the top of this mountain either by Jeep on a rugged road or by hiking. The best time to visit would be in August because there is too much snow, wind, and rain during the other months.
It is not very expensive to rent a Jeep. The rocky road is located on the west side of the mountain. Stop for a coffee on your way in beautiful hotels and enjoy the tastiest coffee in the world. The coffee tastes so good, not because the coffee is so tasty – it is just regular coffee, but because the scenery is so beautiful and the air is so fresh and clean. This spectacular environment can be felt deep inside your mind and heart. I sometimes see people who practice Yoga on the rocks; it is an incredible location for their exercises. Furthermore, you can visit a few taps (natural water flowing through a wood channel) and drink this refreshing water – this will make you hungry immediately. The water is very clean and very very cold; you cannot put your hand into it for more than few seconds even in the summer when the weather is hot. You can sit on the benches, take a rest and eat by the taps. Don’t forget to bring enough food; you are going to be hungry all the time because of the fresh mountain air.
There is what appears to be a river at first glance – this is not a river but a formation of rocks that appear to ‘flow’ down the mountain. After passing this river of rocks and riding for a while you will reach the place where the TV transmitter for the Macedonian programming is located. People who work here are inundated with a lot of snow during the winter. Sometimes these people will stay here without leaving for few weeks or up to a month during the winter. The highest point on the mountain is close to the TV transmitter. It is a pleasure to take photographs at 2600m above sea level – even if you have previously climbed to elevations higher than this. For people like me who love mountains, and go there for pleasure, fun, and enjoyment, it means a lot.
The road continues on the ridge towards the south to the Big Lake, passing the Small Lake on your way. There is a spot between; people stop there to see Prespa Lake. Prespa Lake is located on the border with Macedonia, Greece and Albania. Of course you can see all of this if the weather cooperates.
The other way to reach the top is on the south side of the mountain. You can drive the car to a place called Nizo Pole and then hike to the Big Lake. This part of the Mountain is not covered with trees, so if you plan to hike wake up at 4 am and be at the starting point of the path at 5 am before the sunrise so as to avoid the sun. If you are in a good shape you can be up to the Lake in about 3 hours, or if you stop all the time to eat wild strawberries and blueberries (and you won’t be able to resist!) you will be by the lake by midday. It is very cold up there so don’t forget to bring your jacket.
Instead of a just a day hike, you might want to plan on staying for one night in a Mountain House by the Big Lake. Stay only one night because this is not a very comfortable house. But anyways nobody expects comfort at 2600m high on a mountain! You can be offered only a bed by the hospitable host and hot tea to warm you up. Can you imagine the price? Not more than $5 for a night. I would give a fortune for a night there. If you are lucky and the weather is not cloudy, you are going to feel like you are in a big planetarium outside. Actually you are in a big planetarium but this time for real. The stars are so close to you that you think you can reach them.
If you ask me which way I would choose, I would say hiking of course. I can’t resist wild strawberries and blueberries and of course the hike is all worthwhile because of the feeling when you get to the top of the mountain. About the feeling – I was thinking and thinking and I really cannot find words to describe it. The only thing I can remember now is a very rare species of eagle that kept flying around near the top of the mountain. People were watching this eagle and wishing they had wings like that eagle. The rest of the story you can imagine.
For more information about Pelister and general travel in Macedonia please visit: Web www.exploringmacedonia.com