A trip for fit hikers keen to explore new destinations off the beaten track. Join us if you are up for an adventure of a lifetime!
Price: by request
Level of Activity:
Duration: 6 days
Season: from May until November
The Shar Mountain massif is a 200km mountain range situated in the north-western part of Macedonia, bordering Kosovo and Albania. The massif extends from the north-east through to the west, and is the location of some of the highest peaks in Macedonia, as well as 25 lakes and 200 springs. This is where you can challenge yourself during four days of continuous hiking on mountains rarely visited by tourists.
Here is a short trailer of a documentary about the setting up of the Shara traverse in 1974 and what happened 40 years later.
The Shar Mountains belong to a group of young mountain chains, and are characterized by an upland climate with cold winters and pleasant summers. The approximate average temperature in summer is 15 degrees centigrade, but it can go up to 22 degrees on a hot day.
The massif is covered with very rich flora and fauna and is known to have the largest number of pastures in Europe. Fir and juniper trees are most common, and beech wood and chestnut wood are abundant at lower levels. The mountains are home to the lynx, the bear, the wild goat and the wild boar. Eagles, falcons and hawks are also common on the Shar Mountains. These are also the mountains from which a rare shepherd dog originates, widely known for its stamina and intelligence. It bears the name of the massif and is called Sharplaninec.
The weather conditions from May until the end of October are perfect for hiking and, because of the abundance of water, you don’t need to carry too much water with you. Although the mountain is fairly high, it is soft on the feet because, rather than being rocky, the terrain is dominated by meadows where aromatic tea herbs grow. This means challenging hikes throughout this trip and stops in villages for meals and breaks to taste food which is not only prepared on the spot but also originates from the local summer sheep farms.
If you want to read more about our research on this area, click here to read Maja’s story about the Shar Mountains.
Day 1: We arrive in Skopje at midday and immediately go for lunch, followed by a guided stroll around central Skopje and the old Bazaar. Afterwards we go to Matka, a canyon with a rafting trail and five caves, of which two are open to the public. The network includes one of the deepest underwater caves in the world – Vrelo.
Later on we will head west to the mountain ridge visible from Skopje city centre, arriving at Old village, at the base of Ljuboten peak. From there we will be transferred by 4×4 to a guesthouse located at 1,650 m (5,413 ft) above sea level. We will spend the night there and gain first-hand experience of the local Macedonian cuisine.
Day 2: We have an early start to conquer Ljuboten peak (2,499 m / 8,199 ft). We start from the guesthouse and hike up some steep terrain, where there are multiple springs. We will quickly gain altitude and come out onto the long and scenic ridge towards the peak. In the olden days, Ljuboten was considered the highest peak in the Shar Mountains, because of its appearance. After measurements were taken, however, Ljuboten turned out to be 2,499 m (8,199 ft) high (the highest peak in the country is Korab, at 2,764 m (9,068 ft) and the highest summit of the Shar Mountains is in fact Titov Vrv, at 2,747 m (9,012 ft), but Ljuboten still remains as one of the most interesting hikes. It has the shape of a pyramid, and is visible from great distances. After the hike we will go to Tetovo, a town at the foot of the mountain which has a distinct Ottoman feel and a famous mosque dating from the 16th century.
Day 3: We start from Popova Shapka, where we will stay overnight in a hotel with an indoor swimming pool and a spa centre at an altitude of 1,700 m (5,577 ft), before climbing up to 2,100 m (6,890 ft) and proceeding along a dirt road. On our way we will enjoy spectacular views of Kobilica peak, Piribeg and even Ljuboten, which we will have climbed the day before. We hike up to the saddle leading to the Upper Leshnica valley at 2,200 m (7,218 ft), taking in views to the middle Leshnica rocks and Tito’s peak, the highest peak of the Shar Mountains and the second highest in the country. We will descend from Upper to Lower Leshnica, at 1,300 m (4,265 ft), a place where two mountain rivers join, and take a short hike through a deep forest to a waterfall. We’ll have a barbecue picnic in this natural setting and will return to Popova Shapka using all-terrain vehicles. On return to Popova Shapka we can have a dip in the swimming pool as well as some relaxing time in the sauna at our hotel.
Day 4: We’ll have an early start for a long day of hiking. We follow the Vakafska trail across scenic high pasture and moorland, traverse around the peak of Bakardan, then ascend a moderate ridge to the tower at the summit of Titov Vrv – the highest peak in the Shar Mountains at 2,747 m (9,012 ft). Today’s walking time is estimated at approximately 8 hours, covering 22 km (13.7 miles), with 1,137 m (3,730 ft) of ascent. In the evening, after having a shower and dinner in our hotel, we will head towards the mountain village of Galichnik, at 1,550 m (5,085 ft) of altitude.
Day 5: We start our hike from the villa and take the trail above the historical village of Galichnik, up a serpentine rocky path. We ascend slowly to flowery grasslands to reach our objective for the day, Medenica Peak, which, at 2,166 m (7,106 ft), is the the highest point of the Bistra Massif.
The trail eventually reaches more open terrain, with glorious views opening up of Mt Korab (2,764 m / 9,068 ft), the highest peak in both Macedonia and Albania. From the summit you can see Lake Mavrovo on a clear day. We descend through meadows of flowers and livestock and then onto a rocky road as we make our way down to our pick-up point, which is called Frchec (the drafty place), because of the constant breeze. Our vehicles will take us back to the village of Galicnik (short transfer). We will enjoy a traditional lunch in a family-owned restaurant, with a view of Debar Lake in the distance. Ascent: 690 m (2,263 ft); Distance: 11 km (7 miles); Duration: 5 hours
Day 6: After breakfast on the last day, we will head towards the UNESCO town of Ohrid. There will be no more hiking, just a stroll along the cobbled streets among Byzantine churches. If you manage to take a short walk up to the top of the hill you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the lake. Or you can just have a dip in the warm lake, which is at its best for swimming at the end of the warm Macedonian summer.
We strongly recommend that you extend your holiday in Ohrid if you have a few more days available, and we are happy to recommend further activities and accommodation!
The price of this long weekend depends on the number of participants and the length of the tour.
What is included?
• 5 nights bed and breakfast (3 nights in village accommodation, 2 nights in a twin room in a local 5 star hotel with spa centre)
• Minibus transfers from and to airports (for the recommended flights only)
• Minibus transfers to and from the starting and finishing points of the hikes or sightseeing visits, depending on the itinerary
• Local mountain and tourist guides for all hikes and sightseeing trips, depending on the itinerary
• 4×4 transfers
• All packed lunches during hikes (where there is no alternative for food stops)
• Travel insurance – please arrange your own in order to be able to join this trip
• Flights – you need to purchase your own flights to Skopje and back from Ohrid
• Visas and vaccinations – UK and other EU passport holders do not need visas to travel to Macedonia. Nationals of other countries are advised to check
• Lunches and evening meals in restaurants
• Personal expenses, optional activities, souvenirs
This trip starts in Skopje and ends in Ohrid. If there are no flights from Ohrid to our destination, we can adapt the trip to cater for a departure flight from Skopje.
You can book this trip by clicking the BOOK NOW button on our website or by sending us an email. Please book the recommended flights after you receive our confirmation of availability. We provide transport from and to the airport for the recommended flights only.