Mt Pelister & Lakes

Walking in Pelister National Park

Pelister's signature hike is the full-day ascent to the national park's highest peak (2601m) and nearby mountain lakes – Big Lake and Small Lake – that puncture the mountaintop like a pair of deep blue eyes, hence their nickname, 'Pelister's Eyes'. There are numerous starting points for the hike but none are reliably marked so it's advisable to take a guide.

Guides can be arranged for about €50 through Villa Dihovo and Vila Raskrsnica and most speak English. If your budget won't stretch to a guide, at the very least take a detailed map, which can be purchased from the national park information centre for 120MKD.

The road from Dihovo that leads into the park will get you up as high as 1400m and it's about 4½ hours uphill from there to the summit of Mt Pelister. From the other side of the park (near Brajčino) the hike will take longer as you start from a lower base: plan for about a seven-hour climb and up to five hours to get back down – you'll need to start very early to make it back down again in a day.

To get to the lakes is further still, as it's an extra 6.5km (two to 2½ hours) on top of the 11km to 13km it takes to get to the top of Mt Pelister (the distance depends on which route you take, as there are several trails). If you start very early, both the mountain and lakes can be seen in a day hike, but if you aren't confident there's also a mountain hut at Big Lake (June to September) you can stay at, or you can trek back from Big Lake to the village of Nizhepole, which cuts the walk a bit short.