If you like mountains you are on the right place to learn more about one of my favorites – Baba Mauntain or the National Park Pelister. I will start my story with two legends. As you probably know, I love telling legends. So, here we go!
There used to be two sisters who fell in love with the same boy. Their mother left them on the mountain as a punishment cursing them to always be close, but never be able to seeing each other. As they were crying constantly, their tears created the two lakes, Big Lake and Small Lake, also known as Pelister Eyes.
I don’t think a girl would cry so much for a boy, maybe for her sister 🤔😁 Anyways it’s just a legend of how the lakes were created. In the borders of the national park there are 8 mountain lakes, of which 3 are permanent, 3 periodic and 2 occasional.
Another legend says that when Filip II heard the great news about his new born son Alexander, he was in the ancient town Heraklea Linkestis lookin over the mountain and he spoke: “Pelistera is born!” Which means “The star is born!” And that’s how the highest point of the mountain Baba, centuries later the national park, got the name Pelister.
Pelister is one of the first protected national parks in the Balkans, and in the same time the oldest and second largest national park in Macedonia after Mavrovo. It’s located in Baba Mountain and covers an area of 171.5 square km (66.2 sq mi).
Pelister is characterized by lush, well-watered forests and unique geological formations, which include layers of Paleozoic and Mesozoic magma rock and layers of quartz. The core of the mountain is made of granite, some even 465 million years old. The mountain has a large number of peaks higher than 2000 meters (6,500 feet) separated by deep valleys. The highest point Pelister stands magisterially at 2,601 meters (8,533 feet) high.
Pelister National Park is filled with exquisite flora and fauna. Among flora elements especially significant is the presence of the five-needle pine Molica, a unique species of tertiary age being present on only a few mountains in the Balkan Peninsula. The beauty of the landscape is enhanced by the diversified wildlife. The locals and the tourists often see the brown bear and many smaller animals. An endemic Pelagonia trout lives in the lakes.
The Big lake is located on 2,218 m (7,277 ft) above the sea level, while the Small lake is 2,180 m (7,150 ft) high. The sources of many rivers are there, and even on the hiking trail you can find springs with drinkable water all year long. On the peaks, there is snow even in July, and in some places the new snow meets the old from previous years.
From the invertebrate organisms, a lush population of the fairy shrimp, a Balkan relict-endemic taxon, is encountered in the small glacial lake “Small Lake”. I can describe it as a small capsule with two tiny legs on the side. Sorry I don’t have a photo, it was difficult to capture one. Anyway if you pay attention to the water I’m sure you can spot some.
It’s a great idea to visit the national park in September because it’s not too hot and you can eat the forest fruits that grow everywhere. The hike by the trail takes approximately 4 hours one way. There are two points from where the trails start, one is from the village Nizo Pole, the other one near the hotel Molika. If you don’t wanna take the risk to get lost take some of the organized tours with a mountain guide. If you like to hike to the lakes and to the highest point Pelister by my opinion it’s better to do it in two days. You can overnight in the Mountaineering house or camping.
You should be prepared for the long hike. If you are not experienced hiker try yourself on some shorter hike before you take this one. It’s totally worthy. I will always remember the wow reaction that we had when we finally arrived at Big Lake. I’m sure you will not have the same reaction if you go there by off-road vehicle, which is also possible. It’s a good option if you are not some big hiker to go by driving to Big Lake and than hike to Small Lake, which is about 2km distance. It’s a wonderful hike between the lakes, on the way you can even see Prespa Lake. All the way on the hike you can enjoy the amazing views, do not hurry…enjoy as much as you can.
One of my favorite parts was Small Lake. There were not many people like at the Big Lake, the water was warmer and the surroundings even more beautiful. Swimming is possible in both lakes, if you can handle the cold.
For any questions, information or tips that you would like to share -write in comments.
You can find here an easier and shorter hike to the highest point in the National Park Galicica. Maybe you should try first this hike before going to Pelister.
Thank you for reading, enjoy the hike.