Hiking,  Macedonia,  Recent

Mount Korab: Hiking the Highest Peak of Macedonia (and Albania)

To complete our trio of highest peaks, we set our sights on Mount Korab. This is a particularly special mountain, being the highest in two countries, a club of only a few members including Everest and Mont Blanc. At 2,764 m high, Mount Korab is also the highest out of the three mountains we attempted to hike.

Mount Korab is situated in the Mavrovo National Park, named after the huge lake at its centre. The national park is great for hiking, and is also a ski resort in winter. It’s a beautiful region filled with mountains, canyons and monasteries. Plenty to keep a nature-lover occupied!

You can get from Skopje to the starting point in around two hours. The distance isn’t far (100 km) however the more remote roads are pretty crappy! It’s a good opportunity to sit back and enjoy the scenery. The hike begins near Strezimir, an army facility, which lies at the end of a 15 km unpaved road. In an ordinary car, this takes 40 minutes. There is parking outside the facility but also space alongside the road further down.

If you wish to stay overnight, the closest hotel is 40 minutes away Hotel Korab Trnica. There’s also a camping spot near the river slightly closer to Strezimir.

Note – prior to starting the hike we read a couple of things online regarding passport checkpoints (most recently from summer 2022) and a fee to enter the park.

Dennis, owner of My Macedonia Blog (a fantastic resource for hiking & travel in Macedonia!!), kindly confirmed for us that you should be able to buy Mavrovo National Park tickets either online at https://npmavrovo.mk/tickets or at the Information Point just outside the village Mavrovi Anovi. 2023 price: 30 MKD (0.5 Euro) per person per day.

Regarding the checkpoint, we didn’t encounter one. However, I’d recommend bringing your passport just in case. The military facility was empty whilst we were there; perhaps when it’s in use, a check would take place. If anyone has further info on this, please let me know so I can update this guidance!

The Hike to Mount Korab

  • Length: 19.11 km out and back
  • Ascent: 1509 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Hard
  • Time to Complete: 6-7 hours
  • How to get there: by car from Skopje (2 hours 20 minutes)
  • Season: Late April-October; there is a winter route as well (due to avalanche risk on the usual route) but this would require the right equipment and experience.

Details

This is a straightforward route to follow (especially in comparison to a lot of routes in Macedonia!). Red and white markers lead the way. Higher up there are some poles although not always in great condition. The hike begins with a short section under the protection of trees before emerging onto grassy slopes. From there onwards, the hike is exposed. If you have clear weather, be sure to cover up. We got sunburnt even through multiple applications of factor 50! I hope one day we learn, before we get melanoma.

After the first initial climb, about 5km in, you are rewarded with the most spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. I’ve done a lot of hiking and this is honestly one of the most breathtaking views! I can totally recommend it!

At this point, we met a German guy who had Masters degree in mathematics from Cambridge University and was currently doing his PhD. We walked with him for a bit and chatted about travelling, his area of work being slightly outside of our cerebral capacity.

Before the final climb, there are a couple of gentle kilometers to enjoy the scenery. I personally found this hike quite a challenge due to the constant sun, although, thankfully, we did get some awesome photos for our efforts.

From the summit you can look down into Albania, as the mountains form a natural border. There’s a nice big marker confirming that you made to the top of the right mountain!

Other ideas

If you’re wanting to do a longer hike incorporating this mountain, you could try doing part or all of the High Scardus Trail. It’s 20 days in total and, having hiked several mountains that it crosses, I can confirm it will be an incredible journey!

From the Albanian side, you could stay in the village of Radomirë (Radomira) and make the hike into a round trip. I’ve never been there myself but from my previous experiences staying in small Albanian mountain villages, I’m not afraid to recommend trying it. You’d be sure to have a cultural experience like no other and the nature promises to be world class.


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4 Comments

    • HopelesslyNomantic

      Hi there! How quickly you can hike very much depends on the conditions of the track and the steepness of the climb.
      This hike is only about 6-7 hours as it’s not too steep and the track is easygoing. However, we only covered 20 kilometers in 10 hours when hiking Moldoveanu in Romania.
      I have not tried to climb Rinjani but I can see from reviews online that it’s a very challenging climb. It looks very beautiful though and I’d love to visit one day 🙂

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