Kosovo, North Macedonia, Via Dinarica

Hiking the Transversale to Popova Shapka

18 augustus 2016

Leaving Ljuboten

The hike from Ljuboten starts off with a marked trail. Then after Bistricki vrh. the trail kind of disappears, just like the markers.
Well, kind of disappears; once every while there is a marker and/or something that looks like a trail. Navigating here, however, isn’t too difficult. Oh and the GPS is a great help.

After a break I decide to hike until about 16.00; I started hiking this morning at 5.00 and I’m getting tired. But as I reach a saddle leading up another ridge I realize there won’t be many bivy spots coming up. Clouds and winds are setting in fast and I see some kind of meadow somewhere down below. It’s not the way I’m supposed to go, it’s way down and cross country, it’s either this or backtracking. So I hike downhill and just as I lay in my bivy eating dinner a big thunderstorm starts.


I wake up surrounded by mist. There’s no visibility and today’s hike is along a ridge and over a not so clear trail. I decide to wait until the sky clears. At around 13.30 the sky clears, but only for a few minutes. By the time I get up and out of my bivy, the mist has returned. Well, now it’s too late to start hiking.

That night I wake up being cold; it freezes, probably meaning the sky has cleared. As I stick my head out of my sleeping bag I see stars and finally the place I’ve been hanging out at the last 24 hours. Yeah!

Back at the ridge I am very happy to have waited out the mist. There’s a lot of steep downhill on both sides here and there’s not much trail or signs. There are also spectacular views, which I would have missed out on hiking in the mist.

Because of my day waiting I’m running low on food (I also got a very big appetite after hiking for 9 weeks) and I decide to hike back to civilization and a hitch or take a taxi to either Tetovo or Popova Shapka. I find a non-existing trail on my GPS which, luckily, changes into an existing trail. Happy to have reached the road two people ask if ‘ich Deutsch spreche?’ ‘Ja, ich verstehe es, aber sprechen…’

A few minutes later I sit in the car of a Albanian/Macedonian/German couple. They’re here for the summer holiday and are happy to take me anywhere I want to. I tell them I need to buy some food and that I would like to stay in a hotel in Popova Shapka. Before bringing me to this ski-town they first take me out to a restaurant and feed me delicious Albanian food.

After a few crazy, beautiful days hiking in the Šar mountains I feel like a princess, getting a ride and after getting fed, being delivered at a hotel. Danke, danke schön!

About the Via Dinarica

Check this blog for more info about hiking the Via Dinarica (including GPS-tracks and waypoints).

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This blog has been written on trail and on a mobile phone.

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  • Semijal Mamuti 30 augustus 2016 at 12:36

    Hallo Claire,
    wir grüßen dich aus Deutschland. Wir hoffen, du hattest auf deiner Reise Spaß und hast viele schöne Erinnerungen mitgenommen. Wir wünschen dir alles Gute.
    Viele liebe Grüße von Semi und Gazmend