The journey goes on. I’m trying to find a scenic route to North Macedonia to connect the Via Dinarica with Shar mountain. So far it has been a lot of makadam roads, forest, forest, forest and many garbage dumps. Why am I doing this? But then there’s the evening and the sunset and the view. And mountains. Hiking every step, the highs and the lows, still gives me this fulfilment that I don’t get anywhere else. All is part of the adventure, the ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s the journey called life.
This blog post is the second of two, describing my version of the Via Dinarica extension in Kosovo. Practical information about the Via Dinarica trails you can find on this page.
Kosovo Beyond the Dinarides
For the Outdooractive tour below I changed a few sections, because I didn’t want to bother you with all my detours. I also uploaded my day stages separately, there you find the original track I hiked. You can find the complete list with day stages here: Via Dinarica extension in Kosovo & Macedonia or below this blog post.
This hike is part of my trekking through the Balkans where I’m trying to connect all three Via Dinarica Trails. Although the Via Dinarica (and the Dinaric Alps) stops at Koshare (or somewhere before), I went on to Prizren and Štrpce. This hasn’t been the most spectacular part, I would not even suggest hiking it, but perhaps others would like to know how I connected the Via Dinarica with the West Macedonian Transversal / Macedonian Mountain Traverse / Makedonska Transverzala.
My plan was to follow the mountains on the border between Kosovo and Albania. They looked hikable. Even if there are no hiking trails, there must be roads. The problem was food. I needed to resupply, and I needed to do that in a city, because I ran out of cash. Once I arrived in Gjakova, I didn’t feel much for going back to Morinë and went on to Zylfaj. From Gjakova I followed a road up, camped near Zylfaj and continued on a road towards Kushnin. Pashtrik is the most prominent peak around there, the others are covered with forest. Pashtrik it is, I thought. But no. Next morning there were clouds and rain and thunders. Seriously?
I didn’t feel much for waiting. It would have been nice to connect the Via Dinarica with Shar mountain via a path through the mountains, but it actually is a project on it’s own. There are plans to create and sign this route, but for right now it comes down to your own will to explore. Will and patience. Think in my case both were not strong enough. I turned around and hiked the road to Prizren.
Prizren is definitely worth a visit. It’s a beautiful, old, vivacious town with mountains all around. And a campsite. I took a few days off here. Hanging on the couch, drinking coffee and trying to catch up with writing.
I started my day with a super strong coffee at café Park, the place where I’ve been hanging out a lot. It’s a nice quiet bar next to the river with a lovely garden, good music and excellent coffee. It sometimes feels weird to sit in a café and work. Write. But that’s what I like. Luckily the owner totally understood me and welcomed me as a regular customer. So thankful for this friendly place in a city that has been taken over by the yearly docu festival.
From the bar I walked my way up through Prizrens narrow streets towards a village called Novo Selo. A road walk, but a nice one. The view on Prizren is amazing. I’ll definitely come back to be a real tourist, but for now hiking was on my mind.
In Novo Selo I picked up a hiking trail to Kopana Voda, a picnic area at a forester house. Because it was a weekend, the place was packed with locals enjoying big meals. Of course there was enough to feed me as well. Although I had plenty of time to continue to Oshlak mountain, I stayed, chatted with the locals and filled my stomach.
It felt weird for them to leave me alone. A woman, alone. You know. For me this was a perfect camping spot. There was water, picnic tables, a flat place for my tent and even a toilet. As long as nobody would pay me a surprise visit at night, it was totally fine to me. “But you’re so exposed. There are animals here, you know.” I know and I don’t mind. It was a one of the best nights. Beautiful sunset, bright sky. Quiet and peaceful.
Next day I followed the Oshlak trail. Somewhat overgrown, a lot of forest and then a ridge hike. Clouds were chasing me, didn’t feel entirely comfortable, but I made it to Prevalac. From Prevalac I could go to Macedonia, but then I would join the transverzala at a random place. I wanted to hike that thing from begin till end, so I headed to Štrpce. I was too tired to explore the shortcut, so I hiked the road. Roads. Boring, but I couldn’t care.
If you look on Wikiloc you can find several tracks to make this section more fun. Many trail runners upload their tracks there which has been a big help for me. This is how I found a beautiful route from Brezovicë to Liqeni i Livadicës, the same as Strbačko jezero. After all those roads it felt like heaven to be on a trail trail.
From the lake the trail goes up to the border. It follows the border on a brilliant ridge to Ljuboten. Ljuboten totally blew my mind. What a beauty. Think that’s where I’ll end my Kosovo story, at the foot of Ljuboten I realized again that I made it to a new country. A country where I’ve never been before.
Note that when you go up from Brezovicë to Ljuboten, you don’t pass an official border checkpoint. If you whish to stamp your passport, you’ll need to go to Štrpce (there’s a trail from Brezovicë which goes down) and find a ride to the border at Jazhince. You can then start at the Macedonian trailhead in Staro Selo. Here you’ll find a hiking trail to Ljuboten mountain hut.
- Met Botte en Ype in de tent
- Rode schapen, dikke BMW’s en heel heel héél veel afval
- Wolven bijten HAP HAP
- Jubelend Ljuboten op